Andrew Sullivan's latest essay on the state of all things Trump makes for incredibly sobering reading. While most of us are stuck in the daily dirt reporting of the never ending insanity, Sullivan has taken on a new role in the media as a sage-like figure who dips into public discourse to provide much needed perspective, only on rare occasion.
This week, Sullivan's warning isn't for the faint of heart. He paints a bleak picture of the state of American democracy, arguing that the democratic checks and balances that are supposed to keep autocratic wannabes like Trump contained are at breaking point. Trump's total inability to take any responsibility for himself combined with his vitriolic, bullying response to the F.B.I led investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia means that democracy is now in the hands of the institutions of government itself, and not the presidency.
"Asking him [Trump] to subject himself to a neutral third-party inquiry comes as easily to him as it would to Putin or Duterte or Mugabe," writes Sullivan. "It seems absurd to them — and they, like Trump, would react with incandescent rage."
If Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Trump's alleged obstruction of justice is removed from his position (as James Comey was after he began the F.B.I led investigation into Trump's ties with Russia), then Sullivan argues that the extinction-level event he warned Americans about before the 2016 election concluded will have come true. He writes:
It seems to me completely plausible — even inevitable — that Mueller will be fired too at some point. More saliently, if his team’s work eventually exposes and proves Trump’s obstruction of justice, the only possible recourse, impeachment, will never happen. There will never be 18 Republican senators who will vote against the leader in this Congress or any other. We will have a criminal in the White House indefinitely, utterly impervious to sanction, and emboldened even further. And he will have brought almost half the country along with him, digging deeper in with every news cycle.
Over a year ago, in this magazine’s pages, I wrote the following sentence: “In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event.” We are about to find out if I was right.
The one thing we know about Trump is that he is not afraid to get dirty to defend himself. If he believes he is in danger of going down -- and the evidence now strongly suggests his administration is in serious panic mode -- there is absolutely nothing he won't do to protect himself. Trump does not believe in American democracy. He believes in his own power and is using American democracy to further it. Once it becomes an inconvenience, like every other tinpot dictator on the planet, he will do away with it.
This was the situation everyone familiar with history tried to warn Americans about, and sadly to no avail. Democracy won't survive by itself. It never has and it never will, so just as Americans fought to create their democracy, they must now gear up for the fight to save it.