Posted by: Bruce Allen | September 11, 2018

One Issue in November Midterms

Sorry, but the 2018 midterms, now officially eight weeks away, are about a single issue. The issue is congressional oversight of the President, as spelled out in The Constitution. Please excuse this rather lengthy and abridged theft from Wikipedia:

“The legislature is authorized to appropriate funds; raise and support armies; provide for and maintain a navy; declare war; provide for organizing and calling forth the national guard; regulate interstate and foreign commerce; establish post offices and post roads; advise and consent on treaties and presidential nominations (Senate); and impeach (House) and try (Senate) the President, Vice President, and civil officers for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The authority to oversee derives from these constitutional powers. Congress could not carry them out reasonably or responsibly without knowing what the executive is doing; how programs are being administered, by whom, and at what cost; and whether officials are obeying the law and complying with legislative intent. The Supreme Court has legitimated Congress’s investigative power, subject to constitutional safeguards for civil liberties.”

In September of 2018, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is guilty of malfeasance. It has failed to exercise its constitutional responsibility, as the elected representatives of all U.S. citizens, to keep tabs on the President, in order that he not be tempted to abuse the powers of his office, for instance, by using the Department of Justice as a tool for political purposes. In addition to the customary backscratching and pork, the Republican majority can now add “aiding and abetting the commission of multiple felonies, if not outright treason, by Donald Trump” to its list of barbaric legislative accomplishments.

In September of 2018 House Republicans are acting as defense counsel for the President. Paging the loathsome and felonious Devin Nunes. This is not simply a lack of doing their sworn duty at all, or doing it only poorly. It is a matter of doing the exact opposite of their sworn duty. Not misfeasance or nonfeasance. Malfeasance.

The November elections will determine whether Congress, going forward, will begin to exercise its constitutional obligations as regards Donald Trump. Boil it down and the question kind of becomes, “How do you feel about the U.S. Constitution?” Most liberals would say they support the Constitution, as would most conservatives. As for the Trump base, most of whom describe themselves as Second Amendment Folks, knee-jerk support for the Constitution is baked into their consciousness.

Here’s why it doesn’t really matter how one thinks of oneself politically. On the foundational role of oversight in the revolutionary birth of this country, to prevent abuse by the king, you will discover yourself in favor of it. If you were glad it was there during the Nixon years, you support oversight. If you were glad it was there during the Clinton years and the Benghazi years, you support oversight. And, clearly, if you miss it these days, you support oversight.

There is but one way to restore oversight to the United States. It is to turn the House and conduct proper investigations into the abuses and criminal activities of senior administration officials, including the President. Whichever party controls Congress beginning in 2019 will have the future of the country in their hands. As strange as it may sound, here it is: If you supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the grilling of Hillary Clinton, if you wish in your heart of hearts that both had landed in jail, you need to vote for congressional Democrats and Senators in November.

If this viewpoint makes you sick and angry, you have to admit that the issue cuts both ways. Either there is constitutionally-mandated oversight of the President and his administration or there ain’t. Under the present conditions it will be necessary to put Democrats in the majority in Congress, if only for a single term, to get to the bottom of the allegations against the President and his family. Only this way can he clear his name and show his own support for the Constitution.

It may be that all of this will become moot once Robert Mueller releases his subpoenas and indictments. Or Trump shuts down the government in September because he feels like it and nobody tells him what to do. Or someone somewhere releases a tape or a video that fatally offends his remaining support among independent or female or southern voters. Or it turns out that Jared wrote the op-ed in the NYT. It may be that, for the Republicans in November, the House is already a lost cause, and they’re going to have to work to maintain their wafer-thin control of the Senate.

Speaking of the Senate, there’s this:

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and text

It really is a shame that Mitch McConnell is not up for re-election this year. His day will surely come.

Two months out, it feels pretty likely that the trend is for turning the House and not turning the Senate. However, the likelihood of news and/or events and/or revelations and/or indictments between now and November is high. No blue collar Trump supporter in Ohio is going to get jacked up over the fact that Trump’s debt-financed recovery is finally reaching into the middle class or that some slice of unemployment data is 3% better than a month ago. In general, he’s not feeling the big ol’ tax cut very much. He is preparing, however, to receive his 2019 health benefits package in October, which will likely offer him reduced benefits and significantly higher premiums. Goodbye tax cut. For Republicans, there will be no running on the strength of the economy; most of the base isn’t feeling it. Including soybean farmers in Iowa.

Voters in November can be expected to be unable to see the forest for the trees. The prehistoric concept of oversight will probably get shouted down by the noise and confusion of the various machines built and unleashed to influence the way we think and the things we believe to be true. Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, etc., ad nauseum. And the things they don’t want us to think about. Such as Republicans having failed to exercise their constitutional authority, as the majority in a highly-polarized House, to oversee the activities and functions of the President.

How do you feel about the U.S. Constitution?

 

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