Memo to Nancy Pelosi and Chick Schumer:
Despotism qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanours”
It does not take a Philadelphia lawyer to discern the malfeasance that corrodes the Oval Office, and all branches of the government touched by its occupant. (And this scribe is no lawyer!)
However, for Democrats to take the “tortoise (versus hare) approach to impeachment, even if the face of the iceberg facing their ‘titanic’ struggle in the form of the Republican-dominate Senate, and concentrate their “investigation of the facts” to the legal minutiae uncovered by Mueller, and then putting their trust in the capacity of their multiple investigations by House Committees of the trump administration, campaign, business dealings, bank relationships, inauguration committee, and potential for compromise by foreign powers is to wander blindly into the midnight forest looking through a microscope at the legal reasons (leaves) for impeachment.
This moment in history, however, demands more muscle, insight, imagination, team discipline and courage than required by a “legally defined” approach. If it were to be a legal approach, then this president would have/should have been impeached on day one of his presidency, just based on his flaunting of the emoluments clause. The world, not only the American people, need and demand the removal of this presidency, at the earliest possible moment. And, it is not the first time the world has faced the prospect of a despot operating in a so-called enlightened and developed nation.
Inspiration from history is a well from which the Democrats can drink the waters of hope, courage, and imagination. De Toqueville coined the term “soft depotism” describing a country overrun by a network of small complicated rules” might degrade.
Soft despotism gives people the illusion that they are in control, when in fact they have very little influence over their government. (Wikipedia) Historically, soft despotism has been considered to be most likely held by the aristocracy, in a democratic nation.
In the current state of the union in the United States, there is a wannabe Casesar, upheld by a cult of obsequious mandarins, comprising a new and different class of iconoclasts, bent on using the unitary executive (theory and practice) to thwart the will of the people, or at least a majority of the people. Fear of the remaining sycophants, that 35-38% of trump red-necks, cannot and must not be the determining factor in mitigating, circumscribing, or mediating, in any way, the approach of the Democrats in their discharge of their constitutional obligations. The fact that Republicans in both houses of Congress bear the same constitutional responsibility, while currently hidden, denied or avoided by those blinded by their desperate need for power, is an obvious and unburied political mine field, around which the nation, led by the Democrats, has to navigate. Democracy itself is founded on the notion that eventually the will of the people will subdue the nefarious, malevolent, malicious and destructive tendencies of those upholding cancerous power-brokers. It is for the push, the engine, the rocket fuel and the political will that everyone looks to the Democrats to launch this over-due removal from office.
De Toqueville posited two “weapons” of freedom in a democratic state:
Ø Freedom of the press
Ø Freedom of association
He saw both of these forces as agents of decentralizing power, both the power of ideas and the power of individuals. And the prospect of “administrative despotism” (De Toqueville’s term) was his view of the most likely to take hold in America. “This ever-changing administration grows over time to become the ultramonarchical monster which initially prompted the American Revolution from the portrayed despot of England.” (Joshua D. Glawson, on medium.com)
Glawson goes on to quote De Toqueville:
The doctrine of self-interest well understood seems to me of all the philosophic theories the most appropriate to the needs of men in our time, and that I see in it the most powerful guarantee against themselves that remains to them. (Democracy in America, 502-503)
We cannot rely on the Democrats alone to bring about the result the world needs and the American democracy demands. A free press, unencumbered by the mandate to drink the kool-aid of the aphrodisiac of ratings (and advertising sales and corporate profits), can and will release the coverage of mendacity, depravity and despotism so incarnated in this administration without regard to the kind of euphemistic, clinical, analytical and academic analysis that tends to “fog” the danger. Chamberlain succumbed to the “fog” of propaganda in Munich, and the American people have to be guided by the hand of the media, supplemented by the thought leaders like Bill Weld, Ralph Nader, Lawrence Tribe, David Cay Johnston, each of them given more time and exposure, not only on MSNBC but also on Fox, PBS and CBS and ABC, as well as in national dailies like the New York Times and Washington Post. Noam Chomsky, too, that linguist so renowned for his continual, persistent, acerbic and prophetic unmasking of political verbiage of all political actors from all sides for decades deserves a far more prominent place of time and attention by the American public, if the corporate cabal that undergirds the Republican (and to a lesser degree the Democrat) “establishment” soldiers. The president is the current and malignant symptom of the American malaise; he is not, however, the root cause of the disease that is threatening the very life of the republic.
Freedom of association, while acknowledged among individuals as a potentially decentralizing energy in a healthy democracy, has become a form of interior, if unofficial collusion among corporate executives. Private, personal profit, stock options, golden parachutes, fixed prices, unregulated financial services industry, and the outflow of action plans to advance, enhance and assure their respective and collective “normalcy” underlie the American political and economic culture. And one clear symptom of this underlying malaise can be seen in the determined and blatant initiative to “sell arms” (including withdrawal from the UN arms control agreement) anywhere and any time to any buyer by the trump administration. This flagrant attempt to fan the flames of military conflict, as a ruse to generate American employment numbers, (not to mention enhanced revenue and dividends for American oligarchs), is just another of the many “high crimes and misdemeanours” that fall outside the purview of the American legal, judicial system, and certainly of the current Justice Department, headed by William Barr.
Unless and until the corporate layer of “leadership” finally takes off their addictive blinders and opens their eyes to the deliberate, public, insouciant, self-serving, debilitating actions, beliefs, attitudes and sleuths that rush like a cataract from the administration, all of the legitimate, limited and polite legal overtures of the Democrats to remove this administration will crater on the shoals of defiance from the Oval Office.
The self-serving approach of both Republicans and corporate executives (seeking the preservation of their own power and wealth) is an unnamed, legal, and socially approved kind of obstruction to this blocked “bowel” of the American democracy. And this moment in history in so many ways requires a tectonic cultural shift from the pursuit of personal, private wealth and power, to both an acknowledgement and acceptance and honouring of the public interest, the public good, and the public institutions that have sustained that public good/interest for centuries.
Another shift in the culture needed for this moment of history to become the kind and degree of catharsis that is desperately needed focuses on the addiction to the “heroic star” of the public entertainment appetite. The current president has ridden, manipulated and essentially owned the archetype of the “star” in American life for decades, all the while masquerading in that mask while defrauding the IRS, the New York tenants who happened to live in his buildings, likely also many American banks who will allegedly no longer loan him money. And taking him out will not reset the American political and cultural health prognosis.
Charging Barr with contempt of Congress, and even the potential of bringing him to heel in a now-out-of-mind-and-use jail cell in the basement of Congress will only demonstrate the hollow emptiness of the Democratic labours. Similarly, while needed as a micro-measure, the petition to the court for release of the Grand Jury testimony will not comprise adequate proof to convince Republic Senators of the need to impeach the president, nor will it move any of those hardened trump cult members so deeply intoxicated by his political, financial and theatrical snake oil.
Leadership, starting with the look-in-the-mirror honesty and courage to the self, an activity so divorced from the political arena, is the missing ingredient from the Republican-trump-cult cabal, epitomized and even honoured by the cult leader himself. He is clearly one of the most anaesthetized-from-reality (especially his own) persons to occupy a prominent position in American life, since Barnum and Bailey. Declaring himself the most intelligent, best educated and most capable person in America, “I alone can fix this!” trump paradoxically betrays his own vacuity, and projects that vacuity onto the environment, the battlefield, the diplomatic conference room, and especially the mass anaesthetics of television and twitter.
Drunk on his own hubris, trump overflows the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanours,” threatening not only the American democracy, but also the highly fragile, brittle and thin world order. As a megaphone for white supremacy, an incarnation of “mob” culture, a “transformative” president (in all of the most dangerous nefarious ways imaginable) so named by Steve Bannon, as an agent and emblem of dictators, racists, misogynists, and fraudsters, this president more than fulfils the dictates of the political (not merely legal) definition of “high crimes and misdemeanours”. No matter how high the Dow climbs, nor how low the unemployment numbers fall, this administration warrants impeachment supported by all political parties and a majority of American voters.
Can the Republican/cult dupes take off their blind, obsessive addiction for personal power and begin to act on behalf of the democracy and the oaths they swore to uphold the constitution of that democracy?