Our Chief Executive, Mr. Donald Trump, and the Republican Caucus, headed up by Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, have run together as only the worst pairing in a three-legged race could.
Mr. Trump strikes out at his “partners” while the 3-legged race is in progress, hurling slanders and trash talk at his “trusted” aides and Senate “allies.”
The undignified and repeated bashing of various public and elected officials follows closely on Mr. Trump having earlier extolled the same persons in the most oleaginous phrasing.
Many suffer cognitive whiplash if they take Mr. Trump’s twitterings seriously.
Our unseemly Senate debate in the Republican Caucus has gone on for months weighing how much we’ll pay for war and a wall and reducing taxes for the rich at the expense of providing affordable health care to millions of Americans who will be ill or die without the care.
James Madison, in Federalist 49, cautioned that we need to be wary of a government composed of three departments, designed to check and balance each other, if ever two of those three Departments become dominated by the same faction.
Madison referenced Thomas Jefferson’s concerns that “the weaker departments of power” be able to withstand “the invasions of the stronger” and, if two Departments become so strong and unified, Jefferson insisted we must convene to alter or correct our constitution.
If the people are “the only legitimate fountain of power,” then such an encroachment requires “an appeal to the people themselves …”
Madison conceded that “every appeal to the people … carr[ies] an implication of some defect in the government.”
We have seen the people resist and protest the many “defects” of Mr. Trump’s policies because they favor intolerance, war and disfavor the general welfare with the health care debate front and center.
Madison warned that, if complaints about “defects” become frequent, that “the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability.”
We have chaos in our ever-changing unfocused West Wing.
The remaining Departments must take up the challenge to govern the nation lest we lose our way but the Senate may be the only true real-time remedy.
The Congress has, however, been slow to acknowledge any defects much less demonstrate the will to cure them.
In 1787, Benjamin Franklin thought our government “may be a blessing to the people if well administered.” But Mr. Franklin also thought that our government was “likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
Our Chief Executive tends toward despotism. It’s an open secret.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has been like a hunted animal trapped in a net cast over him, desperate, struggling to escape, terrified the investigation will bring him down, striking out in ways he believes works but his questionable methods are so well worn publicly, graciously, they have less effect.
Mr. Trump cruelly attacked Attorney General Sessions, lacking the nerve to fire him, hoping to abuse him into resignation, so he could appoint a replacement who would save him from the investigation into his dealings with the Russians.
Mr. Trump has grown ever more abusive since the Trump campaign meetings with the Russians have been confirmed.
Many Senators have sided with their former colleague, Mr. Sessions, because they agree he rightly recused himself from the investigation of Mr. Trump’s campaign, of which Mr. Sessions was a part.
Republican Senators have warned Mr. Trump not to fire Sessions, or they’d reverse it, and, for good measure, they’ve passed a veto proof bill to preserve the sanctions against Russia that Trump might otherwise lift or lessen.
The coup de grace came in the Senate health debate when Senator John McCain said, “Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal.”
He reminded the Congress of its constitutional oath, and concluded, “We don’t hide behind walls. We bridge them.”
There are those who counter, “we need a strong President.”
Okay but Mr. Trump is not a strong or competent or consistent Chief Executive.
In 1883, a young history professor, Woodrow Wilson, wrote “Congressional Government,” presuming that Congress was the central and predominant power in the American System but thought it might be more effective if it took on the character of a parliamentary system.
Woodrow Wilson doubted his work’s relevance when, not to far into the 20th Century, after President Teddy Roosevelt served, the power moved from Congress to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Perhaps, Congress must now resume its role at the center, and shift power back and away from the West Wing.
The rub is that the members of both chambers of both parties must build bridges for this to occur.
Is that possible?
As Mr. Trump might say, “time will tell.”