What’s at Stake in the Latest Trump Scandal? Answer: Maybe the Future of American Democracy.
Provided you’re paying attention, we’re witnessing the nation’s ultimate test. We are about to find out in the coming weeks and months ahead — does our system work? Does democracy function? Will the constitution save us?
In the past, we’ve survived terrorist attacks, armed invasions, and even a civil war. But we’ve never been subject to a rebellious insurrection from within our own government at the very highest level, where the most powerful person in the country, cheered blindly by millions of loyalists, willingly and deliberately subverts 230 years of democratic tradition and openly trashes so many fundamental tenets of law, civility, and diplomacy.
In 1974, President Nixon came close to posing a similar threat like the one we face now. But Nixon, well trained in the law, highly-experienced in federal politics, and a proud veteran of World War II, had the common decency to save the nation from a grueling legal battle he could not win and resigned. The system *worked.*
I’m reminded of the tense scene from 1976’s “All the President’s Men” when Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee schools two young reporters working the Watergate scandal on what’s at stake in uncovering the crimes of a president.
“Have you seen the results of the latest Gallup Poll?” Bradlee asks Woodward on Berstein on his front lawn. “Half the country’s never heard of Watergate. Nobody gives a shit.”
Bradlee takes a long pause, then dismisses popular opinion and public indifference.
“….nothing’s riding on this — except the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country,” Bradlee says.
Although the scandals, the personalities, and the specifics are different today, Bradlee’s call to arms in defense of truth is a rallying cry every bit as important now as then. It reveals why Democrats MUST continue to investigate, and if warranted, pursue articles of impeachment. They MUST do this not because there are guarantees of success, but rather because the costs of doing nothing are much higher.
If we let this pass, it means our system will have collapsed. It means descending into a murky abyss where law and order no longer matters. It means lies can and will obfuscate the truth. It means an abrupt end to any co-equal branches of government and dissolution of the rightful powers and responsibilities they are granted by the constitution.
The stakes are even higher now than during Watergate because Nixon had no army of sycophants nor foreign confederates nor a slanted media eager and willing to knowingly pollute the minds of millions with his lies. Indeed, Trump has all off these terrible tools at his disposal and he is using them like a sledgehammer. He and his army of liars will make square pegs fit into round holes and call his version of the truth — a perfect fit.
If Trump gets away with such a vast panoply of high crimes, be certain that far worse crimes will follow.
Let us see if our system works and the truth shall set us free, once again.