Democracy Requires We Nail Down the Roving Political Goalposts

Synopsis

  • America’s democracy is predicated on our politicians’ adherence to the uncodified historic norms of political behavior.
  • Republican politicians have repeatedly ignored these norms whenever it would advance their interests.
  • For our political system to work, all politicians must play by the same set of rules and this will require Federal legislation.

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America’s democracy is predicated on our adherence to the U.S. Constitution, the criminal code and on America’s willingness to abide by the uncodified historic norms of political behavior.

Unfortunately, over the last 2-3 decades, Republican politicians and operatives have repeatedly moved the political goalposts by ignoring historic norms of political behavior or Constitutional mandates whenever it would advanced their short-term objectives.

  • Republican Senator McConnell refused to allow President Obama’s nominee to the US Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, from having a Senate confirmation hearing.
  • President Trump redirected Congressional allocated funds from the Defense Department to build his “wall,” despite Congress’s intent to not fund his wall.
  • President Trump attempted to use Congressional allocated foreign policy funds to advance his personal interests and Russia’s political objectives in contravention to long standing US national interests.
  • President Trump has repeatedly ignored the House of Representatives’ Constitutional authority to investigative the Executive Branch.
  • Fifty-one Republican Senators voted to end Trump’s impeachment trial without interviewing a single witness or reviewing a single document which would have shed light on his innocence or guilt.
  • The Federal government is “over-classifying” politically embarrassing documents so as to prevent Congress from discussing the information publicly.
  • The Senate Republicans held a Judiciary Committee meeting on 10/22/2020, with no Democrats present and in violation of the Committee rule that require the presence of 2 minority members, so they could advance Judge Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate.

As a result of this historically anomalous political behavior by the members of the Republican party, the very foundation of our democracy is now crumbling.

If we hope to revive and reaffirm our nearly 250 year experiment in democracy, how should the Democrats respond?

Removing Trump from the White House is a necessary but not sufficient condition to reestablish our historic tripartite democracy as it is inconceivable that a defeated, former President Trump will withdraw from public life. It is far more likely that he will spend his days as an ex-President on FoxNews condemning the Democrat President, inflaming and dividing America, and laying the groundwork for him or his surrogate to reoccupy the White House in 2024.

If we want to maximize the probability that America will continue as a democracy, the Democrats must figuratively “nail down” the position of the political goalposts so that all political entities are required to play on the same field while adhering to the same set of rules.

This can only be accomplished if the Supreme Court proudly and convincingly re-educates the American body politic that our Constitution explicitly grants the Legislative Branch the authority to oversee and investigate the Executive Branch and that compliance by the Executive Branch is not optional.

Toward this end, the House of Representatives should immediately issue subpoenas to the Executive Branch mandating that all relevant Executive Branch employees and documents must be provided to the House on an expedited basis.

To date, the Executive Branch has refused to acquiesce to the House’s requests for testimonies and documents and has even bragged that they have many relevant documents which they will continue to withhold from the House. Thus one should expect that the White House will continue to ignore their Constitutionally mandated responsibilities to cooperate with the a co-equal branch of our government.

When the White House again obstructs the House’s oversight process, the House should bring this matter to the Supreme Court and insist the Court accept the case immediately. As Trump’s White House had successfully petitioned the Court to review an issue on an expedited basis, it is rational to believe the Court would acquiesce to the House’s appeal for an expedited hearing.

If the Court refuses to expeditiously umpire these important “balance of power” cases, the House should inform the Court that they will provide no operational funding for the Court until the case is decided. As unpalatable as this threat maybe, democracy itself is on life-support. Without the prompt intervention by the Supreme Court, America’s democracy will not survive the years-long litigation process it will take for these cases to routinely make their way to the Supreme Court.

As soon as the Court issues its decision, it will become clear to all Americans that either our tripartite form of democracy is over and we have entered a new authoritarian state or that a semblance of our tripartite government remains and maybe, from this remnant, we will be able to reignite America’s flame of liberty.

There is no other option.

Hayward Zwerling

2/1/2020