The Washington Post today published a jawdropping background account of the Obama administration’s response to intelligence revelations that Russia had engaged in a cyberwarfare attack on America’s 2016 presidential election, including a specific directive from President Vladimir V. Putin to the operatives involved in the hacking operation. The Obama administration knew of this in early August but confronted a host of difficulties in how best to disseminate the information amidst a tense presidential campaign.
Republicans responded to Obama’s request to publicize the information with intransigence. State and federal representatives from the GOP refused to believe the intelligence and threatened to accuse the Obama administration of interfering in the election. Rep. Adam Schiff of California believed that the stubbornness by the GOP and other organizations, and a news media entranced by data journalism and a trove of emails delivered through Wikileaks, essentially aided and abetted Russia’s efforts.
INscriba has covered the GOP’s recent history of tip-toeing around the constitution in order to increase its power over the three branches of the federal government. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is no stranger to operating above or around the U.S. Constitution to press his party’s agenda and will only continue to do so when his party actually pays a political price for doing so.
But the GOP’s continued obsequiousness to the Trump administration for the sake of maintaining a one-party rule belies discussions about Russia. Unfortunately, the American political landscape has grown so polarized that virtually no firm neutral and mutually-respected voices exist in our political discourse. But if there was such a voice, that person should pull the GOP aside and ask them: What is your purpose as a political party in the United States? Why are you here? Because, so far, it appears that your purpose is not to work within the confines of our democratic system, but rather, to subvert it to score political victories through any means necessary.
The GOP no longer accepts loss, and any win means that the power they earned is absolute. This phenomenon has been developing since well before Trump. We saw bits and pieces of their anti-democratic behavior as far back as their closing of the federal government in 1995 in order to enact a more favorable budget bill from President Bill Clinton. That seems almost quaint compared to what we are witnessing today.
And voters continued to reelect Republicans to Congress. Republicans have enjoyed control of the House for 18 of the last 22 years, and 12 of the last 22 in the Senate. Emboldened by almost unabated electoral support, they have pushed the envelope forward, risking the stability of our democratic institutions for the sake of maintaining power. They threaten to shut down the government. They refuse to hear presidential appointments. They limit debate and issue a record number of filibusters in order to refuse cloture to Democratic legislation. The Senate has most recently written a major healthcare bill in near complete secrecy.
And when it comes to elections: gerrymander, suppress the vote, and let money rule the process.
Either we are witnessing the slow unraveling of our democratic institution, or the GOP is a party overdue for its comeuppance as a destructive force in American democracy. Nothing matters anymore in American politics, because nothing about our system of government is sacrosanct to the Republican leadership. All bets are off. Support an unstable White House and a serial liar in the presidency. Tip-toe around the Constitution in order to avoid a true democratic policy discussion on health care. Ignore or downplay an attack on our electoral system by a foreign adversary. Nothing matters anymore. Just win win win.
The Democrats would be foolish to get down into the mud and utilize the same tactics as the Republicans. One party’s tossing aside of democratic norms has been destabilizing, but imagine if the other major party did the same? The outcome would be catastrophic for our entire system. It very well could be the end of the American experiment.
Democrats should run on a pro-reform agenda. Reform should become its daily cry and the basic tenets of democracy their new religion. A reform of the economic system so the poorest among us can continue to eat and care for themselves. A reform of the democratic system so that it becomes more stalwart in the face of evil players such as the current Republican Party. Because with just enough voters willing to support them, they will never be cast back onto their heels, forced to conduct the introspection necessary to bring them back under the fold of our traditions. Trump would not be Trump without a Republican Party laying the groundwork for his rise. And they have placed our entire system in serious jeopardy for short-term gains. As long as this continues, we should be very concerned about America’s future as a liberal democracy.