The State Of Democracy
Boris Johnson has gone ahead and done it. Today, he formally invoked prorogation, asking the Queen to end the current session of Parliament and suspending Parliament from sitting for five weeks from the beginning of September until mid-October, just two weeks from the October 31st Brexit deadline. This parliamentary maneuver is intended to prevent Parliament from cobbling together any sort of bill that would prevent a no-deal Brexit on that date. MPs from both parties reacted angrily to this blatant power grab by Johnson, with the Commons Speaker calling it a “constitutional outrage”.
Boris Johnson is Prime Minister because he won less than 100,000 votes in an internal election within the Conservative party. He has never won a national election. And now he is asking the Queen, another unelected leader, to become complicit in ensuring that the actual elected representatives of the British people will have no say in the country’s most critical decision which will shape its future for decades. Since Johnson’s request is perfectly legal, the Queen had no real option other than to accede to his request, which she has dutifully done. Such is the state of democracy in the UK.
Here in the US, the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is frantically pushing his aides to break all sorts of laws in order to get new sections of his beloved border wall completed before the 2020 election. Trump has reportedly told aides to seize private land and break environmental laws in order to get the wall built. In addition to using money allocated for other, military purposes, the administration is fast-tracking the procurement process and ignoring procedural requirements, resulting in opportunities for graft as well as legal challenges. Further, he has told those aides he will pardon them for any criminal actions they take in order to get the job done.
Putting aside all of Trump’s other crimes, the Emoluments violations, the crimes outlined by Mueller, and the felony campaign finance violation, instructing aides to violate the law and proactively offering pardons for doing so are certainly blatantly impeachable offenses. Yet Democrats in Congress still can not bring themselves to even definitely begin an impeachment inquiry.
Trump’s efforts to force his aides to violate the law is all in an effort to help him get re-elected in 2020. He has already been shown to have offered a pardon to Michael Cohen in order to protect himself from being incriminated in the criminal campaign finance conspiracy that helped him get elected in 2020. He also floated a pardon to Paul Manafort in order to persuade him to not truthfully testify about the extent of coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign. If Trump is offering proactive pardons to his aides at this point, it would seem that he would consider nothing out of bounds in order to win re-election in 2020. And Trump probably looks at Johnson’s prorogation move as an example for equally extreme actions of his own. Democrats are already under the anti-democratic constraints of partisan gerrymandering and the Electoral College for the 2020 election. At this point, the idea that the 2020 election will be a free and fair election seems almost delusional. Such is the state of American democracy.
Vladimir Putin must be laughing all the way to the bank when he considers how little it cost him to effectively dismantle the two great democracies in the West.