As Naomi Klein explained in “Shock Doctrine,” sudden social and economic disruptions provide opportunities to advance deep cultural change. Ideas on the periphery of mainstream thinking can be re-introduced in the midst of distracting turmoil, when standard notions are in flux and maybe not seen as working. The Corona virus is presenting the world, and Americans, with opportunities and choices that will reveal our core values, individually and collectively. It’s a good time to ask what we want. Continue reading “Change In a Crisis”
Maybe it’s only through hindsight that we can see when a society’s slide into authoritarianism becomes inevitable. Historians say democracies die from within. One can imagine ordinary citizens mistaking the increasing drama for politics as usual. And it’s easy to see how those benefitting from the concentration of power would tell themselves they can always stop the authoritarian leader from “going too far.” Until they can’t. At some point their own investment becomes too great, their culpability too obvious, and their own vulnerability to the authoritarian too certain to risk opposing him. Continue reading “Tipping Point”
The inevitable has arrived. With the assassination of Iran’s Maj. Gen. Oassim Suleimani, our country faces an international crisis while dependent on a President who cannot or will not distinguish fact from fiction, or truth from lies. Our security now depends on an administration existentially compelled to support whatever version of reality the President thinks will make him look good in the moment. Ironically, our most trustworthy sources of accurate information are Administration leaks and investigative reporting. Continue reading “Facing the consequences”
When you were a sweet Christian child,
Touched by the compassion of Jesus,
Singing Away in a Manger at Christmas, and
Giving dimes to the missions,
Did you dream you’d be taking children from mothers
To show how unwanted they are,
Sending immigrants away to their deaths, or
Mocking a handicapped man?
What does it mean that Donald Trump believes he would not lose a single vote if he shot a man on 5th Avenue? Or that Mitch McConnell recently said he “can’t imagine anything Trump could do that would cause the Senate to remove him from office?” Or that Republican members of Congress are demeaning themselves with frantic, irrelevant arguments against overwhelming evidence of illegal behavior that put our national security at risk? When both his guilt and the severity of the offenses have been established beyond all reasonable doubt, it’s a fair bet Donald Trump’s base will simply forgive him, as they have done so many times already. A rational mind begs for explanation.
I understand the attraction of authoritarian leaders to people who feel frightened and/or impotent. I understand that Republican politicians are justifiably afraid to cross him. And we all know how bias confirmation can trap people into ways of thinking they cannot or will not change. But this passionate worship of Mr. Trump by almost 40% of the population, this blind loyalty to a man who is loyal to no one but himself, has a cult like feel that suggests something else is going on.
Let’s look on the dark side.
After watching the first two days of the House impeachment investigation, I suspect the only way the Senate will be able conclude the inevitable impeachment trial with integrity, and without upheaval, will be to allow a final vote on each of the articles of impeachment by secret ballot. I know that runs contrary to important values of transparency and personal accountability, but in this single circumstance I believe an exception is warranted. Continue reading “✓ for a secret ballot”
I now think Donald Trump will be impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate. He is leaving Congress with no choice. While he could declare himself the most successful president ever and resign, waning public support will soon drain that option of glamour, making it less likely.
The final straw to justify conviction in the Senate will likely be a legal technicality, an article of impeachment the House can prove as a statutory violation. Republicans in Congress will realize Mr. Trump is sinking their political ship, individually and collectively. While his fierce base can do them harm, it is too narrow to win their re-elections. Forced to make a public choice, they will have to acknowledge his wrongdoing and vote to convict.
Impeachment will be both necessary and correct. Necessary, because the evidence of criminal and Constitutional wrongdoing will be clear and convincing; but correct for reasons more aligned with the historical intention of the impeachment remedy as imported to our Constitution from England: to remove a destructive or divisive public official without criminal prosecution or assassination.
Whether we view Donald Trump as a populist hero or a narcissistic grifter, there is no denying he is undermining the Nation’s long standing values and norms, deliberately dividing the population, and corrupting the professional independence and capabilities of our government. He has said Article II of the Constitution gives him the right to do whatever he wants, and is acting accordingly. Even if he is, as he says, the smartest, wisest, most capable person on Earth, the Nation’s Constitutional order is built on principles and processes for balancing power and self-governance that must reject a president who denies and defies them.
If his amorality and personal corruption are not reasons to remove him from office, his insistence on superiority over laws and fundamental Constitutional requirements will leave the Senate, when faced with the duty of applying those requirements, with no acceptable choice but to remove him.
As Donald Trump was rising in the Republican primaries, I wrote the first essay in this blog warning that admiration of him as a strong, iconoclastic champion who would face down political correctness and speak truth to power would misunderstand a terrible and dangerous flaw—his narcissism. He would not, perhaps could not, stop doubling down on himself, on his self image as bigger and stronger than the country’s established political and Constitutional order. I now believe this compulsion will drive him to destroy the nation or be martyred. Continue reading “Why President Trump will have to be impeached”