Saturday, February 08, 2020

Don't Say This Question Hasn't Crossed Your Mind

Is America finished, ruined beyond redemption, a now hopeless case?

It's the sort of question that, once raised, prompts a flood of ready opinion, the sort of deluge that reveals many of us having been asking ourselves this same thing.

The BBC's New York correspondent, Nick Bryant, has this on his mind also.
The new decade in American politics has started with a hangover that keeps on getting worse - a quickening of the downward democratic spiral we have witnessed over the past 30 years. 
So much of what has gone awry has been resident in the trial of Donald Trump. 
The partisan vitriol. The degradation of debate. The use of what were previously rarely used weapons - in this instance impeachment - to escalate America's ceaseless political war. 
This sorry saga has offered yet more proof that, far from being an aberration, the Trump era is a culmination. 
The hyperpartisanship of Republicans and Democrats has been evident in the party-line votes to impeach and acquit. The coarseness and ugliness of political discourse we have heard every day, which prompted the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Robert to tell both sides to dial back the rhetoric.
Trump, the Constitutional Wrecking Ball.
Constantly it is remarked upon how Trump has departed from the norms of presidential behaviour, but one of the main effects of these past three years has been to destroy the shared sense of what those norms should be. As the impeachment trial underscored, Washington cannot even agree on what constitutes right and wrong. Following his acquittal, Donald Trump has claimed a Pyrrhic victory, but there is no doubt about the loser: the country he leads and has helped divide.
Trump's victory rally in the East Room of the White House the morning after his acquittal, where Republican jurors stood to applaud, may well come to be seen as a definitive moment - when the party of Reagan truly became the party of Trump. Senators from the Grand Old Party, the GOP, have now clicked on the terms and conditions of the Trump presidency after examining for three years the fine print. They have fallen into line. Many have become his spear-carriers. Striking, too, was how the Attorney General, William Barr, got up from his seat at the event to clap and salute Trump's legal team, suggesting the wall that should exist between prosecutors at the Justice Department and political operatives at the White House has been flattened.
The State of the Union address on Tuesday night showed how toxic the air in Washington has become, from the refusal of Donald Trump to shake Nancy Pelosi's hand ahead of his address to her ripping up of his speech afterwards. Never before have we seen such a breakdown of basic decorum, or, in modern times, the hatred it betrayed.
For me, though, the moment that encapsulated the era came when Trump awarded the presidential medal of freedom to the conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh. The right-wing talk show host is a high priest of polarisation. Few conservatives have done more to pave the way for Donald Trump. With that primetime ceremonial, the president revealed the chronic state of America's disunion.
But the chaos of caucus night in Iowa has reminded us again of the country's democratic decay. Even the mechanics of democracy no longer seem to work any more, a problem highlighted in the disputed 2000 election that has not yet been fixed. 
On Tuesday night, we witnessed American polarisation play out in real time. During the impeachment trial it often seemed that the very idea - and ideals - of America was on the stand. 
A broken politics, a broken democracy, a broken country.


John B. said...

I've always thought of Rush as a miserable fat version of Lonesome Rhodes with real followers, the proud Ditto-Heads, who're immeasurably dumber than the fictitious ones that eventually saw through ol' Lonesome's bullshit when it hit them in the face.

Ben Burd said...

Mound I agree with you that the "democratic" USA is finished and the chattering classes on CNN, MSNBC and the other purveyors of 'common sense' are lost and don't have a fucking clue how to combat the cult.

With the Dems farting about with candidates that are guaranteed to reelect Trump those of use who watch and comment are driven to the depths of despair looking for hope in the fog.

The fix is in for a Country that spouts about the 'rule of law' and democratic principles and which will never recover from the despicable actions of the most evil person in the world - Mitch McConnell and the results that he has produced. These results - mainly the reconstruction of the Courts and the acquiescence to the moves by ALL of Trump's agencies, principally the EPA will means that not only have they fucked up the USA but the rest of the world.

Some Sunday morning thoughts from a guy currently sunning himself on the beach in Mexico, but whose mind is going a mile a minute - all in the wrong direction!

Lorne said...

Trump's presidency has cast in bold relief one of the main problems of contemporary politics, Mound: the dearth of elected officials who remember the concept of public service. Those carrying Trump's water have hitched themselves to Trump body and soul because they believe he can deliver to them the thing they covet most: re-election and the benefices of office that entails.

People of substance recoil at this dystopian nightmare.

The Disaffected Lib said...

I was hoping someone would leave a comment that would pierce my gloom and reveal the error of my ways. Guess not.

When I think of the pressures the US will face over the next decade, two at the outside, challenges for which they've shown mainly hubris in response, I fear for us as well. They may be the principal contributor to the climate crisis but you can be damned sure they'll blame everyone else and if they need anything urgently, well, we're their pantry.

JasonS said...

Both sides huh. There is only supposed to be the law and truth. Voting for no witnesses or testimony because you know it will make your guy look terribly guilty , which he is happens to be the definition of partisan. You can't both sides it when one side is demonstrably wrong. He was guilty and the constitution demanded his removal . One side is partisan and that is the Republicans in congress and the Senate.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Agreed, Jason. The challenge is to imagine how this can be rectified, how the keel can be evened.

Purple library guy said...

It was actually the recent fiasco of the DNC trying, and largely failing, to rig the Iowa primary that crystallized something for me. What is decadence?
All civilizations of any size to date have had some sort of ruling class. The purpose of a ruling class is self-dealing of some sort--giving more wealth and power to those selected for some kind of membership, whether by blood, or money, or what have you. Empires in particular, conquer and exploit so as to channel the gains to that class. But as time passes, the form of self-dealing becomes more and more all-encompassing and extreme. The corruption that makes things go the way elites want layers onto everything. A civilization is decadent, and likely to fall, when even the very tools needed for maintaining elite dominance and profit, are created and maintained in ways tainted with the self-dealing style of the civilization, made inefficient, ineffective, by the very corruption and cronyism that enriches the ruling class. Since the problem is built into the nature and purpose of the civilization, it is very hard to make the tools work well again, and the civilization will defeat itself.

As I say, this crystallized for me when I saw that the Democratic National Committee, one of the apexes of political organization in the US empire, paying some incompetent fatcat Clintonite cronies to make their election-rigging software instead of getting serious pros, only to find that it didn't work worth a damn for either its declared or real purpose. The very corruption of the DNC had crippled its effectiveness at corrupting the election for elite benefit! They're decadent. Things like the F-35 are also exhibits, of course.