Okay, I can’t keep up.
I was playing with the idea of becoming more a political blog, another online presence that would follow Trump’s every move in office and do their best to take him down a peg. I do still want that, but the way my life is going right now, I’m not sure that’s the path for me.
For one thing, there’s just so much shit. I’ve started writing similar articles to this at least five times, and by the time I get to the end, something else monumental happens that I want to include. Usually it’s something so necessary it begs starting the article over from scratch. I start, something else happens, repeat ad- nauseam. That leads me to my other point, I just don’t have the time to keep up. Journalists and news outlets can handle it – that’s their job, after all. But in having a job that doesn’t have to do with writing, school, and a wedding to plan while still maintaining something that looks like a life, I just can’t keep up.
So I’m throwing in the towel, but only about halfway. Rather than being a place to follow current events as they happen, I think something more broad is in order. I’m no news outlet, but I did want to be a source of information on political discourse. So we’ll collect more ideas together as more news come and extrapolate on bigger ideas. That’s what daydreaming is after all, and that is my job.
So, we’re going to talk about some things briefly today and make a broader point. And what is that broad point?
I know that statement could be misleading, but don’t unfollow me just yet. I haven’t joined the flat-earth, fetus-saving, woman-hitting, black-hating, Nazi-loving right wing, fear not (scary how easy that all rolls off the tongue). But the point stands that our current way of conducting ourselves isn’t cutting it.
There are at least two facts that have become abundantly apparent in the few weeks that Trump has led the country:
- Dissent is punishable and intolerable
- Rules do not apply unless it serves the purposes of the administration
And here we wonder why sales for George Orwell’s 1984 are skyrocketing – this is some serious double-think bullshit. The GOP would love to deny these two facts, but I would like to cite a few examples from the past few weeks as evidence for this cowardly, un-American behavior.
At the beginning of this last week, the “Monday Night Massacre” is a great example of how resistance is quickly becoming a punishable offence under Trump. For those who might be unversed in US history, the title refers to the “Saturday Night Massacre”, in which President Nixon sacked many of his staff to help cover up the Watergate scandal before it got out. If you’re keeping score, you know how well that turned out.
In a move that will come to be known as “the Nixon Shuffle”, Trump sacked many immigration officials as he rolled out his newly signed (though ineffective) Muslim Travel Ban, including the standing Attorney General, Sally Yates. Trump stated about the decision that Yates had “betrayed the Justice Department” in her declaration that the Justice Department would not be supporting the ban.
We should take a small aside to talk about this, because it’s important. As many are aware, it’s not just the President that takes an oath of office – other government officials are required to take the oath as well. In Trump’s statement, it is that very oath he refers to when citing her so-called “betrayal”. There are a few different oaths that certain officials take, but in NONE of them is it stated that said official will defend the President or his agenda. Looking specifically at the oath Yates would have taken, it says something very different than what Trump imagines.
“I, (name) do solemnly swear 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…”
The rest explains how the person taking the oath is doing so of sound mind and body, but there is not a single word of phrase directed at protecting the President. First sentence says the official will defend the Constitution. Second says they will bear faith and allegiance to the same, or the Constitution. That’s intentional.
Our founding fathers were justifiably terrified of dictatorial powers taking over their newly created nation. That was the whole point of the Revolutionary War, and they saw giving one person executive power as a way of possibly creating a tyrant. Thus, all officials swear to protect the Constitution instead of the President, which is a way of saying they will protect the ideals of America, not necessarily it’s leader. The branches of government are there for a reason, kids learn about checks and balances in elementary school and how they limit government powers. For Sally Yates, it’s the job of the judiciary to push back against the President, to carefully check and double check the laws they want to introduce without bias or influence. Sacking Yates was just part of the plan – a plan to bring the judiciary under Trump’s influence more closely with his own nominee.
In that way, Jeff Sessions was recently confirmed as the next AG, a pick of Trump’s and someone he can rely on to back his decision from the courts. Trump and his puppeteer Steve Bannon have infected the Justice Department with their personal brand of racism and hate – they’re the ones confronting state courts to reinstate the travel ban, rather than fighting against it. If anyone is keeping score in the back, the steps to creating a fascist dictatorship include: state control of the media, state control of the courts. All those things the Holocaust museum was warning us about… yea, they’re a rap-rapping on our chamber doors. Listen up, or enjoy your freedom Nevermore.
Talking about Sessions leads me to the other point I wanted to discuss – rules only apply when they serve the whims of the state. You can see this when looking at the recent slew of cabinet confirmations for Trump’s administration.
Cabinet members are confirmed by committees that usually must include at least one person from either party. That makes sense – that way one party can’t just push its own people through unopposed. People get a chance to talk and discuss each choice.
To hinder Trump from assembling his “Axis of Evil”, Democrats have been boycotting the hearings. Without them present, they wouldn’t be able to confirm anyone until other choices (that weren’t on Trump’s payroll) could come forward.
However, in a blatant disregard for the rules, GOP members went ahead and called a vote without any Democrats present. Votes passed unanimously (big surprise), and so Trump’s picks for State and Treasury were confirmed without opposition. This is also why not a lot of coverage was given to those choices, while decisions that were actually opposed (like Betsy Devos) had much more media attention. There was an actual fight to be had there.
A small aside, I happen to have a list of people who voted for Devos, as well as the shortlist of people running for re-election in 2018. I can think of some people who might need a job outside of government, in case anyone is interested in helping them move on from their previous line of work. The private sector apparently needs more labor anyway…
Senators who voted YES:
Shelley Moore Capito
Senators Running in 2018:
Jeff Flake (Ariz.)
Roger Wicker (Miss.)
Deb Fischer (Neb.)
Dean Heller (Nev.)
Bob Corker (Tenn.)
Ted Cruz (Texas)
Orrin Hatch (Utah)
John Barrasso (Wyo.)
News Flash: this is the kind of thing dictators do. Want to know how Putin picks who’s in his inner circle? Shit like this. We’re not Russia, people. At least, we weren’t supposed to be. But look at us now. Way to Make Russia Great Again, fuckboy.
So Trump’s goons get confirmed by defying commonly held rules and expectations, with zero consequences. Yet, when Elizabeth Warren decided to speak out during Jeff Session’s hearing by quoting a letter written by Coretta King, MLK’s wife, Mitch McConnell forbade her to speak for the rest of the hearing. He cited an antiquated, rarely enforced Senate Rule No. 19, which states that senators can’t “directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to another Senator or to other Senators and conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming of a Senator.” Rules such as these were created to stop Senators from beating the shit out of each other during hearings if they disagreed, but the means in which it was invoked against Warren were flimsy at best. They cited how the letter called Sessions “a disgrace”, and that it was imputing on Sessions to call him such. McConnell ordered her to sit down, but we’ll get back to that later.
Here, we can see the rules only apply when GOP leadership needs them to apply. When they want to get some confirmations through unopposed, they can just decide to call the vote without Democrats present and confirm them. But when someone speaks out against one of their own in chamber, suddenly dissenters get the rule book thrown at them. This is similar in the way that GOP members have “defended” the Constitution, or at least, the parts the find most necessary to their way of life (boy howdy to they love that 2nd Amendment, even when it has less to do with defending a nation and more with drunkenly taking an Elephant Rifle gopher poppin’). Once again, this is not the way to “Drain the Swamp”, or run a government clean of corruption. It is a perfectly suitable way, however, to run an authoritarian state. God bless America…
What do we do? I’ll tell you what we do.
It’s becoming clear that most Democrats suck at being Democrats. Many of them get their funds the same way the GOP does: taking donations and bribes from private interest groups bent on selling America to the highest bidder. They’re paid by Wall Street and other wealthy backers to be compliant and keep their heads down while corporations and banks auction off the juiciest cuts of the American Dream. Thus, the old regime of Democrats needs a deep cleaning, say for a few voices. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have given their fair share in helping sensible, good-minded people try and take back their country from the jaws of tyranny. Still, it’s time for a shift in the party toward a more progressive, more aggressive way of doing business.
Not only do the members of the party need to change, their tactics and dealings with the other side of the isle need to change as well. The GOP have shown they’re not afraid to fight dirty, to subvert the rules to suit their needs. A cautious few say we shouldn’t roll in the mud with pigs, anyone who’s studied enough politics would tell you it’s business as usual. It’s like that one friend back when you were a kid playing superheroes – the one that would come up with a new superpower every fifteen seconds because he couldn’t make up his mind and wanted to be infallible. I imagine that kid looked like a young Donald Trump… go figure.
We need to know the rules of the game backwards, forwards, upside down, and sideways. These old stall and delay tactics are getting shot down too easily, we need some new blood in the playing field with fresh ideas. I’m not saying we need to fight dirty, but we need to fight smarter, that’s how we get down in the trenches with them. If they’re going to exploit arcane rules and nuances, we need to know what they are beforehand to defend ourselves, and maybe find a few of our own. Inventing some new rules to the game also helps out. If that shitty kid can do it to be both invisible and invulnerable, we can have invisibility canceling powers and be able to stop things even if they’re invulnerable (take that kid!).
Just like the Dark Knight, this new era calls for a new kind of politician. Someone who’s not afraid to think outside the box, and not afraid to take on someone as forceful as Donald Trump. Keep an eye on who’s on the ballot in the coming years, and do your research about who backs them and what they stand for. If the media can’t be trusted to vet people, than we need to do it ourselves.
I said we would talk a little on Mitch McConnell, so let’s take a second to discuss his words to Elizabeth Warren. When he gave the order to silence her, he said:
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” – Mitch McConnell 2017
That was possibly the worst thing you could have said to someone like Warren, who coincidentally, just happened to find the tagline to her autobiography. It took SECONDS after those words went public for the hashtag #ShePersisted to go viral, with everyone from Rosa Parks to Anne Frank showing up in the tag. McConnell, you are one dumb fuck. These words will go down in history, but certainly not the way you intended them to. This is our new call to arms for the feminist movement. I must thank you, I know exactly what my next t-shirt purchase will be.
We must use their strengths against them. This is a new world with new rules, but adaptability is the slogan of my generation. They want to throw the rule book at us, we’ll catch it and throw it right back. When they want to throw the book away, we’ll write a new one with rules that make sense, policies that don’t discriminate and endanger. It seems like a lot keeps coming down the pipe, but we must stay strong and stay connected, information is our greatest weapon. There are all kinds of way to resist this horseshit all around us, and it’s up to us to utilize what we have. There are too many of us to be silenced – we will not be overlooked, we will not be dominated. Our collective voices are louder than anything they’ve ever heard. They don’t yet know the meaning of the word “attrition”, but I’m game to teach them.
It’s time to take back justice.
It’s time to take back the Constitution.
It’s time to take back America. Trump might have failed to Make America Great Again, but we sure as shit will.