In the Age of Trump-McConnell, We Have All Been Lessened
In any other Senate, nobody would have allowed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to withhold a Supreme Court Nomination for 9 or 11 months. With the open appointment, this made it political since the next President would make the appointment. This helped Trump’s campaign.
In any other administration, a Racist-In-Chief Steven Miller would never have been tolerated in the White House. He would be taken out the back door in a hoodie to make sure no press would see that he had ever been in the White House. Not to mention Trump’s non-denunciation of neo-Nazis, and endorsement of Nationalism, knowing full well what it means historically.
In any other administration, a President who claimed that he was a very sane genius, an innate scientific genius who had fired his entire White House Office of Science and Technology, claimed that climate change was a Chinese hoax, fired scientists advising our science agencies, claimed that he was smarter than our Intelligence Agencies, smarter than our Generals, smarter than our State Department, voted against by 3 to 5 million imaginary illegal voters, purveyor of any lie, not to mention now 6,500, etc., etc., etc, would be booted out by the VP using the 25th amendment, until, with treatment, he became sane again.
Any one of those statements, or his action against Muslim immigrants, against asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and not reuniting them, would have brought out mass demonstrations … oh, right, they did.
Unless our next President is another professor of constitutional law, as President Obama was, future Presidents will take over some of these new Presidential powers that Trump has forced on us. They may also be deaf to ethics advice.
The Senate and House really have not stood up for their responsibilities in the Checks and Balance Constitutional system of Government. Nor has the Senate Judiciary Committee, or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, or the responsibility to Advise and Consent in the Senate fulfilled their Constitutional duty in vetting lifetime Supreme Court and Federal Judiciary appointees, or even the Attorney General or Acting Attorney General. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and AG nominee William Barr were both chosen by their public statements to block the Special Counsel Mueller investigation. The DOJ ethics committee recommended that Whitaker recuse himself from the investigation, but he has refused. All of this could be unconstitutional, and undermines all respect for the independence of the DOJ.
The tool of government shutdowns mainly hurts the 750,000 or quarter of federal employees, and today for their plans and funding for the Christmas season. What happened to Trump’s promise to “bring back Christmas”? Trump is showing us that he can flex his power as the Grinch and Scrooge combined. Why is the shutdown supposed to hurt Democrats? Because they care about Federal employees? Because their supporters need more social services? Trump is still held responsible for the shutdown by 51% to 39%.
Trump has tried in his budgets to deeply cut many federal agencies, hold down salaries, and makes political appointees to run departments and agencies against their stated missions as legally directed by the Congress.
There was a settlement to prevent the government shutdown, but Trump has now let unelected and extremely conservative and irresponsible media personalities Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Fox and Friends force him to get $5 billion funding for “The Wall” of some now unknown type, and of an estimated real cost of $27 billion. Limbaugh has 27 million website followers and is the leading commentary show on radio with around 26 million listeners, Ann Coulter has 2.1 million Twitter followers and has written 12 books, and Laura Ingraham has 2.5 million on Twitter and 2.6 million on Fox TV. Compare this to Trump’s 56 million Twitter followers.
Trump allows his Justice choices and budgets to be chosen by outside conservative groups run by the Koch brothers and others, but not in any elected or democratic way. McConnell has failed to respect the “blue card” ability of a Senator to reject a judge unsuited to the legal preferences of the Senator’s region. This could be a very short term advantage for conservatives, if the next President and Senate turn Democratic.
We will be paying for these fringe judge choices for the rest of their lives.
Present and future Republican candidates will be held to back these new Presidential and Senatorial power grabs. Democratic candidates will look weak if they do not also want to exercise such powers for the Democrats. This will be a future erosion of Constitutional and bipartisan norms. The 2020 Senatorial election will have 22 Republican held races to 12 Democratic held races.