American Democracy Is Under Siege – By Benjamin Aduba
All the stars are properly aligned for the Republican Party to mold and shape the future of America for the next half century. The presidency, the senate, the House, the judiciary, majority of state houses and legislatures, etc., are all under the Republican leadership.
This is good and bad. Good, because most of the gridlock in Washington that stymied the Obama Administration and some others before it can now be overcome.
Bad because United State of America can now be counted among nations that have a one-party government. The one party is the Republican Party.
It gets worse.
The Republican Party is a monolithic Party. It is composed of mostly white European descended Christian Americans. The clear majority of its members are white men drawn from the upper segment of American society, the notorious 1%.
This evidence can be seen from the composition of President Trump’s cabinet where more than half the executive are billionaires and millionaires, mostly white and Christian or in the senate and House leaderships where again most of the members are rich white men.
In such a closed organization, there are no avenues for the voices of other ethnic groups, or the voices of the downtrodden, or the voices of other religious groups or even the voices of women can be heard.
Since 1776, USA has been sustained by three pillars: the constitution, multi-political parties and the strongest pillar of them all, the integrity of her rulers. One might add an independent press. The importance of a free press was the subject of Thomas Jefferson’s oratory:
"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57
The earliest leaders had many opportunities to become dictators as was common in other parts of the world of their era but refused to become one principally because it was not the honorable thing to do. George Washington was a prime example.
After two term in office he declined to serve a third term and that standard held for over a century before the term limits amendment was passed. The honesty and integrity of the present Republican leadership is being questioned by some people.
With the Republican Party, being for all practical purposes, the only party of consequence another pillar, the multi-party, seems to be crumbling. The third pillar, the constitution is also getting roughed up at the edges. Some examples include the following actions:
1. The Presidential Order banning immigration from majority Muslim nations. The government argues that religious requirement was not in the document, but several promises made by the president during the campaign remove any doubt that, that was the intention. Even his initial draft included Islam but was changed on the advice of counsel.
2. The press has never been under attack by any president as it is now. The press is constantly show-cased as anti-American without evidence.
3. The senate had refused to vote on the appointment of a Supreme Court judge nominated by former President Obama almost a year before the end of his term merely on the basis that he was a Democrat. It is unprecedented.
4. The senate rules required that committee meetings would require at least one member of the opposition to be present for a quorum to exist. The idea is to make a one-party decision impossible. Well, this requirement has been suspended so that GOP can make decisions all alone.
5. Senator Elizabeth Warren while addressing the senate needed to quote a part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s widow, Lorretta Scot King’s letter to the senate many years ago, but could not do so because the Senate majority leade,r Mitch McConnell, cut her off and disallowed her to continue her speech. The Republican majority voted in support of their leader and Mrs. King’s Letter was not read.
There are other examples but the above serve to prove that the constitution and other requirements for a multi-party government are being compromised to enable an effective one-party government of the United States.
What are the implications of all these?
a. The nation is now divided along ethnic, religious, class, etc., lines as can be seen in:
Women’s marches across the nation. The women’s march in Washington DC, attracted a larger crowd than attended the Trump’s inauguration ceremonies.
A scientists’ march is being planned and the momentum shows that another huge crowd will descend on DC soon.
Muslim marches are cropping up every day in many parts of the country.
A few Islamic mosques have been vandalized or burnt down by islamophobics encouraged by anti-Islam rhetoric’s in the air.
b. United States, the one Super Power in the world is slowly losing both its voice and prestige in the world. The British Prime Minister visited with President Trump in Washington and invited him for a return visit.
The invitation caused an uproar in Britain such that even the non-political Speaker of the Parliament suggested that US president not speak to the people’s representative in Parliament. An unprecedented move by US’s most dependable ally.
Australia, Mexico, China, Canada and other allies are rattled to say nothing about the perceived enemies like China, Iran, etc. US has been the stabilizer in the world since the end of WWII and the end of cold war. If her friends and enemies are concerned, it is not good news for world peace.
The status quo impacts both the domestic issues and world affairs. It makes people fear that American politics is unstable. What will happen if per chance the democratic party attains the same one-party status say in 50 years.
Will it govern as the republicans are doing now: stopping senators at the middle of their speeches in Congress; dispensing with quorum requirements; refusing all appointments by the presidents other than the one from their party; etc.?
Those who have powers must learn to weld it with caution. What goes around comes around. All revolutions in history, including American Revolution, were encouraged by authoritarian governments.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts