The term “banana republic” describes a politically unstable country. What often comes to mind when one hears the term is a Central American or African country in which the ruling elites run their government as their own personal enterprise, exploiting the masses to keep power and enrich themselves. Government and select business officials manipulate the law of the land only for their own benefit. The well being and needs of the population at large is not the concern of the ruler, and there are most certainly no rules under which a regular person can appeal a government decision. One remarkable similarity in virtually every banana republic is that confidence in government is non-existent.
It appears the United States of America is well on the path to earn the less-than-coveted title of “Banana Republic of America.”
America is a democratic republic. We have a representative form of government where each area chooses a representative to promote their interests within the body of government. Essential to the success of this form of government is the integrity of the ballot process. Every legitimate vote must be counted, and fraudulent ballots must be rooted out. Public confidence that the individual who gets the most votes really wins is the most basic building block in the democratic process.
That public confidence is being obliterated in 2020.
President Trump and the Republican Party are quite sure the Democrats are out to steal the election. Democrat stronghold cities are sending out mail-in ballots whether people request them or not. Some communities are saying no witness and no signature is necessary for a ballot to count. Both policies would seem to open the process up to fraud. The president has repeatedly said he reserves the right to question the outcome of the November election.
It isn’t just Team Trump casting doubt, however. Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in a recent rare public appearance, was quoted recently as saying the only way he can lose the election is through “chicanery.” In other words, unless he wins, there must have been cheating.
Both sides are telling the public not to trust the outcome. According to multiple polls, public confidence in the election process among Americans is at an all-time low.
Wait you say! Isn’t there a judicial process through which any ballot-related questions can be reviewed? Of course there is, and ultimately any legal review of the 2020 presidential election will end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thank goodness this august body enjoys a confidence level from the public much higher than that of the election process itself.
Or does it?
Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mr. Biden’s stump speech, during those few times that he leaves the basement, has included the stock line saying that President Trump’s selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the highest court in the land is unconstitutional. It is not. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution is quite clear that a sitting president’s responsibility is to fill any such vacancy, but sowing the seeds of doubt and discontent is higher on Mr. Biden’s priority list than adhering to the Constitution.
Mr. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, is doing likewise. During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, rather than ask substantive questions of the nominee, Ms. Harris declared that the hearing itself was illegitimate, and one could infer from her comments that any approval of the nominee will be deemed illegitimate as well. In reality, the process put in place by the Judiciary Committee has followed both the law and Senate procedures to a tee, but Ms. Harris’ purpose, like Mr. Biden’s, is to shatter confidence in the structure of government.
Think about the result of all of this doubt. If 50% of the people don’t believe the presidential election results and then the Supreme Court, when called upon to settle the matter, is deemed illegitimate, an angry and confused public could turn to rioting. Thank goodness we have the fine trusted men and women of law enforcement to count on in such an emergency situation.
Or do we?
The left is calling to defund the police. Black Lives Matter marches frequently feature a chant of “Kill the Police.” The mainstream media has pushed the myth of mostly peaceful protests while police precincts are taken over by thugs and law enforcement vehicles are burned in the streets. Left-wing mayors are telling their police to stand down and let rioters express themselves. Police are being turned away in restaurants because of their career choice. Some are being shot, simply because they wear the uniform. Are there bad cops? Of course, but it is a tiny fraction of those in blue. The narrative on police in 2020 has largely been they should be abolished because you can’t trust them.
Surely there is some leadership in Washington that realizes the integrity of government is more important than their own victory in the here and now. Surely there are statesmen and women among us.
If so, they aren’t getting any headlines. Instead, we see Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, repeat to the media over and over for two years that he had personally seen “piles of evidence” demonstrating President Trump had colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Former CIA chief John Brennan said much the same night after night on CNN for those two years, indicating that he was privy to classified information showing the Trump misdeeds. As it turned out, after a two-year, $30 million investigation, no evidence existed at all. Most recently it has come to light that not only did Mr. Brennan know there was no evidence, he actually briefed then President Obama and his national security team that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was spinning the story for her own political advantage.
The man at the top of the intelligence food chain not only allowed one candidate to smear another with knowingly false information, not only allowed the president of the United States to be investigated for two years on that same false information but concurrently lied to the American public on cable television about it, fanning the flames of distrust.
When the Russia hoax came up empty, Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat team in Congress quickly came up with another idea. They would impeach the president. The reason? He had a conversation with the president of Ukraine. According to a “whistleblower” who wasn’t even on the call, but allegedly heard about it from some NSA friends who were, there was a hidden meaning to the president’s conversation. Neither of the two presidents on the call agreed with the assessment, but Mrs. Pelosi saw it as a chance to take down a political rival. Impeachment was intended to be used when a president breaks the law. Last time I checked being rude or brash, while not desirable, were not illegal. The intended purpose of impeachment be damned, however; it was a tool in Mrs. Pelosi’s toolbox.
We are living in times in which our leaders have intentionally cast doubt on the court. Members of Congress have managed to earn the doubt of nearly 90% of America simply through childish partisan behavior. They have intentionally cast doubt on the presidency through the abuse of the impeachment process. Elected officials and the media have both cast doubt on law enforcement. It seems nearly everyone even tangentially involved in politics now says or does whatever they think can win the moment regardless of the long-term consequences.
Bureaucrats in the state of Virginia have decided to ignore the law on the books regarding ballot postmarks. The state legislature didn’t change the law. No. Virginia administrative officials have simply made the choice to do something different. On whose authority? No one has that authority under the law, yet they insist anyway.
All of this reminds me of visiting comedy clubs many years back. If a stand-up comic’s material wasn’t getting laughs, the old trick was to go to dirty material, shocking a reaction out of the audience. The shock was better than silence or groans. It was also a sure sign that the comedian wasn’t funny.
In politics, when those in power start ignoring laws or worse yet, twisting the laws for political theater and selfish short-term gains, you can be pretty sure you aren’t dealing with statesmen.
Such banana republic moves also indicate something much more alarming. Stability no longer exists. The rules change day to day. The laws only apply sometimes and only to certain people. Election results, the courts, the police and elected officials themselves are under a constant shadow of doubt. Those who sow these seeds damn us all to an unpleasant fate. Any country subject to the whims of self-serving officials rather than the rule of law is doomed