Americans have discovered over the past few years just how fragile our union is. It started with President Trump’s invitation to Russia and China to interfere with the 2016 election and is ending with him discrediting the 2020 election.
Now, we’re left to pick up the pieces and, frankly, I’m not sure how quickly our democracy can recover when so many cultists distrust the most democratic of institutions and the most obvious facts.
Let’s not lose sight of those facts. Trumpers shaped the narrative in 2016, aided and abetted by Bill Barr, that there was no “collusion.” Specifically, though, the Trump administration stonewalled Robert Mueller who glaringly lacked the guts to subpoena Trump, he said, “because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation.” Fine.
If you connect the dots, though, you’ll run out of ink before you finish documenting Trump’s Russian connections, from the meeting in Trump Tower to the implausible $54 million profit he made on a mansion sold to a Russian oligarch in 2008. Michael Cohen says Trump believes that every favorable deal he makes with a Russian is at the behest of Vladimir Putin. So, if you wonder why Trump is putty in Putin’s hands, why he ignored Russian bounties on American soldiers, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to have a clue.
Fast-forward to today. Trump’s lost scores of court cases in a buffoonish but dangerous coup attempt and has still managed to convince his conspiracy-addled followers that independently run elections in six states (five of them controlled by Republican legislatures) were stolen. Multiple Trump-appointed judges lived up to their code of impartiality and tossed out the frivolous suits. Yet, the conspiracy theories live on — even in Congress.
How do you convince people of the facts when their default position is to blame “fake news” or “the deep state?”
It’ll be a tall order for President Biden to steady the ship. In 2008, Mitch McConnell made it clear that he wanted President Obama to fail and worked doggedly toward those ends. Now, Biden is already facing similar opposition, from foot-dragging on intel by the Department of Defense to a canceled COVID-19 loan program by the Treasury. None of that's good for you. Voters have been demoted from kingmakers to political pawns in two short months.
This flawed transition exemplifies the weaknesses of a democracy in which two parties with disparate philosophies share the power almost equally. So how do we encourage continuity? Perhaps the best thing that could happen in this country would be the emergence of a viable third party. A minority party, serving as a mediator, would ideally temper the intransigence that plagues Congress today. Compromise would be unavoidable. We might well see more continuity in domestic issues and even more so abroad where our allies and enemies alike are often content to wait for the next election to strike a deal. Can you blame them?
For now, much rests on Joe Biden’s ability to stabilize our democracy. Trump let the genie out of the bottle and showed unscrupulous politicians that a smarter fascist could succeed where this bull in the china shop failed. If Trump were the least bit competent, our democratic republic would be in serious trouble.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.