Las Vegas Sun

February 21, 2019

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Where I Stand:

Consider this: The State of the Union is fragile

Is it me or has the United States actually chased itself through the keyhole?

What else can explain how utterly crazy our American world seems to be?

Consider this: The acting Attorney General of the United States tells the Congress of the United States that he refuses to testify before a committee of jurisdiction unless it commits to not subpoena him. The committee says if you appear voluntarily and answer questions then we won’t subpoena you. And he says, no, no, you promise first!

It matters not how this turns out (as of this writing this chapter hasn’t been written but it should be by the time you read this). What matters is that it is normalized behavior these days for a man who works in the executive branch for the taxpayers to think it perfectly appropriate to tell a constitutionally constituted committee of an Article 1 branch of government that he doesn’t have to appear and answer questions. And that there are a number of Americans who think that behavior is OK!

Consider this: In 2019, in the heart of Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy 159 years earlier, the voters are faced with two high-ranking constitutional officers possibly resigning because they donned blackface in the face of every decent reason not to do so in the not too distant past, and a third officer faces scrutiny for a #metoo transgression 15 years ago. What hangs in the balance if all three Democratic officeholders resign is turning over the state of Virginia to a right-wing Republican in contravention of the voter’s desires in the last election.

The only way to respect the voters as well as their values is to invoke a recall procedure and move on.

Consider this: The President of the United States is demanding that legislators give him what he wants or else he will shut down the government — again — putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work — again. Now the geniuses in Washington are grappling with the challenge of calling a wall not a wall so that Congress can do what it should have done a long time ago — end the anxiety of the Dreamers and others who don’t deserve to be pawns in this typically American political theater.

Consider this: Congress is grappling with a bill that will require the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to provide legislators a copy of his report when it is done about whether the Russians co-opted the president or people in his inner circle to do Russia’s bidding in exchange for their help to swing the 2018 presidential election Trump’s way, and there are actually lawmakers who believe the people don’t need or have a right to know what really happened!

Consider this: In the 2020 election cycle there are some people who are considering running for the presidency who have little or no experience in governance. Haven’t we learned the lesson — and aren’t we still learning that lesson — of what happens when inexperience is elevated to a position of great importance and what constant failure after failure looks and feels like? This is not a criticism of the Constitution’s minimum requirements for election to the highest office of the land, but it is a criticism of the people in this country who believe that the “minimum” is good enough under any circumstances for the office of the president.

I could go on but you should get the point by now.

There is little enduring good news for this democracy that does not entail a change in attitude by all parties involved. The voters, the leaders, the media, the courts and everyone invested in making our democracy work need to figure out quickly what our responsibility to each other, our country and our planet really is because right now we are just spinning our way deeper into some “Alice and Wonderland” world where up is down and democracy is down and out.

We need to pull our collective heads out of that keyhole and honor the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers when they entrusted us to preserve and defend this great democracy.

In short, we need to act like we deserve to be Americans.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.