Suppose for a moment that our president-elect is not the main threat to our freedom but a buffoon whose primary purpose is to be so outrageous as to distract everyone from worse things happening. And suppose for a moment that everything U.S. citizens have taken for granted is no longer a certainty. As someone who reads dystopic science fiction and has paid attention to happenings in Latin American countries, and as someone with children who will inherit tomorrow, I think about these things.
It’s easy to get frightened here, but let’s not. Let’s start with the assumption that the worst we could imagine is preventable. In this case, the first step is to predict it. If you’re somebody who hasn’t paid a lot of attention to what’s happened in other countries, now’s the time. So, here’s a link to an interview with author Isabel Allende explaining what happened the day of the military coup in Chile, when democracy was suddenly abolished. And here’s a link to some excerpts from the novel Horizontalism by Marina Sitrin, which talks about the day that Argentina froze bank accounts and used the money to pay off an IMF loan, leaving people without their savings for months. Anyway, those were my starting points for understanding the world around me a little better.
Right now it’s clear that the New Deal and civil rights legislation, both hard-won in the twentieth century, are under attack by our current Congress. And people are already worried that loss of the Affordable Care Act will cost lives, and asking whether Medicare and Social Security might be next.
What other damage could Congress do? I can think of a lot of things — defund the EPA, repeal worker protections, and more.
But what aren’t we thinking about? How about a substantial revision to the Constitution, dramatically limiting the federal government’s ability to raise taxes and pass laws?
That’s impossible, right? No. According to the article “Corporate America is Inching Even Closer to a Constitutional Convention” on the web site In These Times, apparently, the U.S. close to having something that hasn’t taken place in the entire history of our country: a constitutional convention.
According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the states can convene a constitutional convention without the federal government’s go-ahead if two-thirds (34) of them pass a resolution in favor. Right-wing organizations—and their billionaire funders—have been working feverishly for decades to get state legislatures to call for such a convention, with the explicit aim of limiting the powers of the federal government.
According to the Constitution, such a convention would only have the power to propose amendments, which would then be ratified only upon approval by three fourths of the states.
What’s concerning here is that model legislation has been written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and if you don’t know what that is, now’s the time to find out! I like to think of them as a fourth branch of our government–the corporate branch. Unelected, secret, unaccountable. And there has been a dry run of a constitutional convention using ALEC’s model legislation.
That warrants close scrutiny. In a Tromp era, with more and more people angry at the federal government, efforts to limit it will be popular among both the right and the left. But here’s the rub: curtailing federal rights can make states more tyrannical. As the article points out:
But ALEC doesn’t just fight for states’ rights over the federal government. It fights for states’ rights over everything else, including local governments. After focusing on state legislatures for decades, they now hold decisive control in states across the country, which they have used to stalemate state budgets, and push an avalanche of “state preemption” laws to entrench state control over local towns, villages, cities and counties.
It’s also worth noting that the recent federal election, which put in place a conservative president, Congress, and governors were affected by voter suppression, including voter ID laws proposed by ALEC. The issue of voter suppression, detailed in an article in The Nation, is one of the most under-reported stories about the recent election, but also one of the scariest.
What else aren’t we thinking about?
How about the bizarre goings-on within the U.S. intelligence community–the CIA, the FBI, and whatever Homeland Security is doing? Hacking, Russian blackmail, and who knows what else. It’s like there’s some turf war going on with unknown stakes. Yesterday Anonymous came forward with a threat to release damaging material on our president-elect — after having made but not followed through on a similar threat before the election. That’s surprising enough on its own, but an even bigger surprise to me is that when I checked the news, the top hit announcing this threat was not for any traditional media but rather rt dot com.
Anybody know what that is? Leftists have been forwarding lots of articles from it. Really, anything damaging to the president-elect appears legit to us. We’ve gotten lazy.
But remember: the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.
That website, which jumped to the very top of my news feed, is Russia Today — the Russian state-owned media. Why did it jump to the top? Is it because it’s that popular, or because my news feed has been personalized? It’s concerning either way. Because whoever can manipulate the news can manipulate the nation. And to what end? What does Putin want? Would destabilizing the U.S. help him achieve his goals?
Our representative government is a big stinking mess right now. People have lost faith in it, for good reason, and with every new Tromp scandal our faith grows weaker.
But there are no other democratic proposals out there on the table. Our constitution and our system of elected officials is, at the moment, the best thing we have. Let’s not throw them out the window.
To make a long story short, what’s more concerning than Tromp? The possible loss of our democratic institutions. That’s what. Let’s keep a sharp eye and all our wits about us in the days and weeks to come. Watch the news, but also watch behind the news.
– Kristin King