Level the Field

Amoral: a) having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong: b) being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals

Immoral: conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles

soapboxpileAre the members of the GOP both of the above? It is a fair question in light of their actions and active participation in the attempted coup by Donald J. Trump, outgoing President of the United States and his team of legal geniuses. What is there to say about those who took the following Oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

It is such a simple thing; just pick the very first line thing in the Oath; support and defend the Constitution. Not a person, not a party but the Constitution of the United States. The interesting thing about this is that the incoming President and Vice President swear similar oaths of office to protect and defend the United States’ Constitution.

So what we have is a conundrum.

Is the GOP’s entire elected membership, with very few exceptions nationwide, seditious, oath-breaking, villains?  Or are they simply brainwashed cult members ready to die on Trump’s bonfire of vanity?

That is the question we have to ask ourselves as we watch the nation tear itself apart on falsehood and conspiracy theories so farfetched even those telling the stories cannot maintain their equilibrium. There is a pervasive sickness infecting not just those at the bottom but also those at the top. Elected officials willing to turn a blind eye to the erosion of traditional norms, ready to break the rules bound by centuries of standards simply to appease a single man, his temper and his apparent hold on the perceived base of voters easily swayed. I have watched Congress members say without blinking an eye what has been done in the past is not relevant today; time and again, norms are no longer valid.

“The courts will decide disputes; that’s the way we do it in this country. mcconnell_2Having close disputed elections is not unusual.” Mitch McConnell

Senator McConnell is not wrong; close votes are not unusual where he goes off the rails is the pandering nonsense that these require courts to decide. What is staggering is we suddenly must wait for states to certify elections before the GOP leadership will acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-Elect.  It should be noted, Donald J. Trump had already declared himself the winner on November 3. Laying the groundwork for what was to come, weeks of nonsensical legal filings in various states that went nowhere fast. Weeks of news conferences from washed-up has-been sycophants spewing unsupported claims of voter fraud, with guarantees their master would be king come January.

What have we learned from all of this? What can we take forward into the future?

One thing we should learn is what comes around goes around, always. If you don’t like the polarization of Washington, D.C and the partisanship of politics today, blame Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats of 2013. The Nuclear Option eliminated the Senate filibuster for all nominations to Article III Federal Judiciary except for the Supreme Court and the President’s picks for his Cabinet. This led the way for Mitch McConnel to pack the federal judiciary with 300 unqualified lifetime appointments and three Supreme Court Justices. Additionally, it allowed the Trump administration to select uniquely unqualified members for his Cabinet, including his own children, without a single protest in the Senate. Finally, as we look at Joe Biden taking office next year and the Cabinet he is putting together, the GOP Senate members are already raising their hands and saying that they will not be approved despite their qualifications.

What else should we learn? What we have relied upon as traditional norms must become hard and fast rules with consequences. That we must demand more of those who sit in the oval office or walk the halls of Congress as elected leaders. We must look closely at our minimum standards; we must raise the bar and codify some of what we have considered ‘norms’ into Trump-visits-St-Johns-Churchbasic job requirements. Our future must never see another person so utterly unprepared and ill-equipped as Donald J. Trump sworn into the Presidency. We can never again allow the last four years to be repeated; honestly, we can never again allow the previous twelve years to be repeated.  Make no mistake, the polarization and partisanship began when Mitch McConnell uttered this famous phrase, signally the top GOP priority under the Obama administration:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” October 23, 2010

How do we address these issues? What can we do to turn the tide for a future that looks more like the one intended by the original Constitution and in the Federalist Papers?  Despite the entire Biden presidency is a lame-duck administration, there is much that can be done. Even with a pandemic looming and an economy failing, both at home and globally, some steps can be taken that I believe could gain bipartisan support. Despite all the evidence, I remain hopeful that Republicans remain in Congress who want a better tomorrow and save America. I think what comes next is in the hands of the people, not the government. What we demand will become the priorities in Congress.

  1. Term Limits on Congress, maximum of 3 terms for both House and Senate.
  2. Change in Lifetime appointments to a maximum of 25-year for all Federal Bench. All appointments must pass a minimum of Qualified by the ABA to be considered.
  3. Change in use of Executive Orders. All Executive Orders should be subject to review by Congress.
  4. New laws enshrining ‘norms’ (e.g., the release of 10 years of taxes, health records including a phycological test, requirement to quit all business interest before taking office, strengthening emoluments clause, strengthening nepotism clauses). These new rules must include the President, Vice President and all members of Congress. These must not be a wish list but instead requirements for the office.
  5. Reversal of Citizen United. Congress to pass legislation to include all campaigns limited in fund raising activities. A gentle reminder, money is the root of most evil and there should be limits.
  6. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine with teeth. Let’s start holding the media, including social media, accountable.

biden_HarrisThat is it for me as a starting position. I know there is plenty to keep them busy in the first 100 days. There is more to keep them busy bickering and backbiting going forward after that. Yet, we the people have the power and we the people must demand a better nation. If we want the big stuff to get done, we must demand that they start changing the rules in our favor.

Talk Back, Try Civility

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