In the media storm following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey it’s important to shut out the noise and simplify what just happened.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 10, 2017
Let’s be clear that an American president whose administration is under investigation for colluding with a traditionally hostile government to win the presidency has fired the head investigator in an obvious attempt to make it all go away.
It’s fine to make the historical comparisons with the late President Richard Nixon and call it Nixonian just as it’s normal to roll your eyes at the talking heads on Fox News when they claim that now, finally, we can get an investigation into—can you believe this?—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails. We can continue to demand an independent prosecutor take over the investigation. But these points obfuscate and blur the terrible reality of what just immediately happened.
What just happened is not normal in a functioning democracy. What happened is an example of authoritarianism, an action of a despot mocking democratic structures and the underlying frame of democracy. The action, and make no mistake about this, is obviously an attempt to hide the Trump team’s alleged collusion with Russia in whatever form to win the presidency despite what the tweets and spin offer up. It’s ridiculously obvious. Any media outlet that doesn’t say this in some version should not be trusted.
What all this means once we cut through the chatter is that we’re now at a dangerous moment in our nation’s history in which democracy is failing if it already hasn’t failed. Can it be reversed or restored? I wish I could be more positive about it but it will be difficult given the great ideological divide among Americans and Trump’s autocratic self, an intuitive component of his personality.
Republicans will try to stop any efforts to establish an independent investigation of team Trump’s ties to Russia, and it’s anyone’s guess where the country might be situated politically under Trump by the time of the 2018 midterm elections, a progressive panacea or distant hope that might not develop at all.
We can lament this on the larger scale, in the historical sense, of course, but we can’t become paralyzed. We must continue to resist the ongoing attack on democracy in widespread protest.