Sam Smith – The Trump case now before the Supreme Court could be the most important decision by that body in our history. As Paul Waldman put it in the Washington Post:
It’s almost impossible to overstate how appalling the arguments by Trump’s lawyers have been. They have claimed kingly powers for the president — that while he is in office he can’t be prosecuted or even investigated. That, they say, applies to both Congress and prosecutors.
If the court rules on behalf of Trump then the only power that could be used against him would be impeachment, which is entirely dependent entirely on the politics of the Congress and not by adherence to judicial fairness or constitutional standards.
As I first suggested over 15 years ago, the first American republic is over. But we were still living in a semi-democratic society, one that has been damaged but not destroyed. With a ruling granting Trump tyrannical power, it will be fair to declare our status a dictatorship.
The collapse of American democracy started well before Trump. Here are a few of the factors that led to it:
The collapse of labor unions over the past fifty years. Unions are not only labor organizations but educational ones, helping workers understand their rights in our society. One big reason Trump lies so successfully to the working class is that so few are aligned with unions.
Television images have replaced constituent experience. Once even corrupt politicians built their base on services to constituents, but with television one needs only to have the image of doing that.
The replacement of democratic values with those corporations, aided by the large growth in business school graduates.
A media that is no longer over half composed of those with only high school educations, now predominantly including college graduates much more closely aligned with the elite they are covering.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the larger role in elections played by corporate and other big money sources.
The decline of history and civics being taught in American schools
The increased urbanization of our society, which has led to a decline in strong local communiTies and a rise in individual isolation.
The rise of public relations, advertising and other forms of propaganda replacing education and churches as sources of information, values and community.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court will recognize the unconstitutional danger in granting Trump a dictatorship but even so we should not minimize how close we came to destroying the heart of who we are as a nation.