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Maybe it's the gender balance? by @BloggersRUs

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Maybe it’s the gender balance?

by Tom Sullivan

Image: Sean McMinn/NPR

The damage wrought on this republic by men desperate to hang onto their little slices of power will take decades to repair. First, they have to be stopped. Their defeats in what is left of democracy must be overwhelming. Humiliating would be a plus. But since that requires them to possess shame and some sense of dignity….

Eugene Robinson this morning considers any of the Democratic candidates on the stage last Thursday capable of leading the effort. Defeating Donald Trump might be the easiest part. Rebuilding trust in the three branches of government systematically undermined by this administration and its lapdogs in Congress will take skills no president has yet been called on to muster, save perhaps Lincoln.

The executive branch is riddled with corruption and incompetence, its policy mechanisms turned inside out, Robinson laments:

One of the most underreported stories about the Trump administration is its basic incompetence. Perhaps Trump’s biggest con of all was convincing his supporters that he was some sort of business wizard with a genius for management. In truth, the Trump Organization was a mom-and-pop family business that he repeatedly micromanaged to the brink of collapse. He is doing exactly the same with the government of the United States.

The White House itself is less like “The West Wing” than “Game of Thrones.” Courtiers vie for the favor of the Mad King, unable or unwilling to perform normal duties for fear of risking Trump’s ire. Usually, the White House is a place where information from outside sources is synthesized and digested so the president can make the best possible decisions. Under Trump, the flow is reversed — his whims, however ill-informed or contradictory or just plain loopy, are tweeted out and must be made into policy.

By appointing acting heads of executive branches, the acting president ensures they have no power carry out their roles. Trump has purged or driven off “competent, dedicated professionals” who once ran the various departments. Trump wants staff as set dressing, Anthony Scaramucci told the Washington Post. He wants sycophants who look the part.

Even worse, Robinson explains, is restoring a functioning Congress rendered “all but impotent” with help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Not to mention Republicans packing the courts with fringe ideologues and undermining any sense American courts will render equitable judgments for decades to come.

Again, while the Beltway follies get top billing, the damage being done by right-wing rule in the states is also deep and lasting. The willingness to set aside democratic procedures, undermine the judiciary and enact measures to silence dissent go beyond recent headlines from North Carolina, writes Alan Greenblatt at The American Prospect:

Their willingness to preempt the democratic process matters not only for North Carolina. As Harvard scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out in their 2018 book How Democracies Die, states—and in particular North Carolina—demonstrate what the end of democracy could look like on a national scale.

“This is a big warning sign,” says Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, author of State Capture, a new book examining conservative dominance in the states. “It’s definitely consistent with North Carolina being at the forefront of this erosion of democracy.”

University of North Carolina Professor of Political Science, Andrew Reynolds, wrote on the issue in December 2016 as Republicans attempted to strip power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper (a Democrat). A recent Electoral Integrity Project ranked North Carolina “alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.” Reynolds continues, “When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.”

Coming soon to a male-dominated, Republican legislature near you.

Image: National Council of State Legislatures

Building things, repairing things, improving life for the people they ostensibly represent seems a skill beyond their capacity. Men like Trump, McConnell and their allies are too busy hoarding wealth and power. But breaking things? They’re hell at breaking things. Even this tattered but enduring democracy. Maybe it’s the gender balance?

Sarah Connor : Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction…

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