Skip to main content

Nice Try, Founders


Who knew the Constitution was so fragile?

Who knew it could be so easily eviscerated in just three years? Who knew all it would take was a single media-savvy sociopath happy to run roughshod over any law, norm, institution, or value?

Of course, no single sociopath could pull this off alone. He needed a rogue political party willingly enabling him, gorging on his corruption, happy to trade the country’s future for their donors’ present.

Could the Founders have anticipated this? That a Trump could take over the entire party in a sort of slow-motion putsch? That he could have them jumping through hoops of gaslight and fraud, blackmailing them into doing his bidding? All for fear of triggering a tweet attack?

I’m generally an admirer of the Founders, but it’s hard to deny that they got a few things wrong, things that have gone largely unexposed until now. I’m not referring to the electoral college, which continues to be a bad idea gone wrong. Nor am I referring to the composition of the Senate, two per state, which distorts beyond reason the representation of the actual citizenry.

I refer, rather, to the checks and balances. As ingenious as the system was — and it worked fairly well for almost two and half centuries — the Founders made a perhaps fatal assumption: that if one branch of government proves to be corrupt, the other two would step in and put a stop to it.

They never anticipated that all three branches could be corrupt simultaneously.

Yet for the first time, that is what we have. A president who gives corruption a bad name. A Senate oblivious to the rule of law. A Supreme Court at least as radical and backward-facing as we feared — with a Judiciary newly stocked with unqualified imbeciles, courtesy of Mitch McConnell’s confirmation assembly line.

The Founders made it almost absurdly difficult to remove a president. Impeachment is effectively the only remedy (forget the 25th amendment), and it’s a poor one at that. Impeachment is, at root, a political action, not a legal one. As we’ve seen recently — and vividly.

Why isn’t it written directly into the Constitution that the president is not allowed to break the law? Founders? Are you there?

It’s almost unthinkable that any other presumably democratic nation, when faced with such an astonishing mix of incompetence and criminality, would not find a way to put a stop to it. But we can’t. The Constitution has us boxed in. It is no longer clear that it, or we, can protect the rule of law from these usurpers.

So it was a nice try, Founders. Not only did the Constitution seem to work, more or less, for all that time, but we also managed to sell much of the rest of the world on its perceived virtues. They admired us. They emulated us. Do they have buyer’s remorse?

I, for one, am embarrassed that my country, once held up to the world as a best practice, has so quickly devolved into a bad example.

Can we undo any of this? Can we get back the rule of law? I’m worried.

Trump’s most senior enablers — Barr, Pompeo, and especially McConnell — have gone all in. They seem to be betting their own survival on tanking the Constitution and setting up some sort of half-assed, poorly-thought-out dictatorship.  

I’m not sure they meant to put themselves in this position, where they either have to steal the next election or go to prison. But that’s what they’ve let Trump con them into. And he’s pushed them, I fear, past the point of no return. All while the virus makes it crystal clear just how irredeembably vile these people are.

Rule of law is the secret sauce of democracy. Without it, things get dicey, and fast. Which is what’s happening now, and fast. The next six months are going to be, in a thousand ways, batshit crazy.

I think no less of the Founders for having unwittingly gotten us into this mess. But I sure wish they could get us out of it.


Berkley MI

Friday 05/29/20

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Guess Where You Can Find the Real Pedophiles

When political discourse turns to pedophilia — which it should never, ever do — it helps to separate fiction from non-fiction. The fictional narrative, widely disseminated by QAnon-addled propagandists, is that the Democratic Party is a vast conspiracy of ravenous child abusers, who just barely managed to cover up Hillary Clinton’s bloodthirsty coven in the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. The non-fiction narrative — profusely-documented but with a much lower profile — is that both the priesthood of the Catholic Church and the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have indulged and protected a stunningly large number of child molesters, and allowed them to enjoy long and predatory careers within their respective churches. In the last few weeks, these two stories flew somewhat under the radar, but both are worth looking at, not so much for the staggering hypocrisy of its characters — hypocrisy fatigue has long since rendered us numb — as for its legal and political i

Sex: The Abortion Origin Story

In the next month, five ultra-Catholic ideologues, unencumbered by any rational thought process, will decide that a fetus has more rights than its mother. When that happens, the legislatures in as many as 26 states will likely enact laws, under which a pregnant woman will, in effect, be legally obligated to carry to term every fetus that takes root in her body. Whether or not she was raped by a stranger, or by her father. Whether or not she miscarries. Whether or not the baby dies in her womb. Whether or not the baby is capable of life outside her womb. Whether or not that baby’s survival is likely to kill her. The rights of her fetus will, apparently in all cases, supercede hers. And her partner’s, too. Because for every beer-soaked asshole who will now be empowered to force his battered wife to carry his baby, there will be hundreds of responsible husbands legally barred from responsibly planning a family, or from ending a family-crippling pregnancy, or from choosing the life

The New York Times Is Doing Us No Favors

I am a life-long customer of The New York Times, and generally a satisfied one. For sheer news-gathering firepower, they continue to stand out in a tarnished but still important field. They’ve covered — or uncovered — virtually every major story of the last century and a half. Their investigative prowess is unquestioned. Plus, they have Paul Krugman on their op-ed page, an invaluable source of level-headed insights on a wide range of subjects. He combines a Nobel-level knowledge of economics with an astute political eye that is almost always dead on. He alone is worth the paywall, at least to me. But with all that said, the Times has lately been pissing me off. They’ve become unreasonably invested in what Krugman himself has decried as “false equivalency” — better known as “both-siderism.” They continue to pretend that our two major parties are equally engaged in reasonable discourse, and are equally responsible for the fractious and violent state of the nation. The Times scrup