Is Trump the Cause, or the Sign of, a Deeper Constitutional Crisis?

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By Chris Lowe (May 13, 2017)

Since Comey was fired as FBI director, an increasingly widespread meme has emerge in the commentariat, that the U.S. is in “the biggest political crisis since Watergate.”

The question this raises is the nature of the crisis. Is it caused by the actions of Donald Trump? In that case, removing him would resolve it. Many liberals and partisan Democrats seem to take this view.

Or is the fact that Donald Trump was able to be elected president at all an expression of a deeper crisis? That would be my view.

In that case, removing Donald Trump would not resolve the crisis. Removing him badly, in a manner perceived as unfair by his supporters, might even deepen it, by deepening their ressentiment and giving them a new “stab in the back” narrative.

If Trump were removed, what else in the forces that brought him to power would be changed? Is his firing of Comey really a bigger constitutional issue than Mitch McConnell’s blocking of even a hearing for Merrick Garland in order to politically manipulate the membership of the Supreme Court? For example. Would the broad policy outlines around health care, tax cuts for the rich, roll back of ecological regulation, re-expanded militarism, really be changed?

Insofar as any partial resolution lies in the realm of Democratic and liberal politics, it would require a rethinking of the weaknesses of those politics that enabled the tremendously weak candidate Donald Trump to get elected. Pleading Russian manipulation won’t do, even though it is true enough. The Russians did not create the vulnerability to manipulation that some subset of them exploited — whether state actors, or state-permitted actors.

But in turn the weakness of the DP points to need for popular organizing. There is no quick fix.

 

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