It is difficult to keep my head from exploding with each new day’s political developments. So now Rod Rosenstein is quitting or may be fired, leaving Mueller’s Russia investigation in grave jeopardy. Or maybe not. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces an increasing number of allegations of sexual misbehavior which may derail his nomination to the high court. Or maybe not. Trump addresses the United Nations and gravely blames all the world’s ills on Iran. Sounds like a recipe for a Trumped-up invasion/October surprise. Or maybe not. In any case the waves of breaking news wash over us with relentless ferocity, keeping us locked in hypnotic distraction.
That said, though the Democrats are not blameless, the Republicans continue to astound me with the temerity they summon to lie to the American people, and mostly get away with it, while Trump spews bombast and orchestrates more distractions. The hypocrisy and the distortion of reality are mind-boggling. After stonewalling Merrick Garland for over a year the GOP now expects us to believe there is great urgency to install Kavanaugh, essentially ignoring and denying credible accusations that would have had them performing exploding flying pinwheels if they had been leveled at a Democratic nominee or elected official at any level.
Mitch McConnell, one of the most immoral and hypocritical human beings to haunt the halls of Congress in recent memory, proclaims the Senate will quickly proceed to an “up or down vote” on Kavanaugh regardless of accusers’ testimony that Kavanaugh may have committed attempted rape and other sexual assaults as a teenager.
Trump boasted a while back that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and face no consequences, and now a comparable range of behavior apparently is permissible to anyone so designated by the Grand Old Party.
What is happening here is the attempted establishment of an authoritarian state, where truth is what the leader(s) declare it to be, and all accusations to the contrary are branded as “unfair” political conspiracies. I have no doubt that if Republicans hold both houses of Congress in the midterm elections, there will be a wholesale purge of White House and Cabinet officials, the dissolution of the Mueller investigation and a full-speed assault on the shreds of our remaining institutions. My fears were echoed by Hillary Clinton last week when she spoke with Rachel Maddow. To wit, how can any rational adult believe Trump will relinquish power under a Republican majority, even if he should lose his re-election bid in 2020? He said he was prepared to cry fraud if he lost in 2016. Ironically, now he would blame the Russians for an unfavorable outcome, as he may well do if the Democrats take back the House (and/or Senate) this November. Is there anything in his past behavior to indicate he would accept a negative election outcome?
All he needs to do then is declare a national emergency (or invent one, such as a war someplace) and take the executive actions to bury Justice Department investigations of his campaign’s or administration’s behavior regarding conspiracy or obstruction of justice.
The Republicans in power have shown zero inclination to block or even seriously object to Trump’s outrageous and perhaps treasonous assaults on the limits of executive power. They have corrupted the process of judicial nominations with arrogance and impunity. Why would anyone believe there is a thread of decency in the moral fabric of any elected official who would any longer bear the Republican label? Is there, as some have asked, a line they would not cross?
The sexual excesses and crimes of men who covet political and entrepreneurial power are very much expressions of their obsession with power, so I suppose it should be no surprise that sexual misbehavior from a Supreme Court nominee is described as “a hiccup” or in other terms by members of Congress implying no consequence. News flash: Even hiccups can have consequences when they increase in frequency and severity.
If Kavanaugh’s nomination is railroaded through, there needs to be a national strike. If Rosenstein is fired, there needs to be a million-strong march on Washington and acts of civil disobedience. Even if nothing similarly egregious happens before election day, there needs to be a national awakening that brings women and youth and minorities to the polls like never before to cast their votes in what truly seems like a last chance to save American democracy.
Steve Klinger is a veteran community journalist and college English instructor based in southern New Mexico. Frequently skeptical about the capacity of the written word to inspire activism, he also writes songs, hoping to add the power of music to his topical lyrics.