Thursday, June 29, 2017

How The Constitution Has Given Us Trump And Republican-Fascist Rule And May Well Bring Us Overt Fascism

Every so often when Trump does something like fire the FBI director people reach for the phrase " Constitutional crisis" a phrase which is always said in dire terms as if that were the worst thing that can happen in our politics.  What they usually say is something like such and so is "going to throw us into a Constitutiona crisis" or threatens one or could bring on one.  But things are much worse than that already.   The election of Trump is a here and now, actual and serious crisis for democracy.  And a crisis for democracy is far worse.

The Constitution of the United States was ever only as valid, as good as it produced what it promised, "a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"[note the capitalizations, they mean something] and what the common people thought they were buying when they adopted it, democracy.  Union, Justice, Tranquility, Welfare, Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our POSTERITY.   Egalitarian democracy is the only political genre which will ever deliver on that bill of goods,  exactly the kind of democracy which the aristocratic founders always feared might result from what they were setting up to favor themselves and THEIR posterity.  Much of American history has been a struggle by Black people, by Women, by Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, members of religious minorities, LGBT people to force the propertied, white men to give up what was their privileged condition, to make the more ancient Athenian democracy -  Roman Republican style government of the Constitution into a real, modern egalitarian democracy.   It has been a struggle which has not been peaceful, it has been as violent as the Civil War, as the reaction of the privileged to any struggle to force the extension of the vote, of the abolition of discriminatory laws set up and judged constitutional by Supreme Courts and the reaction to that violence and oppression by the groups whose equality has been resisted.  The violence was, likely, established in the Constitution to the extent the Second Amendment was a means of the slave holders to arm the slave patrols*.

That has been an ongoing crisis in the United States, a direct consequence of our maintaining the highly unjust, corrupt and cumbersome features of the United States Constitution, a document in which even the one or few of the founders opposed to slavery sacrificed the most basic morality of equality and the principle that human beings are not rightly the property of the wealthy and powerful to their goal of union.  The Constitution, far from intending or guaranteeing the rest of those promised virtues of government, has been a tool for sacrificing them to the interests of those it empowered.  The Trump regime, given to us by the Electoral College, just one of those things which was supposed to protect us from the evils of the popular vote (according to the founders) but which has given us an actual, insane, megalomaniacal, whimsically ignorant fascist in the White House.  It gave us George W. Bush and Rutherford Hayes and John Quincy Adams earlier.  So the E.C. isn't exactly a guarantee of great presidents, it's more likely to produce a real rotter of one. 

Everything we value, those of us who love equality and democracy and freedom and a rational, decent life for all, has been gotten through a hard fought struggle AGAINST THE ORDER SET UP UNDER THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.  And it is the lesson of the past fifty-three years, since the height of egalitarian democracy in the United States, that week which saw the adoption of Medicare, Medicaid and The Voting Rights Act, has been that what was won through so much blood and struggle and work and pain can be lost very easily, undermined, in the entire past fifty four years by the privileges granted to the wealthy who own the media to lie, of decisions such as those making money into speech, those which endow corporations with rights - under the Constitutional fiction of corporate personhood - all of which were done by the least democratic part of the government, the Supreme Court.  

Even when the justices were supposedly acting to extend rights under the First Amendment,  the permission of the media to lie with impunity, alleged to be a liberal act by liberals on the court, the effect was that it freed them to lie about liberals, about minority groups, to whip up rumors and gossip, to play on existing prejudices and to promote them, to lie about the results of civil rights, to foment paranoia and resentment and to generally lie in any way to thwart the continuing struggle for equality and to put Republican-fascists in office who were prepared to roll back and repeal anything that the Supreme Court didn't find its way to overturning.  That theory of the First Amendment which liberals were suckered into adopting through the ACLU and Village Voice and other columnists in the 1950s and 60s was one of the biggest blunders that those who value equality ever have made in our history.  That it was sold through what turned into a slogan, "The First Amendment says" is matched overtly by those of the impending and new slave patrol, "The Second Amendment says".  

As we are getting ready to celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, a document which, while full of problematical claims, was, nevertheless, less troublesome than the Constitution, we should consider what the mania for turning the worship of such things and the fabled founders into a quasi-religious cult has actually resulted in.  Those things drafted by those long, long dead, white, rich men in the late 18th century are what produced, in the fulness of time, the Trump regime. And it was under the same Constitutional provisions that supposedly liberal courts have abolished segregation but also gave the media and the rich people who own it the power to destroy any equality which has been won.

The thing is a mess.  I am not necessarily advocating that we junk the whole thing because, as the Koch funded attempt at a new Constitutional Convention threatens, what they and the other billionaires enabled under the Constitution as read would certainly be far worse.  I would love for the United States to have a new, modern constitution informed by the experience of the failures of the old one over the past centuries of violent struggle and oppression AND INFORMED BY THE THINKING OF MORE THAN A SMALL GROUP OF WHITE MALE ARISTOCRATS.   But now, as the Supreme Court has given them the power to use their money-speech to make things worse, that is out of the question.   The beginning of a way out of this disaster is to change our own understanding of what went wrong, how the struggle to reach that peak of equality in 1965 went so wrong over the next half century - not least of which was under the libertarian enablement of the media to lie us where we have come to.  That was us, we liberals getting suckered and duped by the media - the decision was made on behalf of the New York Times - to a large extent it was us being suckered by lawyers working on behalf of rich people and the media peddling their own privileges as progress.  

Trump, the Republican-fascist control of the Congress, all of it is a product of lies told by the freest press in the history of the United States.  As even the media are realizing, in the past half century everything, even a sense that a lie is a lie and is not the truth has been sacrificed.  Trump is a product of lies and deceptions and show biz fakery.  All brought to us by the media. All allowed under that most sacralized of all aspects of our American idolatry, The First Amendment. 

You can consider this my statement for the upcoming 4th of July. 

*  I've read several articles which note that Patrick Henry, George Mason and James Madison, explicitly feared that the federal government under the Constitution might end the "militias" in the slave states, which were largely for the purpose of keeping slaves from rebelling against their enslavement.   That's certainly a big part of the gun nuttery that has been promoted by the gun industry for their profit and the Republican-fascist party.  Gun promotion groups have also used their freedom to lie through the media to turn us into an armed camp where we really do have to fear fascists with guns.  This time they're not just going to be shooting Black people.   The "militias" mentioned under the Constitution really should include the lynch mobs which were the continuation of the slave patrol. 

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