Rev. Al Sharpton said blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee has “racial implications,” adding that Obama has been “profiled” since the beginning of his presidency.
During an event at the Center for American Progress, Sharpton explained he sees “the racial angle” to the debate over the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
“We’re on the brink of a constitutional crisis and it is unheard of when you have senators saying we won’t even meet with who is nominated, lest have a hearing and a vote, we’re not even going to talk to them. So in effect what they are saying is the president of the United States is not the president,” Sharpton said.
“I feel he has been profiled from the beginning as he’s not the real president. ‘We’re just going to act like it didn’t happen. He’s not the real president.’ Starting with ‘he’s not really American — prove you are one. You’re not really one of us,’” he added.
Sharpton said the “subliminal message” is even if Obama has a birth certificate he is “not us.”
“All of the way to now, well, you are no longer president. He is president until January 20, 2017 — clear in the Constitution he makes appointments until then. You have the right to advise and consent. You don’t have the right to tell him don’t nominate,” Sharpton said. “The fact that they are not doing it clearly has racial implications to me but should concern all Americans whether they think it is racial or not.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a hearing would not be held for Obama’s nominee.
“The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I’ve said repeatedly and I’m now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected,” he said.
Some Senate Republicans have cited former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden’s (D-Del.) past position on Supreme Court nominees in the middle of an election year.
“If someone steps down, I would highly recommend the president not name someone, not send a name up,” Biden said in 1992. “If [Bush] did send someone up, I would ask the Senate to seriously consider not having a hearing on that nominee.”
Sharpton, an MSNBC host, also said the 2016 election is turning into a “personality contest,” which has produced GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. He compared the race to running for who is “most popular” in grade school rather than policy and the direction of the country.
“When you feed into personality politics, the result is you produce a Donald Trump because then you are dealing with who is more colorful and entertaining than who is in your interest,” he said. “So then the debate becomes who has the best soundbite or the best attack or the best line on your opponent rather than who will deal with voting rights and who will deal with economic interests and who will deal with criminal justice and who will deal with health care.”
Sharpton said the same analysis can be applied to the Democratic side of the presidential race.
“Do you like Bernie or do you like Hillary as opposed to discussing their policies in these areas that I have talked about and their trust factor based on their backgrounds and track record on who will deliver and who will not and who has a practical way of getting that done,” he said.
Sharpton added that Americans have become “prisoners” of their own “reality TV kind of culture.”
“We are looking for the reality show with the best train wreck to entertain us before we go to bed and have nightmares and wonder where they came from,” he said to laughter from the audience.
Instead, Sharpton argued the election should be about voters “standing up” for their children.
“Otherwise I think we are going to have an election based on who can draw the most fans rather than who can convince the most voters,” he said.
Sharpton told the audience he has known Trump for 30 years and assured the public he has always been a “right-winger.”
“I don’t believe he his faking that he is a right-winger. I just don’t think he has a lot of policies. He knows I believe what I believe. I do not see any way that we can agree on things,” he said.
When asked about former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg possibly running for president, Sharpton said he could support “anyone” if Trump is the GOP nominee.
“I’m open to support anyone while I’m also reserving my ticket to get out of here if he wins, only because he would probably have me deported anyway,” Sharpton said.