Our Constitution has no Teeth

Upper portion of U.S. Constitution on wooden desk

It is entirely possible that our Constitution is no longer up to the task of keeping American governance on the track our forefathers set it on. There do not seem to be any teeth in our documents. As I listened to our “ersatz” President stand next to Putin in Russia and say to our competitor, a man who manipulates and controls everyone and everything in his own country, a man who we were just told tried to interfere in an American election, that he, Trump, is sorry that we have treated this absolute dictator so badly.

As these events unfolded I had to listen to commentators use adjectives that were not nearly powerful enough to describe the calumny that had just occurred – and as these events unfolded I had to admit that I was astounded that Trump is allowed to fly back to Washington, that he could blithely take his seat in the oval office as if he just made a great speech full of wisdom, a speech that proves he deserves to share a seat in the place where FDR once sat (or any other of the best Presidents we have put in that seat.) Even I who have no faith in this man, was shocked by the content of Trump’s address.

I have been a staunch fan of our founding documents since my first American History class. The Declaration of Independence was drawn up by brave men on a new continent, far from their homes, who made a new home in America and decided to go it alone without England. England was an overbearing parent, stealing the fruits of American labors in taxes and fees and tariffs. They brazenly asserted their ownership over the colonies by forcing families to give rooms to British soldiers in their own homes. The King of England did not expect our American forefathers to have the boldness to declare their independence, fight a war to back up their declaration, and then to win the right to make their own nation

When the American Constitution was revealed and read in Europe it was so powerful and such a great blueprint for governing that it spelled the end of the most powerful monarchies. I was deeply impressed by what our forefathers had done and the architecture of our democracy. I realize that we are admonished these days to call our government a republic. I realize that it is actually a republic because it is based on a constitution. But at the heart of our Constitution is a plan for a democracy, with checks and balances to forestall power grabs by people whose egos can lead them astray.

Until recently our Constitution has been respected enough by both politicians and citizens that any loopholes that were apparent were either passed by, or others curtailed their use by those without scruples. Our checks and balances seemed up to anything the very flawed human animal could dish up. That our Constitution made it through the Civil War intact is a plain miracle. Hatreds ran so high, opinions were so divided, that only the killing fields would stop the fever. That the entire controversy happened to be over whether it was legal or not to make some humans slaves, to make them less than other people, is something modern minds have difficulty grappling with. And humanitarian values won, although bitterness has remained all these years later. Our Constitution, our documents, held up,

Lately, though, I despair that there are American people who have decided to use the flaws and loopholes that always existed in our documents to hold onto power, to block the system of checks and balances that keeps our democratic practices on a somewhat even keel. America is obviously still bifurcated, and bitterness still abides in many American hearts. America has new challenges to deal with also, given that the chaos around the world is making old hostilities seem far less frightening than some of the terrorism that is arising from rapid political and cultural change around the globe.

Chaos causes migrations which threaten to change lives on a planet that once had far fewer boundaries and was far less crowded (although mass migrations have never been easily accommodated). And our country is being ravished by people who have decided to use what they consider their superior intellect to exploit the vagaries and loopholes in our documents. This time I think our Constitution might not be up to the task. Our republic/democracy, our grand experiment in equality, in the rights of man, may be dismantled by money of all things. And power and hubris.

It is difficult to believe that the bar for the rules that protect our government has been placed so high that those very protections are neutralized, cannot be used against anyone and especially against a President. When did we write the laws that put our President above the law? When did impeachment become a safeguard we can never use except frivolously? When were the rules for calling treason made so narrow that someone could commit treason and the definitions in the law would not allow us to name it.

If we keep letting our President slide when he tramples American mores our Constitution will be destroyed in the process and so will our republic/democracy. What will we be left with? I have seen many options in dystopian literature, but I still cannot imagine how we might be governed. We are far more likely to lose freedoms than to gain them. Since our lives go along pretty smoothly right now day to day comments like this are seen as the overreactions of someone drowning in negativity. If that turns out to be true I will be happy to be wrong.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Monthly

Koch Brothers and Putin – Venn Diagrams

Venn Diagrams

Multiple Choice

 

What do the Koch brothers feel about Putin?

 

A.

B.

 

 

C.

 

D.

 

 

E.

 

 

 

 

Which diagram best expresses the relationships between these 4 political entities?

 

Your answer__________

 

Explanation for your answer (if you wish):

Atomic Bombs, Russia, Putin, Trump and America

Once we used an atomic bomb for the first time, the US, perhaps on an epic guilt trip, became hyper-vigilant because we knew that “nukes” would be a new target of every nation.

As children left their classrooms to line the hallways and lean on the back of another child they had never met with an arm over their eyes, or to do the “duck and cover”, our fear of nukes was born. We weren’t worried about a bomb from Germany. Germany was defeated. We weren’t worried about a bomb from Japan. Japan was defeated

Our parents were feeling quite ebullient with our soldiers home and the economy booming. Who was the enemy now? Why were kids doing bomb drills if the US was the only nation with an atomic bomb?

That ended up only being the case for about five minutes (at least it seemed to happen very fast) and then the USSR had figured out how to make nukes. They had very good spies. From being a rather reluctant ally in WWII, because everyone who saw the threat of Hitler had to be on the other side, the USSR became our national nightmare, our “fear factor”. They were Communists; we were Capitalists. Antagonism between our two nations escalated as the nuclear stockpiles grew. Communism and Democracy fought to divide up the world the way the English and Spanish once vied for gold with such imperialistic fervor.

When the USSR “won” in Cuba and established a Communist country right on our doorstep America was in shock. The Bay of Pigs crisis is described in great detail by historians and was covered at the time by the media, although much was secret. JFK had a lot of plans that seemed ridiculous and laughable when they were revealed. But when, without any actual fighting, it was all over, the two countries sort of stood down from the worst of the hostilities and agreed to lead separate lives. It was still the Cold War, but it did not get colder, and the dreaded “nuclear winter” seemed less imminent once again

Then the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain parted to reveal a USSR in need of economic assistance. It seemed as if we might get to a peaceful coexistence but under Vladimir Putin that was not to be. That old Cold War feeling is back and seems unaffected by whatever global warming is going on. Nukes are in the news again with even smaller, saber-rattling nations getting involved (Iran, North Korea).

Just as we begin to wonder if the world will dissolve into chaos unless we pitch in to deal with climate change, or if it will be turned into a radioactive wasteland by madmen with power, the President of America turns out to be a guy who seems to love Russia and wants to use our nukes in a possible first strike against North Korea. In addition, this guy in our White House does not believe in climate change and wants to use up every fossil fuel resource everywhere on the planet to bring back the Industrial Age and those dramatic old polluted sunsets.

Just at this moment, and in spite of the decades of antagonism and fear the American people have learned to feel about Russia and about nukes, we get a President who spends almost two hours meeting with Vladimir Putin at a G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany without any American media present because he doesn’t trust the American press and he doesn’t really realize that he is not America; he only represents America. This meeting was an outrage and also exactly what we expected to happen. There is no outlet for our anxieties except to use our words..

As to the media, I wonder how many years it will take to make us distrustful of all of our news sources. Some of us like to think that this cannot happen to us but there are no guarantees. Given enough reasons to question the veracity of every possible source of information, given a really intensive campaign against the media, we may all knuckle under and lose our ability to trust our own senses.

So are we really expected to do a 180 degree turn on Putin because 45 likes him and thinks we should be friends? Should we prosecute his team for conspiring with a foreign nation which has been our sworn enemy since almost immediately after WWII and for getting the Russians involved in messing with an American election? Or should we form a cyber security coalition with a nation who has built an entire apparatus to hack into America’s computers and is so good at it that we are beginning to think we should go back to the old days of paper records? Will the Russians kill the internet? What does Putin have to offer us? We don’t need oil but Donald might need more money. Although freedom does not always make life easy (and is never absolute), I cannot come to love a country that uses fear to control its citizens, although that may be where America is headed.

DT is the President of America and now he is trying to make us love a nation that we were taught to be wary of for our entire lives. Let’s get on with these investigations into Russia and America and the Trumps and the 2016 election. Even talking about this for too long is toxic and puts Putin too squarely in the limelight on the world stage. Those children in those bomb drills are still inside of us and they are not at all happy about this strange turn of events in America

This is a view from the cheap seats.