In the time of monsters: Trump fiddles with Flynn …
In the December 19, 2020 edition of Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson exposes recent pressures to kill our democracy.
“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters,” wrote Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci. Trump and the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to retain their hold on power, while President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are quietly trying to move forward.
There are monsters, indeed. Today, New York Times journalists Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported that Trump held a long meeting at the White House yesterday with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani; disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump recently pardoned for lying to the FBI; and Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell. These four are the heart of those insisting—without evidence—that Trump won the 2020 election. They have talked of Trump declaring martial law and holding new elections. In the meeting, Trump apparently asked about appointing Powell as special counsel to investigate voter fraud in the 2020 election.
White House advisers in the room, including White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, pushed back strongly, noting that Powell has yet to prove any of her accusations. Axios journalist Jonathan Swan reported that senior Trump officials think Trump is spending too much time with crackpots who are egging him on to seize power. One told Swan: when Trump is “retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it’s impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends.”
… while our country burns.
The country is increasingly ravaged by the pandemic. Friday saw more than 250,000 new infections in a single day. More than 315,000 have died, including 3,611 on Wednesday. More than 128,000 Americans have received the vaccine.
The economy is in recession, but yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) objected to one-time federal payments of $1200 because he says he’s worried about the deficit. Democrats noted that the Trump administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy and military spending added a projected $4 trillion to the deficit by 2026. Then, just as it seemed both sides had come to an agreement over a coronavirus relief bill, the Republicans scuttled it with a new demand that would rein in the ability of the Federal Reserve to combat the recession. This would take from Biden a key tool. The Republicans seem to be doing their best to undercut the Biden administration so they can regain power in 2022 and 2024.
(Just before midnight tonight, the Senate appears to have reached a compromise. Details are not yet available).
This week, the United States learned of a massive hack on our government and business sector. Intelligence agents as well as Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, say Russia is behind the attack. Once again, though, Trump refuses to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin. He claimed that the attack wasn’t as bad as the “Fake News Media” says it is, and he suggested the culprit could have been China, rather than Russia. Then, once again, he insisted he won the election.
Can there be any doubt that Trump is in thrall to Putin?
And yet, if the Trump administration models an assault on our country by a group of oligarchs determined to seize power, the incoming Biden administration is signaling that it takes seriously our future as a true multicultural democracy.
Nothing signals that more than the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) as Secretary of the Interior Department. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people who have lived in the land that is now New Mexico for 35 generations. She is the daughter of two military veterans. A single mother who earned a law degree with a young daughter in tow, she was a tribal leader focused on environmentally responsible economic development for the Lagunas before she became a Democratic leader.
SNIP (Read today’s letter for the sad history of our treatment of indigenous peoples.)
The Interior Department today manages our natural resources as well as the government’s relationship with Indigenous tribes. Placing Haaland at the head of it is more than simply promoting diversity in government. It is a recognition of 170 years of American history and the perversion of our principles by men who lusted for power. It is a sign that we are finally trying to use the government for the good of everyone.
“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted after the announcement. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”
A new world struggles to be born.