Democrats flirt with ‘systemic change’ as right-wingers get it done—smashing and trashing at will

When demagoguery scorns simply counting votes, the range of disruption is inexhaustible – that’s where countries go to die.

Image Credit: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

Axing governance betrays law, justice and accountability

Until voted out, Trump and Trump Republicans will have effectively battered the norms, integrity, and worth of government – pommeled as the problem and never the solution to any social problem. On key major issues – the pandemic, health care, immigration, infrastructure, climate change, domestic job growth, federal judges, or overseas affairs – the ugly Trump years have worsened the ability to resolve challenges across the board – all in all torpedoing federalism.

Demolition is the unifying threat that drives all Trump malfeasance – too scornful even to tender bad replacements, thus no healthcare alternatives. Day by day, this smash-mouth administration distills into the “Trump Smash and Trash Dump.” Demolition, as on “serial bankruptcies” that now invade D.C., is what he does best, whether slicing up health care, slandering CDC experts and enforcement/intelligence agencies, denigrating dead, heroic soldiers or tear-gassing lawful activists fighting white supremacy.

The right-wing war against governance has forged ahead with major gains. An accountability void is wider than the pandemic surge – though insights emerge about the fragility of systems and what must be reformed. The good news, aside from the looming rout, is Trump chaos has battered the viability of the Republican Party with almost as much force. That invites a return to 1932 prospects, kicking off decades of Democratic achievements through the 1960’s progressive triumphs. History can repeat when a boomerang circles backs.

Wastelands in his wake

And yet has presidential accountability ever been so disarmed? The last resort of House impeachment is defanged, swamped by Ukrainian corruption as unchecked as it is transparent. The Emolument clause and the prohibitions against abusing government assets and personnel to sell a candidate are dead issues. Presidential pardons are disgraced, now icons of mafia-style injustice. Lying, like the pandemic, is an unstoppable plague, especially when so few Republicans defy Trump trash talk. A unified federal plan against the worst disease outbreak since WWI is a figment of never-never land. Transparent tax records – a moribund fantasy four years later. Everything Trump and Republicans touch is degraded, wounding all but billionaire owners and white evangelicals obsessed with abortion, “foreigners,” and secular wickedness.

When a president escapes penalty despite lawlessly firing a legitimate investigator (into his own malfeasance!), justice shrinks. When the WH bully pushes ingesting toxic bleach as public HEALTH advice – and isn’t instantly censured by Congress – well, River City, that’s trouble with a capital T – and that rhymes with rump. Does anyone doubt such unchecked violations eviscerate institutional checks and balances? More trashy demolition to come were Trump, the mortified loser, to barricade himself in Oval Office. Won’t that chaos be fun?

“Systemic reform,” informing positive progressive dreams, now stands opposite an array rightwing done-deals that abuse rights, lower the national IQ, shred norms and engender election violence. The flexible Green New Deal and Medicare for All – or a diversity- and nation-serving immigration policy – all represent humane, systemic solutions fueling a New New Deal. But these solid proposals are aspirational – versus Trumpian Republicans, ever grinding away, enacting withering “institutional changes” with a vengeance.

Worst of the worst

At the very bottom of the bottomless Trump threats to systemic equilibrium are his deranged, multiple attacks on fair elections, especially galling since voting and democracy are blood sisters. These crimes augment intact minority disenfranchisement and gerrymandering, themselves signals of historic failures. But the inexcusable Trump war against widespread voting starts when he rails in advance, without a scintilla of proof, against “rigged” elections. “Rigged” here is irrational code for any race he loses. That impeachment-worthy, lunatic-fringe, fake dichotomy – “I win or I was robbed” – should instantly disqualify anyone stupid or ignorant enough to say it. Such tantrums nullify democracy. Add on the reckless vilification of problem-free, mail-in voting, especially offensive during a pandemic Trump made much worse. Trump’s assault on mail-in voting, however, is not only anti-American but to add irony to the mess could well boomerang on Republicans: thousands of older voters, sucked into his fear-mongering, will judge mask-free poll voting as a life-threatening event. That will swell the Trump support!

Worse still, Trump instructs his bands of armed, private militias (illegal in every state when so organized) to violate the sanctity of polling places to inspect (read: disrupt) procedures. Voter intimidation is a felony if justice rules. We need a new law: when all candidates decide to run, they must agree to accept all legitimate results. And no militants within a mile of voting! We need to learn from the Trump nullification war just how fragile is our electoral and political systems. What if everyone descended to the “if we lose, we sue forever” creed? That’s no mere contradiction but triggers never-ending, order-destroying Armageddon.

The full damage reports aren’t in yet. When demagoguery scorns simply counting votes, the range of disruption is inexhaustible – that’s where countries go to die. What stops any billionaire from bringing the electoral process to its knees by misusing litigation (in perfectly Trumpian fashion) to poison democratic rule? Nothing Trump has done matches in infamy his assault on a voting system that has worked for 200 years. It is his weapon of mass destruction and any democracy that tolerates such undeniable abuse is on a suicidal march to the sea.

As bold as brass

On top of which, Republican malefactors are completely out-front about what they have done, are doing and will do if they can get away with it. That this president escapes rebuke after countless threats to punish, even jail innocent Democratic rivals degrades America. The rushed Supreme Court appointment is only the latest open scandal displaying how an extremist rightwing minority corrupts once hallowed operations. That such blatant Senate hypocrisy does not engender outrage spurs miscreants to thrive. Why are Democrats not making unchecked, calculated, anti-democratic corruption of governance systems Campaign Issue one, two and three?

For a final, specific set of horrors, the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman projects potential Supreme Court mayhem:

With a 6-3 majority, the conservative justices will be tempted to go hog-wild, not just nullifying the ACA and overturning Roe v. Wade, but invalidating any meaningful law a Democratic-led Congress would pass, dismantling the administrative state, striking down the rest of the Voting Rights Act, rubber-stamping discrimination against gay Americans, making it impossible for unions to operate, eliminating all campaign finance regulations, forbidding the government from regulating the environment, and who knows what else.

When structural guardrails are blown to bits, so are checks on power. When anything goes, everything is vulnerable to the worst devils of our nature – and they have been marauding for years, only crowned by Trump crimes.

P.S. For the latest insults against our system of justice, I cite Judge Barrett’s incredible refusal to support absolutely established legal precedent. She declined to comment on the legality of orderly transitions of White House power or whether any president can unilaterally postpone a national election. Nor would she comment on whether a president can pardon himself, a cosmic conflict of interest that would make any fifth-grader cringe. Barrett also cynically, irresponsibly responded, when queried about climate change, “I am no scientist” – as if judges must be trained experts on every field of focus. She’s loaded with opinions against abortion and in favor of big business or when the Court errs.

The final structural degradation on display here: by vetoing the last Obama pick, Moscow Mitch’s machinations won this defective minority president five years of Supreme Court choices. Where is that in the Constitution? The mind boggles.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.