I loved my high school Civics class. We studied the checks and balances to power that the US founders enshrined in the constitution. We studied the Bill of Rights. This class took place the year Richard Nixon resigned and when the rule of law triumphed. Because of this, I knew that our system of government was stronger than any one person. We could count on the rule of law and the structure of our democracy to ride out tough times.
Recently, we have experienced failures of these checks and balances–when key individuals chose party over country. As the failures happen, I realize that the erosion of the institutions and the failure of the constitution is what troubles me the most.
Here is my short list of the three most heart breaking of these:
2000 – Bush v. Gore. Sandra Day O’Connor cast the deciding vote–succumbing to the shouting of thugs to “stop the count” rather than allow the vote counting to continue. Gore actually won that election by the count of votes in Florida. Bush served two terms.
2016 – Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s second nominee to the Supreme Court does not receive a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will go down in history as the man responsible for the theft of a Supreme Court seat.
2016 – The Electoral College votes in a man clearly unfit for office to ascend to the presidency, even with evidence that there was foreign influence in the election. Why have the Electoral College at all if it doesn’t prevent this?
And now another crisis is in the making.
2017 – Republicans in Congress… What will it be? If this president fires the Deputy AG and Special Prosecutor, will you choose country over party? Will you have the courage to do so?
If not, the Rule of Law, essential to hold America together, will be lost… And we collectively enter the abyss of a failed constitution, rigged elections, bucks for buddies, and political violence.
If so, we remain a constitutional democracy where no one is above the law, where the courts have the last word and where we adjudicate our differences.
To date, there is not much evidence of the courage we will need from you. My hope is that you step up. My hope is that decent republicans call and write you to urge you to step up, to give you the needed courage.
The United States of America and the whole world needs you to take a stand for the rule of law.