We are heading into what may well be another blistering week. Petulant, ill-conceived executive orders and memoranda, crony appointments, and purges of both data and civil servants, all reveal this administration believes it is accountable to no one but its donors. Wrong! They are accountable to us, the people of the United States. Our country and the world need us to fulfill our duties as citizens in the face of this wildness.
We must insist that all our public servants do their job and represent us. They may disagree with us, but they must listen to our views, including our rejection of the way the executive branch is spinning webs of lies, ignoring precedents and protocol, functioning incompetently and unethically, and generally trying to gaslight us all by refusing to acknowledge that fact and fiction differ.
Our NC Senators and Representatives (and all Republican lawmakers) in particular need to understand that our resistance is NOT born of party politics. Arguing against this administration’s worldview is vastly different from old arguments between progressive and conservative visions. This is no longer about ‘right versus left.’ Rather, this has become ‘democracy versus authoritarianism,’ what I would instead call ‘right versus wrong.’ We are not protesting a particular political party; we are insisting on the terms of how our government works, demanding that both parties respect our balance of powers and Constitutional framework. It is their job to do so. The base behind Bannon and company sees Republicans as useful; however, they have a starkly different philosophy than what used to pass for American Republican perspective. I dearly hope that a critical mass of Congressional Republicans can come to their senses and take their party back from the kleptocrats that threaten to run the table.
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s reactions so far earn mixed reviews. Burr has criticized pushback against unqualified cabinet nominees by painting protestors and Senate Democrats as disingenuous in their calls for completed ethics questionnaires and extended committee hearings to explore candidates’ readiness. He seems to believe all the teachers, parents, and citizens concerned about having someone with with no experience in, and a history of antagonism toward, public education nominated to be in charge of -er, public education, are all “part of a strategy hatched some time ago” by Senate Democrats. It’s not a rational interpretation of this massive citizen outcry. The strategy is to tell our Senator how we feel and what actions he could take to represent our views. That’s doing our job. Unfortunately, it is hard to ignore the $43,200 that this nominee’s family donated to Senator Burr’s own campaign. Hard to ignore the contributions, because the Senator is ignoring his constituents.
We can certainly thank Senator Burr for his work as Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair to investigate Russian efforts directed against the 2016 U.S. elections. Common ground to be celebrated and reinforced.
When it comes to cabinet nominees, however, Senator Burr continues to mistake rubber stamping this administration’s unethical choices for loyalty. On Tom Price for HHS, Burr’s statement includes “Senate Democrats should stop running side shows and honor the results of the 2016 election so that the President can move forward with putting his leadership in place at these federal agencies.” Senator, if the nominated leaders in question would provide complete vetting material, the process would already be moving faster. Asking for and investigating the ethical and financial disclosure statements of potential cabinet members is not a side show. It’s doing your job.