Now, that’s just The Rule Of Law talking and what does The Rule Of Law know? That’s how Republicans think these days apparently.
To be absolutely fair about it, they’re right. The Rule Of Law is a fiction that we invented for our mutual benefit. There are lots of places on Earth where the people don’t live by The Rule Of Law — so, The Rule Of Law is not some absolute, inviolable Law Of The Cosmos. The only thing actually keeping The Rule Of Law in place as our guiding principle as our faithfulness in maintaining it.
It’s like stamina, if you think about it. You can build your stamina. You can maintain it. But stop working on it and it goes away just like that. You can’t store it. Can’t bank it.
Part of our problem — here in America: we’ve taken The Rule Of Law for granted. Those following it always assumed that everyone was following it. Sure, sure — there are criminals outside The Rule Of Law but that’s why we HAVE a Rule Of Law — to isolate those people and handle them fairly but judiciously. We never imagined, We The People, that so many of those who swore an oath to defend The Rule Of Law (that’s what our Constitution is) were committed to overthrowing The Rule Of Law in a kind of soft white Christian male coup d’etat.
The Rule Of Law says foreign interests can have no say in American elections. The Republican Party violated the hell out of that throughout election 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy FAMOUSLY said to a roomful of Republican muckety-mucks “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Pays for what, someone in the room should have asked. “Pays for what purpose?” even. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (per the Washington Post) “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
According to The Rule Of Law, Speaker Ryan’s response should have been more along the lines of “Holy shit! Guys — get the FBI on the phone pronto! We’ve got a huge PROBLEM on our hands!” But Speaker Ryan didn’t say that. No one in the room even thought anything like it. Hmmmmmmm…
The literal instant we stop following The Rule Of Law to the letter, we compromise it. When we follow it for some people but not so much for other people — that violates The Rule Of Law’s core principle. Speaker Ryan knew he was violating The Rule Of Law — that’s why they all had to agree to “keep it in the family”. Another group of criminals would call that agreement an OMERTA.
It’s the kind of agreement people do when they’ve abandoned The Rule Of Law for their own set of laws. They just haven’t had the decency to tell the rest of us. You know — THE MAJORITY.
We don’t know yet the full extent to which the entire Republican Party was compromised by Russia (and, perhaps, other countries or bad actors). We can only imagine the kompromat Russia is dangling over Lindsey Graham’s pervy head. Even before this though, the Republican Party displayed a disdainful cynicism toward The Rule Of Law. They applied its full pressure whenever they could — while ignoring all the ways they were violating the hell out of it at the very same time.
We know that the Republican Money Machine turned its back on The Rule Of Law a generation ago when it saw the demographic writing on the wall: America was not going to be a predominantly white country for much longer. By 2050, it’s estimated, white people will cease being the majority of the population. Think that doesn’t scare the snot out of conservative white people?
The hard right in this country turned its back on The Rule Of Law the instant they saw it was going to STOP being their instrument of destruction. I don’t know if they feared retribution, but they certainly feared losing absolute power (and the money that goes with it). The Republican Party morphed into The Trump Party — and The Trump Party works for Russia. Russia made Trump POTUS (he did NOT win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan legitimately — he couldn’t have after Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data on those three states). Even Trump’s reported behavior on election night speaks to a kind of guilty behavior. Ever since, no one has obsessed more than Trump has on his presidency’s legitimacy. Why’s that?
IF we really do believe in The Rule Of Law then Donald Trump’s presidency violates it. The fact of his presidency violates it and stands OUTSIDE The Rule Of Law. Trump’s presidency and The Rule Of Law cannot exist at the same time and in the same place.
There is no precedent for what’s happening to us. We have to stop looking to the past for guidance. If Trump violated The Rule Of Law in order to BECOME president of the United States then, by law, he never was president. Not being president, he never had the authority to do anything he did. He never had the authority to negotiate on our behalf or nominate judges.
Let’s use a metaphor that even Donald Trump would understand: A Beauty Pageant. An American presidential election is a lot like a beauty pageant. If, it’s learned after a winner is announced, that the winner wasn’t honest with the judges (as, say, Vanessa Williams was about some mildly erotic photos she’d been part of), the judges can take away the winner’s crown and give it to someone MORE deserving. Someone, say, who followed the pageant’s rules about not doing things that might undermine the pageant’s “brand”.
Vanessa Williams lost her crown — and everything that went with it. If the judges had known before GIVING her the crown, they would never have crowned her, right? They would never have given her the rights & privileges that went with it. In their minds, they were lied to. Vanessa Williams mis-represented herself.
If part of Vanessa Williams’ rights had been to negotiate branding deals on behalf of Miss America, the judges — the whole Miss America organization — would have voided every single one of them for the same reasons.
I know what I’m saying seems impossible to pull off. HOW would we undo the results of an American election? Well, as one of the wronged in this equation — as one of the MAJORITY whose rights are being threatened by a willful right wing minority — HOW CAN WE NOT? Why, I’d like to know, are we always fair beyond fair to conservatives while demanding Progressives explain themselves relentlessly. When did the press lose its mind demanding from conservatives how they were going to pay for Trump’s tax breaks for the rich?
There’s a stone cold reality staring us in the face: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president of the United States.
That fact ripples a thousand ways in a million different directions. We cannot simply ignore it. We can’t “agree to agree” to get past it. We won’t. It’s exactly like slavery — a gross insult to The Rule Of Law.
But then… The Rule Of Law is only what we say it is.
Ball’s in our court.