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The end of the American republic?


Today (so far) we’ve had three major news stories involving the Trump administration:

(1) The administration announced that the next G-7 summit would be held at a Trump property that is critical to Trump’s finances, struggling financially, and mostly empty at the time the summit is to be held. This is a completely unambiguous violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

(2) “Acting” White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that military aid to Ukraine was held up because Donald Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate a facially insane conspiracy theory involving Joe Biden and the DNC. This is a completely unambiguous acknowledgement of offering a foreign government an illegal quid pro quo, to induce it to help undermine a political rival.

(3) Vice president Mike Pence announced a basically phony “cease fire,” under the terms of which Turkey would be allowed to ethnically cleanse a large part of northern Syria, occupied by the United States’s Kurdish allies.

That all happened this morning. The Trump administration is an openly criminal enterprise, in control of the executive branch of the American government. This is not hyperbole: this is the most straightforward literal statement of fact.

Can anything, practically speaking, be done about this before next November? Will something resembling a “free and fair” election be held then? Will the results of that election be recognized by the Trump administration, the Republican party, the Supreme Court, and the United States military?

It’s really bad, and it’s getting worse. And anyone who thinks the answers to those questions are self-evident is wrong about that.

MIJ in comments gives a good halftime speech:

It’s going to get worse, much worse, before it gets better.

Trump continues to be under a lot of pressure from House investigations. Yes, I know it seems they are impotent but there do appear to be cracks in terms of who is willing to testify.

The various cases are also working their way through the courts and while Trump has placed way too many on the courts and most of those too many as well as Republican holdovers tend to find the law a flexible instrument that just coincidentally always affirms their position.

Nevertheless, a couple of the cases are so clearly weighted towards the House’s position that it will take monumental amounts of argle-bargle to prevent the House from prevailing.

I hate to hang my hat on John Roberts but both the tax return case and the cases involving total obstruction of House subpoenas are going to be very hard to hand wave away if he actually has any concern for the legitimacy of the courts. I also suspect that Roberts falls into the category of Republicans who hate Trump but are down with the general Republican gilded Age platform.

Trump will continue to do stupid things. He will continue to react badly to any criticism and while we can’t silence Fox or Sinclair we are also a long way from being silenced ourselves. So the pressure will continue and Trump will react in ways that peal off supporters or more accurately solid support.

There will likely be some sort of Black Swan, some sort of terrorist event either domestic or foreign, some major functional failure with a Katrina like response, or a situation where Trump’s bluff gets called and he goes so far out on the limb that folks in the Pentagon begin to speak up – the current events in Syria may actually be heading there.

Ultimately there are more of us than them. That is of little comfort if we don’t get out the vote, if we don’t organize, if we don’t scream at the top of our lungs. We know that Republicans will engage in election chicanery, therefore we must be prepared to meet it and meet it forcefully and head on. This is especially true in swing states and swing districts.

We must all commit to doing what we can whether that be volunteering, contributing, writing, speaking out at public events or having painful conversations with family members and neighbors who we can possibly get to at least stay home.

A few weeks ago Paul used the Hemingway quote about bankruptcy – at first it was slow and then it was fast. The immediate moment feels intolerable because evil stuff is happening every day and every moment.

Every news cycle brings the rupture of another norm or news of some new outrage that outdistances the last outrage. It is easy to fall prey to confirmation bias and familiarity bias, to hear and feel all this bad stuff and think there’s no hope. It is easy to feel victimized but the plain and simple fact is that each of us has agency and power and the ability to speak up and out. The forces against justice are powerful and loud but their volume is exacerbated by modern communications which assists in the illusion that they are overwhelming.

But there are more of us than there are of them.

My grandfather, who saw a good deal of trench warfare in WWI, used to say: “Don’t worry nothing will be all right.” Now that sounds very much like a cynical surrender but it was his way of finding solid ground and standing up straight and taking on the latest challenge.

Don’t worry nothing will be all right. It will get worse. It will get ugly. It will feel hopelessly unjust and at times impossible. but there are more of us than there are of them and we still have our voices, our agency, and the resources to make it better.

The history of this country is rife with examples of people and groups who faced intolerable conditions and prevailed through effort, solidarity, and faith in justice.

There are more of us than there are of them!

Damn straight.

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