Thursday, April 12, 2018

We were warned. What our founders feared is happening

A condensed and update version of this can be found in a later blog to be posted in late May or June:  Trump and the GOP congress are what Madison warned us about
From the Federalist papers:

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

What we are witnessing now is the very thing  founding father Madison warned our new country about.  The separation of powers to protect us from tyrants is being corrupted now.
The writers of our constitution tried to establish a form of government that would make it difficult for a tyrant to take control of our country. They divided  the power centers of government into three, executive, legislative, and judicial, each with a check on the other. Madison knew there was a way to undermine their checks and balances. What was not yet on the horizon when he wrote this were political parties, but he described them above as “accumulation of all powers in ...the same hands”, " of many or a few." The "few" today is one party in control of all three branches of government with members unwilling to exercise their Constitutional power to check actions of one another.

There are various ways to define a tyrant using 20th and 21st century terms . Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, called a form of it fascism in her recent book and op ed pieces.  She identifies a movement on many countries to embrace fascism. She sees President Trump as admiring them, aspiring, and instinctively using similar techniques to gain and to consolidate power, from attacking opposition media, promoting racial and ethnic scapegoats, and demanding a judiciary and law enforcers loyal to him instead of to the rule of law. Former FBI James Comey's bitter book that fires back at the President for firing him, compares Trump to a mob boss he once prosecuted, complete with using loyalty oaths.

Paul Ryan is  leaving Congress.  He is the leader of  the House, one of the legislative branches, the House of Representatives. His leaving  demonstrates if anything is that a legislative check on a president who is a wannabe "strong leader" demanding personal loyalty to him instead of the rule of law has not happened . That the  only party in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House, and working to control the judicial branch, is one, the Republican Party. The GOP is now the Trump party, with adherents willing to excuse any of the President's shortcomings so long as he supports their agenda. Polls show 80% of Republican voters approve of him, unshaken by any reports of immoral behavior in his private life or questionable character traits, or they agree the Mueller probe is just a witch hunt in spite of indictments to date and before a tight lipped Mueller releases his reports of his findings.

Respect of the rule of law is jeopardized. GOP House members believe that law enforcement, the FBI, Justice or the Mueller special counsel, should be staffed by only those loyal to the president to be credible, and that party affiliation of FBI or the Department of Justice leaders and key staff (all Republicans) is not enough. They demand the Department of Justice investigate investigators investigating Trump. Recently they forced the Department of Justice to turn over fired FBI Director James Comey's notes of his meeting with Donald Trump, key to an obstruction of justice case. That is an unprecedented interference by Congress to out evidence of an on-going criminal investigation.

The Senate is a profile in cowardice, like House members afraid of being primaried for being disloyal to the President. With few exceptions, voices raised against Trump by GOP Senators are those who are not standing for election soon or ever. The Senate is currently engaged in fast track approving appointments to the federal judiciary loyal to the president. The suspicion is they are so far refusing to pass legislation to protect  Special Counsel Mueller from the president firing him because they do not want their names to go on record. Their rationale, Trump would veto their bills anyway and they could not imagine Trump would fire Mueller or his boss Rod Rosenstein. Oh really?

There are two other checks to prevent  a breakdown of our form of government. Voters have a chance to do that in November 2018 electing others to Congress.

The other check is a free press with a wide varieties of opinions and presenting facts as they discover and present evidence of  them. Trump's bias in favor of Fox News, Breitbart, and Sinclair Media , who often convey his message and support him, is hardly a secret. Trump calls reports that paint him in a bad light as "fake news" from "failing" media. Mueller’s investigation will be issuing a report on the Trump campaign’s coordination with the Russians in the 2016 race, followed by reports on financial crimes. Trump is acting like he fears the report will hurt him and has been vigorously attacking the credibility of the Russian connection DOJ investigators and threatening he will fire them. It appears Trump is taking  preemptive measures to destroy the credibility of the FBI as a "deep state" full of partisans against him so that supporters do not take Mueller’s findings as fact. Recently, he tried to punish the owner of the “opposition press”, the Washington Post, by attacking the other business the paper owner has, Amazon , using easily disproved lies.

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