Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Party unity is harming the republic

Enough.

That blinkered hack Mitch McConnell is refusing even to consider appointing a special prosecutor to carry out an impartial investigation into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russian state action.

McConnell's intransigence, and the refusal of even ordinarily sensible Republicans like Susan Collins to buck him and Trump on this, is not mere partisanship. Their inaction is way, way beyond partisan. It is destructive to the honesty and integrity of government. It is destructive to the health of the nation.

This fish stinks from the head but Republicans for the most part are arguing that there's nothing wrong. Comey was the target of bipartisan criticism, goes the refrain, so ditching him should be celebrated by everyone. Left unanswered is the matter of timing: why was he fired now?

We all know the answer.

The reason given by the White House for Comey's firing — that he fouled up when investigating Hillary Clinton — is the rankest bullshit. Comey was fired shortly after asking for more resources to further the FBI's inquiry. He was fired because he was pursuing the investigation too zealously for Trump's taste.

Firing Comey was about as nakedly self-preservationist an action as we've seen since Nixon. As Timothy O'Brien at Bloomberg wrote:

What drives Trump today, and what has always driven him, are twin forces: self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. Most of his public actions can be understood as a reflection of one or both of those needs.

And Donald Trump firing James Comey was all about self-preservation.

Any politician's refusal to accept this simple truth makes him or her complicit in Trump's corruption.

In February I pondered how far Trump might indulge his authoritarian, anti-democratic instincts. I argued that Congress, with Republicans in charge, wasn't going to do anything to curb him. So far, all but a handful of Republicans are proving me right. Party before country, as despicable an attitude as can be found in politics.

So far the courts have served to check Trump's most outrageous abuses, but as I wrote:

It's crystal clear Donnie lacks even a hint of the sense of civic responsibility and respect for the nation's institutions that kept Nixon from holding onto power. Dear Leader is corrupt and doesn't care if we suspect (hey, how about those tax returns, Donnie?). He and his cronies have only contempt for the so-called establishment (that contempt is practically their brand). What if that includes the courts? Is it so hard to imagine Donnie ignoring court decisions, even Supreme Court decisions, he doesn't like?
We haven't yet arrived at that pass, but Bloomberg's O'Brien noted that Dear Leader openly mused about breaking up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the circuit most likely to oppose his actions. If there is a way to neuter the courts' ability to check this administration, Dear Leader will find it.

That being the case, in March I pondered what recourse would be left for ordinary people like you and me if Dear Leader succeeded, with Republican legislators' cover, in establishing a truly authoritarian state.

... if Dear Leader presents the existential threat to our republic that I'm beginning to think he does, I'm talking about bringing the civic machinery of the country to a grinding halt. I'm talking about withholding federal taxes and refusing to cooperate with federal authorities. I'm talking about dropping tools and paralyzing the business of the nation.

I'm talking about a general strike and civil disobedience directed against the federal government, until such time as Dear Leader and his junta are removed from power.

We're not there yet, but we are slipping closer to the edge — because Republicans are putting party over country.

Something has been fueling the FBI investigation. Every belated admission of wrongdoing, every grudging recusal (after enormous public pressure), demonstrates that Dear Leader and his closest associates are hiding dirty dealings. Firing Comey was as public a sign as possible that Dear Leader is deeply worried, worried enough to pull a dictator's stunt — yet confident enough that he'll have political cover. So far, he's right on the latter score.

Trump is dirty, but we don't know how dirty. Every day that we continue not knowing what that dirt is, is a slap in the face of the public and an erosion of the promise of the Constitution. He and his authoritarian disregard for everyone but himself are the gravest threat our country has faced in over four decades.

How long are we going to let Republicans in Congress cover for him?

How long are we going to let them hold their damned party unity more sacred than their oath of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Your oath is to the Constitution, ladies and gentlemen, not to your party or the President.

Think about that oath, and whether you're truly keeping faith with it.

Think about which you love more: your party, or your country.

We're all waiting. And we will remember what you decide.

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