Letter to the Editor: Extreme partisanship in politics is escalating

By Alex Goodlad

In case you haven’t heard, the Republican-led Congress filled the Supreme Court’s open seat with Neil Gorsuch in a 52-48 party line Senate vote, which worked as a result of invoking the “nuclear option.” One could tell that the Democrats in Congress were not satisfied from their initiative to filibuster the proposed judge.

Whatever your opinion on the matter, it is abnormal in U.S. politics to ever either filibuster a Supreme Court nominee or invoke the “nuclear option” to appoint a nominee, and, for that matter, to do both.

This has characterized an era of extreme partisanship in U.S. politics, and by no means did it start in 2016; however, it has escalated tremendously to get to this point.

I would say it “started” in 2012 when Obama won the re-election. The “nuclear option,” which Nate Silverman on FiveThirtyEight identifies as a gesture to tell the Democrats to chill, was invoked before then, but it’s important to note that the “nuclear option” was invoked by the Democrats in 2013 specifically on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

While that is perhaps one of the most important courts besides the Supreme Court, it still isn’t the Supreme Court. Invoking the “nuclear option” on a Supreme Court nominee took the trend of partisanship to a new plateau. Historically this has never occurred, because a Supreme Court with bipartisan approval is more important than any single party’s interests.

This piece is not intended to assign blame of this trend to any particular party; one should take the time to do research and come to such conclusions for oneself. But we should be wary to think that cutting off our government’s bipartisan structure reflects any positivity in our current state of government.

Alex is a graduate student studying mathematics. 

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