The current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, removed any doubt last night about whether he will obey the tripartite boundaries of powers stipulated by the Constitution of the United States of America. When a bipartisan, bicameral Congress presented him with a bill to prescriptively allocate two trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money in an effort to blunt the damage of the coronavirus, such allocation to be subject to the mandates and oversight of Congress, he said, in effect, “Thanks for the money, but I’m going to use it any way I damned well please. I regard your so-called allocations as but ‘hortatory’ [i.e., a suggestion] and not mandatory. And I will pay no attention whatsoever to the tin-horn sheriff that you’ll appoint to oversee what I do with the money.”
That’s it. $2,000,000,000,000 of your money. Donald Trump says it’s his personal slush fund.
This makes his impeachment-worthy hijacking of the $400,000,000 that Congress allocated to help Ukraine maintain its independence look like overtime parking. No outlaw from Billy the Kid to Willie Sutton to Bernie Madoff has ever been more brazen in his disregard for the difference between right and wrong, between legal and illegal, between decent and, well, in Trump’s case, horrifying.
We now have seen the most monumental middle finger to the United States Constitution ever flaunted in the face of the citizens of this country. Now we have an even-more frightful foretaste of what another four more years of his holding the Oval Office might portend—although, we who do not inhabit the fetid twilight zone in which Donald Trump dwells cannot possibly begin to imagine precisely the newly unthinkable ways in which he will trample our most cherished democratic strictures.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted last night that Trump’s rejecting Congressional oversight was “no surprise” but that Congress would still appoint a Special Inspector General and oversight commission to perform that duty. And formidable Representative Katie Porter begged to be empaneled on that oversight commission which, she said, should be put in place “this weekend!” But Steven Mnuchin can hand Donald Trump that money instantly, today, as I am writing this, and even if Katie gets her wish to be on a commission empaneled this weekend, Trump may well have long since dealt out some money any way he pleases. And certainly he’ll laugh off any after-the-fact Congressional objections to his defiance of their allocations. Possession, as they say, is indeed 9/10th of the law, for Donald Trump. Any chance he’ll dump some of that money into rescuing his own failing businesses?
Meanwhile, the citizens of the United States of America are cowering under a blanket of fear and seclusion that is devastating jobs and hopes and retirement nest-eggs and ordinary life. The coronavirus that is wreaking havoc on individuals and the entire medical system might have been fended off to a significant degree had Trump not dismantled the very office designed to anticipate, detect, forestall and/or blunt just such a pandemic.
“Who knew it could get this bad?” he wails. Reminds us all of his marveling “Who knew it was that complex?” when he lifted the hood on the American healthcare system. Yet, even as I write and America cowers, his legal team is in court to destroy Obamacare and its provisions that will help victims of coronavirus. Donald Trump’s bungling both issues means that some Americans will die who might otherwise have lived. Just a simple, incontrovertible fact.
So what do we do now? We have two lethal plagues upon us. Perhaps we must recognize that both calamities—an outlaw President and COVID-19—have gotten ahead of us. It’s too late to contain them. Now we need a different level of strategic thinking.
Last night, Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, said it was not realistic to expect anyone to produce enough ventilators and respirators to save the lives of all those who will approach death from coronavirus. Even at round-the-clock capacity, he noted, the known manufacturers of these machines cannot possibly produce even 10% of what may be needed at the peak of the demand, and it is folly to expect General Motors or anyone else to jump in at this late date to save us. Each machine is assembled from some 150 parts that are themselves manufactured in 14 different countries—which are also crippled in their capacity to produce and ship those parts, thanks to coronavirus.
[Even were we to have enough equipment, we have the problem of maldistribution. Yesterday Donald Trump told Americans—I can barely stand to write this—that—Oh, God, not really?—if Governors treat him real nice, okay, maybe he’ll allocate some lifesaving equipment to them. If they don’t kiss his ring, he actually said, “I don’t take their calls.” He’ll gladly let “their” citizens die.]
No wonder that Dr. Osterholm said that, far beyond any strategy to manufacture more critical medical equipment, we desperately need a strategy to live through the horrors of our coronavirus pandemic without enough of them.
So, too, with addressing the pandemic of Constitutional suffocation emanating from the Oval Office. What do we do until January 21, 2021, when Donald J. Trump must depart Washington as an ordinary but terminally disgraced private citizen?
My not-good-enough answer:
Even though coronavirus has eclipsed any political campaigning beyond Donald Trump’s self-serving daily press briefings, and the competitive Democrat vs. Republican campaigns will not resume in earnest until August or so, WE MUST keep believing and behaving as though the Constitution of the United States is still in force. We must prepare energetically for an election on November 3rd of this year in which we ordain Trump’s departure from the Oval Office. We must work and donate as never before to ensure that he is replaced.
And we must insist that our Congressional representatives determine immediately how to deal with his all-too-likely efforts to delay, cancel, or annul our November election. You’ve seen his utter disregard for our Constitution in so many ways, so you do know that any of these three outlaw maneuvers are a possibility with him, don’t you? Can you possibly doubt it? The ultimate fatality of coronavirus could befall us if he successfully uses our continuing need for protection from infection as his all-purpose “October surprise”.
Some say our democratic “values” are on the ballot in November. I say that that our very democracy itself is on the ballot. If President Donald J. Trump either corrupts or wins our Constitutionally mandated election, we’re starting all over…
Help me out. Dr. Osterholm noted that “You don’t get to fight a war with the weapons you wish you had. You have to fight it with the ones you do have.” We have, what, a well-intended but ignorable House of Representatives, but not a Senate and probably not a Supreme Court and, of course, nobody in the Executive Branch, to employ as weapons to hold the line until both Trump and coronavirus leave town. So what’s left after that? Civil disobedience? Protest marches? Angry rants like this one? Looking pretty lame, here.
I’d love to hear your suggestions of what else we can do to avert an incineration of democracy. Seriously. Please.