The word “hypocrite” has been a trendy political insult for many years. It’s the perfect way to call someone out for going back on their word. Regular people respond to it and know what it means; politicians obsessed with civility politics are either performatively insulted by the word or use it as a gotcha. And what happens when hypocrisy is so embedded in your political system that one side simply stops caring about any shame associated with it?
You get the current Republican Party.
Mere hours after iconic Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement announcing that President Trump’s nominee to replace her would receive a vote on the Senate floor before Election Day. After Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016, McConnell infamously delayed Senate voting on a new justice until after the election, saying that it was too close to the election. Scalia died nearly 10 months before the 2016 election; Ginsburg died just two months before this year’s.
Almost every other Senate Republican has switched their position, too. Ted Cruz, who advocated not filling Scalia’s vacant seat for the entirety of a then-assumed Hillary Clinton presidency, voiced his fervent support of the plan. Lindsay Graham has also eagerly glommed on, even after declaring Republicans “set the precedent” in 2016 and urged people to “use [his] words against [him].” It’s the clearest case of Republican hypocrisy there is for this particular moment, so obvious it actually hurts to watch.
“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination." pic.twitter.com/quD1K5j9pz
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 19, 2020
McConnell, Cruz, and Graham don’t care about being called hypocrites. Even doing so assumes they’re on the same political playing field and have accepted the same rules of engagement. They’re committed solely to maintaining and expanding Republican power, regardless of how ruthlessly and illegally they have to do it. It doesn’t matter how slimy or spineless it looks—McConnell et. al. simply don’t care about contradicting themselves. You can play their exact words back to them and they won’t feel an ounce of shame because they have none. How else could a party that consistently receives fewer votes constantly win power, let alone claim a national political mandate?
Trump lost popular vote by 2.9 million
Senate GOP represents 15 million fewer Americans than Senate Dems
Senate Ds got 18 million more votes than Senate Rs in 2018
There has never been majority support for Trump, GOP or their agenda
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) September 19, 2020
Republicans’ shamelessness underscores how empty the word “hypocrite” as a political insult truly is. The word only matters if you prioritize the preset norms of American political discourse over actual policy. For years, Democrats have failed to realize that words won’t work against a party willing to kill for power. The Senate GOP aren’t merely hypocrites, anyway—they’re outright frauds, ignoring coronavirus relief to squeeze in a Supreme Court seat before a monumental election they’re likely to lose.
Republicans are openly cheating Americans out of any kind of true representation and bending the country to their narrow will, all while denying Americans the relief they desperately need to survive. Hypocrisy isn’t even the half of it. If Democrats want to call them out, they need to think of a better word.