History will record that Mitch McConnell presided over the demise of the two-party system in America. McConnell’s vile, bare-knuckle, partisan tactic, the one that successfully achieved its intended aim of stealing a Supreme Court seat, signals the end of the 2-party system in the United States. Going forward, Dems, progressives and other non-fascists, should view EVERY decision through a partisan, wartime lens. It’s on.
They won’t, of course. At least, not the Democratic Party as currently comprised. Which is all the more reason it’s game over. In a state of war, bi-partisanship is just Vichy politics. There can be no bi-partisanship if only one side is playing, that much is axiomatic. But there is no ‘game’ at all, I submit, if only one team is playing. The Republican Party is happy to play so long as they’re the only team that bats. The GOP is fine if the Democratic Party plays Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters.
And do not mistake what an outrageous power play was the Gorsuch seat on the Supreme Court. With a majority on the court, the GOP can continue to uphold unconstitutional voter suppression and redistribution laws that have already had the effect of maintaining Republican majorities by contorting districts through obscene gerrymandering and suppressing millions of voters who would otherwise not be inclined to vote Republican if given a chance to vote at all.
As changing demographics make White Male Republicans an ever diminishing minority in the country, tortured election and voting laws will mask that truth. And now, with Gorsuch, such laws will repeatedly survive constitutional scrutiny and be upheld by a 5-4 Supreme Court majority. The Republican Party is apparently okay with this outrage up, down and sideways. As long as they can remain in power.
The timing couldn’t be much worse. A ‘want-to-believe’ American electorate let a buffoonish, charlatan con man in through the front door, and Donald Trump would like nothing more than an American version of Russia’s Duma to back his play – a charade of a governing body, only left in place to rubber-stamp Vladimir Putin’s decisions and give the appearance of governance. Enter an illegitimate, power-grubbing Republican Congress, add water and stir.
From the moment Trump took office he has embarked upon an effort that bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian power-grab. Even before the inauguration he telegraphed his intentions repeatedly throughout the campaign. It’s now clear that the most readily obvious reason Trump might have sought the presidency in the first place – money – is his end-game after all. Trump has ever seen the presidency as a path to the one thing that he has sought and pretended to have his entire life – real, obscene wealth. None of this heavily-leveraged multi-millionaire business for him. With the keys to the kingdom, he could join the world’s truly wealthy elite. Who knows, maybe U.S. banks would lend to him again. Or he could just crush them and throw their managers in jail if he was feeling particularly vindictive.
And from day one, this president* has been in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution, and in fact, garishly so, just like all the other ostentatious displays of his wealth scattered throughout his life. He’d gild a bucket of KFC if he could. He’s had the tale of Midas’ Touch read to him, and despite the moral of the story, thought to himself “I want to be THAT guy.”
Consider Mar-A-Lago. By the end of the year, virtually every human being on the planet will know the name as synonymous with wealth and power. He brazenly calls the resort the Winter White House, an obscenity by any definition, and he STILL OWNS THE PROPERTY, all the while hosting state dinners and launching missiles against foreign sovereigns between rounds of golf. All the while the Republicans in Congress don’t say ‘boo.’
How many millions of dollars has Trump enriched the family coffers in just the 10-12 short weeks since inauguration? Certainly enough to pay the $25 million in settlement funds to those fellow Americans he defrauded before taking office.
So no, the timing couldn’t be worse for the GOP to have decided to abandon two-party governance. And make no mistake, it’s gone. In all but name and pro forma performance.
This leaves the Democrats only one choice, and it’s not a good one. The party won’t take it, though, so forget it, let me rephrase: this leaves progressives only one choice, and it’s not a good one. Fight fire with fire.
Do whatever it takes to regain the majority in both houses of congress (and start to chip away at state houses and governor’s mansions), then lift the 9-justice limit on the Supreme Court like FDR once imperiously threatened to do, and stack the court with vigorously partisan justices interested in defending and protecting the will of freedom-loving people, and individuals over corporations; in a system of laws and courts instead of secret tribunals predisposed for their corporate repeat-customers.
True, it won’t be a two-party democracy any more if we choose that path, but that line has already been crossed. And if such a progressive-led government survives the corrupting influence of absolute power (unlikely), the country and the world will be better for it, if only marginally.
Well played, Mitch McConnell. Rot in hell.