Democracy Can Weather the Storm

Having faith in America...

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Are we truly witnessing the needle of U.S. politics moving towards the center?  

The tone of the January 6 House Select Committees hearings is far calmer.  That is a much-needed change from the last few years of politics of hyper amplification with overreaching claims.  It is also an acknowledgment of the American citizen’s intelligence.

Even though only a few have crossed the aisles, the change of direction set by the hearings has been refreshing.  It seems we can start breathing again and get business done.

Hope U.S. politics returns to the old order like, when I first arrived in California from India.   

My husband and I were immersed in the professional culture of Silicon Valley, then.  But it took time for us to understand how American politics differed from Indian politics.  In 1984, we watched the presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale on TV.  We had returned early from work and watched the debate while making dinner.  The moment that stands out in my mind is when the moderator asked the 70-something Reagan how his age might affect his ability to carry out his responsibility as the president.  He responded, “I will not exploit my opponent for his youth and inexperience.”  Reagan deflected the arrow with humor and not meanness. 

Fast forward to the 2021 presidential debate, a gut-wrenching display of tit-for-tat between Trump and Biden. It was a contest of who could over-talk who.  Biden called Trump a “clown” and “the worst President … ever.”

Trump countered by lashing out at Biden, ”Don’t use the word smart. He graduated lowest or the lowest in the class.”  

No tolerance no respect, and without fear of retribution.

Since then the storm may have passed.  The headline news is no longer Trump’s midnight tweets —which generally had no substance.

The January 6 hearings are somewhat politically motivated, as the political capital is never wasted on moves that do not advance power.  Yet they are not politically charged.  They have given Americans a better glimpse of Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection.  

The concern remains if Trump runs for president what he may do, if defeated, or if he is elected?  In the book The American Crisis, David Frum, examining the American presidency, concludes, ‘a supreme vulnerability of the American system is its reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency.’ 

I do not love Trump but have admired his toughness and determination, even if it is in his own self-interest.

The House Select Committee, led by its chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), and its vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), made its case with decency and clarity—in small digestible bites. It looked like a court trial, except the defense was absent.  Without counterarguments, it is much easier to get swayed. The committee has done a credible job of laying out its case to the jurors— the American people.

The committee was formed to investigate “the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack.”  It also has the power to subpoena witnesses and documents and make recommendations to the Department of Justice on whether or not to bring charges against high-profile figures, including Mr. Trump.

Many witnesses, including Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and Mark Meadows, Trump’s last chief of staff, either refused to testify, claiming executive privilege or defied the subpoena. 

However, many members of Trump’s administration did testify, including Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, who gave four days of closed-door testimony and then appeared live. She gave a detailed description of what she heard or saw the President and Mark Meadows engaged in, in days and hours leading to the mob attacking the Capitol.  She revealed that when Trump was told that his supporters were carrying weapons, he did not want them disarmed because they were not a threat to him. 

Live on TV, Hutchinson appeared serious, bright, and trustworthy, even though many of her statements would be considered ‘hearsay’—legally.

She apparently bolstered the arguments whether Trump broke the law, but not fully.  The law protects political speeches, but not actions.  Trump apparently acted by asking security to remove metal detectors to let the crowd get closer to him at his White House rally.

Separately a lawsuit was filed by Republican National Committee against the Select Committee and House Speaker Pelosi, challenging its very formation.

On May 1, District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ruled in favor of the committee and its purpose “to avert a future Jan. 6-style attack.” 

The hearing so far has been informative, but, we cannot declare Liz Cheney the hero nor Trump the villain.  Due process must be followed.  When the U.S. justice system prevails, democracy wins.  Hope the Americans will have the patience to endure the next chapter of this investigation.

A relatively junior official, Cassidy Hutchinson—in hiding with security around—and Mike Pence—who risked his life to perform his constitutional duties—have both operated with consciousness and guts.  

The tension between the right and the left is essential for the stability of the boat.  Many are attempting to right the ship of democracy. 

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5 comments

  1. Petra hamman

    As always I enjoy your insights and narratives.
    To me Liz Chaney is courageous and indeed a hero.. and Trump a villain.

  2. Vijay Gupta

    The deep state is paranoid about losing power to an independent-minded Trump. They would much rather have Biden (or another puppet) as the president.

    The Democrats tried to impeach Trump twice on frivolous or fabricated charges. First for the so-called RussiaGate which turned out to be a fabrication of the Hillary Clinton campaign aided by her lawyer Michael Sussman (who lied to FBI) and British intelligence agent Christopher Steele who created the ‘Steele Dossier.’ Both the FBI and Steele were apparently unaware that all their work investigating the Trump-Russia connection was ultimately instigated and funded by the Clinton campaign.

    Next the Democrats tried to impeach Trump for his arm-twisting of the Ukraine leader–something that Biden himself had done when he was a VP. And now they are going after Trump for his Jan. 6 role while nobody seems interested in investigating the numerous crimes and misdemeanors of Hunter Biden (and Joe Biden) in spite of evidence available in Hunter’s laptop.

    This whole era of vindictive politics may have started when the Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton on a frivolous charge related to his sexual indiscretions. But it may also be a sign of our peace and prosperity that so many Americans find such partisan political spectacle entertaining.

  3. Hemant Lall

    I agree with David Frum in his belief ‘a supreme vulnerability of the American system is its reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency.’ American democracy can weather the storm. It has to, and is starting to, place stronger checks and balances from the other two branches of the government.

    Hemant

    1. Vijay Gupta

      I disagree with David Frum. The US president is, in fact, less powerful, especially in domestic matters, than the prime ministers and presidents of most other countries, including India.

      The greatest vulnerability of the American political system arises from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on Citizens United vs. FEC regarding campaign finance laws. "Thanks" to this decision, nearly all the American legislators are sold out to the highest corporate bidders. A few exceptional legislators who refuse to accept corporate money are unable to influence the corrupt political system in a meaningful way.

      Even presidents are liable to be sold out. However, an independent-minded president (such as Trump) can defy corporate lobbyists in the interest of the country and its ordinary people. That is why the deep state (the epitome of corporate power) hates Trump and prefers a puppet like Biden.

      What David Frum is suggesting is that the US president should be more like a puppet (or a programmable robot). But in that case, we might as well do without the president.

  4. Rajan Parrikar

    David Frum was an active member of the crew around George W. Bush who lied this nation into a war in Iraq. He drafted the falsehoods that were used to sell the war. A war in which a million innocent Iraqis lost their lives while also laying to waste American treasure and blood.

    Liz Cheney staunchly stands by – and continues to defend – the unconscionable deeds of her father, Dick Cheney, the chief architect of the Iraq war that was based on deliberate lies and the driving force behind the torture regime (euphemistically termed Enhanced Interrogation Techniques).

    George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals. It is astonishing to observe folks on the left, who have had their brains turned to mush by Trump hatred, now embrace these discredited, execrable war criminals together with their underlings.

    In a just world, Frum and Liz Cheney would have been shamed and banished from public life forever. Instead they are quoted warmly by those who today consider themselves our betters.

    The Jan 6 riot was not an “insurrection” or even anything close to it. The real insurrection was initiated by that fraud Barack Hussain Obama (I voted for the charlatan twice, to my lasting regret) during Trump’s 2016 campaign by spying on it and then continued via the Russia Collusion hoax in concert with a corrupt FBI, corporate media, and Big Tech.

    As for the silly Cassidy Hutchinson reference, I won’t go there.

    What is being done to Trump by a lawless Democrat regime will have lasting consequences. It is the stuff of banana republics. They couldn’t get him via the fraudulent Mueller probe or on the 2 impeachment dog & pony shows. Even the braindead can see that the latest witch-hunt is a fishing expedition in search of a crime to pin on the man.

    Awhile back I read Mrs Gupta’s smug tale about washing the stain of her Hindu antecedents and freeing herself from our Gods. No doubt she imagines us who love our Krishna, Shiva, Rama, and Ganesha to be superstitious and unsophisticated. I wish her well and may she heal.

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