Schwab: This can’t be what the founders had in mind, can it?

The founders thought of nearly everything. What they didn’t account for was the abdication of the governed.

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

A while back, optimistic and brave people left a country in which they’d been abused by monarchical power. Later, after years of exploitation from afar, having sacrificed lives and fortune in a successful war of revolution, they set about establishing a new nation — the likes of which the world had never seen — including a constitution designed, among other things, to prevent autocracy from ever gaining foothold. To which end they included specific means to redress executive excess.

This bold country survives, in large part, because its citizens once comprehended the importance of their governing documents, implicitly accepted the demands of citizenship, recognized that laws are only as good as their willingness to follow them, even when some might prefer not to. “Consent of the governed,” some have called it.

Then, unforeseen by the founders, who intended exactly the opposite, a quirk in their mostly brilliant creation leads to the selection of a classic demagogue, an amoral, serial adulterer and abuser, whose prior career is one of lies, baseless braggadocio, shirking responsibility, being punished for breaking laws, failed and scam businesses, propped up by money from his daddy and other disreputable sources. A man who, proudly unread and uninformed in matters of governance, nevertheless recognizes a path to power can be found by exploiting human weakness, by nonstop lying and instilling fear and hatred of “the other.”

What’s horrifying isn’t that such a man exists, or even that the system allowed his “election.” It’s that millions of citizens, laying exclusive claim to love of their exceptional country, cheer like Brazilian soccer fans when that man announces those founding documents are, in fact, crap. Mocks them. Belittles the very idea of constraints on his power; shouts that what had been, till now, a co-equal branch of government charged with keeping the executive in check, has no business fulfilling that obligation. Refuses to comply. Insults those holding him to account. Calls them stupidly childish names.

And his idolatrous believers, excusing this history-echoing demagoguery, ignorant of how democracy depends on principled opposition parties, laugh and cheer adoringly, convinced that anyone who disagrees with their unprincipled hero or demands he follow the law, who believes in separation of powers, must be thoroughly vanquished. Barred from voting. Deported. Locked up, even.

Do any of them stop to think this isn’t what made and kept our country great? Realize this would-be despot is demanding absolute power? Understand this is exactly what our Constitution is about preventing? Recognize how un-American this is?

Not a one.

Hard to say which is worse: a “president” who openly ridicules the Constitution, or his crazed followers’ delirious joy in hearing it. Citizens who cheer a man who flouts the law and claims unlimited power, consider themselves the ones making America great, while dismissing as their enemy those taking issue with unchecked presidential power.

And now our mythomane-in-chief is raising his lying to stupefying levels. Claiming what is the inverse of reality, he crowed that he, and only he, has protected and will protect pre-existing conditions. The truth, of course, is that such protection is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act, which his administration and party is doing everything it can, including lawsuits, to wipe off the books, with no replacement in the works. Do those same patriotic supporters find such blatant dishonesty disturbing? Personally insulting? Or just plain nuts?

Not a one.

There’s more. Because of data showing a recent decline in cancer deaths, resulting from years of research leading to better treatments, he’s taking credit, having done nothing except cutting funding for such research, to help offset tax cuts for his wealthy friends and polluting paymasters. In fact, he’ll make cancer rates worse, by reversing rules keeping carcinogens out of our food and water supplies.

Also, because his Suleimani assassination justifications change daily, we know he’s lying about it. And this is simply unspeakably grotesque mendacity (New Yorker: tinyurl.com/2sleazy4u).

In the United States of America, created with faith in the rule of law, predicated on a thoughtful citizenry that values truth, one deplorable man and millions of dis-educated, lie-preferring followers, are bringing it all down. As more evidence of Trump’s and his associates’ all-encompassing corruption mounts daily (thanks, Lev) Trumpists yawn. It’s clear why Republicans want to speed through the impeachment trial without new witnesses or documents.

Because Moscow Mitch, disposing his oath like last week’s trash, chose his own reelection over America’s future, November’s vote has become our now-or-never hope.

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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