Because Congress, particularly the Senate, refuses to do its Constitutional duties, Donald Trump is redefining the role of the White House and the executive branch of government.

Whether this new definition of permissible presidential behavior will survive Trump and become more or less permanent awaits judgment.  At the least, future presidents and administrations will be tempted to justify abhorrent behavior by saying, Well, Trump did it and got away with it; why can’t I?

As a partisan, my view is that this justification will be seen much less from future Democratic presidents than Republican ones.  There is little to no “equivalence” for non-Constitutional behavior from Democrats than Republican ones.  Think Nixon and Trump.

There is always the thought among political leaders that they can operate outside legal and normative guidelines if they are doing what they believe to be the right thing, the Constitution be damned.

That was certainly present in Franklin Roosevelt’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court.  But contrary to present experience, at least he made the attempt publicly not surreptitiously.

Donald Trump has given little or no evidence that he has read, let alone understood, our Constitution and its bedrock insistence on separate of powers and checks and balances.  Few if any Republicans in the Senate or House have held him to account.  They seem little concerned about putting career and Party over country.

History and the American people, sooner or later, will hold them to account.

Trump seems to be merging the worst of 19th century corrupt big city politics with marginal Mafia behavior.  Who else would list Roy Cohn as a hero and wish to have someone like him by his side?

We can now add his effort to use the leverage of withheld military assistance to the Ukraine to force it into intervention in his presidential campaign to all the many transgressions that have characterized the Trump presidency beginning even before his inauguration.

The new question for Democrats is whether this sordid matter is finally grounds for beginning a serious impeachment inquiry.  If so, we can be assured that a centerpiece of the Ukrainian mess will be the son of former Vice President Biden.  Pundits will burn up hours of television time and reams of newsprint trying to sort out the intricacies of the whole thing for busy Americans many of whom believe the “swamp” will never be drained, certainly by a president who is up to his waist in it.  “And the big muddy kept risin’”.

We must hope that whenever Trump finally decamps to Mar-a-Lago, serious scholars, the few remaining statesmen and women, and thoughtful analysts will help lift the ship of state out of the muck and begin the long struggle to reinstate Constitutional principles, respect for the rule of law, and ethical political behavior to our nation.

Otherwise, this and future generations of Americans will conclude our government genuinely does not deserve our respect and America will finally begin the descent into the history of failed democracies and republics.

That thought offers nothing but despair and brings tears to the eyes of true patriots and admirers of America throughout the world as the beacon of hope for a better future for all humankind.

I believe in the inherent decency and regenerative powers of America’s founding principles.  I refuse to believe that Donald Trump represents the future of our nation.  Perhaps the proof of those beliefs is now best demonstrated by a young woman and tens of thousands of others like her around the world demanding protection for the climate they are inheriting.

God bless them.

 

 

8 Responses to “Which Way: Restoration or Despair”

  1. John Dedie Says:

    If the conduct towards VP Biden is not impeachable what is to become of us? Republicans in 2021 will try to use a Albert Speer defense but that will not work. Names are being taken down.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I still believe in the promise of America but, only if Trump is ousted in 2020 by the American people AND thereby replaced by someone who has a long institutional memory of how American democracy works.

  3. Edward Goldstick Says:

    I cannot but agree with you, Senator Hart, but for one point: Trump and the GOP are quite publicly thumbing their noses at our political institutions and their foundational norms. Trump certainly also has had and still has manifestly dubious self-serving machinations at work just barely in the background no matter how loudly he protests, and that certainly is a reason he wants to keep his verified tax records out of public view.

    On the other hand, I do wonder whether you agree that there is a fundamental difference between blaming the Democratic Party for its inaction versus the Congress as an institution. This is where we seem to be headed and I fear it almost as much as the thought of Trump having “the nuclear football” at his beck-and-call at all moments.

    Here’s a question: am I mistaken or is the Speaker of the House empowered to convoke a “Committee of the Whole” at any time with a specific and urgent legislative matter on the agenda? I believe the Speaker can also name an individual to preside over debate of the matter and that the Committee of the Whole can reach a formal conclusion. How about if Speaker Pelosi were to ask Justin Amash? Would it be too big a risk?

    The question up for debate could simply be this: Should formal impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump begin immediately?

    For what it’s worth, my recollection is that a Committee of the Whole could also include the Senate in the sense that the State of the Union address is, I believe, held as a joint session on exactly those terms. We might see the Senate Majority leader refusing the offer, but could the Democrats participate anyway?

    In any case, something must be done or these transgressions will become indelible reference points that no election will be able to erase and that will be a historic blemish.

  4. Michael Says:

    Remember all the people who thought Trump, despite his horrific rhetoric and unhinged antics during the campaign, would turnout be a normal president? Or those who thought that more experienced appointees would control him? How about the others who said the presidency itself would tame and steer him in a more conventional direction? They were all wrong. What I saw at the Lewandowski hearing scared me, senator. I saw a thug flaunting his contempt for our democratic institutions and the rule of law, being aided and abetted by Republicans on the committee. I saw Chairman Nadler and the Democrats flustered and weak; playing by an old rulebook Trump has already put through the shredder. This is the way it starts. Thinking the authoritarian can be controlled. A good part of the population – not a majority – cheering as he smashes established norms. There are plenty accounts by people in Weimar Germany who had faith that their institutions would save them, unaware that those institutions were being undermined and corrupted before their eyes. Until now, I have only read about this kind of thing happening in other places. Now I see it happening here.

  5. Gary Hart Says:

    In response to Edward, I am not familiar enough with House rules to know provisions having to do with “Committee of the Whole”. But I do know it could not include the Senate which has its own rules. There is a regular order for impeachment proceedings as provided for in the Constitution and rules of both Houses. The House impeaches and the Senate tries the case. My guess is that the Speaker is letting appropriate House committees produce a case. But it must be strong enough to get virtually all Democrats to vote for it. Right now there is not unanimity among House Democrats, particularly those in swing districts. Keep in mind the entire House will be up for election next year and a number of Democratic Members have constituents on the fence.
    I concur completely with Michael on the Lewandowski fiasco and find it inexplicable. GH

  6. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    https://twitter.com/ECJLA/status/1175486214209597440?s=20

    Highly respectfully to ALL non-conservatives (including Sen. Hart and those contributors here who will undoubtedly disagree with me), but I truly believe the Democrats are going to moderate their way into handing Don-The-Con a second term.

    I didn’t actually watch the latest nationally televised alt-right antics (too busy and what for? inducing the hypertension that took the life of my paternal grandfather?). But the House Committee hearing at which Mr. Lewandowski evidently “stole the show” seems to have been a “second time farce” reprise of the way Oliver North steamrollered the Democratic members of the Iran-contra Committee in early May 1987.

    That was part of the same offensive by rightist witnesses against the Iran-contra select Committee’s legitimacy that included Gen. Richard Secord, who had a nationally televised belly-laugh at the host’s expense: “At least I didn’t go to Bimini!” (Very funny Major-General. Not.) Secord was later convicted by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh for lying to Congress. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Secord .

    The Democrats’ weak “moderate” response to the GOP’s conservative extremism in 1988 (which included the Democratic establishment’s co-participation in the purge of Sen. Hart) prolonged Reaganism for generations. See my essay here: https://www.laprogressive.com/gary-hart/ .

    The Democrats’ similarly milquetoast response to Trumpism which (Trump’s fake-populist blather aside) is simply Reaganism on steroids, will produce the same result. In French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s famous phrase: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (the more things change the more they stay the same).

    Today (as a recent tweet I saw put it) we are dealing with an open-and-notorious “WHAssole” and (I would add) his team of hemorrhoidal lite-fascist demons such as Corey Lewandowski, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway. The only way to deal with them is to counterpunch twice as hard they punch. This is a heavyweight championship fight and no place for a light-heavy-weight, middle-weight or a lightweight pugilist. In political terms, America in 2020 will be “no place for old moderates.”

    By way of example of the kind of bulldog tenacity it will take to deprive Trump of a second term, I retweeted punk Lewandowski’s Sept. 20th tweet which reads: “Kicking Butt and Taking Names – Please go to: StandWithCorey.com to show your support for me against this circus….” with the following responsive comment:

    Eric C. Jacobson
    @ECJLA
    ·
    Sep 21
    “Dream on! The #TrumpGOP’s alt-right scam ended in 2017 when your boy appointed a #swampCabinet & then signed the ultra-regressive tax cut bill in 12/2017. The only thing that can save #DonTheCon from a 2020 #Bernie landslide is #ForgetfulJoe Biden or another quisling Dem nominee.”

  7. P Edward Murray Says:

    Hello Senator Hart,

    I remembered you this morning and said a prayer for you and Lee and Andrea & John and
    your grandchildren.

    I read that article in The Atlantic about Lee Atwater’s deathbed confession and I wonder if he realize
    just how many people he hurt? I hope that I can forgive him.

    I never saw that movie “The Frontrunner” that came out last year. I was afraid that it would not be kind to you or to all of us.

    Just saw the clips this morning of it and interviews of Hugh Jackman who portrayed you.

    I was impressed.

    Saw the CBS interview with you which I thought was positive and hope that Lee is recovered now from her hip surgery.

    Gary, don’t beat yourself up because of what Atwater did

    Even though I believe that you would have been a good president, it just didn’t happen.

    None of us know God’s will, all we can do is to pray asking him to help us find the path he wants for us whatever that will be.

    Be at peace.

    Your steadfast loyal Pennsylvania delegate,

    Edward Murray

  8. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    TRUMP’S FOLLY

    So far Trump has asked Ukraine and China to get involved in the 2020 election. He welcomed Russian involvement in the 2016 election and told Russian officials he had no problem with their intervention. Now he has his Attorney General and Secretary of State plus his private attorney who isn’t even a government official running around trying to manufacture evidence that the Russian investigation and the Mueller Report were a hoax!

    What we have here is a violation of constitutional law and an extinction of the Birther playbook used by Trump to discredit President Obama which failed miserably! He attacked Hillary Clinton about her emails yet allows his daughter, son-in-law, and other government officials to blatantly do what he accuses Hillary of doing!

    If he had the remotest idea of what the word ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ meant he would resign! There is no deep state. There is only the United States of America and its loyal employees doing their jobs day in and day out to protect this country and its Constitution!

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