Why I’m Worried About America’s Future

Our Founding Father’s worried about the future of the Colonies. King George had to balance his checkbook, and the Seven Years War had put the British Empire deep into debt.

Although six European powers had been involved – and the war stretched over the whole of the Empire – George and his Parliament leaned heavily on the American colonies to pay off their debt. After all, the French and Indian War had been a part of this global conflict.

So Mother Britain looked to the Colonies to pay down the debt.

A series of laws flowed out of Parliament – where the colonists had no representation – placing heavy burdens on the Colonies. For many, the Stamp Act was the final straw.

The Stamp Act placed a duty (tax) on virtually every legal document produced in the Colonies. And on newspapers, playing cards, pamphlets, calendars, and more.

Want to place an ad in the local paper? His Majesty gets two shillings. Are you printing pamphlets of less than one whole page? That will be one penny. Each. Want to play dice? Not till you’ve paid the King’s ten shillings tax on them.

Taxation without representation triggered a rebellion. And, so, our nation was born.

Fast forward 244 years…

Once Again, Liberty Stands at a Crossroads

The election of 2020 was messy. America is polarized. Though he’s wildly unpopular, Donald Trump’s base is solid. His opponent is a respected Washington insider: Joe Biden. Biden’s last job was serving as V.P. under the charismatic Barak Obama.

Trump and his allies did all they could to sway the election. Many GOP-controlled states made early and mail-in voting as difficult as they could.

Key states fell, one after another, to Biden. Trump refused to concede.

Trump’s campaign and his allies mounted dozens of legal challenges. The courts slapped down all but one. Even judges appointed by Trump himself deemed some cases meritless.

Trump’s personal lawyers floated conspiracy theories. Votes were changed while being counted in Spain. Catering vans delivered fake ballots to counting locations. A dead Venezuelan dictator had voting machine software sabotaged. Each claim was crazier than the last. All have been disproved.

State after state certified the results. Even swing states controlled by Republican administrations. Trump’s own Depts. of Justice and Homeland Security noted there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Still, Trump and his cronies continue to claim fraud. And they’re turning to ever more desperate ways to overthrow a duly elected government. Even before that government has been seated.

Meet the Party From Crazytown

In Arizona, Trump supporters chanted, “Count those votes!” in hopes of Trump gaining an advantage. At virtually the same time, in Michigan, Trump’s minions were chanting, “Stop the count,” as Biden pulled ahead.

Some GOP-controlled legislatures blocked counting mail-in ballots before election day… meaning millions of votes were counted after in-person votes. Since Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to vote by mail, this led to large last-minute gains by Biden.

Their own party created this situation. But that didn’t stop many Republicans from claiming this predictable situation proved election fraud.

Seventeen Republican attorneys general signed on to a Texas lawsuit trying to deny four swing  states the right to count mail-in ballots received according to those states’ laws. Laws that are strikingly similar to the laws in some of the states that joined the suit.

Consider what Trump’s lawyers are saying in court.

Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s other minions are quick to claim massive fraud in front of the media. But in front of a judge? Not so much.

  • In a PA case, the judge asked a Trump lawyer if he was claiming voter fraud. The response was, “To my knowledge at present, no.”
  • In an AZ suit, a Trump campaign lawyer said, “We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit.”
  • And, in federal court, Rudy Giuliani himself told the judge, “This is not a fraud case.”

Why? Maybe because lying to a judge has serious consequences.

More Word from Crazytown

Texas Rep. Louis Gomert tried to overthrow the Constitution by suing V.P. Pence over Pence’s role in the counting of Electoral College votes. This suit was such a stretch, Pence and the Dept. of Justice both asked the court to dismiss the case. Which it did.

And still GOP operatives try to overthrow the will of the people.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO), says he will challenge Biden’s victory when the Electoral College count comes up in the Senate on Jan. 6. He joins more than 100 GOP members of Congress.

Hawley’s challenge will trigger debate in both Houses… but should have little effect. First, all the evidence points to Biden winning by over 7 million votes. Second, the grown-ups in the House and Senate are generally opposed to undermining our democracy.

So, Hawley and his co-conspirators appear to be doing this just for political points. And you really have to be from Crazytown to risk our Republic for personal political gain.

But that’s exactly what Donald Trump did when he called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger.

Trump spent an hour begging and bullying Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to turn the election his way. After the votes had been counted and recounted… twice.

Trump offered a list of already-disproven rumors as excuses. But it all came down to this:

“All I want to do is this,” Trump said. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Flattery, threats, pleading… Trump tried it all. It was pitiful, but there it is.

What About the Aftermath?

Here’s where I really worry. Because the only effective solution is a painful one. It’s tempting to “let bygones be bygones.” But that teaches a destructive lesson:

If you get away with it long enough, they’ll let you off scot-free.

To preserve our Democracy, Trump and his cronies must face the music. All the lies… the ethics violations… the crimes. They have to be laid bare. And they must have consequences.

Robert Mueller found 10 instances of Trump possibly obstructing justice. Prosecutors should evaluate each. The Georgia phone call. Profiting from his lease on the Old Post Office in DC. The list goes on and on.

Plus the state investigations. Did the Trump Organization manipulate values for favorable loans and tax rates? That’s potential bank and tax fraud. Why did Deutsche Bank loan Trump so much money when nobody else would? And why did the executives in charge of Trump’s accounts suddenly resign on Dec. 22, 2020?

We need a full accounting and a resolution to these – and many other – questions before we can move on as a nation.

America’s future hangs in the balance. The resolution lies in laying bare all of Trump’s antics. And that’s why I’m worried.

Because it will involve exposing all Trump’s cronies in Congress.

Can it happen? Yes. But only if Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is ready to yank the bandage off a particularly nasty scab.

Sources:

Peters, C., “The Supreme Court rejects Texas’s undemocratic election lawsuit,” msn(dot)dom. Dec 12, 2020.

Kruzel, J., “GOP lawmaker sues Pence in bid to overturn Biden win,” TheHill(dot)com. Dec 28, 2020.

Berenson, T., “Donald Trump And His Lawyers Are Making Sweeping Allegations of Voter Fraud In Public. In Court, They Say No Such Thing,” time(dot)com. Nov 20, 2020.

Scannell, K., “Trump’s private bankers resign from Deutsche Bank,” CNN(dot) com. Dec 22, 2020.

Article II: Trump’s Magic Wand

Donald Trump loves fallbacks. Is there a news story he doesn’t like? It’s fake news. Is one of his cronies in trouble? He hardly knows the guy. Does someone say he’s overstepped his authority? He pulls out Article II.

What is Article II? It’s the section of our Constitution that establishes the Executive Branch. And Trump has actually made this claim: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.

That’s right. Donald Trump claims Article II bestows unlimited power on the presidency. At least when Donald Trump holds the office. Because he sure didn’t believe it when Obama was in the White House.

So, does Article II give Trump unlimited powers? And what specific powers does it give him? Here’s the truth. But first, a little perspective.

Article II Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum

Trump acts as if Article II was the be-all and end-all of our Constitution. In reality, there are seven Articles… and 27 Amendments. So, Trump’s favorite reference is less than 3% of the whole.

What was top-most on the Founding Father’s minds when they wrote the Constitution? Article I… which establishes the U.S. Congress. In terms of order of importance, the Framers wisely put the legislative branch first.

The legislative branch, which has the power to write laws. A power the President clearly isn’t granted by the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights further restricts presidential power. For example, the 10th Amendment guarantees the states retain any rights not granted to the federal government (or prohibited) by the Constitution.

Can Trump “do whatever I want” as president? Not legally.

The Powers in Article II

So, what powers does Article II actually give Trump? Not many… at least in terms of specifics. Here’s how it begins…

“The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

Section 2 names the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He can require input from his cabinet chiefs. He can make treaties and appoint ambassadors and other “officers” – provided two-thirds of the Senate approves. And he can fill other vacancies under certain conditions.

Section 3 allows the President to adjourn or convene Congress – “on extraordinary occasions.” He can meet with foreign dignitaries. And “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

That’s it. Those are the powers Article II bestows on the President.

Article II – at just over 1,000 words – covers three basic topics:

  • How to choose a President
  • Presidential powers
  • How to remove a President

Just 335 of those words refer to presidential powers. The rest – 680 words – are devoted to presidential selection and removal from office.

There’s No Magic in Trump’s Wand

Article II doesn’t bestow unlimited powers on the President. Or even powers “like you wouldn’t believe,” as Trump has also claimed.

In fact, the Constitution limits Presidential powers to executing the laws passed by Congress… treaties and appointments – with Senate approval… and preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution.

So, how has Trump managed an imperial presidency? Only with the tacit approval of  Republican lawmakers. And he’s grown even more reckless with his recent acquittal.

Trump’s base seems willing to take him at his word on Article II. Like Trump himself, they’ve probably never read our Constitution. And he’s betting you’re the same.

Because that’s the only way he can win in 2020.

The Will of the People

If you’ve been listening to the President’s defenders, you’ve probably noticed a common theme. Trump’s supporters say – over and over – the Democrats are trying to reverse the will of the people. To undo the vote. To overturn the election.

But here’s the thing: Trump didn’t win the election. He won the Electoral College. And that’s something very different.

In real terms, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. In other words, Americans elected Clinton President… and the system overruled the election results.

Which is exactly how the last two Republican presidents came into office. Not by the will of the people… but by the will of an outmoded system.

That’s why the GOP doesn’t want to mess with the Electoral College. But here’s why we should…

A (Sort of) Good Idea Gone Bad

It’s the end of the 18thcentury. A new Republic is getting its first footing. But there are challenges. According to some sources, election logistics were the major issue.

The 13 colonies covered a vast territory in a time when traveling 20 miles a day was admirable. There were no phones… no telegraph… no mass communication. How could you get election results from New Hampshire or South Carolina to the Capital in short order?

The simple answer: Consolidate. Don’t deliver results from every podunk town and village to the capital. Just deliver the state results.

Meet the Electoral College.

The Electoral College boiled every hamlet and village’s votes into a state-by-state result. Which made the final tally quick and simple.

Other sources say the College began as a compromise. Some Founding Fathers felt Congress should choose the President – instead of the average bumpkin landowner. Others felt it should be left entirely to the will of the people. The Electoral College system gave something to both sides.

For those who didn’t trust the average farmer or craftsman to make good decisions, the College diluted the bad choices of individuals. But it would still ensure – usually – that the candidate with the greatest overall support would win.

Still others point to concerns over big state advantages. Just three colonies – Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts – had nearly half the population of the original colonies. These three could have effectively decided any presidential election… mooting the votes of most of the other colonies.

The thing is, we’re not in the 18thcentury any more. None of these arguments hold water in today’s world. The Electoral College has become more hinderance than help. Because the person with the most votes doesn’t win… the person with the most Electors does.

And, as the last two Republican victories show, this means America may choose one candidate, but their opponent wins the election.

The Electoral College Is Anti-Democratic… and Anti-American

The Electoral College effectively negates the “one-person, one-vote” concept. With electors awarded on a winner-take-all basis in 48 states, narrow victories for one party in key states can easily hand the election over to the loser of the popular vote.

That’s how Donald Trump and George W. Bush both wound up in the Oval Office.

The College has become little more than a way to legally steal elections. Now it’s time for it to go away. Because Democracy matters.

Of course, you won’t get much support for this idea from the GOP. They’ve learned how to twist Electoral College results to their benefit. To ensure the will of the majority of voters doesn’t count.

Which has led to handing the Oval Office over to a dangerous clown like Donald Trump.

Trump, who’s alienated most of our key allies… aligned himself with dictators and oligarchs… used his office to enrich himself… and altered tax laws to favor his cronies.

Trump, who’s elevated crooks and incompetents to Cabinet-level positions… promoted white nationalism… and dismantled environmental protections.

Trump, who’s lied to voters over 16,000 times in just 3 years… used his office to damage political rivals… and spent 20% of his time in office golfing.

All accomplished with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary.

It’s Time to Bid the Electoral College Good-Bye

The Electoral College doesn’t serve America’s best interests. It’s become little more than a tool for cynical politicians to “game” the system.

Narrow victories in swing states, like Florida, can hand an election to the popular vote’s loser. And overrulethe will of the people.

Far more voters identify with the Democrats’ platform. Yet manipulation of a flawed system hands elections to the minority party. And our government has begun to look less and less like the one voters say they want.

Trump’s tax breaks for the rich come with calls for cuts to programs that support Americas poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

“Give me your tired, your poor,” Emma Lazarus wrote in The New Colossus, “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Today’s GOP leadership complains about immigration from “sh*thole nations,” and wonders why more Norwegians don’t move here.

Republicans use “massive voter fraud” as an excuse to enact laws making voting harder for minorities and the poor. Yet the only cases of large-scale voter fraud in recent years have been perpetrated by pro-GOP forces.

This is why every eligible voter must exercise their rights. Why every election matters. And why the Electoral College has to go.

Every office in the land is filled by direct election… except the most important one. And the Right is using that exception to pervert Democracy. This must stop.

It’s time to end the Electoral College. To end what’s become a perversion of Democracy. And to hand our most important election over to the people.

The GOP Has Abandoned American Ideals

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause.” That’s what Donald Trump said to reporters. A safeguard enshrined in the United States Constitution. And Trump calls it “phony.”

You’d think this would be the final straw for GOP lawmakers. The line none of them would cross.

You’d think. But you’d be wrong. Even after he’s attacked the Constitution itself, Republican leaders still back their boy. Another example of party before country.

But it’s not the only one. Not by a long shot.

For the GOP, Lies “Trump” Truth

GOP members of Congress recently forced their way into a closed committee meeting on impeachment. They demanded a more open and “transparent” process. The Dems, they claimed, were holding secret meetings… and keeping GOP members in the dark.

Never mind that half the committee is made up of Republicans – who could share info with their fellow Repubs. Never mind this was exactly the same policy followed by Trey Gowdy’s GOP Benghazi investigation.

And – most importantly – never mind the committees are following rules laid out by the GOP-majority Congress in 2015.

Now that a Republican is under scrutiny, the process is somehow unfair.

Here’s how insane this “protest” is…

Fox News commentator, Andrew Napolitano, called out the GOP Congressmen on their protest.

That’s right. A Fox News contributor told Conservative members of Congress they are wrong. That’s how far off the charts the GOP has gone.

A federal judge has also ruled the inquiry is legal. House rules allow for subpoenas – and standing committees can interview witnesses in secret – much like a grand jury.

Now that Dems control the process, GOP legislators protest. But they had no objections when Hillary Clinton was the subject of the Benghazi investigations.

Back then, closed committee hearings were critical. In defending closed hearings, GOP Rep. Gowdy said, “Interviews also allow the committee to safeguard the privacy of witnesses who may fear retaliation for cooperating or whose work requires anonymity, such as intelligence community operatives.”

Good reasons for closed-door meetings. Unless, of course, you’re a GOP Congressman trying to defend the indefensible. Then those safeguards become threats to democracy.

And an excuse to breach their own party’s rules…

The Twisted Logic of Matt Gaetz, et al

Perhaps no GOP rep encapsulates the insanity of “party-first” politics than Florida’s Matt Gaetz.

“The Democrats’ impeachment process deserves to be in front of the American people and not behind closed doors,” Gaetz tweeted. “I was proud to lead the charge for transparency with my Republican colleagues last week.”

Yup. Gaetz is proud to lead the charge against his own party’s rules. Proud to breach the sanctity of a secure Congressional hearing room. Proud to bring smart phones into a Congressional chamber where all outside electronics are banned. And probably proud of the pizza they ordered during their “protest.”

Yes… The brave GOP protestors sent out for pizza to sustain themselves during their protest.

According to Gaetz, “Schiff’s anarchic impeachment sham has devolved into mayhem and is entirely antithetical to constitutional principles.”

It’s anarchic, because… what? Because the majority of American voters favor impeachment? A sham because it’s enshrined in the Constitution?

It’s devolved into mayhem? Really? The only mayhem has been the assault on the secure Congressional hearing room by GOP reps. And it’s hard to imagine that a process enshrined in the Constitution is “entirely antithetical to constitutional principles.”

Keep in mind we’re talking about a president who’s used his office to enrich his family business time and again. Who’s uttered more than 13,000 recordedlies since taking office. And who set a quid pro quo to release funding Congress directed for a key ally.

He’s favored the word of a Russian oligarch over the findings of our combined intelligence community. He’s consistently praised dictators, while alienating our democratic allies. And he’s nominated ethically challenged cronies to the highest executive offices in the land.

Yet Gaetz and company consistently defend Trump. The GOP has abandoned American ideals. Winning for the party has become more important than serving their country. And “the party” represents – more and more – a shrinking base of wealthy white males.

The GOP Is Bringing Us Back to America’s Beginning

Our Founding Fathers had vision. But it was vision informed by a narrow view. Wealthy white men had controlled their world for as long as they knew. So, they established a nation with high ideals… but hampered by the view that wealthy white men were superior.

Bit by bit, America grew. We slowly accepted that blacks, Native Americans, and women were equal to white males. We fought past open racism… past segregation… past immigration quotas… past religious barriers… and past prejudices against women.

Black Americans counted as more than 3/5 of a person. Women won the right to vote. Native Americans were counted as citizens. We made progress.

The GOP wants to change all that.

Their immigration policies favor rich whites. And ban “undesirables.” Their tax plan – already enacted – favors the rich. Who are mostly white.

They want to control women’s reproductive choices. They want to expand a prison system already the most extensive in the world. They want to slowly strangle Social Security and Medicare – in favor of a bloated military budget.

The GOP wants to take us back to a time when wealthy white men controlled everything. Essentially, back to the beginning of our Republic. But with no chance for growth.

Which is why we have to stand firm. To fight every regressive step the GOP champions. To call out anti-Americans like Matt Gaetz for what they are: Regressives.

The GOP has no interest in progress. Just the opposite. Their goal is to turn the clock back. Back to a time when all the power was in the hands of a few rich white men.

Donald Trump Is Not the Problem

Recently, Donald Trump used a tried and true racist attack against four members of Congress: “Go back where you came from.”

Racists have been shouting this at people who are “different” for generations. In exactly the same way Trump used it.

It was no coincidence the four members of Congress Trump leveled this attack against are women of color. In Trump’s eyes, America is white. People of color are all from somewhere else.

Democratic lawmakers rightly condemned Trump’s words. Even some Republicans took cautious exception to their leader’s openly racist rant.

And, within days, his base was chanting, “Send her back! Send her back!” at a Trump rally.

But Donald Trump isn’t the problem. He’s the result. The fact of President Trump stems from a much deeper rot that’s eating at the heart of our great nation. And we have to confront it if we have any hope of saving our Democracy.

And that moral rot is coming from several quarters. Most surprisingly…

The Religious Right

Conservative Christians fervently support Trump. Even though he’s the polar opposite of their most sacred beliefs.

Trump is a serial adulterer who’s been married three times. He lies constantly, espouses violence, openly sympathizes with racist and nationalist causes, and shows contempt for women and minorities.

He openly promoted gambling for years – until his casinos went belly up. He’s been cited for racial discrimination in housing. And has virtually no background in faith at all.

So why does the Religious Right support Trump so fervently? Because he flipped from pro-choice to anti-abortion. And they’re willing to overlook almost anything in a candidate who agrees on their pet issue.

Even if he’s open racist.

White Nationalists

This is a no-brainer.

White Nationalists don’t gloss over core beliefs in favor of one issue. They’re willing to support anyone who makes their position more “normal.”

White hoods and burning crosses have given way to polo shirts and tiki torches. But the message is still the same… even if it’s not as openly violent. “Jews will not replace us,” they chanted at their “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

It’s not much of a stretch to go from “They will not replace us” to “Send her back.”

Unlike the Religious Right, white nationalists don’t believe Trump is necessarily on their side. But they’re more than happy to accept anything he says and does that adds legitimacy to their cause.

Disaffected White Voters

The rise of technology has left many Americans behind. Once upon a time, a high school education could land you a job in a factory. As a working class American, you could afford a house. Your wife could stay home with the kids. And you could even take a nice little vacation once a year.

But technology has displaced many unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Labor-intensive jobs have fled overseas. At the same time, the only route out – a college education – has become crushingly expensive.

For many people, the American dream has become unattainable.

Along comes Donald Trump. Who points at immigrants and blames them for stealing “our” jobs… for committing crimes… for pretty much everything that’s wrong in America.

Trump uses inflammatory words to demonize non-white immigrants. He depicts them as mostly strapping young men – mostly criminals – looking to rape, rob, and plunder. He calls migrants at the border an “invasion.” And he claims – with no evidence – that terrorists are sneaking in with them.

Trump gives these voters an easy answer to all their problems. Is it any wonder disaffected white voters rally behind him?

But Trump’s most fervent allies are the very people who should most oppose his words and actions. I’m talking about…

The United States Congress

No president can force his will on our nation alone. Our forefathers wisely created three co-equal branches of government. Congress provides a check on the Executive… and the judiciary provides a check on both of the others.

What our Forefathers didn’t foresee was a waning party willing to subvert our Constitution to maintain power.

Through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and packing the courts, the Republican party has managed to maintain remarkable power. In spite of a dwindling base of support.

And – as long as he moves their agenda forward – the GOP seems willing to accept almost any level of racism from Trump.

When confronted with Trump’s racist rant, Republican legislators duck into elevators, claim they were out of town, or make other excuses. Even those who disagree with the words, mostly refuse to say they’re racist.

And when the House of Representatives voted to condemn Trump’s racist diatribe, only four Republicans had the courage to agree.

So, is it any wonder that racist acts are on the rise in the U.S.?

We Are Better Than This

Most of us have grown since the founding of our nation. We can acknowledge our Founding Fathers – as foresighted as they were – were also imperfect. Some owned slaves. Most viewed Native Americans as lesser beings. And they didn’t believe women could cast an educated vote.

But we ended slavery in the 1860s. Women got the right to vote in 1920. And, four years later, even Native Americans were granted citizenship rights. Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s further marginalized racist America.

But – as Donald Trump so clearly demonstrated – we haven’t achieved the ideal yet. Trump can still incite racist hate. Even against sitting members of Congress.

Just watch the video of his latest rally. For 13 long seconds, Trump basks in the glory of “Send her back!” And then continues his diatribe against four members of Congress.

But we are Americans. We are better than this. Most of us agree with the Democrats’ talking points – and oppose Trump’s hate-fueled agenda. Most of us want to end racism.

The first step? Turning out in massive numbers in November 2020… and sending Trump – and his allies – back to where they came from.