ELECTION DAY is still more than a week away, but for some Republicans it is not too soon to begin plotting the next war against Hillary Clinton if she wins the presidency. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) raised the prospect of an indefinite Republican blockade around the vacant Supreme Court seat. Irresponsibly, Senate Republicans have refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat of Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Now Mr. Cruz seems to be suggesting that this willful dysfunction be carried into the new Congress and presidency. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” he said.
Mr. Cruz did not say he would oppose a nominee submitted by Ms. Clinton, which would be within the bounds of normal political discourse. Rather, he has suggested that Republicans in the Senate, if facing a Democratic president, simply not act. Crudely, his message is: We lost the presidency, so let’s take our marbles and go home. Such thinking seems to come easily to the senator who led the 2013 government shutdown. But it runs against the oath Mr. Cruz took as a senator to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”
Another ominous statement came this week from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has led the investigation into Ms. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Mr. Chaffetz told The Post’s David Weigel that he intends a scorched-earth approach to investigating Ms. Clinton if she goes to the White House. “It’s a target-rich environment,” he said. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”
In both the Cruz and Chaffetz statements rings the banana-republic tone of Donald Trump, who has not committed to respecting the will of the voters if he loses the presidency, who rails against “crooked Hillary” and whose rallies are filled with the ugly chant of “lock her up.” It is a primitive approach to politics that suggests a conflict over ideas and policy is not enough, that the opposing side must be annihilated at any cost, even if it leaves the government paralyzed.
Republicans who subscribe to all-out war should have learned by now this is not what the American people want. They are fed up with it. They saw during the Obama presidency the debilitating and fruitless result of a GOP-controlled Congress that voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that devoted its energies to repeated investigations of the Benghazi non-scandal, and that stalled funding for a public-health emergency, the Zika virus. We think that even in these days of polarization and anger, the voters want and should get a Congress and president that, after the election season, put their shoulders to the enormous problems the nation faces.