In America First we saw how Donald Trump was working to undermine public confidence in three of the essential pillars of American democracy:
- an independent judiciary
- the press & media
- the voting system
And all this, it was suggested, with a view to turning America into a neo-fascist state: a dictatorship and personality cult centred on the man who described himself (in a phone conversation with the Australian Prime Minister) as “the world’s greatest person”.
He’s since begun to undermine an additional pillar of democracy: Congress itself has now become a central target in his campaign to ‘drain the swamp’.
Draining the swamp:
In July (2017) Trump said that Republican senators “look like fools” (for not doing away with the legislative filibuster). In August he blamed the Republican-controlled Congress for worsening relations with Russia, tweeting: “You can thank Congress, the same people who can’t even give us HCare!” (referring to the failed attempts to repeal and replace the so-called ‘Obamacare’ health policies).
Now he’s taken to targeting individual Republican Senators who have dared to criticise him. Take Senator Jeff Flake, for example, who is seeking re-election but facing a challenger in the primary selection process. Trump is backing the challenger, tweeting: “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate … He’s toxic!”
His attacks on elected Republicans go much wider: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Dean Heller and Bob Corker … all been targets for Trump’s ire in recent weeks and months.
All this serves a three-fold purpose: to undermine public confidence in Congress as an institution, to intimidate other Republican members of Congress into avoiding further critical comment; and to try and replace those critics who refuse to be cowed with more pliant Republicans crafted in his own image. (more…)