If Democrats delay action on Trump nominees, America suffers

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  • Brett Talley writes that Democrats should be mindful of the need for continuity in government
  • He says they should drop plans to seek to delay action on some nominees until March

Brett J. Talley is a lawyer, author, one-time writer for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and former speechwriter for Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. He is deputy solicitor general at the office of Alabama's attorney general. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)If acceptance is the last stage of grief, Democrats have a way to go before they'll get over this election. From the moment the blue wall crumbled and formerly safe states flipped to Donald Trump, the left has had a tenuous grasp on political reality. Rather than accepting that Trump will be the President on January 20, many have instead jumped from one desperate strategy to another in an effort to overturn the will of the American voters.

Brett Talley
It began with Jill Stein's ill-conceived recount, a more than $7 million boondoggle that ended up netting more votes for the President-elect. Some on the left then turned to an unseemly campaign, ranging from celebrity videos to threats of violence, to persuade electors to ignore the voters in their states and cast their ballots for someone, anyone, other than Donald Trump.
With these efforts failed and Trump's inauguration but days away, Democrats have taken up a new strategy: They will cripple the American government before they'll see Donald Trump lead it.
    As reported in the Washington Post, Democratic Party leaders, well aware that they lack the votes in the Senate to defeat Trump's Cabinet choices, have vowed to delay them for as long as possible, saying they want to see more information from the nominees on their personal finances. If successful, Democrats may prevent Trump from filling critical posts in government, from secretary of state to the United States attorney general, until March or beyond.
    This strategy is an "unprecedented break with Senate tradition." Certainly, Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of holding up confirmation hearings for nominees before, but this tactic usually comes into play later in an administration. Both parties, no matter how contentious the election and no matter how disliked the victor, have refused to put the continuity of government at risk over petty partisanship. One need look no further back than 2009 for an example of this principle in action.
    Before Barack Obama even stepped foot in the Oval Office, Republican leaders vowed to oppose much of his agenda. But when President Obama nominated Eric Holder for attorney general, Republicans gave him a vote and he was confirmed on February 2. The Senate confirmed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state on January 21, the day after President Obama took the oath of office.
    Republicans could have pulled any number of parliamentary tricks to delay the confirmation of two people whom they had every reason to oppose. But they didn't, and for good reason. The secretary of state and attorney general are two of the most important positions in government. The first is responsible for our nation's foreign policy, the second for upholding the rule of law.
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    Ensuring that the men and women nominated to fill these and other Cabinet positions are qualified is one of the Senate's primary tasks, one enshrined in the Constitution itself. And Democrats should do their job. Ask tough questions. Hold thorough hearings. And if necessary, vote against the nominees.
    But to delay the swift and orderly transition of government out of pure petty partisanship should be unacceptable to Democrats and Republicans alike. And that is exactly what Senate Democrats are threatening to do. Allowing the ship of state to run adrift or for the nation's chief law enforcement agency to go without a leader is shameful, but worse than that, it threatens American lives both at home and abroad.
    Losing is never easy, and losing this election was certainly harder than most. So Democrats can be forgiven for overreacting. But some tantrums go too far. Donald Trump will be president. Nothing is going to change that fact. And if Democrats don't realize that soon, the results of the 2018 election may be even more difficult for them to swallow.