Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, has gone off the rails.

Nearly every day this newspaper receives a blistering email message from Merkley’s office bashing Trump and his recent executive orders. His most recent target is the president’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court. claiming Trump and the Republicans have “stolen” the Supereme Court seat.

Merkley then encourages citizens to sign petitions and hold marches and ralleys to protest the nomination. He often joins the protest and uses words such as “outrage,” “unAmerican” and “criminal.”

In an op-ed published by The New York Times Friday, Feb. 3, Merkely takes issue (again) with the refusal of Senate Republicans to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court last year following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But Merkley goes further, calling the actions of Republicans a crime, a word he repeats multiple times. Even allowing for hyperbole, that is a shocking accusation. It’s also wholly untrue, as Merkley knows perfectly well, and it debases the very institution in which Oregon voters have given him the privilege to serve.

The hyperpartisanship that has become the norm even in the Senate is a problem, and both Republicans and Democrats are responsible. Merkley positively luxuriates in it, however. Rather than seeking to find common ground with Republicans – or even acknowledging that common ground may exist – he trafficks in overheated rhetoric, engages boldly in the worst kind of hypocrisy and attacks longstanding institutions like the filibuster, all for partisan gain. He has become the nuclear senator, and he’s ours.

Merkley, who is far from stupid, surely assumes that his behavior resonates with a disaffected Democratic base, particularly in blue Oregon. And perhaps he’s right. But his true intellectual base isn’t the thousands of Oregonians who voted for Hillary Clinton and those who filled the streets in protest following the inauguration of Donald Trump.

In political terms, Merkley’s behavior has more in common with the small subset of anarchists who hijack such marches and smash things because they are angry and it feels good.

Oregonians deserve better than this, and they know it.

— Wescom News service (The Bulletin) contributed to this editorial

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