Just when you think you can’t witness anything crazier in American politics, along comes another voting debacle.??This time it came from the Democrats and the mishandling of the Iowa caucus.??It all happened in real time, with millions watching, and the sinking feeling that democracy in America is something akin to a train wreck.??Less than a year from the big national election and voters are rightfully worried regarding the state of their politics.
For months the attention has been on impeachment and increasingly on the behaviour of the Republicans in their bid to just get it over with and acquit Donald Trump.??It’s become the embodiment of all that the commentators have been implying for some time – truth no longer matters, denying everything works, democracy is now?passé, hold on to power no matter what.??These are things people might have thought in the past but were never to be uttered in any public fashion.
Well, now they are everywhere, and the fascinating thing about it all is that an increasing number of politicians and their parties believe there’s nothing can be done about it.??The sight of someone like a Mitt Romney, a religious man and Republican senator from Utah, standing against his president and his party is so rare as to be almost historic.??Saying, as he did yesterday, that the president is “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” is something akin to a political death sentence these days.??That’s just how bad things have become.
We grow disgusted by it all – unless one is hyper-partisan – and we’re likely all guilty of thinking that we would behave differently if it were us in power.??But is that true???
First of all, how would you deal with the party leader(s) who expect your compliance for partisan purposes???Go against them and you won’t get that promised committee post, the federal money you requested for projects in your constituency just won’t be there, and you can forget about being asked to the White House.??You’ll get little air time to confirm for your voters that you matter in Washington and the party officials in your state will be looking for a replacement before you even get back home.
There is nothing in American memory that can match the viciousness by which President Trump hits back at those opposing him.??He does it in private and in public and with a force that frequently terrifies the objects of his rage.??And the millions of followers he has will turn?en masse?at anyone he points to.??Would you seriously want this???And what of your family.??According to Mitt Romney in his Senate speech yesterday, he knows that his wife, children, even his grandchildren, will feel the wrath of president and party.??It’s already happening. Would you honestly put your kids through that???Doubtful, and you’d be completely justified in that worry.??Yet, understanding this, Romney concluded in his speech:
“My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate, but irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability believing that my country expected it of me.”?
The Republican Party has become the Trump Party and how he deals with people will become how the party deals with you.??You’ll never know political peace again and, in the near term at least, you’ll be labelled as the “Judas” of the party.
Do you think this could be the fundamental reason the American founders distrusted any attempt at establishing political parties???It’s likely, and now their worst nightmare has materialized.??Democracy, where citizens replace the king or queen, has now morphed into an authoritarian monarchy, where the king or queen replaces citizens at will.??For this reason, they encouraged all who cared for America in the future to seize that one important characteristic that could deal with the constantly shifting forces: compromise.??With it, you get a chance at taking part in your own future; without it, you get anarchy.
The reasons we have just considered regarding bailing out on political responsibility are why good people no longer get into politics.??Yes, they care about their convictions and their country, but they also value the security of their families and their own peace of mind.??You would be the same.??Now caught in such a vice of rage, Republicans have come the conclusion that’s it’s easier just to give in despite their misgivings.
Which makes Mitt Romney’s stand yesterday all the more remarkable, like John McCain’s before him.??If our democracy means anything to us, it will take such courage from those unique women and men willing to make that sacrifice.??And it will require average people like us to put aside our petty partisan differences and catered opinions and get behind such individuals.??It isn’t too late, but it is late in the day and the very future of our children will depend on how we handle these next few years.
More on this in the next post.