Trump Is the Founders’ Worst Nightmare

Once in the Oval Office, a demagogue can easily stay there.

Comments: 302

  1. Trump may be "the founders worst nightmare"; however, the cowed GOP is what the founders could not conceive of and why we all fail. Also, that lack of vision for a party of individuals to come together as one body denying the Constitution is one place they failed, the other is that 40% of the voting public would prefer demagoguery over democracy.

  2. @James Siegel the founders did indeed take into consideration that a large portion of the populace would vote for a demagogue. The electoral college was created, in particular, as a buffer between what they called popular "passions" and the selection of a bad person. The EC has been perverted in two ways that make it unable to fulfill its purpose...1. capping the number of seats in the House, thereby the number of electoral votes, gives added weight to the votes of the smaller states. 2. Many states now have laws in place requiring that the electors from their state cast their ballot for president for the winner of the popular vote. Essentially, the discretion of the electors, one of the prime purposes for them to exist in the first place, has been eliminated. The founders wanted to protect the system against popular passions, but we've removed or altered the safeguards to make them unrecognizable and ineffective.

  3. @James Siegel The founders certainly could never have envisioned Fox News and ilk. Nor of the internet, twitter, and broadcast TV/radio. Or that they could be tremendously powerful tools for demagogues.

  4. @James Siegel - This was all foreshadowed by the epic Fail in the Electoral College, which the parties have perverted from the Founders' original intent; the failure of the Electoral College to do its duty (the bias to inaugurate) is a failure on the same scale as the Challenger disaster, caused by the bias to launch.

  5. Because the Framers could not conceive of political parties -- the "Idea of a Party System" awaited the 1840s -- they were unable to protect against the alliance of the demagogue and the party. To the nation's misfortune, the Republican party has figured out that if it holds the presidency and one house of Congress, corrupt, authoritarian anticonstitutionalists can defeat the Framers' fail-safe remedy. Undoubtedly Speaker Pelosi knows this. Her objective is not to sway women and men determined by cowardice or conviction to defend and protect the indefensible. Rather, the Speaker would put the evidence before the American people and then ask: Do you want a constitutional republic or a dictatorship? "A republic, if you can keep it." -- Benjamin Franklin

  6. @Robert Yarbrough What the Founders did not conceive of was the enormous increase in the population that has resulted in 40 million Californian residents being represented in the Senate by the same number of Senators as Wyoming with a population of 600,000. This is obviously going to create a important imbalance in the electoral system. Unfortunately the States with smaller populations also tend to be more conservative with the result that the Senate has an inbuilt tendency towards Republican domination.

  7. @Robert Yarbrough The founders were most certainly aware of political parties which had been a feature of English politics since the 1680s following the Glorious Revolution when the Whigs and the Tory parties took turns. They FEARED those partisan battles and tried to structure the Constitution to try and prevent party organization, but they most certain were aware of it.

  8. @Robert Yarbrough the Founders were aware of political parties when they wrote the Constitution, and parties began to take shape before Washington even left office and were in full bloom during Adams' administration. But the framers of the Constitution thought they had created a system in which organizational and institutional checks could work despite partisanship. Sadly, this has proven false as today we see political partisanship, taken to unfathomable depths by Republicans as the party of the demagogue in times of change, has effectively short-circuited these checks and balances. As Bauer states, "It is a constitutional paradox: The very behaviors that necessitate impeachment supply the means for the demagogue to escape it."

  9. Trump's power relies not on his lies but on the desperation of his audience to believe him.

  10. @Diego: Largely agreed. But aren't you putting all his supporters in one basket? Those who love their tax cuts aren't desperate to believe demagoguery.

  11. @Des Johnson True. But if he was just proposing tax cuts, he'd be just another rich guy proposing tax cuts.

  12. @Des Johnson Those that put tax cuts above their country are worse than the others and are just as desperate to believe. The same basket in my opinion.

  13. Perhaps the removal of the president requires more than the single-shot impeachment. To counter an abettor Senate, maybe the House should promise investigation of all of this administration's corrupt dealings until the breadth and depth is fully recognized by the electorate. It won't convince a large segment, the Trumpers, but may serve to convince those uncommitted that it is better to have a fairly trustworthy executive branch in place rather than this dysfunctional one. One and done is just not going to do it.

  14. @Lawrence Zajac: The US public cowers in such fear of corporations, it does not even understand that the right to vote represents a share in the biggest corporation in the US, its federal government.

  15. @Lawrence Zajac Another investigation tries this society of instant's a reason why the democrats are trying to move this impeachment right along. Sadly, we no longer appreciate the long pauses while one seriously considers how to frame a thought. I love old movies where intelligent thought was more of a suspenseful moment rather than the speed of action/violence.

  16. The Founders never expected that members of the President's party in the Senate and the House would be complicit and enable the President's unwillingness to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Nor did they expect that the electorate would outsource their thinking to social media.

  17. The Founders never expected that members of the President's party in the Senate and the House would be complicit and enable the President's unwillingness to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Nor did they expect that the electorate would outsource their thinking to social media.

  18. @Norah Astorgah "The Founders never expected that members of the President's party in the Senate and the House..." Say again, the Founders did not include parties in the Constitution for reasons such as this. Since Parties weren't included their weren't ever supposed to be "members of the President's party in the Senate and the House".

  19. The Founders never expected political parties.

  20. @Norah Astorgah Could the founders have imagined Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, the epidemy of a disgraceful Republican? Talk about making the South look bad. Kennedy must also be the foulest example of a graduate of Magdalen College, University of Oxford, since it was founded in 1458. Given Kennedy’s incongruous ole boy rationale for defending Trump, when I heard he went to Oxford, I thought – they must mean he’s journeyed as far as Oxford, Mississippi.

  21. This process has shown the deficits in our government's ability to adapt to changing circumstances. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how an unprecedented- (in this circumstance,) legal opinion can stand for law without contest. No person in the United States is immune from prosecution for criminal activity. There is a necessity to shield the President from facing suit about policy and politics to govern effectively- but criminal acts are not shielded and instead of hauling this crook into court the politicians enable this belief that the President is above the law. Oh please- this is a fiction.

  22. @townferret Following this from afar with a certain fascination but also sadness, I can only conclude that the multi-party system in most Western European countries functions a lot better than the two-party system you have in the USA (as well as in the UK, where chaos is also reigning at the moment with the infamous Brexit). Both countries - USA and UK - have made themselves - worldwide - into a big laughing stock. As a matter of fact, US citizens, when travelling abroad, prefer to pretend to be Canadian, out of sheer shame of having to admit to be a US citizen... Implementing and adhering to a constitution dating back to the 18th century, is - in my opinion - not realistic. I cannot understand why a developed nation like the USA categorically refuses to adapt their constitution to the changes which have taken place in society over the past three centuries. The problem is not so much Trump, but rather the high percentage of US voters who adore his vulgar style of speech, who love the way in which he delivers his obvious lies and who, when confronted with contrary and correct evidence, will not listen to the voices of reason, countering the arguments brought forward with blind faith in a totally incompetent - I would almost say 'stupid' and 'uncultured' - POTUS. There is the famous saying: 'Houston, we have a problem'. Now the USA can rightfully say: 'USA, we have a problem'. The credibility you have lost - worldwide - will be hard to get back.

  23. The founders would have only been able to imagine a demagogue coming to power within the social and technological context of their time. America has a perfect storm of factors conspiring to support the demagogue, without the internet and television for the GOP to manipulate and spread falsehoods and keep the base riled up for example, a lot of trumps power would be sapped.

  24. @John: The internet filters out the good and propagates the bad because it is playground for juvenile delinquents.

  25. Don't fault our Constitutional structure. Trump' antics wouldn't fly if both his base and the Senate weren't fully complicit. It's hard to imagine what kind of political framework could survive the abandonment of morals and integrity by 35% of the electorate and a majority in the Senate.

  26. @Mike "Fault" might not be the correct word, as it implies the founders should have perfectly foreseen the future, but the PROBLEM is definitely our Constitutional structure. Interestingly, the Electoral College, AS ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED, was the founder's best fail-safe against the electorate becoming a populist's cult, and the Senate was not chosen by popular vote. The founders placed an additional layer between the Presidency and Senate and the "madness of crowds".

  27. I think this analysis is correct. The writer however ignores the fact that the GOP, hand in hand with its media allies, had become philosophically & practically demagogic long before Trump’s entry into politics. Their beliefs that money is speech, that laws & offices should be for sale, that government should be a business, that the political end justifies the means, that truth is determined by what sells rather than by evidence, are all rationalizations for corruption and demagogy. In an important sense the Republicans are correct when they say that impeachment intends to “undo” Trump’s election, because Trump was elected precisely to violate the constitution, to tell the lies that gratify his supporters, and to turn the government into a machine for personal profit.

  28. Remember when Donald Trump was a New York businessman who was waiting for the right time to make his run for his presidency? He’s on record for decades sharing with us that he’s interested and waiting for the right time, the right conditions. He chose this environment in which to run for president. He got the timing right.

  29. @Martin Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, and the Republican clowns in the House of Representatives are corrupt. You can also throw in John Roberts and his corrupt cadre on the Supreme Court. That's where we are currently. We're moving at lighting speed into Fascism, and once there, good luck in correcting anything, in several lifetimes.

  30. With Barr at the head of the pack.....Yes, sadly I agree. Since Reagan, the long game is starting to reap real structural gains with the Supreme Court and the rule of law on the chopping block. We need a fire alarm that is far stronger than the one currently sounding. The fractured media landscape and dissolution of truth may be mature enough to withstand this now....

  31. Yet another argument for a constitutional convention - the operating instructions need a good overhaul. It has to be easier to get rid of a bad president and outlaw military hardware for civilian use. That may turn out to be trump's enduring legacy - he shocked the system into a much-needed update.

  32. @Plennie Wingo Many Americans, myself included, are now realizing that our venerable old Constitution has begun to creak with decrepitude--the Electoral College and the equality of states' representation in the Senate being two of its more egregious faults. But summoning a new constitutional convention, which would have the power to write and force the ratification of an entirely new document--as the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 swept away the Articles of Confederation--carries the enormous risk of being controlled by those reactionary and anti-democratic forces that now dominate many of our states. Reform is desperately needed--but who will define "reform" and guarantee that it advances rather than further restricts democracy?

  33. @Plennie Wingo Be careful what you wish for,. Koch Broz money has been gunning for a convention for decades in order to change things in their direction.

  34. @Plennie Wingo NBo. There will be no enduring positive legacy. This slide into unadulterated fascism cannot be sugar coated

  35. Another words we have , the perfect storm, much to the our detriment. We can add in a dose of foreign political interference and disinformation from Russia, as well as compromised Republican politicians willing to repeat Russian propaganda, to the mix as well. This piece demonstrates how our democracy and the rule of law is teetering on a knifes edge.

  36. Not mentioned in this otherwise excellent commentary is the role of the electoral college: the Founders assumed that free elections would result in a President supported by the majority, not someone represented the minority. Thrilled by their victory, that minority is using all tactics possible to keep him in office.

  37. @Sue the Cat The President did win a majority according to the rules of the election, which were designed to balance the influence of the individual states of the union.

  38. @QED \ Designed to balance the influence of the ORIGINAL 13 STATES, of which Virginia was the dominant one until 1860. There have been added 37 states since then. And they're not very well balanced any more.

  39. @QED More peace is war, truth is lies, thinking. He won the election according to the rules of the election, he did not win a majority. He got a majority of the EC votes. And according to the rules and purpose of the EC they could have elected someone else who would not be a threat to the country as was it's purpose - a purpose perverted by the insertion of parties into the process.

  40. Before the Age of Reason there was the Renaissance and the Reformation which effectively impeached the central authorities of both theocratic and monarchial rule and ushered in an age when anything was possible, like witchcraft, for instance. The Founders replaced superstition and hearsay with reason and committed themselves to the idea that the conscience was guided by reason, not by superstition. Nowadays, we see the end of the power of reason to save us from superstition and hearsay for we can believe in neither our princes, nor our gods, nor our press, and most terrible, (given the defeat of the popular vote by the Electoral College), nor even our democracy. Conscience is dead and so is reason as a tool to help us distinguish what is reasonable from what is merely one nearly impossible possibility from the rest of more plausible explanations. Trump articulates and reinforces the power of fear over reason. Fear, when it gains the upper hand is unreasonable and therefore unimpeachable. Americans should be in fear of their fear, and to paraphrase Iago, they should be very very afraid, for our democracy is being tupped and we are letting it just happen because we're afraid of the facts.

  41. @Max And Max "the power of fear over reason" seems to be at the heart of many of the fundamental problems gripping modern day America: gun violence and mass shootings are an expression of this. That Trump has figured out how to endlessly exploit this power is the only genius he truly has.

  42. Cancer treatments are difficult, especially after the central tumor has metastasized. So it goes with the Republican Party. Nunes and Jordon, these satellite cancers have infected the judicial system of our government. When trump is finally eliminated, so must the Republican Party if a recurrence is not in our future. Moderate republicans will have to unshackle the party for it to be more functional. Amendments will have to be authored to further protect America from dictatorial leadership.

  43. This is such a judicious, incisive and articulate--not to mention deeply disturbing--assessment of the multiple forms of toxic devolution that the current imposter president has wrought. I'm grateful for, though also sobered by, Professor Bauer's piece. (Oh, how I long for the fine thinking, writing and leadership that was so often characteristic of the Obama administration.) I'm wondering, too, if the Constitution, and the democratic republic that Franklin challenged was ours "if you can keep it," can withstand the "assaultive" defenses and demagogic offenses that this administration clearly believes are its unchallengeable prerogative.

  44. I love the founders as much as the next guy, but I'm tired of hearing what they thought 250 years ago, and I'm especially tired of the Supreme Court basing its decisions on the intentions of the founders. Among the many realities of the 21st century that the founders could not even begin to fathom are these: electricity, atheism, women's rights, telecommunications, urban poverty, enfranchisement of women and African Americans, a labor class, a permanent underclass, climate change, foreign control of American elections ... where should I stop? Please stop consulting these guys on modern-day matters because, as wise as they were in their day, they are clueless on modern-day matters.

  45. @Mike Don't forget gerrymandering, a word that didn't even exist in 1776.

  46. @Mike But we've all agreed that the US Constitution is what we could go by as a society and that was written by the Founders originally and still largely in its original form with a few modifications over the years. I think some fundamental principles of government are the same. Specifically in terms of impeachment and abuse of power, nothing has changed since humanity moved out of the caves. Some Founders themselves thought we should be writing new Constitutions every so often. That hasn't been necessary. Even now. It's the Republicans who've let the country down.

  47. @Mike - Don't forget the end of legal slavery, which took a very bloody war to accomplish. They also overlooked something else which emerged in the mid 19th century - instantaneous electronic communication, via the telegraph. President Lincoln in Washington received a telegram (AKA email message) announcing General Grant's victory at Vicksburg, MS as soon as it happened. Back in 1776, information traveled at the speed of a galloping horse, but by 1860 information traveled at the speed of light. The founders might have created something very different, had they been in an environment without having to work around slavery, and with instant communication of voting results.

  48. Imagine that there are no parties in Congress and then imagine how the Impeachment process would work. Would it be as broken? Would there be a better chance that a “victorious demagogue” possessing “perverted ambition” could be thwarted? Imagine that there are no political parties in Congress. No majority leader in the Senate (a party position not a Constitutional one). No aisle dividing people by party. Representatives and Senators from each state sit together representing the people they were elected by, not their parties. That aisle is purely party politics. It is the most clear demonstration that party is the first allegiance, not country. Not the people. I believe that parties are a monkey wrench thrown into the finely honed Constitution subverting its intents and checks and balances on power and abuse of it. Everything from law making, to advice and consent, to the Electoral College, to the impeachment process all suffer from the self-same “perverted ambition” because the Constitution was not adjusted to account for political parties being inserted into the government. No wonder they don't function properly. They don't have a chance to work as defined in the Constitution as long as Party, not country, not the people, is the prime allegiance.

  49. @Marie Yes, the revered Founders deplored political parties (they called them "factions" and assumed nefarious purposes), and they designed a constitutional system to thwart factionalism from taking control. Hence Madison's famous assurance (Federalist 51) that "ambition will counter ambition"--that an intricate system of checks and balances would, out of self-interest, incentivize actors within "the system" to resist illegal actions. But this scheme collapsed within ten years of the ratification of the Constitution, as the rival Democratic-Republican (that is, Jeffersonian) and Federalist parties arose. And apart from the disappearance of the Federalists and the corresponding disintegration of the Democratic-Republicans into rival factions, 1815-1824, parties have been central to American political life ever since. American democracy survived, however (despite severe challenge in the Civil War era). But with the corruption of the Republican Party into the Faction of Trump, that survival is now at greater risk than at any time since the Civil War. Whether we can survive as a democracy is now an open question.

  50. @James Miller Thank you James for the added perspective, though I am not sure that I would refer to the original intent of the Constitution as a "scheme". (Why aren't so-called "originalists" fighting to take parties out of our government I wonder? How can they call themselves "originalists" and fight for party?) I most assuredly agree that with the Faction of Trump our way of self-governing is now at greater risk than at any time since the Civil War. However in regards to parties being central to American political life since the "scheme collapsed" while true, my point is that including parties in political life and the government without making adjustments to the underlying document is like adding larger, more forward engines onto a 50 year-old 737 design while not making changes to the air frame to accommodate the larger, heavier, more powerful engines and calling it a MAX. The adding parties, like adding the larger engines, unbalanced the system. And jury - rigged patches may not be enough.

  51. The sad part is that their defenses impugn the morality, ethics and knowledge of actually earned from years of service. They want to protect a person with the exact opposite experiences.

  52. I wish critics would move on from a Trump. He’s a lost cause and not really the problem. If we had a functioning Congress (read Senate) he would have been gone or severely rained in a long time ago. Look at his many reversals, they were mainly due to Senate objections. It is the Senate that should feel the heat.

  53. "It is a constitutional paradox: The very behaviors that necessitate impeachment supply the means for the demagogue to escape it" When the great logician Kurt Godel (of "Godel's Theorem" fame) was applying for US citizenship, he studied the structure of the Constitution and was distressed that it contained a "contradiction". Others have tried to determine just what logical fallacy alarmed him but no consensus has emerged. The Trump administration may have found it.

  54. Great article. Trump will be impeached by the House and not convicted in the Senate. We know this much. Right now it looks like he will win re-election. On the slim chance that he loses the election in the Electoral College (and the popular vote, which is almost certain), he very well may refuse to leave. That leaves us with either him dying in office (of natural causes) or riots. Those seem to be the only options for ending this nightmare and even then the GOP and Fox News will live on. This is not going to end well.

  55. @Iowan Right now? He LOST the last election. Remember? If he loses and refuses to leave, I think there's a contingent of Marines and Secret Service officers who will take care of the matter.

  56. @matty Wrong he won the election as the founders in their infinite wisdom not to have mob rule and to ensure smaller states had a voice set up the electoral college. If not the most populous states of which there are only 5 would control all national elections. We are a Republic not a Majority Rule Democracy. Thank God for that!

  57. @matty Next question- How many of the military will go along with Trump and NOT do their duty? We can guess that a few that have been pardoned by him would do so...

  58. As a means to remove a president the impeachment clause has been an obvious failure. It was added to placate those, like Madison, who rightly feared the election of such a one like Trump. The problem is that the powers vested in the executive office and the reach of the bully pulpit afforded to its occupant essentially nullifies impeachment as a tool for removal if they have no shame. If they lie with gleeful abandon. The party always rallies to it's leader, no matter what they say. Nixon resigning after the party lost confidence was the exception to the rule. However, many more citizens now have a better picture of Trump's, and any demagogue's, tool kit of obfuscation and propaganda. He will never resign voluntarily. Yet, so many have been highly motivated to participate in the democratic process by the existence of this breaker of norms. Think of impeachment as a relief valve to occupy those who might be moved to armed revolt before an election can decide the matter. It has always been the province of the ballot box, where the mandate of the people is rightly bestowed, to remove the bums and start again.

  59. This is where we are, Trump has destroyed our democracy. But only because the Republican Party has allowed him to do it. I am convinced that Republican leaders, such as Lyndsey Graham and Mitch McConnell believe that Trump's entire operation in Ukraine was for only the purpose of smearing Biden. Instead of acknowledging it they claim it had a legitimate foreign policy goal, even though there is no contemporaneous evidence for it and even though there would have been no need to involve Giuliani if it were so. So they say things they don't believe. Even worse, a major portion of Republican voters don't care if Trump has violated the constitution. And all made possible by the electoral college; it's the death of our democracy. But rather than blame Trump, let's place the blame on people like Lyndsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, that's where the blame belongs. They should know better.

  60. @PNBlanco "But rather than blame Trump, let's place the blame on people like Lyndsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, that's where the blame belongs. They should know better." They do know better. They don't care. This is the New World Order they've been aspiring toward at least since the rise of Gingrich 30 years ago, They increasingly lack the demographics to hold power by legitimate democratic means, thus, they will hold it by any means necessary. The opposition is not legitimate. They are the enemy and must be crushed. The government is not legitimate, unless they control it. The oft-cited 2018 quote by David Frum, speechwriter to W, is happening as we watch. "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy." It was happening during the W regime, and is happening now with such blatant obviousness that any conservative intellectual with an ounce of remaining integrity can no longer ignore it. Vote in November in record numbers to sweep out these authoritarians, while we still can.

  61. @PNBlanco Also notice that both Graham and McConnell are up for re-election in their respective states. They are both sycophants but have more on the line right now so they can continue in their respective positions (Graham as chair of Judiciary, and McConnell as Majority Leader.) Having integrity isn't worth giving those up, unfortunately.

  62. @PNBlanco Yes, the Republicans and Trump have corrupted democracy, but to get the full the full picture you have to acknowledge that the Democrats also have their hands dirty. The Democrats have given in to money and the donor class; they have supported neo-liberal economic policies that produced the economic despair that resulted in the ascendance of Trump. They abandoned their working class base, and in 2016 the party was clueless as to what the voters really needed, choosing instead to stab Bernie Sanders in the back and to offer up an elitist insider that was despised by many in the electorate. The Democrats wasted many opportunities when they were in power, and they allowed the Republicans to walk all over them for decades. The demise of our democracy has happened because the Republicans willed it and the Democrats allowed it.

  63. The Founders wrote the Constitution with a separation of powers to avoid a demagogue becoming a monarch, but ultimately, to preserve the republic they counted on more virtuous men than rogues serving in government. Clearly, the Founders were mistaken about men of virtue in government. A demagogue "can thrive only in political conditions conducive to the effective practice of these dark arts, such as widespread distrust of institutions, a polarized polity and a fractured media environment in which it is possible to construct alternative pictures of social realities." Missing in that list is the single most important factor enabling a demagogue - rogues in government - which have enabled Corrupt Trump and now protect him. That will be the lesson of Corrupt Trump's impeachment. History will not only not be kind to the Rogue Republican Party, history will denounce all of them as traitors to the Constitution and republic.

  64. @JABarry: Recommend, but... in the words of Jefferson: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

  65. @JABarry Women also.

  66. It is possible that Trump will be Impeached and found guilty. If Senators believe Trump is a liability to their re-election, they'll vote to convict. The calculus is already being made if Trump is an asset or liability in each Senators' State. That said, there is a reason why Trump has invited all the Republican Senators for a personal lunch or diner. Promises are being made if they support him. Money for campaigns, legislation agenda, etc. Conversely, the public is in conflict of what is the right thing to do. Is the President above the law? Is this simply partisan vindictiveness? No matter what is decided, politicians of both parties will face a backlash in 2020. Republicans fall into to the trap that loyalty supersedes the President's misconduct. Democrats trap is essentially making a mountain out of a mole hill. If they rush the process it will come across as deciding guilt before all the facts are before the American people. Impeachment must be seen as a last resort.

  67. @Progers9 The sad state of affairs overwhelming this country is that despite what one says about poll numbers you still have to be aware of what they say. If the demagogue's numbers start to go down the drain for one reason or another, the GOP may abandon him. Right now he serves their purpose and they serve his. Transactional one may say... it shows how low the GOP has sunk to. Will the Democrats be able to win the day on November 3, 2020? Let's hope so! Trying to put the train back on its tracks while it is being derailed is no small task.

  68. As deeply significant as the removal of DJT is, the followup to these proceedings is perhaps much more so. Mr. Bauer points out the weaknesses inherent in a system that relies on good faith to function properly. Going forward we must craft greater safeguards to deal with a leader who has faith only in himself. We have made much of the president not being above the law, but the facts belie that. Just the idea that a sitting president cannot be indicted due to a memo tells you all you have to know.

  69. Recently returned from a family get together in Rome, Italy and, although, not a real fan of walking tours, was drawn into the history of a great empire that by all standards of defining great empires--Rome fits the bill--whether intellectually or militarily, or governmentally, or architecturally they were in so many ways more advanced that our American empire---e.g. it only took the Romans 8 years to build the Coliseum---Having said that, two comments struck me on these tours: 1) although a great empire, it did collapse after a 1000 years, and 2) it collapsed from within with a series of leaders that fit the profile of Trump and a populus where wealth inequality and bread and circus culture eroded disciplined governance. Our forefathers were familiar with the history of failed civilizations and attempted to write a document to prevent patterns of behavior that bring down great empires. Watching Trump last week at his balcony gatherings and GOP representatives on Sunday talk shows, the goal of 1000 years now seems remote.

  70. @Amanda Jones The glory that was Rome lasted considerably less than 1000 years.

  71. @Amanda Jones Exactly! It says something that a simple vacation walking tour was all the history it took to drive the point home. History repeats itself, and there are stories both ancient and modern we should be referring to. Wake up America!!! This is a nightmare about to happen.

  72. @Amanda Jones The Flavian Amphitheater (aka coliseum) was built by slaves. There were no unions in Rome.

  73. One of the worst approaches to impeachment has been pursued by the Democrats and their allies: criminalizing his actions almost exclusively instead of focusing not only on how some of those acts were criminal but also on the political demagoguery of other acts. Too much of the anti Trump analysis depends on the niceties of “beyond a reasonable doubt” ratiocination. Better to flesh out the real politically abusive statements regarding disgruntled military officers and motor cycle gangs playing rough with opponents in addition to the real crimes. Calling for second Amendment “solutions” as a candidate was a harbinger of his fitness.

  74. @Robert Clarke, impeachment is about abuse of power, not technical crimes. The question of "reasonable doubt" belongs in a criminal trial, which is something Trump won't face until he's out of office. The Democrats' focus is where it should be.

  75. "I'm the constitution around here now" so said Louisiana's demagogue politician Huey Long. To the delight of the Russian leader Putin, up stepped another Louisiana politician, Sen. John Kennedy over the weekend to question the verifiable evidence that the Russians were responsible for intrusions into the last presidential election attempting to protect today's demagogue in the White House. So delighted was Putin to publicly announce that Russia was no longer the target but that the Ukraine was the culprit. Kennedy questioned any and all facts relating to Russian interference by stating that he could not substantiate, nor can anyone else, the findings of our own intelligence agencies. A US Senator siding with a foreign power in protecting our resident demagogue was outrageous.

  76. @Bob81+3: It's a reflection on how far this country has descended into autocracy. There's really not much left for the president to undo, except elections themselves, which many have predicted. A man who will cheat to be elected will have no qualms at all at simply stopping elections all together. Unless some real political desus ex machina happens, I can't see how anyone can stop this man, because a sizeable portion of the country seems happy to be led by an authoritarian.

  77. @ChristineMcM It wasn't until I saw the response to the Mueller report that I knew we were "toast." People either didn't "get it," were too lazy (unable?) to read it or flat just didn't care. It is an old story, as the article indicates. Here's an interesting tid-bit: My Dad taught Civics until the early 1950s when the administration decided Civics was no longer necessary. Down the slippery slope.

  78. @Bob81+3 Kennedy admitted to Chuck Todd that he was not briefed by the intel community as other senators were. WHY NOT? Where was he when these briefings were held; did none of his staff attend? He's not a fool, but given his talking points on Ukraine despite the facts, he's a traitor. He will be remembered thus when the histories of this era are written. The vile equivalency games that the GOP have played for years leads to such a corrupt stance: it isn't that Russia hacked (he admits they did), but why not Ukraine, too? He cited a number of sources, including the Guardian, who just this morning denied that any of their reporting fits Kennedy's stance on Ukraine also violating our election. Today's WaPo has a good essay going into Trump's screaming lies and gives them the rating of off the charts; maybe they should send this to Sen. Kennedy. Frankly, another matter that should be discussed vigorously and publicly is Trump's strategy meeting with a number of GOP senators last week. How is that NOT witness tampering? How can any trial have a credible outcome if the accused is huddling with the jurors??

  79. The SCOTUS should step up here and do their job. As with the Republican Senate, as long as the decisions conservatives favor keep coming from the Court, all else is ignorable, So why doesn't the Court clear the docket. Address the issues of executive privilege and congressional oversight sooner rather than later. Show Americans that this situation is the #1 priority for the country and not stand there and buff their nails and say "We can't fit you in until a week from 2021".

  80. @Walking Man Because they won't. If they fast track this, that sets a precedent. Then they might have to actually work.

  81. Bill Maher has said that a market crash would cause an auto-correct override, a dumping. The ripple effect of the next markets crash could ironically make Trump an environmental hero on his way out as global emissions would quickly drop. Win-win?

  82. So, as far as I can tell, the impeachment case is for Trump withholding military aide from Ukraine because Trump wanted them to investigate Joe & Hunter Biden, the latter receiving millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oil company, implicitly or explicitly to wield influence over Biden while he was Vice President. Had that investigation ever occurred, and the Bidens implicated in some fashion, it would have benefitted Trump's 2020 election campaign, assuming Joe Biden were to receive the Democratic nomination. I think where the Democratics and Main Stream Media are getting hung up is that their fundamental position is self-contradictory. In essence they take the position that it's perfectly fine to investigate a sitting U.S. President ad infinitum, yet it's off limits to investigate a private citizen who is running against him in a future election. Until the Trump adversaries can reconcile this self-contradiction in a principled way, they're not going to persuade anyone who doesn't already hate Trump.

  83. @hula hoop Actually, no. The difference is enormous. The Congress approved the aid to Ukraine. Trump, personally, held it up in order to coerce Ukraine into making the statement that they were going to investigate the Bidens. Not only is that a form of blackmail, but it's against what is best for the United States: helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia. If you are concerned that Biden's son had a position on a Ukrainian board, and made not millions, but 50G, why not have a closer look at Elaine Chao and Mitch McConnell?

  84. @hula hoop, it's that Trump asked a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

  85. @hula hoop Trump tried and again to use Congressionally-appropriated funds to advance his separate personal political success in 2020 by trying to bribe the Ukraine president. This is illegal. That it failed because it was revealed is no excuse. iI is conspiracy. Top level officials knew about this plan and furthered it including Pence. Hunter Biden used his contacts to game the system to get benefit, which is allowed in our money-saturated politics, but he was never a public official and had no conflict of interest doing so. There is no evidence of any kind from any source that Joe Biden swayed policy to benefit his son. No Democrat says not to investigate the Bidens. Don't coerce foreign countries with no due process to do so, or to meddle in our elections. You mix and conflate facts to create a fake narrative to mislead which is the calling card of this Administration. Own it.

  86. None seems to take into consideration the fact that the Supreme Court has injected the body politics with a poison: MONEY. The Republican Party has been completely corrupted by money. The Democrats are not too far behind. If the Chinese or the Russians want to bring about the fall of the American Empire, all they have to do is spend a few million dollars to buy all the politicians in Washington. They seem to have bought several so far.

  87. @Demo: Yes, by all means criticize the role of money in politics. But what influence would money have on decent, honest people? The founders may have feared an outlier of a president, but what happens when the body-politic at large is corrupt, without ethics, and without morals? Money is not the first source of corruption of humans.

  88. @Des Johnson Then what is? Money in politics allows for greater media penetration, which can be used to spread disinformation. Even the most vigilant, the most sophisticated about media and propaganda, are vulnerable to falling for lies. Money can make a politician ubiquitous and familiar to more people. I'm not sure the body politic is corrupt, just self-interested and easily mislead by the loudest voice.

  89. @HumplePi: Money can this, money can that! So principles, ethics, morals take a back seat to money? Were people not corrupt before the invention of money?

  90. His limited, largely unsuccessful background in a city known for corruption and crime makes his initial journey into politics and eventual success in gaining the keys to the highest office in the land fraught with challenges. He has never had to defend the Constitution - or even read it, most likely - so it is not the basis of his deal-making "skill." On the other hand, because of his background, he understands the tough-guy image and how successful bullies can be. That is what he brings to the table: the desire to be Imperious Leader, one to whom subjects must bow and never question. He sees everything he does as good and a "win," no matter who is under his feet while he stands. Our Founders came from such a background and they would, indeed, be fearful of the current leadership, none of whom were hired for competence, all of whom must submit to Imperious Leader.

  91. The Constitution made it harder to impeach a President than in other countries to depose a prime minister. Mr. Trump and his cabinet have no longer the support of the majority of the Congress; he has to go. The people of the US did not vote against him but also the way his cabinet manages the res publica.

  92. This impeachment process is one of the biggest challenges your country faces. If Trump is acquitted in the Senate (high probability) and wins the 2020 elections, your way of life will change for generations. You will not be able to reverse the damages done to your Democratic Institutions. That’s tragically true.

  93. @Efraín Ramírez -Torres Puerto Rico is part of the USA, and thus this is not about our country, but your's too.

  94. “Your country”? Puerto Rico is a part of this country, to the best of my knowledge.

  95. @Efraín Ramírez -Torres It's too bad that you say "your country" given that you are from Puerto Rico. Given the disregard shown by our President, I can understand why.

  96. I am left with a profound sense of despair as I look ahead to the 2020 elections, which are clearly under threat by President Trump’s demagoguery and the abdication of their duties by Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, together with the power of “State Media”, the damage to open, fair elections caused by voter suppression, and social media trolling and viral falsehoods. I sincerely hope that the American people prove me wrong.

  97. @Chris W Don't hold your breath. The American people are certain to disappoint next year.

  98. @Chris W I'm guessing you dont read any demogoguery in Bob Bauer's opinion piece.

  99. I am afraid that the only redeeming aspect of the impeaching process against this president will rest in the role that it will play in educating the public and motivating a critical mass of voters to remove him in 2020. And an additional service of the impeaching process will also include to provide a teachable moment for our future: This president, his party, their tools in the media, the manipulation of facts and of reasoning through a new subculture, a single issue fanatic base, and an office with too much power represent the worst danger today for the future of our democracy.

  100. @castrion Even if, by some miracle, Trump were ousted from office, he leaves behind a base that will not be placated by another chance at the ballot box. They feel Trump is their savior, that they are fighting for their god-given right to dominate, politically and culturally. Where do they go? They'll go wherever Trump goes, and I promise you he will not go quietly; nor will they. This isn't over, even if he is impeached and removed.

  101. @castrion I simply don't see how anyone can trust the election process with him in the game.

  102. I am afraid that the only redeeming aspect of the impeaching process against this president will rest in the role that it will play in educating the public and motivating a critical mass of voters to remove him in 2020. And an additional service of the impeaching process will also include to provide a teachable moment for our future: This president, his party, their tools in the media, the manipulation of facts and of reasoning through a new subculture, a single issue fanatic base, and an office with too much power represent the worst danger today for the future of our democracy.

  103. The Constitution can be corrected if We The People vote in large enough numbers to overcome the gerrymandering that makes the Electoral College more powerful than the majority of the people. It will then be upon the Democrats to modify the rules, possibly by initiating a Constitutional amendment, to forever eliminate partisan gerrymandering by any party in power. Only then can we hope to avoid being Trumped again by another despot like him.

  104. Also, ban dark money and require public financing of elections AND bring back the Fairness Doctrine so news sources would actually have to be fair and balanced.

  105. @Bob Gerrymandering is responsible for many sins, but it has little effect on the Electoral College. The problem with the electoral college is that voters in rural, thinly-populated states end up with far more electoral power than voters in highly-populated states. Hence a Wyoming voter’s vote has three times the electoral clout as a California voter’s. Republicans claim to despise voter fraud, but they love the fact that red-state Wyoming voters essentially get to cast three votes for president while blue-state Californians only get one vote.

  106. Frontier living favored violent people. This was celebrated as the Pioneer Spirit. We're way beyond clearing forests and driving wildlife to extinction, but we still celebrate frontier mindlessness. It's not evolution, but it is selection at work, and America has selected for force versus intellect.

  107. @Des Johnson well put, I would humbly reword your last sentence to say “... and America has selected for injustice and unfairness versus justice and fairness.” My rewording would be perhaps the way MLK would put it.

  108. Surely you don't think the "pioneers" of the 19th century were more violent than the revolutionaries of the 18th century? The very people who gave us our learned and comprehensive Constitution?

  109. Trump is far from our founding fathers’ worst nightmare. That dubious designation was achieved decades ago by the professional politician, who view holding political office as a lifetime career. Term limits would definitely have been incorporated into the articles of confederation perhaps even mandated down to the state level had they foreseen what our political system as devolved into.

  110. @George-ah, the ole term limits canard. With term-limited representatives rotating out before they even understand the system, how do you propose to unseat the unelected senior staffers who would actually end up being the real power behind the "temp" workers that would be the result of term limits?

  111. @George Term limits are not the answer. You fear a "Deep State"? Throw out all the Congressional Representatives just as they are beginning to understand the issues and how to govern, and no one is left who knows anything except the lobbyists and the permanent staffers. Who really has the power then? This is the Congress of the United States, not the local school board. There's a lot for anyone to learn before they can be effective.

  112. @BCasero The French tried term limits in their Second Republic. Result? When Louis Napoleon discovered that he couldn't stay in office as president, he proclaimed himself emperor instead, and stayed in office until he got his country into the disastrous Franco-Prussian War.

  113. Unfortunately, only the Democrats care about the Constitution in this moment. Republicans who votes "NO" on the removal of Trump are failing to keep the oath they took, this we know. They will do so to keep NRA money coming to them so they can win reelection so they can continue to vote against gun control, so they can continue to receive NRA money so they can win reelection...on and on. The GOP has sold their soul 100% to corrupt entities, thus becoming one themselves. What should worry us most is that the American people who support the GOP, and Trump, have lost all ability to see reality, have been taken in by the FOX propaganda, by Trump's lies, and maybe that is what the Founders should have feared most. I sense that only a severe economic downturn will change their thinking.

  114. @CJ: The US leads the global arms race when transformation to renewable energy is the world's most urgent need.

  115. @Steve Bolger Yes, failure to act on climate change is another way the GOP has sold out.

  116. The Democrats need to attack and tarnish his Republican supporters with the same label that Trump has earned: Lier in Chief, As of Aug. 5, his 928th day in office, he had made 12,019 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered.

  117. @Robert Pryor ...Too many American Voters prefer the Fox's Nation Alternative Fact Reality Show. They're Happy,they know it, and they clap their hands!! If it weren't for the Democrats taking over the House and recent elections being won by Democrats….we'd be no better than the Russians or the Chinese under oppressive Governments with their news coming from State TV! We need to take our cue from the recent elections in Hong Kong...with a 70% Voter Turnout!! VOTE BLUE No Matter WHO !!!

  118. The danger here is that those who oppose Trump will decide that the only remedy for a right wing demagogue is a left wing demagogue, and the political equivalent of a nuclear world war. At that point whomever wins will be deemed as illegitimate by at least 40% of the American people.

  119. @John Graybeard: I simply do not follow Trump. The man is a well of despair.

  120. @John Graybeard Hardly. Obama, a steadfast centrist, was declared an extremist demagogue by the GOP media & seen as illegitimate by 40% of the population. The Democrats could elect Ronald Reagan and the Republicans would declare war against him as a "left wing demagogue." The real danger is that the Democrats will keep pretending that the Republicans are acting in good faith.

  121. @John Graybeard Yet, I don't see a "left wing demagogue" on the horizon. False equivalencies don't count.

  122. This is what the decline of democracy looks like. There are similar but not exact parallels in history. For example, The Romans lost mos maiorum, a concept in Latin that is equivalent to Institutional Forbearance and Mutual Toleration. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt articulate the latter two concepts well in a 2018 book called How Democracies Die. Their examples come from all over the contemporary world, especially Latin America. According to the authors, Institutional Forbearance "means patient self-control; restraint or tolerance." The spirit of the law is constantly violated while the letter of the law may still be technically followed, at least dubiously. Any notion of shared ethics and morallity are destroyed by the people in power and their enablers. Thus, power is constantly abused not for the interest of the nation, but for the benefit of an individual or faction. Mutual Toleration refers to the idea that "rivals play" by the same "constitutional rules." Both sides share power and view each other as legitimate. Both of these notions are in decay and will be further eroded as long as Trump remains president. The base and Congressional Republicans follow him like scared sycophants dazzled by his criminal acumen. I hardly recommend reading this book for the purpose of at least understanding what is occurring not only here but around the world.

  123. @William I: In 1953, as nuclear physics and quantum mechanics began to reveal what God ostensibly had to know to make a universe, this crazy nation took the name of God in vain to stop its public from thinking too hard.

  124. @William I Did you not mean “heartily” rather than “hardly” in your last sentence?

  125. While the cowering Republicans in the congress pretend to not get it, even if Biden or his son were guilty of something, which is unproven, the Constitution says a president may not do what Trump has admittedly done. Whataboutism is not a defense, and neither is "his crime failed, so there is no problem".

  126. @rich Yes. The press, and the people, need to learn better how to spot the tools of propaganda and diffuse them. Whataboutism is getting old. "What About Hunter Biden" has nothing to do with Trump's alleged crimes. "But Her Emails" has nothing to do with Trump's self-enrichment crimes while President. "Benghazi" has nothing to do with Trump's bribery in the Oval Office. Americans repeat Russian propaganda. I'm really, really worried.

  127. @rich Bank robbers go to prison even if they don't get any money. It seems some Repubs can't figure that out.

  128. @rich So true, under Criminal Law, an attempt to break the law is a crime.

  129. The issues go substantially beyond those that Mr. Bauer lays out. He does not address many anti-democratic antecedents that have led to the present situation. For example, the senate that will likely exonerate Trump is inherently undemocratic at the national level, allowing a relatively small minority of the national population, in particular from states with very low populations that tend also to be very conservative, to dominate that body. The electoral college is also obviously undemocratic. But equally, the democratic party has abdicated its championing of the majority by catering to the wealthy in everything from tax laws, monopoly corporate power, to the weakened social safety net, education system, and unions for the past four decades, which is really republican lite. This has led to disinterest and disenfranchisement of many non-voters, especially citizens of color. Efforts at gerrymandering and voter suppression have contributed also to this. The democratic party itself has contributed greatly to the present situation, and only a renewed (or new) party that takes democracy at all levels seriously, including and especially the economy, can remedy this.

  130. @Doug A clear and concise summary of several of the most important considerations that need to be taken into account in the future if the US is to remain 'the greatest democracy on Earth'. Thank you.

  131. @Doug very well said! Ralph Nader called them Republicrats, and a real second party must arise to defeat them and the false duality they represent. Bernie/AOC!

  132. @Doug: Those small populations are easy to buy, particularly where people are poorly educated.

  133. This is the most crystal clear explanation of the Framers' views on the remedies for behaviors they thought inimical to the public interest I've read so far. This essay lays out in no uncertain terms the President's behavior that Hamilton described in Federalist 65 as a betrayal of the public trust, a level of corruption and self-dealing that certainly has not happened in the Oval Office in our lifetime. The threat to our Constitutional Republic is clear. But I have absolutely zero faith in the Party of Trump to repent, blinded by its own political power and self-interest. And so will read the obituary of the United States of America.

  134. The article did not cover the real reason the impeachment is likely to fail: Senate Republicans covering up for their leader. The Founders did not anticipate political parties and thought the main conflicts would be between branches of government; hence they hoped that Congress would hold the President in check.

  135. It takes more than demagoguery to undermine the political process. In a non-partisan or bipartisan environment, Trump could lie, addle, and misdirect all he wants. The result would be impeachment by the House and removal by the Senate. The real problem here is that Trump owns every GOP Senator by virtue of their putting their own careers and party loyalty before loyalty to the US and its Constitution.

  136. It is hard to understand the position of Republicans and the Republican party unless you realize that they have past the point of no return with Trump. If Trump goes down on impeachment, the Republicans realize that many more things will come forward about the corruption/incompetency of this administration. Once the base sees Trump and his administration (e.g. when they start investigating Kushner's side deals) they will turn quickly And given the years they provided no oversight or counter to this, the elected Republicans realize they will be years, maybe decades in the political wilderness.

  137. @Ed We can only hope! But meanwhile, it's all hands on deck to defeat all candidates from the GOP.

  138. What is needed is massive grassroots protests in every state. Unequivocal condemnation by voters for any breech of the law. Impeachment by popular vote is what is left. May all the Trump supporters in Congress suffer political defeat.

  139. @Boarat of NYC Protests are fine, but in the end massive turnout at the ballot box 11/20 is the answer. And anyone who votes third-party because the Dem nominated candidate doesn't suit them, even though you oppose Trump, YOU ARE CULPABLE.

  140. It’s sweet that so many Americans still believe there is a chance of a fair election next year.

  141. Yes, demagoguery will not go away quietly. We must have the fortitude to uphold the Constitution and go out to vote this fraud out of office along with those who willingly buttress the demagogue with their support. Sekulow, Giuliani, Grahm, McConnell, Nunes et al all know better yet they clearly refuse to unbridle their inner truth about Trump. Making money and holding on to their perceived power at any cost do not seem like positive longterm plans. The push to our better future is overwhelming and all the king's men and women will not be able to hold on in the face of real facts.

  142. I think it long since time that we stop giving Trump’s enablers the benefit of the doubt.

  143. @Leslie Duval fascism can’t be voted out of power, it has to be driven out, and I would add, by revolution.

  144. Perhaps because Jefferson was not part of the Federalist Papers, they do not address the need to create a well educated citizenry. Yet Trump and the Republican Party he now represents are a reflection of a people completely ill prepared to be part of a government that is of, by, and for the people. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were so terrified of the forces of majority, they failed to argue for systems that would prepare the people to use the limited powers given them in the Constitution. Until we fix the way people learn to be citizens, we will be in continuous danger of more Trumps.

  145. @Judith MacLaury A well-educated citizenry may be a difficult goal, but we could at least ensure well-educated leaders ( rather than the current semi-literate President) by requiring candidates to pass tests of their competence. The Chinese Empire thought of that two thousand years ago.

  146. @Charlesbalpha It is the people who select the leaders. If they have no sense of what a democracy is and therefore what it needs, they will more likely choose someone like Trump.

  147. If the GOP keep feigning concern about Hunter Biden taking money from a company that resides within an allied nation, the Dems need to more publicly demonstrate their concern about the Trump organization and Trump's whole family being funded by our enemies.

  148. @LauraNJ, I would love to see an investigation of how Jared Kushner’s real estate business has been financed since 2016. And yet, Trump’s base won’t care if the man Trump has assigned such a broad set of responsibilities is beholden to foreign investors. Perhaps someone should remind them that the UAE are Islamic states. That’ll cause cognitive dissonance.

  149. It is too soon to conclude that we can no longer say "the sytem works." Impeachment is about bringing the perpetrator to account whether he is ejected from office or not.

  150. Unfortunately, the real heart of the problem is that Americans have demonstrated that they (we) are ready to abandon democracy in exchange for a corrupt, semi-totalitarian regime, and an inability to tell the difference. If/when Trump crashes, the next one will certainly understand and exploit this readiness. Maybe the onset of social media has outstripped many Americans' ability to separate reason from propaganda. Hopefully, we will develop the ability to perceive and resist the increasingly sophisticated tools of manipulation available to those who control the media.

  151. @Matt " Americans have demonstrated that they (we) are ready to abandon democracy" Democrats certainly demonstrated that when they removed an issue from democratic control in 1973, knowing that they could not win It on a level playing field. They're still trying to keep it from democratic control.

  152. @charles: Basic human rights aren’t up for debate.

  153. @Matt I think that was what Rudi was trying to tell us- “truth is not truth”, even all reason is propaganda. Orwell was exactly right- he who controls the present controls the past and the future. America is not under a semi-totalitarian regime, it’s under a total fascist dictatorship.

  154. The strategy will probably work. However, almost any strategy will probably work. The founders set the bar for impeachment so high practically no one can be removed from office. Removal is intentionally a bipartisan affair. The political cost to the President's party has to be higher than the political cost of removing the President. McConnell has made the political determination to stay with the President. We'll see if his leadership holds sufficient sway over the Senate. If even a handful of Republican Senators break ranks, Trump's defense is compromised. In the court of public opinion, Trump needs a straight party line vote or he looks like a fool more than a demagogue. I sense a certain weakness. Trump was running local ads all weekend on prime time holiday football basically begging voters to call Rep. Ben McAdams. He's lobbying the public to lobby McAdams not to impeach. Lobbying House Democrats to prevent impeachment doesn't exactly exude confidence. Trump clearly doesn't want to go to trial. What's funnier is Trump is appealing to Ben McAdams of all people. He doesn't seem to realize McAdams won his seat as a rebuke to Mia Love's support for Trump. Utah is Republican but even the Republicans don't like Trump. Running anti-impeachment campaign ads in Salt Lake City seems like an odd strategy too. I wouldn't have thought to write McAdams a letter until I saw Trump's ad. Now I think I'll drop him a note: Impeach.

  155. @Andy "Removal is intentionally a bipartisan affair." It may be interpreted that way now, but it wasn't "intentionally a bipartisan affair" since there were, and are no parties, in the Constitution. Without parties it couldn't be envisioned as either partisan or bi-partisan.

  156. While the Founders may have envisioned the demagogue’s political supporters providing cover, they never contemplated a similarly corrupt Fourth Estate; Trump is who he is, where he is, and poised to pull off the destruction of our Constitution, thanks to FOX News. Ruppert and Lachlan Murdoch, the men behind this curtain, are equally to blame for the concurrent destruction of a true free press.

  157. @JS from NC I couldn't agree with you more.

  158. @JS from NC FOX has been empowered by the removal of the Fairness Doctrine which allows them to cover the parts of events that encourage and support their own capitalist and market over all perspective regardless of the truth of that view. This distortion and outright lying about events is so complete that most of what they do is propaganda now and not news.

  159. @JS from NC Who would have thought that our undoing would come from Australia? (Rupert Murdoch is Australian)

  160. The main reason I believe that it's not only difficult to impeach Trump today but to run America period by Constitution is that the Constitution has been stretched this way and that for so long by both parties and with so many added language games, that it's almost impossible to operate by it anymore; in other words, if there was something clear about it in first place, it's certainly a document with more noise than signal now and we all are living in something of alternate, multiverse realities with respect to Constitution. Take the main charge against Trump today: He tried to enlist foreign help in investigating a rival and the Constitution prohibits that. But anyone understands for decades Americans have lived in an environment in which we are constantly told we are all immigrants, all from elsewhere, or even worse, that the land was stolen from the indigenous inhabitants, and the entire immigration process is in shambles (south border), and America is entangled in any number of ways with foreigners, so how are we to select out of all that confusion the legal course to punish of all people, the President? I've said before, as an American, I place no great stock in the Constitution, that in fact it seems absurd to me to swear an oath to it, but this does not mean I hate America or being an American, it's just that I really don't understand what people are talking about. I don't understand swearing on Constitution or Bible. Nothing's clear to me anymore.

  161. @Daniel12 I think if one applies ethics the path becomes clear: POTUS took taxpayer money and tried to use it to bribe a foreign government for his own benefit. It was not his money, and legally he did not have the right to hold up disbursement of the money. Then just add a lot of lying by seemingly everyone involved.

  162. @Daniel12 ""the Constitution has been stretched this way and that for so long " Historians have pointed out that the US Constitution is practically the oldest document of its type in the world. The British don't have a written Constitution ( and are currently learning what a problem that can be) and most other Constitutions are no earlier than the nineteenth century.

  163. @ms " POTUS took taxpayer money and tried to use it to bribe a foreign government for his own benefit. He also took taxpayer money earmarked for the military and used it to fund a pet building project.

  164. Can the U.S. Constitution withstand this attack by the President and the Republican party? If it can't, it wasn't much of a safeguard against demagogues after all.

  165. @Ed Mahala The Constitution itself must be supported by the electorate, or else it is enfeebled. Trump would be gone if enough Americans said enough is enough.

  166. It has been clear to me for some time that Mitch McConnell's Senate won't take its constitutional role seriously. From publicly committing to one-term Obama presidency all the way to the theft of the supreme court seat (and every egregious malfeasance in between), McConnell has allowed his party's desire for power to trump its constitutional responsibilities. The real irony is that by making the Congress weaker, Trump makes the Republican party stronger. A danger the founders clearly foresaw. With a corrupt party in power and an overly deferential Supreme Court ensconced, the only way to right the listing ship of state is through the ballot box. The citizenry has the power to make the system work. Will it rise up to perform its constitutional duty? The people cannot rely on either the legislature or the courts to right the listing ship of state. The only thing left that will make the system work

  167. @g. harlan Given the way you describe the situation I am afraid that rather than righting the ship of state will turn turtle!

  168. @g. harlan "he citizenry has the power to make the system work. Will it rise up to perform its constitutional duty?" The easy answer to our question is 'of course not-- it fialed in its uty in 2016 -- and have you herd the Rally-mob and his sycophantic politicians sing his praises despite all his malfeasance incompetence and cruel venality?

  169. What I don't understand is the long term game of the Republicans elected officials. Suppose Trump survives the trial in the Senate, as seems likely, and then wins reelection in 2020, although that is less likely. The question is and then what? What the future holds with a clearly incapacitated man at the helm? It will be such an unmitigated disaster for the GOP , the Country and the World that is difficult to imagine.

  170. @Bernardo Izaguirre MD I too have questions about the long game, not so much concerned with the Party of Trump, but for the people of the United States of America. What portions of our Constitution will they openly ignore, actively nullify, or explicitly amend? What is the future of uniquely American concepts of civil liberty and social justice? Will the whole idea of personhood be thrown on its head, going full monty to give corporate persons unlimited power? Will we have the Amazon Great Smokies National Park, and the Goldman Sachs Grand Canyon?

  171. @Bernardo Izaguirre MD - Could it be that at that point Putin makes his move to step in and fully dismantle our democracy, casting Trump and the Republicans aside with the rest of us? . . . To me, impeachment in the House will happen, conviction in the Senate won't--although I see some defections by Republicans based on Trump's refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the process, but not enough to convict. The 2020 election thus becomes of supreme importance, and when, God willing, thinking voters in the right places to overcome the effect of the gerrymandered electoral college turn Trump out, things may well turn even worse. That's when our system, the rule of law, and. ultimately, the Supreme Court, will face their most severe tests. Will they, and we, be up to it?

  172. @Bernardo Izaguirre MD If Trump wins re-election in 2020, then we will all get to witness the crowning of Queen Ivanka the First of America in 2024. Either way, Republicans don't have to burden themselves with things like "integrity" or "independent thought" ever again.

  173. Of course an impeachment overturns the results of an election. The Founders knew that when they included impeachment as a provision of the Constitution. That's why they put it in there.

  174. @Clark Landrum, absolutely correct. If the founders had wanted a different way than undoing an election, they could have included a recall or made a more parliamentary system.

  175. @Clark Landrum But keep in mind that if the president is impeached, his/her party retains the office of POTUS. It could have been set up differently. So unless Pence would also be impeached and removed, the Repubs still have their party in power. So if you want to call it overturning an election, fine, but I think that is a more of dog-whistle than a reasonable description.

  176. Trump supporters, FOX, etc. want to frame it as "overturning an election". That may be the result of impeachment, but not it's intent. The intent is to debate whether or not the president has crossed a line.

  177. "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power," -Michael Cohen President Trump [sic] floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.” - Washington Post Surviving Mueller, with a big assist from Attorney General William Barr, Trump believes that he has legal super powers. With Twitter, Fox, conservative radio and endless rallies he has communication super powers. With the Republican party under control he has political super powers. The Supreme Court is tilted his way giving him judicial super powers. What he does with all that power remains to seen.

  178. We are seeing in real time what he is doing with those powers. He is enriching himself, friends, and family while shredding our democracy. He is letting the world burn now for short term gain and long term pain. He is negatively affecting the lives of just about every living thing on this planet.

  179. @99.9 Ye, and he's working hard to subvert and co-opt the military, maybe the last hope for enforcement of the Constitution and the will of th people. Isn't that how demagogues eventually fall? maybe the ermaining elite Seals whom he has geviously offended and tainted by rewarding war crimes with pardons, will act on their loylty to their Oath and dispatch him in a manner in keeping with their skills. A pathetic situation, of course, but a fond fantasy.

  180. Impeachment of a president was meant to be difficult, and removal by conviction in the Senate was intended to be even harder. By the same token, we can overthink these events and forget that impeachment is a step-by-step process in which an end result seemingly unlikely at the start, becomes very doable – if there is strong evidence of presidential misconduct and, particularly, if the president defies the process and insults the American people in his defiance. The difference between conservatives and liberals is that the former regard the Constitution as an inert document, trapped in a time capsule of 1780 to about 1790. Liberals see the Constitution as a living document, enriched and clarified by centuries of experience. Donald Trump chose to conduct his presidency as a family-owned business in which he makes every decision and is not answerable to anyone except the electorate, when he seeks a second term. Trump asserts a power impervious to the will of Congress, and whether he really believes he is above the law or makes the assertion as to discredit the process is irrelevant. Donald Trump and his supporters – including Republican officials who have bowed to his will – are in a political life-and-death struggle with Democrats. Those of us who are Democrats, together with Americans who are Independents and those traditional Republicans who do not buy into the mumbo-jumbo of an imperial presidency must push forward. We may lose, but we have a duty not to capitulate.

  181. @sdw The impeachment dilemma, I thinks is that there cannot be winners, only losers. If the president is convicted and ousted, the national tumult has the potential to become something very like a civil war. If he escapes conviction, though, his chances of re-election will be enhanced. The question is: what messages for posterity will be sent. If he's acquitted, one would be that future presidents are free to defraud the public interest. If he's convicted, one message will be that the public will not tolerate malfeasance, no matter what the social consequences might be.

  182. @sdw Those authors of the constitution would have been appalled by our current circumstance. They predicted that someone like Trump would eventually be elected president. What they did not predict was that the Congress would so happily abandon its powers and duties.

  183. @sdw There is a third view of the Constitution, espoused by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, and well explained in Stephen Budiansky's recent biography. The Constitution is static, but the country changes, and the country continues to view the Constitution through an ever-changing lens. Things that were unimaginable in 1787, like social media and academic studies of propaganda, have relevance, despite no explicit enumeration. My personal opinion is that Trump is the latest and greatest manifestation of the Jacksonian original sin: The executive branch has seized too much power from the others. In our world so distant from 1787, it is inevitable that Congress cede some power. Each military, diplomatic, environmental, and economic decision cannot be the result of debate among 535 elected representatives. But I've read the Federalist Papers, and I believe Congress has yielded too much. Trump, as in all things, takes this problem to an extreme. He needs to be reined in, and impeachment may be the only way to get the message across. But equally his successors should cede legislative power back to the legislature.

  184. i was completely shocked 3 years ago when a demagogue of most dubious charakter and with no empathy at all got elected. at the same time i was confident that he would be controlled by the famous american checks & balances. how naive of me to believe so. in the meantime i am disillusioned, tired, incredulous and depressed (like so many of you) to the point that i even unsubscribed from the ny times because i feel that i need a break from the news. this is one of the last editions i am receiving and one of the last comments i am writing. what i find so frustrating is that as a non american i have no chance to help change a situation that i regard as dangerous and frightening not only for america but for the world and the planet. the democracy of the western superpower is at great risk and there is nothing i can do. fortunately there are us politicians, government officials and state employees who have the courage to stand up against corruption, lies and despotism, risking thereby their own and their families safety. they do need the strong support of the citizens. the wealthy part of the country, banks, insurance companies, gun lobby, pharmaceuticals and large corporations will not be of any help as long as the economy and the stock market are to their gusto. they would rather sell their grandmas and the planet. the onus is completely on you american voters. good luck!

  185. @umucatta " a demagogue of most dubious charakter and with no empathy at all got elected" Trump was not elected; Hillary Clinton was. Trump got into office due to a flaw in the Constitution. I wish people would stop talking as if Trump was the people's choice as a leader.

  186. Whether it’s the ballot box or the hand of God which strikes down the president first is immaterial to me. I just want this tumult to be over as soon as possible. To me making America great again entails a return to a time when the president represented the nation and not just himself. Please God.

  187. @Doug McNeill god helps those who help themselves. get out the vote and throw the bums out

  188. @Doug McNeill Millions here and around the world are praying for the same thing! Justice will be served. The day of reckoning will come.

  189. @Doug McNeill I say Amen to your excellent summation, Doug. Yours is the succinct message we need to bring home.

  190. At this point, maybe we should have been a Monarchy. At least we’d have Tradition and SOME Dignity. Thanks, GOP.

  191. Is not the ultimate fear a Supreme Court, hand picked by McConnell and Trump, will ignore Constitutional demands to hold the Presidency accountable? Republicans believe they own the country because their political patrons pay more taxes than the rest of us. Republican hate taxes, if THEY have to pay them. Trump knows that every Republican will line up behind him, because they are just like him.

  192. @JLM I don't think these Republican politicians believe they deserve to own the country, but rather, I believe that they are willing to give up all principles to seize that power. How to counteract them, without becoming like them, is the challenge. In the end, it is the electorate that needs to wake up and stop this madness. Not sure it will, though.

  193. "When this is all over, we will not hear warm bipartisan praise for how “the system worked.” The lesson will be that, in the politics of the time, a demagogue who gets into the Oval Office is hard to get out." This is almost unpardonably luxurious realism in this swamp of fevered self-pity we've been reduced to. The expression, "getting the government we deserve" has begun to mean something again. Every concession to Republican tribalism has harbored a knowing fascination with its poison. Now there is nothing intriguing left in it, and it may break the system to salvage the state.

  194. At the end of the day this is a battle between those that believe in the ideas of the Enlightenment and those that do not. At the end of the day this is a battle between those that believe that the path to god is via observation, data, reason and logic versus those that think it is via some miraculous revelation. This battle is being fought in the USA via politics today. It will no doubt at some point in the coming decades move from the political arena to the violence arena. The end result with be a totalitarian state run by one world view or the other or out right political genocidal civil war where one group will obliterate the other. There is always the hope that both world views would compromise to prevent the above. But given the Normalcy Bias of the average American that things will be fine, I doubt it. Six million people ignored the warning signs in the early 1930's and did not act. They paid the price with the total destruction of their families. The great American middle with their Normalcy Bias and their heads stuck in the sand should learn a lesson from that. I would bet they will not.

  195. Impeachment is a political operation. As such, it is still carried out in a legalistic manner. Here, the House draws up and votes on articles of impeachment. The Senate then must conduct the political equivalent of a trial wherein the House must "prove" its allegations. If we were to attend a legal trial, I fully believe that the defense, in this case President Trump, would not bare its defense ahead of the trial. In other words, why should Trump cooperate with the Dems?

  196. @Bill Revealing their defense is one thing; refusing subpoenas, not providing documents, and failing to cooperate with the process is another. This is why he must be removed: he has broken his oath to uphold the nation’s laws.

  197. @Bill True that the defense should come during the trial phase, which would be in the Senate. The PROBLEM is the complaining coming from the GOP and Trump about not being able to launch their defense during what is the investigation (intelligence committee) and Grand Jury (judicial committee) phases, neither of which involve the defense portion of any kind of trial...and after complaining endlessly about how "unfair" this was, refusing to participate when invited to do so. Trump got no less than Nixon or Clinton during their impeachments, in fact was offered more. Trump's constant complaining and the GOP attempts to de-legitimize the process has only confused the public and distorted the facts. He deserves impeachment more than any President in our history, if for not other reason than his destructive and dangerous rhetoric which threatens democracy, and his fantasy that his office gives him the right to do whatever he wants. He has no respect for the office, none whatsoever. He will likely not be removed because the Senate GOP is in his thrall, but if we don't plant the stain of impeachment or at the very least censure upon him, we will have unleashed authoritarian power upon us all.

  198. You are absolutely correct-what Trump has repeatedly done is called Obstruction of Justice, an impeachable offense; as well the breaking of his oath to the Constitution and Abuse of Power in so many ways- 3 Articles of Impeachment at the very least.

  199. Impeachment is a political process. The Founders believed that members of Congress would place the law and country over politics. Those beliefs have been utterly destroyed in today's world of pervasive mind control propaganda. There is a solution. As soon as the Democrats take control of Congress and the White House, they should pass a law that any president can be indicted in criminal court. This way, the judicial branch can keep the executive in check and subservient to the law. It is obvious that the legislative can no longer serve that function. Our judicial system is mostly fair and offers good protection to the citizenry, especially the monied class. Poor people, not so much. The protections offered the citizens should be good enough for the president also. If the executive does not want to be subject to indictments and prosecutions, then do what we do. Don't break the law.

  200. @Bruce Rozenblit The reason for not allowing for prosecution, is that a president might easily be embroiled by unending litigation from a minority of voters. We can add all sorts of rules and laws, but as long as a president holds the support of so many in congress, any rule or law we create can be subverted

  201. @Bruce Rozenblit Good idea, but the SCOTUS will get in the way.

  202. @Bruce Rozenblit Sorry, but that is a terrible idea. You would be giving every individual prosecutor in the country the power to make the federal government virtually grind to a halt. Remember Scott Pruitt and his repeated suits against the EPA? Or the late Jim Garrison and his crazy conspiracy theory about the Kennedy assassination? I am a criminal defense lawyer. There is a truism in my profession that a determined prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. And you want to empower hundreds of Scott-Pruitt-types to indict a president? No, no, no, no, no.

  203. Even when Bill Clinton lied to a grand jury, and obstructed justice, he successfully defended himself by claiming that the root cause was too trivial to be impeachable. The root of this escape hatch is our societal acceptance of ignorance of the Constitution, and our embrace of the idea that it has no fixed meaning. Both Obama and Clinton taught Constitutional Law, and neither of them was adept at explaining things when challenged on the constitutionality of their actions. Trump has expanded upon their actions by promulgating the extreme theory that any political interest at all trumps whatever the Constitution and case law have to say about any subject at all.

  204. What was not noted was that Trump has a friendly mass media outlet in the form of Fox News to help him reinforce his message in a way that legitimizes it for many. Fox News viewership is 50% higher than MSNBC and more than double CNN. If you were to extrapolate for viewership by location I'm certain that you would find that the vast majority of MSNBC and CNN viewers are concentrated in more densely populated areas that are typically more liberal/Democratic and in the large swaths of the country that are less densely populated and conservative/Republican that Fox News is almost the exclusive news outlet. Also, what has been lost on many who follow Fox is an apparent loss of separation between the news and the opinion segments of the network. The dichotomy of the network is very interesting in its extent and the viewership would be an interesting study to understand how many followers there are are the two halves of the network. The question that this all leads to is if Trump would be in this strong of a position with the journalistic based news that existing in the last millennium versus the opinion dominated media landscape of today.

  205. The Nixon and Clinton impeachments had a clear underlying crime, committed by the president or covered up by him. There is no such clear underlying crime here. The argument is about what Trump actually did - on that there is no agreement; and if we agree on what he did do, was that illegal or, failing that, a gross - and I mean gross - abuse of power. None of those elements are here. Nobody is confused, and nobody is confused because of FOX or because they are uneducated, as a few posters have so helpfully volunteered. It's not confusion - it's the knowledge that nothing worth impeaching has occurred. Whether they read the Constitution or not, the public instinctively knows that impeachment must be for something "big". Instead, the Democratic Party has subverted the Constitution by manufacturing a misdemeanor, a pretext, (when it could not plausibly find another excuse, the Mueller report having fizzled) by, among other things, using a fake whistleblower, thus subverting the whistleblower law. The Democratic Party has engaged in the exact behavior the Framers were worried about when they created the impeachment language: that impeachment will be used for purely political and partisan purposes. My expectation is that all this will become abundantly clear through the impeachment process - and I believe that's why Democrats may want to impeach but not actually go through a Senate trial. In fact, Rep. Pelosi's view of the wisdom of impeachment is still in question.

  206. @John Xavier III "....impeachment must be for something 'big'. " A President with-holding vitally needed military aid from an allied nation that is fighting for it's life- in an attempt to obtain political dirt on a domestic political opponent is not 'big'? Trump has repeatedly said that it is OK for him to obtain political-intelligence help from foreign nations ("Russia, are you listening?"). ( And Republicans, I am sure, would be fine if a Democratic President did this? ) Should foreign election assistance not be enough for Trump to win a election -what is his next step? Call in foreign military aid? If America allows Trump to keep going down the road he is going- the Republic is going to be over.

  207. @John Xavier III If all his conduct is so above board, why has Trump stonewalled all attempts at information gathering around the case? Why have White House staff been explicitly barred from testifying in front of House committees? And, if his actions were in the interest of the USA, why was the Trump foreign policy being managed by his personal lawyer - a man with no current elected or appointed role in government? Last, as you likely know, the only reason the Mueller investigation “fizzled” was that DOJ practice is not to indict a sitting president.

  208. John Xavier III - If this is true, that “there is no such clear underlying crime here,” would you agree that if someone pointed a gun at you, pulled the trigger and missed that, “there is no clear underlying crime here”? Suppose, that someone was a personal friend that was really miffed at you for a bit, then pulled out the gun, fired, and missed, but then fell on his knees and asked your forgiveness. Then, an hour later, you showed the bullet hole in the wall to someone else and described what actually happened, while the smell of gunpowder was still in the air. If that person reported it as attempted murder to the police, would they be incorrect? If the police brought in your friend and found powder residue on his hand and clothes, wouldn’t their investigation be second hand? I have read the transcripts, both of the call and of witnesses who testified to the Intelligence Committee. If “there is no clear underlying crime here”, then attempted murder is not a crime.

  209. What a great editorial. I don't pretend to understand the evil forces that Trump has set loose in our country, but the are they are real, formidable and have always existed below the veneer of civilization. Remember slavery, what we did to native Americans, what we did to immigrants, etc. The battle is with our own human nature so there will never be a total victory. But perhaps one good outcome might be a greater respect for the truth. The truth always exists but it belongs to nobody. Yet, without it there is chaos and chaos is misery. Civilization, however fragile, depends on the truth. Folks will eventually prefer it over Trump because they will tire of the misery.

  210. I doubt it.

  211. The last three words of this writing should be startling and chilling at the same time. He "will be hard to get out", is a vast understatement. One of my fears about this rogue presidency is that he will not allow for a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election. He will challenge the election process, the vote count, and he will call for his base to not except the results. Another fear of mine is that there will be blood in the streets when he refuses to leave. Hard to get out, indeed.

  212. @Armo Difficult to predict; unforseen changes / events. I would guesstimate that, in any case, the USA is headed into a long slog into increasing obscurity. Old story.

  213. @Armo True. He'll be hard to get out, much like a blood stain. Just ask Lady Macbeth.

  214. I’m teaching Orwell to high school Freshmen now. The parallels are terrifying. The connections between the past he satirized and our living present shed light on the tenuous salience of morality and truth most of all. The president exploited his power over a weaker and dependent nation to benefit himself personally. That is wrong, illegal even, right? It’s how I define corruption for students. Yet in the doublespeak of the president’s allies, it isn’t; it’s fine, perfect, common place. Intellectually, I understand how we got here. Emotionally, I’m still shocked that it is possible to have sunk so low.

  215. @Douglas Monroe Orwell was footnoted in Judges statement against Trump.

  216. This is why George Washington warned against political parties. The impeachment system will not function when all views of the situation are based on partisan lines. The founders anticipated a battle between the executive, judicial and legislative, which was prescient, as well as North and South. But they failed to anticipate a battle between left and right.

  217. @Kenneth: I think the US founders threw the baby out with the bathwater when they failed to build on the parliamentary system. It is a naturally-evolved accommodation of the human tendency to aggregate into groups to represent common interests.

  218. The blame for this falls on the segment of the American people that continue to support him despite obvious reasons not to. Our form of government will exist only so long as we have the character to keep it. I await November 2020 with great trepidation.

  219. @ Robert- Republican support from the people of this country has been won simply because Republicans have become the masters of bait and switch. Tell those people what they want to hear. Tell those people their jobs will be safe. Tell those people there will be food on the table. Get their votes, then implement the policies they wanted to all along, which always – ALWAYS- leave those same supporters with absolutely nothing. But because so many people, especially those on the lower end of the economic spectrum, are single issue voters, they seem to be far more willing to believe that one lie and hold that one lie to their hearts in continued support for their Republican “saviors” that allows them to lie to themselves, thinking that the GOP has their backs. The GOP hasn’t had anybody’s back for decades, possibly since the inception of the party.  

  220. @Patrick Sewall In fact, neither party is as it was in the 1860's-essentially they each has done a 180 degree change.

  221. The problem is that it turns out that the demagogue is not nearly as big a threat as demagoguery itself, which the Republican Party has been using as a political tactic to delegitimize Democrats for the last fifty years. Trump is the logical result of Republican tactics that have evolved from Nixon’s “silent majority,” to Atwater’s Wille Horton dog whistle, Newt Gingrich’s portrayal of Democrats as the antithesis of Americanism, all the way to depicting Obama as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose. One can see now the increasingly explicit nature of the tactics and demagoguery until finally it becomes a very small step for the party faithful to endorse Donald Trump who “says what I’ve always been thinking” and “tells it like it is.” His supporters have spent a lifetime being primed for this message by the Republican Party. Now that Trump has taken off the sheep’s clothing and consolidated the support of conservative voters, the so-called adults in the Republican room have only two bad choices— admit they’ve been cynically exploiting insecurities about race for political gain or admit that they too, in their hearts believe what Trump believes. Either way, the real threat to democracy turns out to be, not the demagogue in the White House, but the ones holding the majority in the Senate.

  222. in part this seems an argument for reconsidering the supreme court. ever since the partisan decision stopping the florida vote count and giving the presidency to george w bush, the court has been compromised. this is potentially detrimental to everyday cases and potentially disastrous for anything related curbing a president and party run amok.

  223. For the Constitution to work as envisioned by its framers, those officials in the process must decide to work in a direction that fulfills the greater good rather than their own ambitions. We have seen how this is playing out. Also, as much as Mr Trump cries "fake news!" the bottom line is as it has always been, the demagogue will prosper if enabled by a press with a shared vision. Between the GOP congress, Fox News and Trump, there is no daylight; mendacity and bullying are the means to ride out the storm.

  224. I believe that the author has missed one major point of history leading to the problems with impeachment. In the text of the Constitution, as originally written, the power to remove a President was held by people selected by their own state’s legislature. They had double protection from a demagogue. First, Senators were selected, not elected. The state legislatures picked Senators for their state, Senators were not elected by the people. Each state was assumed to have local issues that controlled the election of their legislature. And during the time of our Founders, it was difficult to manage a truly national campaign. Part of this protection against a demagogue was that every Senator serves for six years at a time. This meant the President needed to be in the last half of his second term for every Senator to have been chosen during or after his first term. The progressive era gave us direct election of Senators, a move to make this country more democratic (not necessarily more Democratic). But doing so increased the probability that a strong enough demagogue could control their political party to the point that removal from office after an impeachment was not realistic.

  225. @ASPruyn -- It's like doctors and attorneys overseeing themselves. It's completely corrupted, when the members have no ethics, principles, nor love of country.

  226. @ASPruyn: It takes three successive elections over six years to turn over the whole US Senate. This in a world where nuclear annihilation can happen in 20 minutes. Parliamentary democracies can change the direction of public policy in one election.

  227. @Steve Bolger -- Nevertheless, we can never give in, not until our dying breath. This is that important. Stop supporting the idea that there is nothing we can do. Stop supporting candidates who will only tell you what we CAN'T do. If you would give up that easily, I question your commitment to any of it, including your rights and your freedom.

  228. The failure here is that of the Republicans in Congress. Most have betrayed any allegiance to the constitution (and thus our country), or they have quietly left their jobs in Congress, still without criticizing Mr Trump. And the blame for our country's current crisis also lies with those doggedly loyal Ever Trumpers. A number of readers here will shudder at this suggestion: I believe that conservatives as usually defined, and liberals like me, have a rather similar vision for American and its residents. We may differ on preferred paths, but the end point, pretty close. That is something that can be built upon. The path to success is currently blocked by those staunch Trump supporters, a minority of Democrats, by the social media platforms they use, and those in the media that seek the profits of sowing discord. And of course, the vast majority of Republicans in congress. When I realize our true underlying unity, I am filled with hope. When I look at how successful the enemies of such unity are, I am filled with despair.

  229. You could say Trump did not technically break the law. How many in prison can say that too? The question is --do people want a Country where Citizens ruled by harsher standards than their President...........

  230. @TWShe Said Sure, except technically he did break the law. So why say that?

  231. Considering senator warren wants to remove Trump from office before there have been formal charges, prior to trial and prior to the defense being able to present witnesses, it is difficult for me to understand how Democrats can claim they are for due process.

  232. Please do not spread misinformation. Warren said that the President’s cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment if they actually believe that Trump is unable to adequately fulfill the responsibilities of his office. This was after an article was published, saying that at one point the cabinet considered doing this.

  233. The founders could not have envisioned a conspiracy of obstruction on a scale that literally clogs the wheels of justice. How can one party possibly fight against 250 members of Congress, every member of the Executive branch, and the GOP propaganda machine (FOX) when they ALL agree to conspire against the truth?

  234. @rab The Founders didn't need to imagine a conspiracy that clogged the wheels of justice. They had just finished fighting a brutal, bloody war to overthrow such a conspiracy. Let's hope that isn't where we are heading this time.

  235. Let us not forget that the likelihood of conviction in the Senate is a lot lower than the likelihood that Trump's health will decline to zero very precipitously via a heart attack. Perhaps we should fear younger demagogues more than older ones.

  236. Trump doesn't have a strategy to beat impeachment, but he may 'win' and certainly won't lose. Again, it's not that he has a better grasp of the rules, but rather it's that he's playing a completely different game than the founders could have anticipated. We've always been playing baseball, and we're on the field with umpires who know and will attempt to enforce those rules. But Trump and the GOP have just marched a football team onto the field, and they're tackling our players.

  237. @Mark Gardiner Mark, I appreciate your analogy (baseball/football) as to our country's present dilemma. I would suggest the latter of the two might be 'Aussie rules football', a much more rambunctious style of 'play'. Everybody gets dirty.

  238. The last line of this piece belies the tragic mistake of Trump's ascension as the Framers would see it. In Federalist 68, Hamilton discussed the process of the Electoral College as a deliberative, sentient body. He couldn't have been more clear that the purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent foreign meddling in elections and to keep out a demagogue: "The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him [as]... a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States." The mistake we have been making for over 200 years now is using the Electoral College as an algorithm that automatically transfers election results (skewed in favor of low population, a different question) -- but does not accept deliberation. Electors who choose to vote differently (an issue currently in front of the Supreme Court) are called "faithless," even as they do exactly what the Framers intended they do ("discern" and "choose" are Hamilton's words). So it isn't quite fair to blame the Constitution for not having a remedy for Trump. It does. We just chose not to use it, and now it may be too late.

  239. The framers cannot completely escape responsibility for the crisis we confront. Their political philosophy identified democracy as the main source of demagoguery, and partly for that reason they structured the Constitution to limit popular control of the government. The electoral college and equal state representation in the senate (although mainly a concession to the small states), to cite two prominent examples, created the possibility that a unified minority could rule over a disorganized majority. They understood the potential danger posed by a tyranny of the majority but failed to appreciate fully the threat of minority rule. Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Republican control of the senate arises directly from the party's dominance of states in the south and west, with smaller populations on average than the coastal states. Ironically, Trump's contempt for the institutional restraints imposed on him by the Constitution belies the importance of the document to his ability to maintain his grip on power. But then, despite his reputation for low cunning, no one has ever accused Donald Trump of possessing high intelligence.

  240. The question I would like pollsters to ask Republicans is: "When Donald J. Trump is re-elected President in 2020 would you like to see him change our government to a Monarchy?" My feeling is the percentage of "yes" responses would be higher than we would like to imagine.

  241. @Frank Monarchy yes, but I want Queen Elizabeth II.

  242. Remember, nearly half the voting public voted for trumpy. The problems are deeper than just trumpy. Demagogues tend to flourish in economically struggling societies. It wasn't the poorer that voted for trumpy. As an incredibly wealthy nation, what's the excuse here? That so many should be so angry and gullible suggests that things could get worse.

  243. @Cynical Very true. Half voted for him, but only as an alternative to what they perceived the "The Left" would do to the country. The right wing has successfully characterized the Democrats as socialists bent on destroying free enterprise and giving over control of our lives to "the government." Of course it is not true, but I hear that message over and over when I try to talk to my colleagues that voted for Trump. Almost all the Trump voters I talk to say they wish someone would take the President's phone away from him. None of them like his Twitter tirades and none of them like (with possible exception of the White Nationalists) like being told to hate Democrats and treat them as enemies. Democrats have to be able to more effectively counter the false image the Republicans have painted of them if they hope to win the hearts and minds of the electorate.

  244. You state that "Republican officeholders know that Mr. Trump can take to Twitter or to Fox News or to the podium at rallies — or all of the above — to excoriate them for a weak will or disloyalty". And why is this? Because Fox News is in on it too! Nobody is forcing Fox to publicize Trump's lies, nor to create pro-Trump lies of its own. The GOP is not one of those "[w]eak political parties" which would "now fall quickly into line with a demagogue who can bring intense pressure to bear on party officials and officeholders through his hold on “the base.”" The GOP is, instead, a strong, thoroughly corrupt political party, with narrow tribal interests, increasingly at odds with the majority of the country, but totally in sync with the majority of the party. The majority of the GOP is its base, and Trump embodies much of its ideology. That's how any party would normally function. But the weakness of our institutions goes far beyond those discussed in the essay. Blame the Electoral College for giving us minority rule by demagogue. Blame also our shaky electoral processes that leave our elections vulnerable to hacking and misinformation. Goodness and badness fall on a continuum, much like the colors of light fall on a spectrum. A better electoral process might have given us majority rule by demagogue, but at least we as a nation would be jointly responsible for our plight. Minority misrule by demagogue is a lot worse.

  245. This is one of the best and most accurate descriptions I’ve read about the bigger picture of what’s happening right now and its historical and constitutional context.

  246. His successful demagoguery (including rampant disinformation) plus voter suppression means he will likely win another electoral college victory in 2020. Then he will become Czar Donald the First.

  247. @J. Gunn Coolidge God help us if that happens.

  248. America had become so desperately inward looking. Quotes of the founding documents of this nation abound, without asking the simple question of how other countries avoid demagogues. How have Australia, Sweden, Canada and Britain remained democracies for so long? Much can be learned from the answer to that question, but I don’t see many in the USA asking it in this time of need,

  249. @ Andrew- I’d take Britain out of that equation of strong democracies if I were you. They don’t seem to be doing that well themselves these days.

  250. Today’s Republican Party could never hold power in a true democracy and its leaders are well aware of that fact. It is only in our fatally flawed system that they could amass the power they have. Even with the help of the electoral college and voter suppression they required help from Putin and Comey to gain narrow victories in key states. And don’t forget the singularly undemocratic Senate and it’s power over court appointments which have led to weakening of voter protection and a flood of dark money. Republicans seem driven by an unnatural self righteousness and entitlement to power at the expense of the majority and they are willing to do anything to protect what they see as their rightful position.

  251. All fine and good to call out the populist which Trump has divided, and the Republican party which is no longer. But you are missing the next move Trump is making: splitting the military. He is appealing to a base of criminal warriors, separating the leadership from disciplining the troops, and subsequently intimidating the top military leaders with his Twitter power. I am quite convinced we are on the road to Civil War and it starts with Trump's arrest of a key legislator in the impeachment process. I hope I am wrong. We'll see.

  252. There won’t be a war. There will be a takeover by the right and acquiescence by the rest.

  253. Impeachment is, after all, a political process. At the national level, the “will of the People” is revealed by elections. The House, the Senate, and the President are elected positions and the “will of the People” is expressed In and by the People’s representatives. If the House votes for Impeachment, then that is an expression of the “will of the People”. The fact that it is a partisan vote is of little note because the People voted for more of one party than the other. Whether the Senate votes for or against Impeachment and Removal, that decision is also an expression of the “will of the People’”. Whatever the final result of Impeachment is, it will be an expression of the “will of the People”. The People do not have a direct vote on Impeachment. We can only hope that our elected Representatives and Senators do their duty in a way that honors the People’s trust in them. Look at the facts, ignore the demagogic chaff, and determine whether the President has behaved in a way that Imperils the nation and its Constitution. Slavish adherence to Trump, without regard to the facts, may be the “will of the People” but it does no honor to the Republicans or the people who elected them. Address the facts and make a reasoned decision. The world is watching.

  254. @Rita, your statement "Whatever the final result of Impeachment is, it will be an expression of the “will of the People” is incorrect. In this case, the Senate, complicitly and outrageously supportive of the President regardless of the facts, is expected to absolve him. That is not the will of the people. That said, and regardless of the outcome, I am glad the House of Representatives, in this case the Democratic majority, decided exercise their oath which is to defend the Constitution. Not doing so would render the Constitution irrelevant, which would lead to the demise of our system of government and its checks and balances. Mr. Trump has already provided enough of a 'body of work', if you can call it that, for people in our country to vote with their conscience, way above their prejudices. That is a tall order, but I pray to God, upon which this country was founded, that conscience and good will will prevail in the end. God help us end the 'demolition derby' that is called Donald Trump, which by the way, is all he has been his entire life.

  255. @Rita Truly, this is not the "will of the people", this is the surrender of one Party to ignore the reality of corruption and their sworn testament to uphold the Constitution of the United States. These acts together are not the will of the majority, this is the will of the American oligarchs and their purchased Representatives along with packing the Courts. The only end would be the establishment of an Authoritarian Regime.

  256. @Carol and @Luis. This is CLASSIC Orwellian doublethink. According to both of you, the Republicans cannot possibly be expressing the “will of the People” because they support Trump - even though he was fairly elected, no matter how much you try to discredit his election. But somehow, by your same twisted logic, the Democrats are only ones who truly represent the “will of the People” because they agree with you. Can’t you see you absurd that is? Democrats have been trying to remove Trump even before he took office. Before he did anything. Before he signed a single executive order. This is a fact. They have tried every possible maneuver, and have failed every time. They enlisted the aid of the corrupt FBI under Comey, disgruntled State Department personnel, and most importantly, the legions of Obama supporters - and Obama himself, naturally - whose legacy was threatened. You can selectively quote Federalist Papers, Founders, Obama lawyers. The only arbiter of the Will of the People is the elections that will be held next year. If Trump wins again, you won’t be able to use the Will of the People as an excuse, and I definitely expect another four years of hysterical efforts to subvert everything he does. Good luck with that.

  257. We are at the edge of the precipice. All of these erudite analyses are wonderfully reasoned. However, what of the sheer reality that awaits us on Election Day? Trump's base will turn out in force. Young Democrats are not energized, if we are to be 100% frank, with any of the current crop of Democratic contenders. If the Democrats cannot attract the truly younger voters to the polls, and in very large numbers all is lost, and we have a king. That's the reality.

  258. @Clairvaux The Democrats have brought this on themselves with the "Anybody but Warren or Bernie" strategy. They tried that with Hillary and lost because young people stayed home, and they will lose again with Biden or Buttigieg.

  259. If younger people won’t vote, then they deserve a life in a post-Trump America, frankly. I’m already packing my bags.

  260. The Founders assumed that a very large majority of the general population was not sufficiently educated to vote and therefor required leadership by elites, which (along with the need to mollify smaller rural states in order to get ratification), led to the electoral college. This worked pretty well, until the late 1990s, when boomers, who grew up without experiencing anything as truly bad as previous generations, and under the influence of Woodstock, became even more focused on their own feelings. They ignored their civic duty to pay attention to the mechanics of government and vote, which led to the present composition of Congress and the courts. As woke millennials, obsessed with coolnesss have taken over, this situation has worsened.

  261. @stevevelo as far as self involved/ self indulgent left wing opposition purists who are more willing to split the vote than unite for victory, i totally agree with you. but your comment does not address the significant number of americans who do not register and do not vote. and of course the almost half of voters who support trump. milwaukee and racine have very active democratic party committees. when visiting i have volunteered with them to get out the vote. here in maine we have adopted ranked choice instant run off voting. more voices and insures a majority rather than plurality win. all best for organizing, uniting, and winning in 2020! see you there:)

  262. @stevevelo as far as self involved/ self indulgent left wing opposition purists who are more willing to split the vote than unite for victory, i totally agree with you. but your comment does not address the significant number of americans who do not register and do not vote. and gop dirty tricks to suppress the vote and skew it in their favor.and of course the almost half of voters who support trump. milwaukee and racine have very active democratic party committees. when visiting i have volunteered with them to get out the vote. here in maine we have adopted ranked choice instant run off voting. more voices and insures a majority rather than plurality win. all best for organizing, uniting, and winning in 2020! see you there:)

  263. @stevevelo While there are elements of truth in your post, by and large it is a gross oversimplification, and completely neglects to mention anything about the Republican Party's conduct in reaching the point at which we are at today. This conduct began with Nixon's treasonous interference with LBJ's peace talks with Vietnam in 1968, and continued with the Reagan campaign's equally treasonous bargain with Iran to hold our hostages until after the election. This morphed into Iran/Contra, which would have been fully exposed but for Poppy Bush's pardon of four men who would have implicated him. Move on to the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004, with the subsequent corruption of the Supreme Court by packing it with conservative hacks. My list is partial, but by neglecting all of it, you've made an unconvincing argument. The history is more complex than you would have us believe.

  264. The other irony of Trump v. Founders can be found in Federalist 68, in which Hamilton argues that the purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent a demagogue from obtaining the Presidency in the first place.

  265. @Robert Yes, thanks for pointing that out, I've thought about that, as well. Elitist as it all sounded, I recall in civics class, that was one of the backstops designed into the electoral college, that those presumably better-informed delegates could possibly prevent a dangerous, incompetent, unfit candidate from becoming president. Guess that didn't exactly work either.

  266. @Robert: Some people considered Alexander Hamilton a demagogue.

  267. They massively failed that part of the job.

  268. Fascinatingly DT has proved the efficacy of the Second Amendment. Many have always considered one of the terms of this amendment is the "right " of the average citizenry to bear arms, ostensibly to rise up and use their weapon(s) to overthrow a despicable person or persons, whether tyrannical president, general or other governmental agency. These anointed conditions have occurred fairly regularly throughout our history as a nation. The reason for the failure of these insurrections is that they have no significant bearing for the general public, until, perhaps, now. Will we see an untempered rise in public demand for truth and justice? Will there be overwhelming frustration at the level of prepostourness of the current leadership that a huge portion of the public acedes to anarchical violence to de-throne the King or demagogue? What is the breaking point? The "after" of an insurrection is not a part of a revolutionary scenario, one hopes we never have to experience the consequences.

  269. This is an interesting column, but I think Mr. Bauer's interpretation of how the founders understood demagoguery is anachronistic and misleading. In his book on the founders ("Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson"), Gore Vidal suggested that (I'm paraphrasing) the only thing they feared as much as a return to monarchy was democracy. Given the novelty of the concept of democracy as a form of government at that time, and the founders' familiarity with Classical thought, they (certainly Madison at the least) most likely understood democracy in the Athenian sense and shared the disdain for it evinced by Plato, Aristotle and Thucydides. This goes a long way to explaining a great many aspects of the Constitution, most relevant here being that the electors in the Electoral College were free to vote their conscience if they felt that the voters in their respective states had voted for a demagogue, i.e. our system of voting, not impeachment, was how the founders intended to protect what Madison called "the owners of the country" from demagogues. Perhaps the founders might have found more nightmarish the near refusal of both the executive and legislative branches to hold powerful criminals to account for their crimes, Mr. Bauer’s former boss’s decision to “turn the page” on Bush era torturers and the finance fraudsters of 2008 being a prime example. That Trump will not be removed from office seems inevitable to me precisely because of that culture. We reap what we sow.

  270. @clint Excellent point, that will be hard for people to accept.

  271. @clint I question citing Gore Vidal for constitutional theory compared to Madison and Jefferson? I think not. BUT WE DO REAP WHAT WE SOW.

  272. @Lawman69 One needn't take Vidal's word for it. Read Madison's "Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787." His views on democracy are expressed therein, pretty explicitly at times.

  273. Even if Trump loses the White House next year, he will still be in control of the Republican Party and will still be a demagogue. That's why it's so important that Democrats win the Senate. It's the only way to moderate Trump and keep him from doing more damage, even when he's out of office.

  274. @Ms. Pea I agree that Democrats need to take the Senate, and keep the house. But if Trump hangs around to keep playing the GOP like his personal fiddle, that will be a plus, not a minus, for humanity, as it will finish the self-destruction of that no longer very grand old party.

  275. Apparently the Senate will be his firewall. He will then be able to attack the election 2020. He has every reason to do this to protect himself from the inevitable prosecutions, state and federal, that will follow if he leaves office. If he doesn't get reelected, he will try to incite a new civil war. Given hyper partisan politics not seen at least since the Depression, if not the Civil War, that is foreseeable. If he manages to win another term, you won't know this country four years later.

  276. @Robert Levine If Trump remains in office as the President-dictator after Nov 2020, it may be time to leave the US. But a big problem is where to move to given the current state of the world.

  277. Foreign and domestic demagogues - Russians, Chinese, Trump and the people who control the GOP - have struck upon the perfect 21st Century formula to gain and maintain power: cash in on a now sizable portion of the electorate which, because of a lack of education and/or intellectual zeal, is unable and/or unwilling to separate lies from facts. Throw in a dated Constitution which, by design (it needed to be read and understood by common people in 1787), is short (4,000 words) and vague (few definitions supplied) and we've got trouble. For Americans who still believe in the spirit and aims of the Constitution, this country's fight against despotism will forever more need to be constant and intense.

  278. It used to be that our general election every four years was a fairly reliable safeguard for an informed and concerned electorate where impeachment failed to remedy a problem. But with the 2016 election interference by Russia unanimously confirmed by all our intelligence officials, and ignored by our current president because to admit it and take steps to prevent it in 2020 would bruise his ego, I’m not so sure anymore. With no substantially effective steps having been taken to prevent a replay of foreign interference in 2020, the general election may not be the prophylactic remedy our founders envisioned and that our nation needs to protect us from a demagogue. What this means for the future of our nation is deeply troubling to me.

  279. @🇺🇸Pilgrim Painful as it is for me to say this, none of the leading crop of Democratic Presidential contenders will be able to defeat Trump. Medicare for all, free tuition, higher taxes, etc. All laudable proposals, none of them realistic in a Trump led and Republican Party abetting and applauding his worst tendencies era. Then what, stacked Courts overturning decades of hard won freedoms, riots in the streets like the Viet Nam Era? Too painful to contemplate.

  280. @🇺🇸Pilgrim Which begs the question what if Trump loses next year and declares the election was stolen? Does anyone truly believe he would just pack up and go into Florida retirement quietly after the inauguration? I think not.

  281. As an educator, I blame the current situation at least partially on our schools for having discontinued civics classes (in which issues were discussed with a teacher moderating for accuracy and civility) in favor of bubble-sheet, information-based testing à la No Child Left Behind. Now our nation is left behind: many citizens do not have the skills in critical thinking to vote to their own benefit. 45's strategy (if you can't dispute the facts, then discredit the process) seems to have taken hold not only with his base but with Republicans in our government. This boomer in her 60's has never felt so depressed about the future of the United States.

  282. @ Bonnie- Same point I’ve been hammering on throughout these comments. Education at a level lower than college about our government is key in not repeating these mistakes over and over that keep up to half of the electorate in this country from using their own critical thinking, rather than a GOP soundbite, to form their opinions.

  283. You can pore over the constitution and federalist papers all you want but a poll released on the weekend show Repub's, by a 53-47 margin, think trump is a better president than Lincoln. Dwell on that for a moment.

  284. @RNS There was an opposing poll that said that over 50% of the country, not only support the impeachment but they want Trump out of office as well. Get out and vote.

  285. @RNS: Please! They don't know Lincoln! Isn't he the Congressman from Upstate NY?

  286. @ RNS- As I’ve stated in other replies here, again, it’s a question of education. Critical thinking does not have to wait until ones freshman year of college. It can start as soon as junior high school. When rural white America learns to stop distrusting education, maybe this country will grow out of this morass once and for all.

  287. As if blatant corruption weren't enough in itself to remove a president from office, it's important to remember that the despotism exhibited by Trump could just as well happen on the left. Republicans in the House and Senate need to be aware that by supporting Trump through the impeachment process they will be fraying the fabric of the American political system and preparing the way for future political extremists of opposing ideologies.

  288. Our nation has been crumbling at the edges. But a GOP that will do anything to retain power is removing the foundations of our constitutional order to assert itself: the separation of powers. 1. Steal an election (2016: it is a brazen act to know a foreign power is interfering [this was not just Trump's campaign, but McConnell and leading GOP leaders--they refused to allow it being brought to the public] in our election and to encourage it. 2. Steal a supreme court seat 3. Refuse to acknowledge your duty of oversight, allowing the most endemically corrupt and self-dealing administration in US history to run amok 4. Revel in your "victories," even after having lost 3 elections in a row Let's all remember the real goal of modern GOP strategies: not to make government effective, but to abuse, undermine, sabotage, and de-fund the federal government so that these acts make true their assertion that the Federal Government can't serve the needs of its citizens, and thus should not try. This is all in such bad faith as to be criminal, however, I am shocked at how infrequently any journalist calls out the game. How can we have a nation when half the country wants to talk about making America better, more competitive, more effective in how it serves the people; while the other half obstructs and looks only for new ways to enshrine its minority rule over the majority of Americans?

  289. @ John- That real goal of the GOP for decades has been to strengthen and protect the plutocracy that keeps their reelection fund bank accounts stuffed to the brim, then to use their powers of office to continue to cut back on the social programs that were put in place during the Great Depression and afterwords, continuing to strengthen the plutocracy that keeps them in power. When are the single issue voters that Republicans always win over going to finally wake up to the fact that their supposed political protectors only want to shove them further down into the economic pit they continue to slide into? These same voters are taught to distrust higher education, where young people are supposedly turned into critical thinkers. I didn’t need a university to be taught about the Constitution- we all studied the Constitution in eighth grade. Maybe political curriculum studies in high school need to be brought up to a college level, so these single issue voters might have the chance for an educator to flick the switch on in their brains that will allow them to see the light of truth, rather than adhering to the lies the GOP continually get them to bite on.

  290. @John I'm hoping that the Achilles' heel is the fake Trump charity. Ask anyone.

  291. The Founders worst nightmare was actually a too-powerful popular legislature. They therefore wrote a Constitution designed to constrain the popularly-elected legislature and to fortify the executive. As Federalist 51 explains: "In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit....As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified." The Founders' fear of popular mobs not only made them weaken the popularly-elected legislature, it caused them to rely less on democratic elections to protect against tyranny and more on a system of internal checks and balances between the various branches of government. This contrasts with a parliamentary system, where the popularly-elected representative body controls all legislative and executive power and is replaced or retained in its entirety by the people through regularly scheduled and specially called elections. Parliamentary democracies are responsive to the people. The American system is, by design, unresponsive—and its mechanical checks and balances easily overwhelmed by a despot.

  292. It’s fun to surmise what dead people may have wanted. A more worthwhile challenge is understanding what tens of millions of living Americans who supported Donald Trump wanted and, apparently, still want. For those who enjoy comparing today to a bygone era, some interesting numbers to consider: George Washington was elected to his first term with a total of less than 50,000 votes. Fewer votes were cast for his second term. Thomas Jefferson won 61.4% of the vote in the election of 1800 with just 41,330 votes. Not until the 1840 election of William Henry Harrison would a presidential candidate be elected by more than a million voters. In 1920, Warren Harding was the first president elected after America’s women won their right to vote. More than 16 million people voted for Harding. Did our founders imagine America’s president would one day be elected by more than 120 million voters and that elections would become a referendum almost entirely about “Who is America?” Continuing to make this about Trump as a cause instead of focusing on who we are and want to become as a nation almost guarantees 45 will soon become 46.

  293. @Seth Eisenberg Nice to read a comment that isn’t all revisionist history. The same group that often say the founders’ ideals are outdated are now citing the same ideals to attack others

  294. The Founders were brilliant thinkers and wordsmiths, visionaries who took the world and stood it on it's head. But in all their brilliance, they could not perceive that a monstrous thing called FOX would someday hold 40% of the people enthralled, people who called the president 'the chosen one', a minority who would hold an entire nation in it's authoritarian death grip, who would own sycophantic politicians who would conspire to put party over our Constitution.

  295. "It is a constitutional paradox: The very behaviors that necessitate impeachment supply the means for the demagogue to escape it." We all like to say how unfit this man is for the presidency, how he's tearing down our institutions. But whether instinctual or deliberate, it's as if Donald Trump has spent a lifetime studying the dictator's playbook every step of the way. His key moves have been to secure control of the levers of power required to keep him in office: voters, party, judiciary, and "truth" itself through a media outlet that has become an organ of the state. When you hear his party begin to parrot his affinity for Russsian interests, you have to realize how swiftly and dangerously this man is changing the USA.

  296. “The American carnage” to which Trump alluded in his inaugural address to the country is the culmination of all of his actions to defame and destroy the United States of America. From his first day in office, he spoke only to his base, never attempting to unify us but to cause greater rifts amongst us through his hate filled rhetoric against immigrants, our allies, and our alliances, including the E.U. and NATO. Republicans ran for cover under his big coat tails funded by ties to the NRA and Putin. They rile in gun violence and hate mongering as seen in Charlotte.

  297. Our country’s 200+ year experiment in democracy is at risk. Sad.

  298. @Dennis It is indeed, Mr. "Dennis"--but hardly for the reason presented here. It is at risk because of intimidation by the Left of the Right and its supporters --intimidation by violence (with police standing down under orders from elected mayors and University presidents); intimidation by threat of job loss for having "unacceptable" political views; intimidation by public trashing of one due entirely to one having voiced an opinion that does not meet with the approval of the Left. It is widely ignored by the Left that Republicans are too intimidated by the threat of violence against their vehicles to sport Trump bumber stickers; they are unlikely to post Trump yard signs for fear of having their houses defaced or damaged, and many are afraid of particpating in public demonstrations for fear of being shot dead by deranged and hyped up Democrats. ; When a Republican cannot attend a theater performance without being singled out for scorn from the stage--when Democrat Congresswoman Waters calls for Republicans to be surrounded and publically shamed in restaurants and the Left finds that acceptable, isn't it time you goof folks took a good, hard look in the mirror and asked yourselves what your role of silence in the face of all this plays to put our democracy at risk?

  299. @Dennis George Carlin got it right when he said we were running out of Beginners Luck.

  300. Demagoguery 101: How Democracy Commits Suicide In 1933, the German parliament passed a law called the Enabling Act. It said that once popularly elected, anything the German chancellor did was by definition legal. This is basically the same argument that's being used today by Republicans—that whatever Trump does is legitimate because he won the election in 2016. To argue that he is acting in ways that are illegal or corrupt, violate the norms of good government, are an abuse of power, or are against the national interest is therefore a "coup" or attempt to "overturn the results of the election." This theory of democracy has long been used by demagogues, who argue that because their election shows they represent the popular will--which is supreme--they are free to act as repressively or illegally as they want. This is how democracy commits suicide.

  301. @Melvin Mcleod "illegal or corrupt"? Isn't corruption illegal? What is being hidden by the Left is the corruption on a vast scale that was allegedly committed by Kerry and Biden while serving under a corrupt Obama administration.

  302. The Framers could not conceive that United States Senators, arguably the most powerful elected officials in the country, would unconditionally surrender their immense Article I powers to a demagogue.