Thursday, May 2, 2019, felt like the end of checks and balances in America. It was the day that the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee stood by and supported the executive branch’s decision to ignore a lawful subpoena issued by the legislative branch. At this moment in time, we no longer really have co-equal branches of government. And without this system, created with care by the Founding Fathers, we edge ever close to a dictatorship.
I spent five years working for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee during the Obama administration and I can tell you thelevel of blatant obstruction we are seeing from Trump and his cronies is on a totally different level from what the GOP was dealing with. At this point, the only real recourse for Democrats is to compel cooperation is to initiate impeachment proceedings and activate broader powers to enforce their subpoenas as Congress did with President Richard Nixon. This executive branch is flagrantly undermining the legislative branch. And it clearly thinks it can get away with it.
Our entire federal system is predicated on the idea that fidelity to our constitutionally mandated rules of governance supersedes political party. That even in the most partisan of environments, Republicans and Democrats acknowledge and respect the role that the branches of government play in limiting absolute power. But what happens when that respect is obliterated? When one branch of government decides to go rogue and ignore the constitutional authority of another?
Unfortunately, this is no longer a theoretical exercise to be examined and debated in the safe confines of a civics class. It is happening right now, before our very eyes.
Democracy is about choice. The people who serve in Congress weren’t installed by decree or birthright, but by a free vote of free people. By ignoring the authority of the Congress, Trump and his followers are ignoring the will of the American people. By shutting out the legislative branch, Trump and his administration are thumbing their noses at the Framers’ framework, and everything it represents.