So after spending a weekend pretending he wasn’t going to sign a bill that he had to sign, Trump signed it and now will have to figure out a way to keep himself in the spotlight for another four weeks.
Whether he knows it or not, and I suspect he doesn’t know it because he’s actually dumb as shit, Trump’s failed attempt to set himself up as a new and independent political force reflects a unique way in which American democracy differs from every other democratic system in the West, a difference having to do with the relationship of the Chief Executive to the party under whose label he is elected every four years.
Leaving aside Scandinavia, we are the only Western country which is not a parliamentary democracy, which means we have three separate but equal governmental branches – executive, legislative, judiciary – whereas in every other democratic system there are only two. In Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, etc., the Prime Minister is the leader of the political party which controls the parliament, in the United States the chief executive may be a member of the party which holds power in the legislature, then again, he may not.
This basic lesson in how our government is structured is usually taught in the 6th grade. The school curriculum is obviously different in Alabama, because the Senator-elect, Tommy Tuberville, thinks that our three branches of government are the President, the Senate and the House.
Tuberville is one of a handful of Senate and House members who are considering an attempt to reverse the results of the Presidential election on January 6th. This is the day that Congress certifies the results of voting last November, but if both chambers refuse to endorse the vote, the election for President goes to the House of Representatives based on one vote for each state. Since this would give the GOP a majority of votes, Joe would be out, and Trump would be in.
Before leaving for Mar-a-Lago last week, Trump held meetings in the White House to plan this long-shot attempt to renew his White House lease. Who showed up for those meetings? His TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the other crazy lawyer Sidney Powell, and Alan Dershowitz, who was a frequent customer at Jeffrey Epstein’s massage.
Trump can only remain in office for another term if the entire GOP plus a few disaffected Democrats come to his aid, and yet he couldn’t convince a single, political leader from either side to get involved in these shenanigans at all.
I have some gun-nut friends who are really pissed off at what they claim is the ‘failure’ of the GOP to defend Trump. But the point is that Trump’s relationship with the party that nominated him for President in 2016 has always been ambivalent at best. And this ambivalence is right now coming home to roost with Trump signing a Covid-19 relief bill which yesterday he called a ‘disgrace.’
Not only are we the only Western democracy with three ‘separate but equal’ branches of government, we are also the one democracy that hasn’t been threatened or overthrown by an assault either from the Left or the Right. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, we are the only Western democracy that hasn’t been threatened or overthrown by a military putsch, a mass popular uprising, a legislative expression of no-confidence or a general strike.
Since 1920 there has only been one election (1968) where parties other than the Democrats and Republicans received more than 10% of the total vote. What is really remarkable about our system is how two parties, whose political stances can best be described as center-left and center-right, so totally and completely control how political strategies work out. And by the way, at the end of Joe’s first term, since 1960 each party will have controlled the White House for 32 years.
If Trump had understood any of this, we might be putting up with him until 2024. Thank God he’s as dumb as he is.