Leonard C. Brackett: Blind luck
Still in the middle of the muddle of the election, some thoughts come alarmingly to mind. We have just narrowly avoided a coup, or more precisely, an “autogolpe” — a situation in which a person legally assumes the power of office and then disables the system that put him in power and assumes total control. There has been, and continues to be, a coup attempt, and it’s only because certain elected officials, the courts and the military (which stayed out of it) that we still have a representative democracy.
And it’s only because of the bumbling incompetence of Trump and his repellent personal nature that it wasn’t successful. Next time, with a more capable, subtle and skilled politician, we might not be so lucky, especially if it’s a close election.
The legislative branch of the government (House and Senate) and the judicial branch as well were intended to counter the potential autocratic tendencies of the executive branch (the president). The judicial branch did protect us; the legislative branch did nothing.
What James Madison, who was instrumental in framing The Constitution, didn’t envision was the frightening specter of political parties becoming the object of loyalty or of fear for elected officials — more so even than loyalty to the Constitution or the welfare of the nation.
That model didn’t work this time. Senate and House Republicans with a few exceptions have done nothing to protect us from this coup attempt. We have elected officials who wear the American flag pin on their lapels, claim to be patriotic and to love their country. Hand on heart during the playing of the national anthem, they then are silent, deafeningly silent, as the leader of their party does his best to undo an election, to stage a coup. They say nothing, won’t even talk about it.
The first question to ask any elected official is, “Where are your loyalties? To your party? Or to your nation, your constituency and the Constitution?” If they show it is to any party, then we should get rid of them.
Having a democracy without parties would be such a relief, but sadly that isn’t likely is it? Well, then, at least we can insist our elected representatives are loyal to the nation before they are to their party.
George Washington was very concerned about this problem, and he warned us to be careful with this kind of thing. Or, as Ben Franklin said when asked about our revolutionary success and our democracy with its Constitution, “It’s fine, if you can keep it.”
Leonard C. Brackett
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