Letting him get away with it: shameless Republicans
Unlike Donald Trump who, in his mind, can do no wrong, Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska, admits that the President indeed did something wrong in the Ukraine affair. But Murkowski, like almost every other Republican Senator, voted not guilty in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
Murkowski and her small crew of wafflers rationalize the contradiction by arguing that Trump’s misdeeds are not so serious to justify removing him from office. Really? If inviting a foreign nation to interfere in a U.S. presidential election, trying to coerce a second nation to cook up material to cast the false impression that a domestic political opponent is corrupt, are not impeachable offenses, nothing can be.
The Republicans in the Senate have in effect shredded the impeachment clause in the Constitution. They have also made U.S. sovereignty into a commodity to be traded internationally in exchange for political favors for the incumbent chief executive. They have made Trump a virtual king, accountable to no one, above the law, the very thing that the Founders dreaded and tried hard to preclude by crafting a Constitution that provided for a severe remedy: removal from office.
The Senate has failed miserably in performing its duty. That is no surprise given the ideological makeup and inherently undemocratic nature of the Senate. But it is a travesty. Every nation, even a so-called banana republic, zealously guards its sovereignty. The Founders, who had just fought and won a bloody war to attain American sovereignty, were especially concerned about preventing foreign interference in the internal affairs of the country.
It was not a paranoid concern for the leaders of a young nation that lacked a standing army and that had established a system of government—a republic—that was by its very existence a threat to the absolutist monarchies that then ruled the world: Great Britain, Spain, and France chief among them. That preoccupation is inscribed in the very constitutional principles the Senate has chosen to reinterpret as allowing the president to compromise the country’s foreign policy for the corrupt advantage of a politician.
In that context, what would the Founders have called Donald Trump’s appeal to a foreign adversary – “Russia, if you’re listening”—to make public Hillary Clinton’s illegally obtained emails to smear her and win the election?
The standard explanation for GOP sycophancy is that Republican members of Congress are afraid that Trump can deny them reelection with a mere tweet. That’s a big part of it, but political expediency and cowardice is only part of it. The biggest reason Republicans will defend Trump beyond truth and reason is so they can keep carrying out the real GOP agenda, which is to expand class and race privilege.
Murkowski, Collins, and other wafflers who, even admitting the truth about Trump, chose impunity, are the most contemptible of all. Pathetic. Pitiful.
The most damnable, who deserve to live on in infamy, are those hardline Republican Guards in the Senate determined to defend everything that Supreme Leader Donald Trump has done regardless of massive evidence of serious, serial culpability.
They are Tea Party reactionaries who dislodged establishment Republicans to bedevil Obama and any Republican that would compromise with him. They are the “South will rise again” Republicans who exult at Trump’s every racist and xenophobic policy, trope, or tweet. They are the racist, mean-spirited, resentful whites outside the South who have been longing for a Republican willing to call a spade a spade, a spic a spic, and a disabled person a cripple. They call fairness, kindness and decency “political correctness.”
They are also the plutocrats, wannabee plutocrats, and well-paid gofers for the plutocrats who want, above all things, a government that works for them: minimal taxes, minimal benefits for the middle class and the poor, maximum repression of common criminals, minimum enforcement of laws against corporate and white-collar crime, especially tax evasion.
All these varieties of the despicable, who are way worse than Hillary Clinton’s description of them as “deplorables,” feel entitled because of their wealth, their skin color, their Anglo-Saxon ethnic origin, their status as male heterosexuals.
As this group shrinks demographically, it comes up with new tricks to negate the will of the people on behalf of the economic elite and the shrinking white population. Gerrymandering and suppression of the minority vote is an important component of maintaining undemocratic rule. Structural factors baked into the system are more important. The undemocratic Electoral College. The wildly unrepresentative Senate. The overweening role of money in the political system. The Ministry of Propaganda, Fox News and its minor leagues affiliates, that have no commitment to truth and have no counter on the left where even the most liberal media, such as MSNBC, feel compelled to observe basic journalistic standards.
Some things should be added for fairness and nuance. There are many white progressives who are radically opposed to racism. And, although this has been overstated to the point of distortion, there are some progressive billionaires who recognize the unfairness of the income and wealth distribution.
At the same time, the Republican Party would be permanently out of power without white voters and if vast sums of right-wing money did not warp the electoral system we would be closer to European-style welfare state than the dog-eat-dog capitalism we are forced to endure.
I close with this thought. Donald Trump is the O.J. Simpson of politicians. He did it, committed the crime, and got away with it. But Simpson did not learn any lesson other than that he could get away with anything. Living honestly was not in his nature and he was soon behind bars. Trump has learned no lesson either. He will continue to transgress against the law, promote hate, lie, cheat, and reap economic advantage from being president. But, like Simpson, he can’t get away with it forever.
Let’s make 2020 the turning point for the definitive and disastrous downfall of Donald Trump.