Deepening Democracy: why integrity matters

In a true democracy, elected leaders are simply the temporary custodians of political power; the power ultimately rests with the people. We elect leaders to act on our behalf so that we can go about our lives, caring for our families, teaching at our schools, staffing our hospitals and running our businesses. At election time, the power returns to the people – and they in turn empower the elected.

In 2016 we were presented the opportunity to resolve a political conflict peacefully. Our citizens went to the polls and casted their votes – we aspired not only to elect the right leader, but to choose a direction for our nation. Russia, however, had other plans. Fast forward almost three years later and we find ourselves asking around our friends and colleagues how we got here (by not picking Hillary.) There is substantial evidence that Russia attacked our political system and that the orange toddler we call President sought to obstruct Mueller’s investigation over and over again.

America has officially got what they elected. A narcissist con man. However, I feel almost obliged to write a eulogy-like piece. Something, at least, for the most incompetent Senate majority in modern history. Now may be a great time to remind you that SML, Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring any election security bill to the senate floor for a vote. This reticence to confront the issue has trickled down, affecting not only preparedness at federal agencies but also the willingness of lawmakers to even take up the issue.

Republicans are waging a war on women and girls. Working to criminalize women’s most private, personal decisions. Republicans are waging a war on survivors of domestic abuse, assault and stalking. There are over one-hundred and twenty bills passed by the House of Representatives that are currently awaiting action by the Senate. One that has turned into a full legislative graveyard.

The Democratic Party is the only firewall left to save our democracy. It will die if Republicans continue to have the senate. The truth is that this is much bigger than overcoming Trump. While the Assaulter-in-Chief is refusing to do his job, his anger over legitimate congressional investigations prompted him to declare he’ll stop work on an infrastructure bill, for example. Finally, a labor strike republicans can support. The notion that Trump would punish Americans unless he was freed from an investigation suggests he and we would be better off if he left office and got a pardon.

Republicans don’t seem to know what they want to accomplish though, and they wouldn’t know how to get it even if they did. Republicans send demagogues and agitators to the House and Senate; they lack the interest and capacity to pass meaningful legislation that American voters actually want and NEED. Apparently the fact that the 2018 midterms wiped out dozens of Republican House members, many from districts like Roy in Alabama, made no impression on the survivors, whose arrogance is undiminished.

Republicans in the House and Senate who have become devoted to protecting Trump and gaining fame on Fox News with Sean Hannity, aka the man that looks like the mayor who refuses to close the beaches in jaws — rather than legislating and performing oversight should be fired as well. It’s quite interesting to see how much republicans actually love government so long as they control it.

President Ford, Bush and Bush II showed us the long term effects of the narrow-minded, backwards thinking, feed the rich, buy a war policies of the GOP. We ought to work relentlessly to ensure that Cheeto Benito is a one term president. Of course, the challenges of electoral, democratic integrity can’t be resolved by politicians alone. Civil society and the media must be given the space to play their part in demanding accountability and transparency.

For now, let this be a teachable moment in our history. While elections are the foundation of democracy, they do not serve the cause of democracy if they are corrupt; in fact, they give democracy a bad name. By ensuring that elections are held with integrity, we can help fulfill the promise of the declaration and its supporting international treaties: a world where governments are mindful of the inherent dignity and equality of every individual, and respect their right to have a voice in how they are governed.

We are a year and a half away from the election, of course, but barring an economic slowdown or serious foreign policy crisis, we can probably expect little change on the Republican side. Donald Trump’s persona is already synchronized to voter judgments. Whether he is reelected or rejected is largely in the hands of Democratic primary and caucus voters. If you haven’t done so already, it is probably time for you to start listening to the ever growing, oh so long, list of democratic candidates and start canvassing for the candidate of your choice.

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