Monday, January 1, 2018

Trump Can't Manage Government But Manages His Own Self-Inflicted Chaos

Aids BFF’s — Hammers the Needy and Middle Class
(Applause in the Background) 

Out to Remake and Own America in His Own Image 

Pulitzer Prize article for sure from The Atlantic (David Frum) and with these quotes – keepers for sure.

Introduction: The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

(I Note: I call it Trumpworld)

“The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty.”

“If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.”

“A president determined to thwart the law to protect himself and those in his circle has many means to do so.

“Civil unrest will not be a problem for the Trump presidency. It will be a resource. Trump will likely want to inflame more of it.

“A would-be kleptocrat is better served by spreading cynicism than by deceiving followers.

The article is very long, yet extremely detailed in truth, scope, and assumptions as well as conclusions in the form of suggestions for all Americans concerned about this presidency under Donald J. Trump to head off what we see or fear and as they say “get the country back on track” at least in my view after carefully reading it.

Of course, Trump supporters will only use it as a birdcage bottom I am sure – more “Fake News” or “Leftwing BS” and “Hatred for Trump” etc. Yeah, sure like he hates no one, insults no one, or belittles no one, right?

I have picked a few pieces I want to emphasize strongly with from this article following the odd introduction as Mr. Frum imaged the next several years:

Everything imagined above — and everything described below — is possible only if many people other than Donald Trump agree to permit it. It can all be stopped, if individual citizens and public officials make the right choices. The story told here, like that told by Charles Dickens’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, is a story not of things that will be, but of things that may be. Other paths remain open. It is up to Americans to decide which one the country will follow.

No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then — but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

The United States is of course a very robust democracy. Yet no human contrivance is tamper-proof, a constitutional democracy least of all. Some features of the American system hugely inhibit the abuse of office: the separation of powers within the federal government; the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states. Federal agencies pride themselves on their independence; the court system is huge, complex, and resistant to improper influence.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency. A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament.

The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit. What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities?

(I Note: Wow here we are today, um?)

This underscores it all for me at least:

“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

With those words, written more than 200 years ago, the authors of the Federalist Papers explained the most important safeguard of the American constitutional system. They then added this promise: “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Congress enacts laws, appropriates funds, confirms the president’s appointees. Congress can subpoena records, question officials, and even impeach them. Congress can protect the American system from an overbearing president.

But will it?

These examples are disturbing to the say the least and hits squarely that the above points out:

The greatest risk to all their projects and plans is the very same X factor that gave them their opportunity: Donald Trump, and his famously erratic personality. What excites Trump is his approval rating, his wealth, and his power. The day could come when those ends would be better served by jettisoning the institutional Republican Party in favor of an ad hoc populist coalition, joining nationalism to generous social spending — a mix that’s worked well for authoritarians in places like Poland. 

Who doubts Trump would do it? Not Paul Ryan. Not Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. For the first time since the administration of John Tyler in the 1840s, a majority in Congress must worry about their president defecting from them rather than the other way around.

A scandal involving the president could likewise wreck everything that Republican congressional leaders have waited years to accomplish. However deftly they manage everything else, they cannot prevent such a scandal. But there is one thing they can do: their utmost not to find out about it.

Do you have any concerns about Steve Bannon being in the White House?” asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper to Ryan in November. “I don’t know Steve Bannon, so I have no concerns. I trust Donald’s judgment.”

Asked on 60 Minutes whether he believed Donald Trump’s claim that “millions” of illegal votes had been cast, Ryan answered: “I don’t know. I’m not really focused on these things.”

On CNBC Ryan was asked about Trump’s conflicts of interests, he said: “This is not what I’m concerned about in Congress. Trump should handle his conflicts however he wants to.”

Ryan learned his prudence the hard way. Following the airing of Trump’s past comments, caught on tape, about his forceful sexual advances on women, Ryan said he’d no longer campaign for Trump. Ryan’s net favorability rating among Republicans dropped by 28 points in less than 10 days. Once unassailable in the party, he suddenly found himself disliked by 45 percent of Republicans. 

Finally: I would like to point out more – but that would take away from the article in scope and intent, so, read it all here – you might need to read it more than once – I had to. But, boy is it spot on and timely.

Drop Mr. Frum a note and thank him for the excellent article – I hope he wins a prize for it – he surely earned one.

Thanks for stopping by.

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