I really don’t like being played for a fool.

Not that I was really fooled by Senate leaders four years ago, but I thought their argument had least a hint of credibility. As it turns out, it didn’t.

In 2016, with nine months remaining before the election, the Senate Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The GOP argument, in statements issued in lockstep, was to wait until after the election so the people can decide.

Now, with just over three weeks before the election and early voting already underway, those same Republicans have thrown that argument to the wind. The GOP plans to move ahead with a nominee to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It seems the only people they care about are Republicans, and the Independents and Democrats can be cast asunder.

The hypocrisy the GOP is showing – including our own Ohio Sen. Rob Portman – is to me both blatant and embarrassing.

In his own words on April 14, 2016, Portman said this: “I believe the American people should have a voice in this debate. This is a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations, and I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in.

“Instead of having a nomination fight in this partisan election-year environment, I believe awaiting the result of the election will give the nominee more legitimacy and better preserve the Court’s credibility as an institution ... Whether the American people elect a Republican or Democrat, I will judge his or her nominee on the merits, as I always have.”

Despite those words – and in an action showing the low regard in which he holds his own constituents – Portman now supports approving Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, even as the election itself is underway. And let me restate that for emphasis, even as the election is now underway.

Yes folks, Portman and his partners played us for fools four years ago. They were simply blowing smoke, of course in the rehearsed GOP script, to obscure the party power play. The Senate majority Republicans had the ability to block the nomination in 2016, so they did. I only wish they had the integrity to at least have told the truth.

As a lifelong registered Republican I feel a bit dirty, and more than a little used. An election year is an election year and the will of the people is the will of the people, regardless of party. The GOP hypocrisy is stunning. The fact that lying has become the norm is morally wrong, and I feel compelled to speak out against it.

The Senate refusal to take up Obama’s pick in 2016 ratcheted up our political divide, and played a huge role in the ugly Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.

Our country is hurting, our country is divided. We are reeling from a deadly pandemic and threats to the very future of our democracy. If there ever has been a time to put the needs of the country before the wants of a political party, it is now. Making the decision to proceed even more egregious is going ahead in the midst of a pandemic, with two GOP members of the Senate judiciary committee testing positive for COVID-19

Republicans in the Senate are now presented with a great opportunity to promote healing in this country. Actually acting on their words from 2016, and letting the American people decide, will go a long way to diffusing the hatred stoked by putting off Garland’s nomination in 2016. Forcing the vote will instead stoke even more acrimony and more division. Continuing down this eye for an eye road will leave us all bloody and blind.

It only takes four Republican senators to have the courage to stand up and stop this. Two already have done so. I urge Portman to join them.

Now is the time to put America first.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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