Senate Yes/No Vote on Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch’s confirmation for Attorney General has been held up by Republicans in the Senate for 117 days, the third longest in America’s history.  They are demanding ransom before confirming her appointment, part of an overall bunker mentality that has worsened since Obama became President. Republican, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is saying, in effect, “We will hold up the vote for Loretta Lynch’s confirmation unless Democrats provide the ransom of a yes vote for a stalled human trafficking bill.”

Believe it or not, the human trafficking bill got stalled because appearing-to-be lethargic Democrats (and their aides) were tardy in noticing an anti-abortion provision in the bill, a provision that would bar criminal fines collected in a victims’ fund from being used to pay for abortions. Even if you are against abortion, abortion is legal and such a restriction does violate rights. Accordingly, the threat violates our rights to a functioning government, puts Lynch’s nomination in the GOP political equation, where it does not belong, and dishonors Loretta Lynch as a qualified Attorney General candidate.

The real outrage is that Republicans are still in effect saying, “The hell with all of us for the sake of their agenda!” Following two government shutdowns and a downgrade in US creditworthiness, their last hostage-taking took us to the brink of disemboweling national security effectiveness, including all flavors of terrorist attacks — cyber and otherwise — by threatening to defund Homeland Security.

But the current outrage is many-faceted. First, it involves undercutting smooth operation of the Department of Justice. Secondly, it is denying the rights of Loretta Lynch to a speedy confirmation, who is an intelligent public service professional with a stellar record and has served our country well over decades.

In all, it pinpoints the source of the dysfunction in Congress and the reason for an abysmal approval rating (18%) among the American people. It sends a message that the Republican political agenda is more important than doing their sworn job as representatives of the people, more important than the management of justice on the national level, more important than the exercise of common decency, more important that setting an example of competence for a political party that has promised, given a majority, it will govern with integrity and proficiency.

It appears that they will withhold confirmation of Loretta Lynch for as long as public opinion does not reach a fever pitch because of it. As much as the GOP hates the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, they hate Obama and smooth operation of the executive branch more.

Do Republicans have us right where they want us: without power, will, and/or the wherewithal to remove them in elections?

The public is so weary of political division, and the media is so equivocating regarding Congressional dysfunction, and House districts are so gerrymandered in favor of Republicans that even large popular vote pluralities (2012) for Democrats do not reduce the Republican majority.  Democrats miscalculated the importance of state elections (2010), ignoring state elections and thus giving the GOP some 24 states to gerrymander districts in. This is not to say that Democrats haven’t gerrymandered districts before, but Republicans have shown greater skill and determination in this endeavor.

Perhaps the largest affront to America lies in our right to a functioning representative government and to an individual’s right to be rewarded for years of public service. The first right is often mentioned in a government that shortchanges us every day. The second is not discussed very much but nevertheless, is the fulcrum of our democracy and is mentioned in our country’s most sacred documents of freedom: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Behind this in a free society is the opportunity to pursue a level of success that will assure these rights.

Meritocracy is the philosophy espoused in our society that advancement is based on intellectual talent and demonstrated achievement. To pursue that achievement for the good of others is a noteworthy goal, when so many take money over service.

Loretta Lynch is the epitome of an intelligent, hard-working public servant, daughter of a school librarian and a Baptist minister. Her cum laude undergraduate degree at Harvard was capped by a law degree there as well. As a partner at a private D.C. law firm she made over 12 times her current salary as a US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She has served with alacrity. Her office has successfully indicted Republican congressman Michael Grimm; prosecuted Democratic politicians Pedro Espada, Jr. and William Boyland, Jr.; investigated Citigroup over mortgage securities fraud, fining them $7 billion; and it was involved in the HSBC prosecution.

Putting a capable public servant in the middle of political brinksmanship is reprehensible, and it is certainly not the first time for Republicans in the Senate. The average wait time between committee approval and a yes-no vote has been 100 days for Obama appointees while the same wait period for George W. Bush’s appointees was 24 days. Every Obama appointment has been a political game. Dr. Vivek Murthy was blocked as surgeon general only because he had spoken out for regulation of guns. We were without a Surgeon General even during the Ebola scare.

Since Republicans are attuned to massive public outcries, most likely Loretta Lynch would be approved if the public vociferously proclaimed its displeasure.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.