A respected Special Prosecutor, former FBI chief Robert Mueller, has been appointed to investigate the Trump campaign/Russia question; and though still early days, the process is in motion to neutralize Donald Trump’s current threat to the Republic.
He is, it would seem, the lamest of ducks.
It’s time for Democrats to turn the lion’s share of their attention to the needs of the people, as urgently expressed since well-before the last election cycle.
Meet or even precede every Republican policy pitch with a well-developed counter-pitch. They are in complete disorder, with a mortally wounded leader who, at the best of times, can’t think in a straight line.
This is Democrats’ chance to show what they can offer in the way of measured, human-friendly policy around job creation, improvements to Obamacare, infrastructure priorities, social justice, education and national security.
If Democrats waste this opportunity by focussing only on the Trump melt-down, they will have squandered the advantage they should have in 2018.
Job 2 is to begin a serious look at reforming the presidency. In the words of the president, “who knew” that so many ethical issues were not codified, but simply left to the discretion of the president?
Nothing speaks so clearly to the eighteenth century sensibilities of the “Founding Fathers” as their apparent confidence that gentlemen will behave as gentlemen should when elected to the single highest office in the land. Those esteemed founders did not trust unbridled democracy. They imposed restrictions on the roll of the individual electorate, but not, curiously enough, on the power of the head of state. The United States was, after all, the immediate if rebellious offspring of monarchy, retaining a fundamental affinity for the institutions of its royalist parent.
What was once little more than a quaint convention of the past, has, under Trump’s administration, erupted into a full-on constitutional crisis.
I don’t expect the Republican-held Congress to lift a finger while they are in power to repair the mighty gaps in the powers of the presidency through which an autocrat (or a selfish child), carried into office on a whim of the electorate, might throw centuries of ethical convention to the four winds and behave like an absolute monarch.
If Democrats are wise and see to the urgent business of their constituents, they can seize the House in 2018. It then behooves them to set about codifying some limits on the presidency; like, for instance, he/she must share his taxes both as a candidate and throughout his/her administration. In order to qualify to appear on the ballot in the first place, every candidate’s tax returns for at least three years should be publicly available.
Divestiture of financial interests by the president must also be codified under the law; and conflict of interest must be more clearly defined, including specific rules governing the president’s family members, former business partners etc. Remedies for violation of these rules must be clearly laid out and include stiff penalties.
While they are at it, a scrub of gerrymandering is very much in order, too! Partisan divisions are too great to allow one “side” or the other full discretion to control districting.
Until some of the vulnerabilities in presidential privilege and voter suppression are effectively addressed, we are in no position to pontificate to younger nations on the lessons of democracy.
We have the high-ground here; and the vast majority of Americans disapprove both of this president and of the Republican controlled Congress. It’s a perfect opportunity for Democrats to win over hearts and minds. Let’s not squander it by focussing entirely on the toddler in the room.