By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Readers of last week’s column, which highlighted Trump’s bizarre claims about the extraneous Arizona election audit, are now convinced he’s a pathological liar or clinically insane. After this week’s, none will doubt he’s a would-be Mafia Don. Capo di tutti capi, who controls a nationwide criminal organization intent on taking down democracy the way the Sicilian Mafia took down the few brave police and prosecutors who stood in their way.
(Having just spent time there, seeing memorials, everywhere, to those selfless resistors and the pride Sicilians deservedly take in finally standing up to the mob, we hope for comparable monuments in a future America. Assuming she has a future.)
Despite Republican/Trumpist/Foxian efforts to disappear it, some Americans might remember Jan. 6. Some may even have sought legitimate, Fox/Newsmax/OAN-free sources of information about it, and discovered how Trump nearly accomplished overturning a legitimate, fraud-free election, by way of corrupt insiders and orchestrated insurrection. And the extent to which prominent R’s abetted the sedition. And still are. (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (tinyurl.com/nogov4u).
So, though its Republican members would like to rub it out, we have a congressional commission looking in. Subpoenas have been issued to Trump’s henchmen and consiglieri, as well they should. Because congressional oversight is how our democracy protects itself from despotism. It’s in the Constitution; that hoary document which, while claiming willingness to die for it, today’s Republicans and their draft-dodging leader are setting on fire to light their torches of demographic resentment (tinyurl.com/2test4u).
Overseeing the Executive Branch is our Constitution’s second-most important safeguard. The Declarative Dads got several things wrong (slavery, women, Electoral College, too-skewed Senate), but, familiar with the tyranny of monarchical power, that part they got right. Without it, dictatorship is inevitable, and getting all too close. Venerated parchment has no power of its own. Absent universal, non-partisan buy-in, calligraphic words are vapor. We’ve seen how close we came to a failed republic when Trump put lawless lackeys in charge of critical institutions. And we’ve heard the Republican hos and hums that followed.
Don Trumpleone doesn’t buy in, nor do members of his party in Congress. Or out in the states. So, despite lacking the power of office, but supported by his 24/7 network of media wiseguys, he made an offer they couldn’t refuse: Defy the subpoenas. Put concrete shoes on the rule of law. Shove it through smashed windows. Reveal yourselves as an anarchic crime family. It worked during impeachment, consequence-free. The party of law, patriotism, family values and fiscal responsibility: making words meaningless; getting away with it.
Defy them they did. Which bids us to remind their cheerers-on, in case they’ve forgotten, that when a Republican Congress blamed Hillary Clinton for all our country’s woes, she, believing in law and order, answered their subpoenas, sat for eleven hours straight while trumped-up charges kangarooed her way; amounting, in the end, to nothing.
Contempt of Congress is a punishable crime, as it must be. This time, actual crimes were committed. Trump’s Department of Justice, upon which the responsibility of prosecution falls, was headed by an obsequious lieutenant, willing to lie to America, who considered his job protecting the godfather, rather than the law. Now it’s Merrick Garland, a man of unquestionable integrity. Understanding and committed to preserving the independent role of his department, unlike his conscience-free, Trumpophilic predecessors, it’s likely he’ll see justice served. And, accordingly, that our democracy and respect for its laws are preserved (Congressional Research Service: tinyurl.com/contempt4u).
At least we hope so. If not, it’s over. Foxotrumpification has brought us closer than the founders imagined possible. Not just politicians, and not just their disingenuous repetition of Trump’s Big Lie. With deliberately incendiary language, amoral Foxfather Tucker Carlson, in it for money and the orgastic thrill of power over the incurably incurious, called on viewers to attack school boards for requiring masks. Criminal child abuse, he called it. They did as commanded. Such malleable idiocy is inimical to democracy and an embarrassment to long-gone Republicanism. It’s only one example of what they’ve become (Daily Kos: tinyurl.com/insane4tucker).
More powerful than Congressional oversight, fair and free elections are the ultimate bulwark against authoritarianism. While proclaimed “conservatives” cheer in deadly silence, red states are close to obliterating that, too. With ever more egregious and blatantly race-based gerrymandering, along with phony laws aimed at non-existent fraud, the Trumpist gang has ordered a hit on majority rule. A carefully-calibrated coup (Esquire: tinyurl.com/gerryuout).
Without resistance from within, of which there’s little left (Washngton Post: tinyurl.com/2savedemocracy), the Don and his transcontinental crime family will confirm how powerless our Constitution really is, when so few on the right actually believe in it.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from one of their most-targeted truth-tellers: (Twitter: tinyurl.com/fromadam2u).
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.