From time to time I want to link to intelligent worries I come across, and also to interesting dissents from the way I see things.
While the Trump administration continues careening through its first weeks, David Brooks focuses on the Republican party members in the Congress who are standing together to support Trump’s initial actions, sometimes by staying silent, sometimes by taking active steps. The Republican Fausts, he calls them, warning that they, too, will bear responsibility for the wreckage he creates. He writes
The danger signs are there in profusion. Sooner or later, the Republican Fausts will face a binary choice. As they did under Nixon, Republican leaders will have to either oppose Trump and risk his tweets, or sidle along with him and live with his stain.
Will Republicans in Congress stand up in opposition?
An even starker worry comes from Paul Gowder, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. He worries (in the Niskanen Center blog) about The Trump Threat to the Rule of Law and the Constitution. I hope he’s wrong, but it is a bracing read. Here’s the last paragraph:
Unfortunately, we have much more than a small sign. We have a president who maintains a private armed force, who has sidelined the politically accountable security services, who has perpetuated frivolous allegations of multimillion-perpetrator voter fraud in an election he won, who has engaged in extended ethno-national and religious scapegoating, who has encouraged violence from his supporters against his opponents, who has threatened to imprison his electoral opponent, and who happens to be a billionaire with countless undisclosed financial entanglements and obscure resources. He may have already ordered executive branch officials to disobey court orders. At the very least, subordinate officials have disobeyed the courts in the name of his prior orders. The time to act is now, while we still can.
Tempering these strong worries is a more mild one from Ross Douthat. In How Populism Stumbles, he predicts that the Trump administration will bring its own downfall.
But what we’ve watched unfold with refugee policy suggests that chaos and incompetence are much more likely to define this administration than any kind of ruthless strength.
I suppose Douthat may be right, but as with Brooks and Gowder, I believe we face a deeper, more substantial threat, one that will ask for vigilance and a willingness to act from each of us.