At what point do complacency and self-service become complicity? When does a lack of responsible, legal action become malfeasance in office?
And, the next question: are Republicans in the U.S. Senate guilty of both?
The evidence is overwhelming that Senate Republicans have become Trump’s personal sycophants, unwilling to execute the Constitutional powers given them. You have to wonder if that inaction has made them complicit in his oft-illegal conduct.
Clearly, the most dangerous name in today’s political world is Mitch McConnell. Aside from stacking literally hundreds of federal judgeships with unqualified Trump nominees, he’s personally throttled all House-passed legislation that’s come to his desk as Senate Majority Leader. He’s the dam holding back the flow of responsible progress on climate change, defense, budgeting, minimum wage, worker safety, voter protections and much more.
McConnell represents the terrible misuse of power granted his position under the rules of the Senate. For him, the elections of 2016 and 2018 continue. With a slim margin of just four votes, he has beaten back any reasonable attempts at bipartisanship and exacted a terrible toll of division and hatred. Strong words but apt.
More than that, he’s used treachery and willful suppression to keep the muzzle on those in his party who might otherwise chose to work in the interests of the country rather than support the arrogance of McConnell. There are some who’ve cautiously dared to put forward some thoughts of responsible legislation. But, he’s kept the lid so tight nothing gets past his round file.
There are others of McConnell’s ilk, such as Jim Risch of Idaho, who have clear Senate responsibilities but who’ve failed miserably. Risch, chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has ducked every opportunity to stand up to Trump, stop some of his egregious activities in foreign affairs, take some serious role in the conduct of international diplomacy and undertake serious attempts to mitigate some of Trump’s effects on world matters.
Senate Republicans have, by inaction, made Trump more powerful and more dangerous. Our Constitution provides clear checks and balances between Executive and Legislative branches of federal government. Under McConnell, and typified by Risch’s lack of leadership in foreign affairs, Trump has stomped around the world breaking treaties, reneging on relations with our historically significant partnerships with other countries and made enemies of world leaders in the process.
Thanks, in large part, to McConnell and his GOP cohorts, we have operated for the last couple of years, not as a Republic, but as a demagogic authoritarian state. We’ve watched checks and balances ignored while a federal judiciary has been loaded with incompetents, historic treaties abrogated, federal agencies ransacked, valued professionals forced to resign, seen protections of our environment rolled back or obliterated, watched lobbyists write laws, watched Trump’s “friends” in powerful Cabinet positions forced out by corruption and scandal.
And more. Much more. All the while, McConnell and his 51 Republican minions have stood by, watching the willful destruction, seeing the damages to responsible governance attacked and witnessing damages to institutions that will take decades - if ever - to restore.
This has nothing to do with the traditional two-party system of government. Not a thing. But, it does have everything to do with one man’s irresponsible, ignorant behavior and another’s willingness to damage a governmental structure for his own personal power.
So, again, the question. At what point do complacency and self-service become complicity? Are Senate Republicans guilty of both? The answer has to be yes! The length and weighty evidence is damning.
It’s going to be up to the national electorate to pronounce judgment in 2020. Some of the guilty will, no doubt, live to further avoid future obligations another day.
But, some, like McConnell, are on the ballot next year. And, some, like McConnell, have opposition. Worthy opposition. Very qualified opposition.
If punishment isn’t extracted at the polls, if those in office who’ve stood by and callously watched without action are not disavowed, then we, too, may share their complicity.