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Our Looming Constitutional Crisis

The U.S. is currently facing it’s gravest Constitutional crisis since the run up to the Civil War in the late 1850s. The late antebellum era was the last time a radical party controlled all of the branches of the government. Between 1852–1860, the southern slaveholders dominated the Democratic party and Washington, D.C.

During that time frame, the Democratic Party and a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court pandered to the southern slave owners and refused to compromise with the opponents of slavery in the north. This is what led to the Civil War.

At the present time, all three branches of the U.S. government in Washington are controlled by the extreme conservative faction of the GOP. This faction — which doesn’t represent more than about 35% of the voters — is doing everything they can to redistribute income from the rest of the country to the top 1%.

Prominent political scientist Norm Ornstein described the GOP this way: “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

It was this extremism that resulted in the nomination and election of Donald Trump as President. It is this extremism among the Republican members of Congress that is tolerating Trump’s incompetence, criminality and just general lack of suitability to serve as President.

Trump’s criminality has manifested itself in many ways- the most alarming of which is the alleged collusion between his campaign and the Russians to help him win the key battleground states by the narrowest of margins.

Due to that possible collusion, Trump and many others in his inner circle are being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. It is pretty evident that Trump is deeply alarmed by this investigation and he is already laying the ground work to fire Mueller and pardon targets of that investigation.

If Trump were to fire Mueller and issue a series of pardons, it is doubtful the Republicans in Congress would do anything to reverse that attack on the rule of law. At the present time, the right wing media is calling for Mueller’s termination. This is pretty significant because many Republican members of Congress hail from deep red states and districts that are dominated by the right wing media — and where Trump has a high approval rating.

Most Republicans in Congress would circle the wagons around the Trump Train and echo the attacks on the Mueller investigation from the likes of Fox, Limbaugh and Hannity. No accountability would come from the GOP controlled Congress.

The other Constitutional crisis is coming from the Republicans on Capitol Hill. In the recent health care debate, the bills in the House and the Senate were drafted in complete secrecy and rushed to a vote without any hearings, no expert testimony and no CBO score. This bum’s rush to pass destructive legislation before anybody could figure out what’s in it shredded every Congressional norm and was an assault on democracy itself.

We are all breathing a justified sigh of relief over the failure of the Republicans in the Senate to pass a bill in the middle of the night that would have kicked 16 million people off insurance in 2018 and have increased premiums 20% on an annual basis. Nevertheless, we should be alarmed that such terrible legislation was passed in the House and came within one vote of being rammed through the Senate.

This close call will only further embolden McConnell and Ryan to once again try to gut Obama Care and Medicaid to finance a tax cut for the rich. They are feeling a lot of pressure from their billionaire donors. If there were to be a slight change of composition in the membership of the Senate or if one of the Senators flipped after feeling pressure from the donor base, this legislation could pass very suddenly and quickly. We are not out of the woods.

The only solution to this crisis is to elect more Democrats to Congress in 2018. We need to create the kinds of checks and balances envisioned by the Founding Fathers. We must dedicate ourselves to more than just voting next year. We all must be willing to canvas, man phone banks and donate to good candidates. Our country’s future depends upon us. We can do this! Let’s get it done!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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