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Democracy is a legitimate form of government for one very important reason: It works.
It worked to the detriment of the Republican Party in local and state elections across the country on Tuesday – and that is why Donald Trump and his supporters continue to wail like banshees. So it’s official: They have little to no legitimate claim to power.
Democracy needs shared facts and trust to work. We trust our elections are fair. We trust each other to vote fairly and act reasonably in doing so. We trust the media to report the election results factually. We trust there will be a peaceful transfer of power.
My sister, a resident of Kentucky, sat next to a man at a bar Tuesday night watching the election results. When a CNN report showed incumbent Andy Beshear leading in the governor’s race, the man next to her turned and said “It’s CNN. You can’t trust it. It’s all Fake News.”
That’s where Trump has been most successful – convincing people in this country that the problem is the system and not the fact that the candidate they support is not accepted by a majority of the people. Trump and his supporters scream they are victims. They make unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and have yet to win a single case in court that proves them right. Trump’s congressional elves, like Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., still won’t admit Trump lost in 2020. Scalise and Trump’s other sycophants in Congress disgorge daily disinformation devoured by a ravenous minority of disenfranchised voters who are only that way because they, like Trump, cannot accept reality. When someone examines the role of disinformation in the political process – and how Trump has manipulated it to get an advantage – the investigators are criticized for being part of the problem. Trump and those like him, namely Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio – who nearly became speaker of the House – paint anyone who questions them as being part of a vast censorship conspiracy. People are labeled “communists,” “fascists” or worse – anything for the cause of power.
The January 6 hearings in Congress were “staged, Deep State fakes” run by Democrats. The Jan. 6 insurrection never happened. The sun rises in the west or north – wherever Donny says it rises over the flat Earth. And while it all undermines democracy, Trump and his acolytes don’t care. The former president is a child who never grew up, never had decent parenting, never had to work for a living and believes whatever he wants he should get and if you don’t give it to him, he’s going to scream like a toddler until he gets his way. Trump, born into wealth, has been a golden toilet in a Holiday Inn his entire life: Unacceptably out of place and wildly overpriced.
That was never more apparent than when Trump appeared in New York civil court this week to defend his business interests. Justice Arthur Engoron, is overseeing the case that will determine how much Trump will have to pay after a summary judgment was issued that showed he and his company were liable for fraud. Justice Engoron repeatedly appealed to Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, to rein in the former president. As Trump puckered his lips and shrugged his shoulders, Kise replied that his client’s stature — as the “former and again soon-to-be chief executive of the United States” — afforded him leeway, which I suppose included the puckered lips and shoulder shrug.
No. It does not.
Trump needs to be held accountable as anyone else would be. We need to see that. We do not need the Donald Trump reality show. We don’t need to see Trump getting out of his car and walking to the steps of the courthouse while news anchors and pundits wax philosophical about it. We do not need to see Trump treated like the King he thinks he is and always will be. Discretion is a needed component in covering the news – and it is what is most lacking. We need to keep our eye on the world outside of Trump’s solipsistic narcissism.
Monday at the White House, the problem was two aircraft carrier groups in the Middle East, a nuclear sub and a White House saying it wants to make sure that Hamas, Iran and the world understand that the U.S. ain’t messing around. On background, an administration official told me, “The reason those forces are there are to help prevent that from happening. We’re sending a signal about how seriously we take our interests in the region.”
This is important because there is a growing fear in the United States and around the world that things are unraveling. It is counter-intuitive for many to think otherwise when they see an increasing American military presence in the region. It looks like someone’s going to get messed up.
About the time the White House was dealing with that, Trump was in New York giving a real estate valuation lecture in a court of law and pontificating as if he owned the court.
“Mr. Kise, can you control your client? This is not a political rally,” Judge Engoron said in the opening moments of the testimony, adding, “We’ll be here forever, and we’ll accomplish nothing.”The judge sounded like the dad Trump always needed.
Tuesday at the White House more questions were raised about the growing problem in the Israel/Hamas war. Again, it was about containing the conflict. “I think what we've been trying to do is send a strong signal, Brian, of deterrence to any other actor in the region, be that a nation-state or a terrorist group, that now is not the time to think about widening and escalating - deepening this conflict,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when I posed the containment question Tuesday. The U.S. has sent Secretary Anthony Blinken to the region, and I asked Kirby about the diplomatic efforts because of a reported public disagreement between Secretary Blinken and two Arab prime ministers in a press conference in Jordan. I also asked that because, so far, we’re still getting shot at.
“We feel confident that we're doing everything we can to support our ally and partner and to make it clear that we're going to protect and defend our interests in the Middle East,” Kirby explained.
Wednesday an unmanned U.S. military drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi forces, a defense official told CNN. The U.S. military also said it struck a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria used by Iran-backed militants.
This is getting very real, very fast.
Meanwhile, recent political polls show Biden trailing Trump in key battleground states. Democratic strategists acknowledge the problem, but part of it is of the president’s own making. Biden has abandoned his bully pulpit. He sends Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre into the briefing room to talk about cheap drugs and other issues, and Kirby to talk about national security issues.
We see Biden at staged events - slickly done and with ample graphics, props and friends. But he doesn’t own the public arena.
He’s barely in it.
As a result, a president who has worked a bipartisan mini-miracle to pass an infrastructure bill and help keep the government open and is dealing with border issues no president has dealt with in 40 years, all while bringing down prescription drug prices and managing two proxy wars in Asia and the Middle East, still trails a former president who has been impeached twice, found liable for fraud and rape in civil court and is currently facing 91 felony charges in four different jurisdictions. If you presented it as a Hollywood script it would only be bought if it were labeled satire.
But there is hope – and we saw it at the ballot box Tuesday.
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Kentucky showcased the Democratic bench strength. Beshear won his re-election bid against a candidate endorsed and financially backed by Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul. In some circles better known as “The Unholy Trinity of the damned.” Beshear did this by supporting a woman’s right to choose and by doing his job. When there was a flood that devastated parts of the Bluegrass State, Beshear helped them any way he could. And, he also made sure the press was along for the ride.
The abortion issue also worked in Virginia, where GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin promised an abortion ban and other medieval legislation. The Republicans lost control of the House and the Senate there. Youngkin brought the press along for the ride that derailed him.
“It’s official: there will be absolutely no abortion ban legislation sent to Glenn Youngkin’s desk for the duration of his term in office, period, as we have thwarted MAGA Republicans’ attempt to take total control of our government and our bodies,” Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said in a statement referencing Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
In Ohio, a red-leaning state, voters enshrined abortion into the state’s constitution and they legalized weed to boot. The press reported it all. I don’t know if edibles were involved. That really upset former senator Rick Santorum who, while appearing on News Max Tuesday night, called both abortion and legal marijuana “sexy issues” and that “Pure democracy is not the way to run a country.” The fact that Rick Santorum is a “former” senator from Pennsylvania tells you what the American people think of his evaluation of democracy. In a nutshell, there’s good reason to hope. Trump is still mired in courtroom dramas and engaged in antics that would embarrass a 12-year-old. But the Democrats have found ways to nullify his influence.
The country needs that and the common sense our democracy has provided on occasion over the years; The world teeters on the brink of war. Trump is whining about his problems.
Trump has no vested interest in making the system work for all of us. He only wants it to work for him. And that, folks, is not democracy. And right now, the world’s got no time for the lunacy of Donald Trump.