Thursday, June 23, 2022

This Caption Is True

And it's always going to be true.

Democratic governance is not self-actualizing.  It is not self-regulating.  It does not enforce itself despite the best efforts of the citizenry to thwart the rule of law. There is no power outside of we, the people, that will keep democratic governance the law of our land.  It prevails only because the people will it to do so.

In 2020 the courts denied Trump the victory he couldn't win at the ballot box.  Employees of the Justice Department, some of them hand-picked by Trump, refused to back his schemes to defraud the government and force his victory on Congress on January 6th.  Had Mike Pence declared the ballots suspect and demanded a halt to the Joint Session, both the House and Senate would have had to agree.  If they had, and the Court had intervened to say in effect "it doesn't work that way," and the House and Senate had said "Oh, yeah?  Sez who?", then we would have had a true crisis in governance.

But that didn't happen; and it wasn't likely to happen.  Because at that point even the goverance of Congress over the nation would have been seen as illegitimate.  And as much as Republicans since Gingrich love to rail against the federal government, a/k/a "Big Government," a/k/a "The Deep State." they don't want to see it collapse.  They just want to see it work for them.

What Donald Trump tried to do was to crash government into a brick wall.  He thought by doing that he could declare victory and remain in office rather than be shamed as a loser.  He never understood and still doesn't understand forcing his will on the government would destroy the very thing that gave him the public office he wanted so badly to win.

But many other people did.

So let's state it plainly, rather than in bizarre abstractions like "democracy."  Donald Trump sought to overthrow the government of the United States.  He thought by doing so he could keep as much of the government as he liked, which was the Oval Office and the office of President.  Just as his fraud arguments never made sense (if he was fraudulently denied victory, weren't all the victories on the ballot fraudulent, too?  How do you now throw out the baby with the bathwater in Trump's theories?  How does a court decide all votes were valid except those for Biden?), his arguments about how elections are conducted (which he no more understands than I truly understand how the 100 year old wind up clock on my desk works) were senseless, too.  He wanted to throw out whatever he didn't like, and keep the bits he did.  But it doesn't work that way.  Just like old adage that you can't be "a little bit pregnant," you can't declare war (effectively) on only the parts of the government (state and federal; he wanted state legislatures to back his play with new slates of electors) you think wronged you.

Donald Trump declared war on the governments of the United States.  Period.  End of discussion.  Not "democracy" or the idea of a "peaceful transfer of power," or on our political traditions going back to George Washington.  He declared war on government, so he could have things his way.  And that's what the J6 hearings are proving.

Neal Katyal this morning on MSNBC said the hearings are preparing the country to accept the prosecution of a former President for crimes against the state, against the country, against we, the people.  I think that sentiment and understanding are only going to grow.  And the genius of the J6 hearings is that they are not trying to prove Donald Trump was some kind of "existential threat" to a concept like "democracy."  They are proving he was a criminal who lied, cheated, and fabricated claims out of complete fantasies, all to cling to public office and the powers and responsiblities thereof, for as long as possible.  That's not an assault on an abstraction, that's an assault on we, the people.  That's an assault on how we govern ourselves and how we expect things to be done and on what we rely on to have stability in our daily lives. That is an act of war as fundamental as if an invader were rolling tanks through our streets and bombing our buildings from the air.

And frankly, it would be better if we started treating it that way.  Donald Trump and his motley band of rabid fools don't want our government, the government of we, the people.  They want their government, the government of them alone.  The courts are not giving that to them, and will not let them have it.  Government, our government, is stronger than its assailants.  We should stand strong on that awareness, and support it.

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