As a Canadian looking in on the American political landscape, all I can say is what the hell happened?
Growing up in northern New York State sixty years ago, I came to respect your republican form of government and the system of checks and balances that assured a slow but steady progress toward a better society. Back then, integrity, honesty and compromise were the political watchwords of the day.
Today I can’t even recognize a shadow of America’s former self. The White House is occupied by a serial liar, adulterer, fraudster and racist. That fact alone should have caused widespread shame throughout the American populace and long ago resulted in his removal from office.
What is puzzling, however, is that forty per cent of the electorate still supports the President regardless of what immoral or illegal action he engages in. And the most shameful aspect of this fall from grace is the fact that Republican legislators, almost without exception, fall in lockstep with the man.
Canada, like the United Kingdom, has a parliamentary form of government that relies on certain customs and conventions to ensure a workable democracy. One of those conventions is that if a Minister of the Crown (including the Prime Minister) commits an egregious offense, he or she will resign.
It used to be that your country followed a similar approach to governance. If a politician was caught red-handed in an illegal or immoral situation, they would give up their office and face the music.
Whether it was a sexual, political or financial offense, officeholders generally did the right thing when exposed. Consider the fate of such miscreants as Anthony Weiner, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.
That code of honor does not seem to have entirely disappeared as evidenced by the case of Al Franken. The Minnesota senator stepped down after evidence came to light of what appeared to be a minor sexual indiscretion.
Even Richard Nixon can be given some minor credit for resigning in the face of an almost certain impeachment and conviction. At the very least, he recognized his ethical and legal failures and accepted the consequences.
But now all bets are off. You have a sitting President who has violated more laws and political norms than any previous White House occupant. In fact, in one regard, he may have achieved his self-assessment as the greatest of all time in that he likely has totaled more offenses than all of his predecessors combined.
How did we get to this sad place in American history? How did a once great nation end up in an amoral political swamp and become the laughingstock of the world?
Could it have been Ronald Reagan’s escape from punishment in the Iran-Contra Affair? Or maybe it was George W. Bush’s ability to sidestep responsibility for the Iraq War.
Whatever the reason, it appears that America has sunk to a level of unethical behavior not seen since the Confederacy’s war to save slavery. There now appears to be no level of immorality or illegality that will sink the current President.
We all laughed when Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Well, it’s no laughing matter anymore. Sadly, he probably could do just that and his Republican enablers (and maybe even the politicized Supreme Court) would likely say you can’t charge a sitting President with a crime.
I don’t know what the solution is to this tragic situation. I can only hope that enough Republicans and evangelical voters will search their consciences and do the right thing. Or maybe the Democrats will finally get their act together and remove this stain on the American polity.
If not, and Mr. Trump gets four more years (and maybe more, as some have predicted), I hope that God will not only save our Queen but that He will also save America from itself.