The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Threat to Our Democracy

Yascha Mounk writes a New York Times op-ed in which he hyperventilates about how Donald Trump is "destroying" our democracy. Although this is pablum for the typical NYT reader, it's worth deconstructing Mounk's hysteria. Here's the introduction to his piece:
America is on its way to a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Over just a few days last week, President Trump and his allies stepped up attacks on Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the campaign’s connections to Russia. They tried to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of office. They thought out loud about whether the president can pardon himself.

This all points to the same conclusion: Mr. Trump is willing to deal a major blow to the rule of law — and the American Republic — in order to end an independent investigation into his Russia ties.

It is tempting to picture the demise of democracy as a Manichaean drama in which the stakes are clear from the start and the main actors fully understand their roles: Would-be dictators rail against democracy, hire violent thugs to do their bidding and vow to destroy the opposition. When they demand expanded powers or attack independent institutions, their supporters and opponents alike realize that authoritarianism has arrived.

There have, in fact, been a few times and places when the villains were quite as villainous, and the heroes quite as heroic. (Think Germany in the 1930s.) But in most cases, the demise of democracy has been far more gradual and far easier to overlook.
So ... Trump objects to an investigation in which the supposedly "independent investigator" has appointed an all-Democratic legal team (some of whom were active Clinton supporters). By the way, the special counsel is the mentor and good friend of the accuser, James Comey. Trump has the temerity to suggest that there may be conflict of interest and more than a little bias. Wow! The real threat to the rule of law is the apparent lack of even-handedness by the special counsel and the significant chance that the "investigation" will become nothing more than a witch hunt. We'll see whether the special counsel addresses the connections between Fushion GPS, the Russians, and the Dems. If he does not, that's a clear tell that the entire investigation is biased.

Trump's attacks on Sessions, as classless and stupid as they were, are well within his right a president. Does Mounk believe that Sessions and Sessions alone is "the law"? Does he think that by eliminating Sessions or Comey or Mueller, for that matter, the gears of justice would grind to a halt? That's a pretty dark and profoundly ignorant view of how our legal system works.

Mounk continues [my rejoinder in italicized brackets]:
In recent weeks, he [Trump] has treated a gathering of Boy Scouts like a campaign rally.

[Gosh, the previous Democrat president never did anything analogous to that in front of young people at dozens of friendly college campuses, did he?)

He has asked soldiers for political support at a ceremonial event.

[The previous Democratic president created rules of engagement that got more than a few of our soldiers killed. I suspect Mounk was silent during that period].

He has implied that policemen should rough up suspects they arrest.

[The previous Democrat president implied that the police were racists and was largely silent when activists suggested that killing cops was a good idea. I'd be interested to hear Mounk expound on that.]

He has continued to feud with the country’s intelligence community.

[Yes ... a community that never pushed back when unethical 'unmarking' requests were made by the previous administration, and that has illegally leaked classified information in an effort to destroy the current president.]

And he has suggested he still wants Hillary Clinton prosecuted.

[I thought Mounk professed to be a champion of the rule of law. Hillary clearly obstructed justice when she destroyed 33,000 emails as an FBI investigation commenced. She potentially colluded with foreign powers and participated in pay-for-play when she accepted donations to The Clinton Foundation and exorbitant speaking fees. But it seems that Mounk believes that level of law breaking pales in comparison to the current, evidence free mirage of "Russian collusion."]
Mr. Mounk rambles on for many additional paragraphs, all suggesting that we're just a tiny step toward the dissolution of out democracy because—Trump. He furthers the #Resistance hysteria that Trump is "emulating the playbook of popularly elected strongmen who have done deep, lasting damage to their countries’ democratic institutions."

Hmmm. I wonder whether the serial dishonesty of the previous administration did any damage to our democracy? Or maybe the myriad serious scandals of the previous administration that had government agencies weaponized against American citizens? Or maybe the lies promulgated during the 2012 campaign to cover-up the actual events leading up to the death of four Americans (including a U.S. Ambassador) in Benghazi? Nah. I'm fairly certain that Mounk believes that none of that threatened our democracy because—the Democrats were responsible and their hearts are pure.

The shrill cries from #Resistance that our democracy is threatened indicate a complete lack of understanding of what our democracy is. In fact, the irony is that the hysteria surrounding Donald Trump indicates that progressives and Democrats refuse to accept the results of a legitimate democratic vote.

That's the real threat to our Democracy, but progressives like Mounk are too foolish to recognize that (paraphrasing the words of Pogo), "they've met the enemy, and it is them."