JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE DESTRUCTIVE OUTCOME OF TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT – UGLY PRECEDENTS SET FOR THE FUTURE – ACCOMMODATING A MAN WITH PERHAPS THE MOST DANGEROUS PERSONALITY EVER TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT AND ASSURING HIS RE-ELECTION – IS AMERICA GIRDING FOR TERRIBLE NEW BATTLES? – THE CONSTITUTION’S BALANCE OF POWERS – HAS AMERICA CROSSED THE RUBICON?   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT – TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT TRIAL AND A DANGEROUS CHANGE MADE TO AMERICA’S ALREADY TENUOUS BALANCE OF POWERS

 

I do think something of fundamental importance has occurred with Trump’s impeachment trial.

Trump for three years has amply demonstrated strong tendencies towards authoritarian rule, whether in openly stealing the resources of others or in threatening countries with dire consequences or in assassinating leaders or in cavalierly giving away what is not legally his to give. And he has heavily leaned on using Executive Orders, which are really not greatly different than Diktats, only with some limits applying to them.

Just the signature he uses on the documents he has himself proudly photographed holding each time he signs something, ten-inch letters written with something resembling a felt marker rather than a pen, does suggest extreme narcissism.

Trump’s victory in the impeachment trial can only embolden an already dangerous personality.

The nature of his victory – a trial without even listening to key witnesses and with a legal argument made that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense – also sets terrible precedents for the future.

America’s internal checks and balances, with the balance of powers between branches of its government, a constitutional device designed as protection against excessive the accumulation of power, have long been under stress.

The stress was largely created by America’s assuming a global imperial role after WWII with all the wars and conflicts that that role entailed.

Empires are not democracies or even very democratic.

Empire inherently involves coercing people and doing so on a grand scale. It also involves huge expenditures on matters which are of little benefit to much of the mother country’s own general population. And there is the tendency for the operations of empire to create and enhance an elite segment of society, generating divisions and privileges not in keeping with any form of democratic government. Then there’s all the secrecy and dishonesty which accompany coercing large numbers of people while trying to create the illusion that you are not doing so.

The military plays a key role in empire. America’s military/security apparatus – all such institutions being authoritarian and anti-democratic by their very nature and command structure – has steadily increased its central place and influence within American society and generated immense pressures upon civilian rule and democratic forms of decision-making.

Decisions involving what seem to be massive risks with short time allowances have little tolerance for creaky old political processes. Thus, we’ve seen everything from a cancerous growth in secrecy and classification and military men assuming many roles in civilian government to presidents issuing Executive Orders, a concept diametrically opposed to the American Founders’ intentions.

Added to that has been a steady abdication of the responsibility of Congress to perform its Constitutional role in providing limits. But of course, since money has come to play such a central role in America’s national elections, members of Congress are reluctant to do anything which stands in the way of the corporations and individuals who are capable of providing it in adequate volumes.

The military has gradually penetrated every nook and cranny of American society from high school ROTCs to marching bands and color guards to providing city police forces with heavy-duty military gear and to influencing the content of films and their depiction of military matters and historical events. It has even influenced sports.

Perhaps few are aware that the recent bitter controversy over football players kneeling during the national anthem as a legitimate form of protest against police violence has a military connection. Years ago, players waited until the anthem was over before taking the field, but the Pentagon realized the recruitment value of young men watching their football heroes standing to attention for the anthem. It bribed the NFL to have players do so, and indeed recruitment rose.

President Kennedy was acutely aware of just how powerful and threatening the military had become by the early 1960s, it was with his encouragement that the film “Seven Days in May” was made, and the military has done nothing but grow since his day. And, of course, it can grow only so long as the Congress and President create outrageous budgets accommodating it.

Now, America has perhaps the most dangerous personality it has ever had in the Oval Office, and it has a Congress openly embracing his ways and ignoring its duties.

It’s almost as though America’s government were preparing itself for a new level of conflict in imperial matters. I think that is likely true, although perhaps not the result of conscious planning.

The Roman Empire is of course the classic case of a government which grew from a republic and so changed its practices and intuitions that the concept of a republic survived only in the emblematic initials, SPQR, initials which were widely used in everything from monuments to documents when they no longer had any meaning.

I genuinely fear America may have just crossed the Rubicon.

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