We are governed by traitors and vandals. Selfishness, ignorance and spite threaten war overseas and civil strife at home. Amid growing danger to the nation and the world, progressives sternly police their own ranks on sexual harassment while conservatives practice the ancient art of “straining at gnats and swallowing camels” (Matthew 23:24).
If we cannot overcome gerrymandering, voter suppression, and apathy, will we just politely watch our country and decades of social progress be destroyed? Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a disgraced judge and credibly accused pedophile, said the last time America was great was before the Civil War. He said “too many rights” were handed out in 1965, meaning voting rights. He said women should not run for office, work outside the home, nor vote. He said gay couples should lose their marriage rights.
The problem is not only Moore, whom Trump endorsed and the RNC backed. 45 provokes a new Intifada in the Mideast by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, while his appointees pursue radical policies on taxation, the environment, health, education, national parks and monuments, civil rights protections, national defense, and protections for children, the elderly, and the poor. As long as he appoints anti-abortion judges, his evangelical supporters are unconcerned about children being raped. With that as a moral compass, one might as well consult a Magic 8 Ball.
Trump’s impulsiveness and incompetence may oddly be our salvation, crucially assisted by FBI employees who take seriously their oath of office. The oath contains a pledge to defend the Constitution, not Trump nor Russia. Despite desperate efforts to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he quietly and doggedly pursues his investigation into L’Affaire Russe.
Yet Trump is still in office, Mueller is not done, and Democrats do not cover themselves in glory. As Sen. Al Franken said in announcing his resignation, “[T]here is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”
Republicans engage in all-out tribal warfare while Democrats play by the Queensbury Rules. This marriage of virtue and powerlessness bodes ill for public policy. I much prefer Democratic Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones’s hard charge against Moore on Dec. 5: “I damn sure believe I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail, and not the United States Senate.”
Democratic haste in self-purging risks falling into a trap. As Masha Gessen wrote in The New Yorker on Dec. 7, renegotiating sexual norms tends to yield “ever more restrictive regimes of closely regulating sexuality.” It also produces uneven standards whereby a mere jerk may be treated worse than a pedophile. How unjust and perverse.
Meanwhile, at oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop on Dec. 5, attorney Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom noted that racial discrimination brings heightened scrutiny but sexual orientation discrimination does not. We can thank Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his preference for flowery language over rigor. Now Kennedy’s pro-gay legacy wavers after he voiced sympathy with the baker. At the Atlantic’s LGBTQ Summit on Dec. 6, an ADF attorney made a distinction between identity and expressive content so implausible the audience laughed.
Our high court hovers over an abyss. If Justice Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy dies while the GOP holds the presidency and the Senate, we will get a court majority ready to reverse marriage equality, abortion rights, and much else. Anyone not straight, white, Christian, and male faces renewed threat.
We must not be reactive. When a problem is distributed along a spectrum, imposing a one-size-fits-all solution makes no sense. Building a workplace climate of respect and trust is undermined by punishing responsiveness. Sacrificial lambs will not appease adversaries bent on overrunning us.
If Roger Stone makes good on his threat of more accusations against Democratic politicians, and Democrats do not answer, “Trump goes or no dice,” we are ceding ground to greater predators who share none of our values. That is political malpractice.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.