Meddle of Honor

The central theme accompanying the impeachment of Donald Trump argues that there is a grave danger of "foreign interference" in our "cherished democratic institutions." This is a very weak proposition, provably untrue from several standpoints.

In the first place, our constitution welcomes foreigners to participate in debates and discussions of public policy, including our choice of leaders. Freedom of speech, we call it. Even Putin is allowed to express a preference. If he wants to, he can take out a full-page ad in the Hartford Courant promoting the candidacy of Donald Trump or Mayor Bronin or criticizing our wonderful criminal justice system. What our leaders call meddling is precisely what our constitution protects as free speech.

In the second place, our cherished democratic institutions are so totally corrupted by rich people that any influence a foreign power might wield would be of trivial effect. We live in a country in which the requirements of rich people take precedence over the public will. If they don't get richer, we don't work, we don't eat, we don't get by, and so we allow ourselves to be ruled by competing crime families, elected by tiny minorities of bought constituencies. The one variable that is most closely linked to electoral success is the number of dollars in the candidate's campaign treasury, and most of those dollars come from Americans who have money to spare.

In the third place, nearly half of the eligible electorate repudiates the electoral process and stays home while the rest of us are voting. That's a democracy in trouble, and not because of foreign meddling. You have to go back a couple of generations to find an election in which a presidential candidate's vote count exceeded the number who didn't vote. Clinton and Trump together barely matched the total of self-excused. If you really wanted to sabotage the electoral process, you would nominate cheats and liars as candidates, ensuring that most people would find nobody to vote for. That's what our two political parties do every year, and they don't need foreign influence to do it.

Finally, our elections are managed and dominated by our mass media. They decide who will run--mainly on the basis of how much is spent with them on advertising--and they generate incessant chatter predicting who will win. Protected by the bill of rights, they use their power to manipulate us. They don't simply record history. They drive the events that shape history, elections most prominently.

There's good and sufficient reason to remove Donald Trump, and we don't need to resort to the tactics of Joseph McCarthy to do it. We hear that Trump's removal will reverse the results of an election. Duh! Fact is that Trump voters knew he was a thug when they voted for him. To judge from the audiences he attracts, they support him because he's a narcissistic, greed-driven sociopath and not in spite of that fact. His impeachment was a foreseeable risk. Too bad our congressional representatives can't make a strong and coherent case for removal.