Sunday, October 29, 2017

Now What?


Now that Jeff Flake has channeled his inner FDR; now that Bob Corker has made it abundantly clear that the White House is basically a day-care center; now that John McCain and George Bush have each publicly rebuked this president and his policies, there's only one question I have. Now what?

Because here's what it comes down to: no matter how profound they might be, words alone do not change a blessed thing. In fact, unless accompanied by strong action, even the most eloquent of words tend to - as McCain put it - fall into the "ash heap of history."

Seriously, what would've happened if after John F. Kennedy declared we would land a man on the moon, NASA had not delivered? What if after Martin Luther King, Jr's famous I have a dream speech, there had been no marches from Selma to Montgomery? And what if the Continental Congress had chosen to do nothing after Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence? History demands more from its leaders than just great oratory; it demands great followthrough. The will to change requires more than just a sharp pen or tongue, it requires a moral conviction to move forward, even when the odds are stacked against you.

In 1961, the United States wasn't capable of getting a rocket off the launch pad without exploding, so landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade was, to many, an impossible goal. It was the men and women of NASA who made that goal become a realty. MLK, Jr was the leader of the non-violent peace movement in the country who spoke many times about the inequality and injustice that the black man was subjected to. Yet, it was those marches that took place in the mid-sixties that focused the attention of the nation on the cruelty of racism. Today we honor those marches as much as we do his speeches. And, let's face it, in 1776, the idea that a rag tag group of colonies could challenge, much less defeat, the greatest nation on the globe was farcical. But thanks to the the skill and bravery of men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson is revered as a patriot rather than reviled as a traitor.

If it's true that history only remembers the winners, it's equally true that the winners are those who seize it. We now find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history. We have a rogue president in the White House who has been called out by members of his own party and by conservative writers from David Frum to Jennifer Rubin. We have a pending indictment from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Slowly but surely, Donald Trump is transforming the GOP into his own image. Who will stand up to him? Floor speeches and op-ed pieces won't cut it. This Republic needs action - bold and defiant action.

Instead of deciding not to seek reelection, what if Jeff Flake and Bob Corker decided to run as independents in 2018? What if other Republican senators like Susan Collins and the aforementioned John McCain decided to thwart their party's legislative agenda just to deprive Trump of any accomplishments? Better still, what if all four called for invoking the 25th Amendment? And what if, along with those four senators, there was an equal number of Congressmen who did likewise? Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would shit their pants if that happened. That would be no mere floor speech, that would be the political equivalent of a Mutiny on the Bounty, so to speak. And it would be the beginning of what I believe would be a death spiral for Trump.

Think of it this way. The reason so many women have come forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct is because of one brave woman who led the way. Her courage helped pave the way for the others to make their voices heard. And now Weinstein is finished, along with, possibly, journalist Mark Halperin. Call it the domino effect, if you will, but it works.

Going blindly along with Trump because they're afraid of facing a primary challenge is the very definition of cowardice on the part of the GOP. In 1974, Republicans put country ahead of party and voted with Democrats to pass three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. That eventually forced his resignation from office. The question before us is whether there are enough brave Republicans in 2017 who are willing to do the same against this president.

If, as Corker has suggested, his fellow colleagues know all too well how unhinged Trump is, than to remain silent isn't merely an act of complicity, as Flake pointed out, it is an act of treason that will be remembered long after his term in office is complete, assuming we live that long. The Democrats still have no unified strategy, and even if they did, they're in the minority, so they cannot force him out. The responsibility and burden for what happens rests squarely on the shoulders of Republicans.

I have never been much of an optimist. Indeed, I have been called a cynic by at least one friend. Do I think the GOP has it in them to save this country from the likes of Trump? Probably not. Indeed, some Senate and House Republicans are now calling for investigations into, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton. She's the gift that keeps on giving for these people. I predict that during the 2024 presidential election, we'll still be hearing about her emails.

Andrew Sullivan may have summed up the current crisis best:
The key is to sustain a sense of the urgency of the moment, a resolute refusal to accept this descent into an illiberal authoritarianism, and a decision to put all our differences aside for a year in order to mobilize a turnout next year that eclipses Obama’s. We have to turn the mid-terms into a presidential election. Sane Republicans need to vote for the Democrat. Leftists have to put aside their divisive identity politics. Liberals need to coalesce around a simple strategy - not impeaching but checking Trump decisively.
Tall orders to be sure, but no taller than the overthrow of an imperial government or a successful lunar landing. We need another giant leap for mankind, and we need it now.

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