What are we fighting about?

I’ve been worrying this nut for a while. This Republican administration (executive and legislative branches) is doing and saying outrageous and crazy and disturbing things multiple times every single day. From the gigantic, unconstitutional sledgehammers like the Muslim and Immigrant Ban to the minuscule, almost incidental sneaky moves, like removing inspection records of would-be puppy mills from the USDA website – it is impossible to keep track of it all. Focusing on what the administration DOES, not what it SAYS, helps, but there is still a huge volume of crazy to contend with.

Let’s look at this week alone: Betsy DeVos is nominated only by a historically unprecedented (i.e. it has never happened before in American history) tie-breaking vote cast by the Vice President; Jeff Sessions is nominated only after 49 Republican Senators vote to silence Elizabeth Warren (using a Senate rule that was written and used to silence critics of slavery); the President has challenged the competence of the Judicial branch in multiple tweets; the Press Secretary has reported three different times about a totally invented terrorist attack that took place in Atlanta (not to mention the “tragedy” at Bowling Green); Kellyanne Conway pops up on “Fox & Friends” to tell folks to buy Ivanka’s clothes, after the President tweeted angrily against Nordstrom’s; etc. etc. And this is just me sitting at my computer, listing things off the top of my head.

Someone please make it stop! I’m looking around for the bully police, the folks in power who will stand up and say, “hey, that’s not how we do things in this country.” I’m looking around for my fellow Americans to recognize that our very democracy is at stake, that checks and balances are being undermined with every passing day, that their elected representatives are not representing them faithfully, but rather with cynicism and arrogance and bigotry.

And I find those characters everywhere I look – the brave Democratic Senators and staff who stay up all night to fight the nominations. Thank you! Keep it up! The brave judges who, for now, anyway, insist on applying precedent and constitutional analysis to the Administration’s actions. Thank you! Keep it up! The hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens who are calling and writing and sitting in and marching and generally being outraged. Let’s thank ourselves, give ourselves a pat on the back! Keep it up!

And that is amazing – Democrats with a spine, staying united, fighting as hard as they can. I haven’t seen that in my lifetime. And my fellow citizens out in the kind of numbers we are seeing, haven’t seen that in my lifetime either.

But really what I haven’t seen in my lifetime – and the nut I am worrying right now – is the utter disregard the Administration (exec. and legis. branch) have for the consequences of their actions. I have come to the conclusion that the Republicans in congress, and those in the White House, simply don’t care about the majority of the American people. They don’t care that they are showing themselves to be bigoted, sexist, racist, xenophobic, greedy, lying, patriarchal, short-sighted and mean. They don’t, in short, care about American democracy.

Why? Why aren’t Republicans in congress fighting to preserve the democratic traditions of the Senate? Why aren’t they insisting that basic vetting processes be followed for nominees? Why aren’t they pushing for the President’s family to divest from their investments to avoid conflicts of interest? Why aren’t they calling the President on his crude attempts to discredit America’s judges and the judicial branch?

And this is the cynical crux of it, I think:  They seem to have made a calculated bet that Americans – or at least their Americans — don’t care about American Democracy either. (And the recent PPP poll that asks Trump supporters if Trump should follow court orders seems to support this calculation.) Maybe, they wager, a little autocracy wouldn’t be a bad thing, as long, of course, as they are the autocrats. Maybe, in fact, that is the whole plan. To dismantle American democracy.

Is this a fight, in part, about the kind of system of government we want? Is everything really on the table – the three branches, the separation of powers, the rules against nepotism and money in politics, the constitution itself? Is that what the 2016 election was about?

And if so, what does that mean about how we resist? What are we betting on, and how do we hedge those bets?

More next week.  Have fun in the snow, all you lucky East Coasters!