As others have expressed, I have had times when I’ve been overwhelmed by the nearly daily onslaughts against democratic norms, institutions and governance, or lack thereof, of the current Republican administration and Congress. This continuous series of attacks on governing principles, civil liberties, the press, and public institutions is a well know technique of authoritarian regimes. The resulting disruptions come at us so fast, and from so many directions, that is difficult to deal with any one issue. The end result is almost none of the threats are successfully challenged.
The Congressional hearing yesterday related to FBI Agent Peter Strzok was an embarrassing spectacle to observe. But more importantly showed the continued refusal of Congress to work on any of the myriad of problems that were cited by Democratic Congresspeople. The hearing also exposed how far Republicans will go to attack the FBI and Justice Department. And efforts to discredit the investigations into the current administration; another authoritarian technique.
Our international reputation is in tatters as the world watches what is happening in our country, including blatant racism, the treatment of those seeking asylum and other immigrants, forcibly separating children from their parents, the refusal to pass common sense gun legislation, curtailment of civil liberties, attacks on the press and on law enforcement and the judicial system, attempts to diminish access to healthcare, roll back all kinds of protections for land, air and water quality, and trade policies that actually damage businesses. And not only refusing to address climate change, but aggressively promoting the continued use of fossil fuels.
At this same time the President is traveling abroad, where he continues to criticize our allies, interfere with local governments, and praise authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin. I had hoped the summit with North Korea was going to be movement toward peace with that country, but recent events cast doubt on that.
So on top of over a year of damaging domestic policy, we are now witnessing this administration’s disturbing trends in international relations and heightened prospects for war. This at a time when what was supposed to be a system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government have intentionally been eroded.
Those who work for peace and justice need to renew our efforts. All of the above can only happen when we don’t challenge these threats. Our traditional means of trying to influence our representatives seem to have little effect in the face of huge campaign contributions, and the increased power of corporate lobbyists. Friends can continue to engage with government, and continue to support and participate in the efforts of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). We can continue to support resistance efforts like the Poor Peoples Campaign.
The upcoming midterm elections are the real opportunity to change our government policies. Voter registration and participation are crucial. Unfortunately the integrity of the upcoming elections is already in doubt because the administration has not fulfilled its duty to protect the electoral process.
The large, looming questions are what charges will the Special Counsel bring, when will that happen, and what will be the consequences? Will there be a constitutional crises? What can we do now to be prepared if that happens?