You Can’t Concede Democracy To A Would-Be Dictator

After the midterms, a majority of Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Now that Democrats have won control of one branch of Congress, they will be better able to act to hold the President and this GOP administration accountable for their actions.

 

But if you listen to some news commentators, the biggest challenge facing Democrats is to avoid the temptation to go after T or try to impeach him. A Monmouth University poll reportedly found that only 36% of Americans thought T should be impeached. Instead, these pundits argue, Dems should try to pass health care legislation, rebuild infrastructure, establish a higher minimum wage and control gun violence. These are all worthy pursuits. But it’s not enough.

 

Focusing on health care instead of impeachment helped most of the Dems win in the midterm elections last week.  And the party itself is unsure just how progressive they are or can afford to be. I get that. But to ignore T’s assaults on the rule of law, on our rights, voting systems, environment, on our ears and hearts, would be suicidal, not only to the lives of many people but to any remaining semblance of democracy.

 

And many Americans know this. We feel fear and anxiety almost every day about what T is doing. We care about our humanity. And, I hope, most won’t let T have his way.

 

The Monmouth University poll also found 52% of the public think keeping T in check should be the major priority for the new Congress. Even a majority of Republicans (54%) join 92% of Democrats in saying that keeping Trump in check should be at least a minor priority.

 

According to a Pew Research Poll, about 60% of voters in the 2018 election said T motivated them to vote: 38% were motivated by an opposition to T, 26% supported him. And 7.1% more people (about 4 million) voted for Democrats for the House in the midterms than voted for Republicans.

 

Many of us recognize that T is selling out our nation to a group of super-rich individuals, maybe selling us out to demagogues and oppressors like Putin. Many of us know that he is using his office to directly enrich himself and violating the emoluments clause. His tax legislation funds the rich and robs from the rest of us.

 

If Democrats, for example, do not fight the appointment of Matt Whitaker as Attorney General, T might be protected from being held accountable for his actions. We could see an increase in unlawful behavior, rights violations, even religious persecution initiated by the GOP. For example, in his 2014 Senate bid, Whitaker said he would not support “secular judges” and any judge should “have a biblical view of justice.” Non-Christians, particularly atheists, Jewish and Muslim people are, according to Whitaker, unfit for such a position.

 

Former lawyer to the President, Don McGahn interviewed Whitaker to join T’s legal team as his “attack dog” against Robert Mueller. Whitaker has openly spoken out against the investigation, and the very idea that he could even appear as a neutral and qualified attorney general, or as anything other than T’s protector is absurd. He also claimed states should have the right to nullify federal laws.

 

How can we get legitimate health care legislation with a GOP controlled Senate and with T as President? Remember it was the GOP who, according to Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan, called for Congress to go after Medicare, Medicaid, (Social Security) and the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It was the GOP who last year proposed health care legislation that would make big cuts to Medicaid and undermine health care for millions.

 

How do we get gun control when the GOP is controlled by the NRA?

 

T warned Democrats “investigate me, and I’ll investigate you.” Mitch McConnell warned Democrats not to “harass the President.” It is not harassment if legislators speak the truth or act in accord with their sworn oath to defend the constitution. I think the news analysts who caution Democrats not to spend much time investigating and prosecuting T are serving the interests of the GOP, not the majority of the American people.

 

Democrats can and should propose legislation that actually serves the interests of the great majority of Americans. This includes resurrecting voting rights and protections, eliminating gerrymandering, and even more comprehensive health care legislation that would protect Americans and lower health costs. (The list could go on and on.)

 

They can keep in mind the great diversity of citizens in this nation. A Democracy only exists if people listen to and are willing to work with others and even compromise. Too much is at stake for Democrats to fight amongst themselves or vie for who is the most progressive, for example, or most independent. They have to remember it was the GOP who turned ‘compromise’ into a dirty word.

 

However, without using their new House majority to protect Mueller and carry out their own investigation into exactly how much T (and other GOP) aided Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, or how deeply he is beholden to Putin, financially or otherwise—without prosecuting him for interfering in the Mueller investigation and a myriad of other crimes, the Democrats could concede democracy to a would-be dictator. Many Democrats have said they are ready for this challenge of fighting T. For the well-being of our nation and world, I hope they are right. And I hope we are ready to work with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aim of T and the GOP Is Not To Win An Election, But End Elections; Not To Foster Democracy, But End It.

A democracy is a government where the ultimate power belongs to the people of the nation (demos is Greek for people). It is the will of the people that should guide decisions. The views and lives of the great majority of people, their education, livelihood, health and security must be valued. Since the will of the people is paramount and must guide decision-making, relationships amongst the people must be carefully fostered. Compassion must be fostered.

 

Yet, what is the reality of T’s GOP? Kevin Baker, in a recent article in the New Republic, describes what almost everyone who pays attention has observed: our politics has become open warfare, with the aim being not to serve the people but to make sure the other party never again comes to power. It is to seize power and keep it, by any means. That includes lying and distorting the truth, attacking the institutions that keep us safe, undermining voting, civil and legal rights, enormous corruption, and even colluding with the dictator of a foreign and hostile government.

 

Our government was deliberately structured to prevent a return to power of a monarchy or one-man rule. Three branches of government were established by the constitution in order to have checks on power. Today, we have a one party government; one party controls all three branches of the government. Since the party is led and controlled by one individual, we have a government controlled largely by one individual.

 

A government of a small group is an oligarchy. A government by a class is an aristocracy. A government by one legally prescribed hereditary ruler is a monarchy. A government wherein one person takes power and/or eliminates his or her opposition is a tyranny. A kleptocracy is a government of corrupt rulers who use their power to exploit the people and the nation’s resources in order to extend and keep their own personal wealth and power. Which kind of government do we have now?

 

A democracy requires that laws rule and must protect the people as a whole, not serve the interests of any one person or small group of persons. Yet, T asks the department of justice to protect and serve him, not the law. He tries to undermine investigations by his own DOJ and attacks the FBI.

 

According to a great body of evidence, T and several people from his campaign and administration, including his own son, son-in-law, campaign manager, etc. colluded with a foreign dictator to undermine US elections. And he has largely refused to protect our own election infrastructure.

 

A democracy needs the participation of the people. Yet the GOP undermines voting rights. T encourages hate instead of compassion, calls immigrants whores, criminals, and animals. He rips children from their parents as a deterrent for immigration. He divides the nation and whips up hatred against these fellow humans, despite the fact that immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, are less likely to commit a crime than those citizens born in this country.

 

He not only whips up hatred against immigrants, but against anyone who opposes him, even from his own party. He viciously attacked, in the past and even just recently, John McCain. He insulted and/or or threatened Senator Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake, and others for going against his wishes. Certainly, he attacks Democrats and the press almost daily.

 

To make political decisions that actually solve problems and improve the well-being of the people, a democracy needs educated people. It needs to support and promote the dissemination of scientific discoveries and information. This administration attacks education, both in public K-12 schools and universities, and has blocked access to scientific data.

 

This administration shows a profound disregard, even contempt, for health care for a great number of citizens, and has consistently advanced policies that most Americans oppose, creating pressures that cause insurance rates to rise and undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

 

It has attacked supports for the poor, like Medicaid, and programs that all Americans contribute to as insurance for when they are older or retired, like Medicare and Social Security—and they do this in order to protect tax cuts to the super rich who don’t need more wealth.

 

When a very small group of people get a large percentage of the nation’s wealth and income, a democracy of, by and for the people becomes impossible. According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 2007, the income for the top 1% in the US has grown by 275%. Since last year’s GOP tax cut, income inequality is growing even more. Instead of one person one vote, and freedom of speech for all, we have one person’s voice drowning out millions of other voices.

 

Hate destabilizes a nation. When we hate, we feel hated in return. We then strike out. Anger boils up with the least provocation. Increasing numbers of us experience a deep sense of dread or anxiety. The number of children suffering from anxiety has been greatly increasing. Increasing numbers of people can’t tolerate hearing the news.

 

We have to be careful not to become what we oppose. One of the worst results of this administration is that too many have begun to doubt the efficacy and strength of kindness. There is so much to be angry about that we can forget the deleterious effects of anger. We mistake actually listening to others for weakness.

 

The aim of this administration might be to end democracy, but they haven’t succeeded, yet. And we can’t let them. Anyone who wants a real democracy, who has compassion for other humans and believes in the rule of laws, not rule by a few powerful individuals, must do what we can to make opposing the policies of this administration a normal part of our day. Must make activities to keep us sane and compassionate part of our day. This is our only viable option if we wish to uphold our humanity.

The Healing Cries of Outrage and Compassion

So much has happened in the last week or more. So much cruelty, so many lies. Yet, the hearts of many have awoken, have reached a point where mutual feeling and compassion has overcome fear or disbelief or inertia and has led so many to speak out. It feels like, or maybe I am just hoping, that the opposition to T is growing and will continue to grow.

 

T’s policy toward immigrants, of separating children from their parents so their pain will scare others away from our borders, is not only so inhumane and cruel I can barely stand to think about it, but ignorant in terms of the long range effects of this policy. If our borders are marked with red in the hearts of so many, then we, as a people and a nation, are marked with red, like targets. Like a cruel threat to eliminate. As an immoral nation. It is unbelievably costly in terms of human suffering. It is costly in terms of the money spent in building and staffing the prisons to hold the people, and providing judges to judge them, food to feed and doctors to care for them (and hopefully that will get such care).

 

And it is based on so many lies. As most of us know, and despite T’s statements and tweets to the contrary, undocumented immigrants from the south, and elsewhere, are less likely to commit a crime than US citizens. The border, despite T’s claims, has not been overrun by illegals, certainly not more than in past years.

 

T claims his policy is nothing new. President Obama supposedly did it. Democrats passed a law to do it. And he’s helpless to stop it. Congress must stop it. Then a few days later, he signs an executive order claiming to do just what he said he couldn’t do. Of course, the order, in effect, is almost as cruel as the policy it claims to end. It creates more chaos and does nothing to help re-unite parents with the children the government ripped away.

 

Of course, Obama did not have a policy of separating children from the parents of asylum seekers or immigrants as a way to scare away other immigrants. Of course, Democrats passed no law forcing T to separate children from parents.

 

Friends have cautioned me to look behind the headlines. Whenever T does something spectacularly awful, something else awful is hiding in the shadows, or something threatening to T is being hidden. It is painful to say this, but T is ripping children from their parents not only as a way to satisfy his political base and his own base instincts. He is hiding the fact he is ripping off social welfare and health care programs from most Americans as well as hiding his own possibly treasonous and criminal activities.

 

So, while many of us are focusing on the cruelty being done to immigrants, the GOP, on Tuesday, 6/19, quietly passed through a House committee a budget proposal that would fast track large cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as education and other programs that actually serve most Americans, all to finance continued tax cuts to the rich. This proposal is expected to pass the House—unless there is a public outcry.

 

On Thursday, they released a plan to reorganize the federal government, and cut programs like food stamps. It would combine the education and labor departments and give private industry a more direct role in the government. This could, for example, undermine the teaching of the humanities and redirect education to be totally concerned with one goal —providing labor to corporate interests. It could undermine the power of workers in general and the enforcement of civil rights in schools.

 

However, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort remains in jail, a judge ruled that the evidence seized by the FBI from his office can be used in his trial, and new evidence has been uncovered of Trump advisers like Roger Stone meeting with Russian agents.

 

What is heartening is the outcry. Millions of Americans are calling Congress, and as Rachel Maddow revealed in a story on Thursday, 6/21, lawyers are organizing to defend, pro bono, federal officials who refuse to “follow orders” on immigration.  Multiple states are suing the T administration to stop his immigration policy. And millions of dollars have been raised in just a few days to provide legal assistance to the parents and children separated at the border.

 

Even more, the number of people who are ready to enter politics to defend America from the racism, sexism, etc., criminality, greed, and shortsightedness that this administration represents has increased dramatically this year. Over the last week, I have attended a fundraiser and/or donated to two amazing people who are running for office. One is a friend, Michael Lausell, who is running for the New York Senate in district 58. The other, a former student and graduate from the Lehman Alternative Community School, Satya Rhodes-Conway, is running for Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. And five people are competing in the Democratic primary in New York’s 23rd district to unseat T supporter Tom Reed. I have met and talked to two of the candidates at different political demonstrations and think both are worthy of my vote (Max Della Pia and Tracy Mitrano).

 

I just hope that all those who oppose and are outraged by this immigration policy, as well as the GOP tax policy, can keep in mind that our differences are less important than what we share ⎼ our humanity, and the drive to unseat T and his whole administration. To protect our environment and create a democratic government that works for and looks to promote the rights, freedom, education, and quality of life of the great majority of people in this nation.

 

**There is a New York primary on Tuesday, June 26th.

***And remember to make calls and speak up against this immigration policy and against cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to continue to finance tax cuts for the rich. On Saturday, June 30th, there will be demonstrations all over the nation to support immigrants. In Ithaca, the demonstration will be on the Commons, at 11:00 am.