On Legitimacy

In the Declaration, right after the familiar bit about unalienable rights, there’s a passage with more than a little relevance to our travails some 240 years later:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

This provides a simple, enduring definition of what qualifies as a legitimate government: Lacking the consent of its citizens, no government can claim to rule. Anything less leads to despotism.

The United States is, by the definition of its founders, an illegitimate, despotic government. This was blindingly true at its founding: one race was enslaved, one sex denied the franchise. The high ideals of our founding were not fulfilled by their implementation.

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The T-Word

For a brief moment Monday, we thought something happened.

The President of the United States, on live television, demonstrated fealty to a foreign dictator, a man whose country has been methodically undermining our electoral system, and all hell broke loose. Suddenly that word, the Word That Must Not Be Spoken, the word that best describes what is happening and has been happening, escaped into mainstream discussion.

It didn’t last. Within twenty-four hours, the T-Word had been shoved back into the closet. By Friday, discussion had returned to conventional corruption. But it was too late. The T-Word came out. It’ll come out again.

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The Coldest War

There’s really nothing new to say. Our country has been attacked, it continues to be attacked, and a frighteningly substantial number of people are fine with that, including a frighteningly substantial number of elites in government and media.

This is the case. If it were not the case, everything would look and sound a lot different.

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The Hypocrisy Game

When Bill Clinton won his first presidential election, in 1992, it was an Electoral College landslide — 370 votes to Poppy Bush’s 168. He also won the three-way popular vote by almost 6 million.

But, alas, Bubba lacked a “mandate” — his 44 million votes only amounted to 43 percent. Short of 50, the reasoning went, no sale.

Whose reasoning? Conservatives, of course.

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The Soul of the Republic

A Republic consists of its Citizens. That is the point of our Experiment in Democracy, where power resides in the collective will of the people, as expressed through their representatives.

At the time of our creation as a nation, this was by no means a generally agreed idea. We were colonies of a monarchy, one of many across Europe, each with its own landed hereditary aristocracy. Power was tightly held by families who had always held it, and for good reason, they thought. To let peasants through the door was madness.

Of course, the citizenry of our new nation was somewhat constrained, and would remain so for more than a century — continuing to this day, many would argue — but let’s set aside the cynicism of our founding and liberate the ideals from their circumstance. They’re fine ideals, after all. They continue to inspire. Our cynicism arises from not living up to them.

And hey, we did fight a war over them. A revolutionary war.

What was that about?

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The Full Scorsese

Summer is here, and we’re now some four months out from our last, best hope of salvaging what remains of our country.

Okay, more like six months. If Dems take back the House or Senate in November, you know Republicans are going to do what they can to trash the joint before January.

A House flip — good luck with the Senate — won’t set things straight. Trump will still wield enormous power, the courts are lost for a generation, and four in ten Americans will still be vile, racist, mendacious scum. But anything, anything, that throws sand in the gears will be welcome. We all need to hold on for the next fight.

Maybe MJ Hegar can help. She hails from Texas, and she’s running for the House against an entrenched teabagger. We have no clue whether she stands a chance, but a DC/Boston agency whipped this up for her, and holy shit, it’s inspiring. We can use some of that right now.

Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

Do not weep for him. He was a monster.