You can sense the impending explosion. Hear the kindling crackle and feel the intensity of the heat rise as the embers glow ever brighter. You know this is no ordinary fire. That the smart thing to do is take cover. Yet you remain anchored in place by past experience. “You’ve never been burned before so why panic now,” you say to yourself. Besides, you are prepared for an emergency. The fire extinguisher is nearby and other traditional safeguards are in place to prevent catastrophe. So you ignore your spidey senses and do nothing. You stay in place and wait, prepared to react to whatever may come next. Oblivious to the fact you may never get that chance.
We’ve had 44 other presidents in this country. Some who previously served in the role were not good men. Many were corrupt and power hungry. Some had authoritarian tendencies and used the bully pulpit to foster divisions amongst the American citizenry. Others personally profited from the office. A few could probably be best described as immoral or maybe even criminal.
No matter who served in office, however, Americans were able to take comfort in the fact that our checks and balances were architected to prevent catastrophe. We took comfort in the fact that though our democratic institutions and individual freedoms may get temporarily burned, the house and those residing inside it would remain. That we would live to see another day. Another vote.
Unfortunately past experience does not apply to Donald Trump. The safeguards currently in place are ill equipped to adequately protect against such an unconventional threat. They were built on the premise of trust. On the belief that those in office serve the public and will act logically and represent the interest of the majority of the electorate. If not they will be voted out in a free and fair election or otherwise neutralized under the law.
Moreover, to function as designed our system of government relies on the informed consent of the electorate. It assumes facts exist and that a free and independent press will enjoy the freedom to report them, without being required to give equal time to the talking heads espousing alternative facts.
Our founders were well aware the threat a single authoritarian posed to individual liberty. They took great care to design a system of government with three separate, but equal branches of governance. That way if one branch sought to abuse its power the members of the other branches had the tools to bring action to protect the greater whole. Much like a fire extinguisher, however, these tools were not meant to be passive. There success is dependent on somebody being there to operate them.
We know Donald Trump is petrified of the Mueller investigation and where it could lead. Guilty people generally still know what they’ve done. We know Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who has never before acted with America’s best interest in mind, went to great lengths and invested precious Russian resources specifically to elect the man who promised to “make America great again!” We know that Mueller, Rosenstein, Comey, Berman and Wray, all life long Republicans, are going to unprecedented lengths to raise the red flags to the American public that there is some serious cause for concern. We know of the public refusal to denounce Putin by name or hold Russia to account for its attempts at interference in our election. We know of the public threats and private attempts to fire Mueller and end the investigation. We know the man who mocked his predecessor for doing so, telegraphed forthcoming military operations to our enemy apparently with ample time for them to prepare! Yet, despite all evidence that an unprecedented threat looms, the vast majority of our elected officials continue to play traditional politics. Act content to rely on reactionary safeguards.
Let me be clear. I don’t give two shits about party politics. This has never been about red verse blue. This is about patriotism. This is about the evolution of the American dream. We can no longer stand by passively. Our representatives need to get off their asses and do their intended job. Grab the extinguisher before the flames erupt uncontrollably and the conflagration consumes us all.