Or the ‘American Experiment’ as it has been called. Lately I’ve become convinced the country is failing, perhaps irreversibly. Even if we throw Trump out of office in November, a continued slide into mediocrity – or worse – may be inevitable. Consider:
- Americans are about equally divided along political lines. Progressives (the Left) continue to hold a slight majority but not enough to overcome challenges placed by the Right. This in of itself is not new. The US has been politically polarized before. I don’t know if the current situation is any worse than prior instances of polarization but it’s a huge factor right now.
- Elections have been and continue to be compromised by the Right. Gerrymandering, voter purges, voter harassment, lies about mail-in voting fraud, and other measures to illegitimately swing the vote Republican even in Democratic majority districts are rampant, and effective. Even the US Postal Service is in play as Republicans attempt to do whatever they can to derail mail-in voting. Some of the these tactics have been employed to a lesser extent by Democrats in the past but the Republicans have made it a priority and they’re very good at it.
- The justice system is significantly compromised. Having a US Supreme Court seat nomination unconstitutionally taken from a sitting president is the most obvious example but that’s certainly not the extent of it. US circuit courts and district courts are increasingly packed with right wing judges who rule along party lines rather than the law. We now have a majority right wing Supreme Court when it should be left leaning. Incredibly, Brett Kavanaugh has a lifetime seat on the court and Ruth Bader Ginsberg is gone.
- Twice with the past three presidents, the majority vote winner did not win the White House. Trump lost the vote by a significant margin to Clinton and Gore narrowly edged Bush only to have the archaic Electoral College install both Republicans in office.
- With the US Senate in the hands of Mitch McConnell – he who stole Obama’s court seat and he who publicly made it his primary purpose to “ensure Obama is a one-term president”- Americans can expect nothing good from Congress. We may well be able to right this particular situation in November with a Democratic majority but I’m not hopeful.
- With the three branches of federal government each compromised, where do Americans turn for relief from governmental abuse of power?
The federal government is in ruins with respect to serving Americans, non-wealthy Americans and people of color in particular. Trump has made it his mission to not only dismantle federal agencies but also use them for his personal benefit.
Trump has ridiculed and alienated our allies, turning some of them into near enemies. His policies on trade, military alliances, the UN, the WHO and other things have made the rest of the world consider the US an unreliable partner. Even a favorable election result in November can’t fully repair this particular harm when other countries know that in four years, it could happen again. Consider recent history with George W Bush and how he alienated a lot of our allies. When Obama was elected, they breathed massive sighs of relief. Eight years later, Trump.
If you take the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the start (a dubious choice but not that important), the United States of America is 244 years old. In that time, we have pretty much continually marched forward in terms of making ‘a more perfect union’ as the US Constitution promises. Sure, there have been setbacks, there has been strife and injustices, but mostly, it’s been forward. Until now. Absent a major conflict that overwhelms the regular order of government (Civil War, WWII, for example), I don’t think there’s been a time in our history where the country’s democratic processes have retreated as they have during the Trump administration.
It is said prior to each presidential election that that election is the most important choice we face. Hyperbole, generally. That said, this November We The People will truly choose our fate, provided the Republican political machine allows it. A return to our march forward toward democratic ideals, or continued descent into fascism. Even if we decide the former, we will have a lot of work to do. Collapsing the divide among our citizens and restoring the courts will be challenging. Perhaps too much so.