The GOP and 45: A Tale of Two Branches
As far as I can figure, we have two separate governments running parallel to each other. In the executive branch we have a tempest of consolidation of power to the president, his immediate family, and his chief strategic political advisor, along with one executive order after another designed to slowly chip away at our democracy. In the legislative branch the party that held Congress hostage for eight years has held votes on every single special interest issue for which there has historically been little popular support: relaxing environmental regulations, rolling back the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, and keeping guns available to people who shouldn’t have them.
What astounds me is that each side has apparently agreed to simply ignore the existence of the other. Republican Congresspeople have been irresponsibly tight-lipped amidst Trump’s continued use of Twitter to make policy stances (not to mention their typically outrageous content), the intent to appoint a political advisor with extremist views to the National Security Council while removing the Director of National Intelligence and Joint Chiefs of Staff, or his utter lack of respect for foreign leaders. Meanwhile, Trump continues to run his singularity of power either unaware or unconcerned that he needs input and approval from Congress in order to execute his desires, not to mention the expertise of other US agencies. Each side seems to treat the other like they do with facts: that pretending they don’t exist will somehow make them go away.
As was predicted in the weeks leading up to the inauguration, the GOP is clearly using the storm of attention on Trump to get through as much of their baseline agenda as possible, knowing that the issues are only supported by a majority of dollars rather than people. This, of course, makes our job all the more difficult as we struggle to keep the fight strong on all fronts. The actions of Trump are, without a doubt, impeachable offenses that are severely more harmful to our democracy as a going concern than any legislation. But where I think the fight needs to be taken to Congress is not on a policy-by-policy issue. It is the fact that they have repeatedly ignored their duties under the Constitution to provide checks and balances to the executive branch. They demonstrated their clear disdain for their responsibilities by refusing to work for eight years, for refusing to hold a hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, for refusing to investigate Trump’s business connections and possible ties with Russia, and for refusing to step in to keep him in line after his aberrant behavior.
Framing our resistance in this context may give us some needed direction in how to fight a fight that feels every day to be insurmountable. I have long thought that the GOP will use the Trump smokescreen just long enough to pass their unpopular base legislation and put a conservative on the Supreme Court, then find some grounds on which to remove him and install Pence to the Oval Office. Given the speed with which they are moving I believe that speculation still could be true. But we obviously can’t rely on that, and the GOP has to be held accountable for their actions and attitude against this country’s Constitution and its citizens.