8 votes

The system failed the test of Trump: The story of the recent years is of institutions that were unable to constrain the presidency

1 comment

  1. Kuromantis
    (edited )
    This is multiplied 7-fold by the fact there are only 2 political parties. The FPTP/2-party system also turbocharges this. This article I posted along with a few others kind of shows this was...

    No other major democracy operates so political a system of law enforcement as the United States. The 93 U.S. attorneys are all political appointees. They report to an assistant attorney general for the criminal division, also a political appointee. The AAG reports to a deputy attorney general and finally the attorney general—all political. Ideally, while people are appointed to those posts for political reasons, they do not do their jobs in a political way. Americans can be proud that this ideal is so often voluntarily met. But when not voluntarily met, the ideal is difficult to enforce.

    In other democracies, the equivalents of the AAG for the criminal division are career civil servants. The British attorney general has no role in the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service. Germany’s general federal prosecutor is even more insulated from politics. Problems arise in these systems too. Justin Trudeau’s government in Canada was rocked by the charge that the prime minister had leaned on prosecutors in that country to go easy on a corporation that had been generous in its campaign contributions to his party. But in those other countries, the brute political pressure that Trump applied via Attorney General William Barr on the Department of Justice is much less likely to have an effect.

    This is multiplied 7-fold by the fact there are only 2 political parties.

    Some wonder: Why doesn’t Congress act? But there is no “Congress.” There are only the two parties in Congress. The members of the two parties cannot even agree on methods of evidence or standards of behavior. Republican Representative Ted Yoho from Florida spoke for troublingly many members of his caucus when he said of a fellow member of Congress that he “works for the president; he answers to the president.” Yoho’s district around Gainesville, Florida, voted 41 percent against Donald Trump in 2016. Those voters are also Yoho’s constituents, but he does not answer to any of them. In his mind, he is a party man first and only.

    Congress as an institution cannot function on this kind of partisan mentality. There can be no meaningful oversight of the executive branch if the only standards are “Yay, team!” and “Boo, team!” The party of the president should be just as keen as the other party to enforce subpoenas and punish contempt, because both parties in Congress should feel the same concern for the powers of Congress. But of course, that’s not how things work.

    The FPTP/2-party system also turbocharges this. This article I posted along with a few others kind of shows this was coming for at least 2 decades. This forces presidents to either get full control of Congress (not to mention almost certainly filibuster proof as well) or to go around it to accomplish policy in some potentially odd ways, which is further supercharged by:

    In the fall of 2019, a nonpartisan research organization studied the distinctive attitudes of Republicans who watched Fox News as their primary source of information. Among that group, 55 percent said there was virtually nothing President Trump could do that would change their minds about supporting him. Fox News and the Facebook feed have become for many Americans friends more intimate and trusted than family or neighbors. The validation of their prejudices by television and Facebook is a validation of themselves.

    Media polarization means that the country hears 2 realities at the same time, thus destroying reality and any sort of truth. This means that if you lie and the media outlet your voters watch doesn't care, then your supporters will act as though you didn't do anything wrong, thus partidarizing accountability and reality for the people as well as the party. The current situation is thus not a problem for half the country.

    3 votes