To date, my musings in this blog have only covered music, and at times my personal relationship to it. I plan to keep it that way. This week’s especially provoking news cycle, however, exasperated me enough to momentarily dabble in the current political maelstrom. I hope any readers may abide me, if for no other reason than that it eventually ties to a fantastic song by the criminally underrated Alejandro Escovedo on which Bruce Springsteen also prominently appears. Keep the faith…at least in music.
What do we have, as citizens of the United States, putative members of a participatory democracy, in the absence of a presumption of good faith? Is it naïve to consider that our current governmental operations, and by extension our country as a whole, are grievously broken because of nothing so much as the glaring deficiency of that fundamental proposition?
As I watch the continuing circus of the impeachment hearings unfold, I cannot resist an urge to oversimplify things and try to interact with it in layman’s terms (after all, what am I if not simple and a layman). First, in defending the president with regard to the Ukraine imbroglio, Republican congress members see fit, with a straight face, to frame his motivation as being nothing more than his overriding interest in rooting out corruption. This, for oh so many reasons, is laughable on its face (“Prima Facie,” as the lawyers might prefer), and saying so, stridently and with such mock effrontery as so many have now done, is simply an obscene exhibit of a bad faith argument (and certainly a proverbial insult to the intelligence of the citizenry, to boot). Similarly, there are those on the Democratic side who insist with equal vehemence that the circumstances of the infamous Zelensky call alone dictated their unavoidable surge toward impeachment articles, ignoring the inconvenient fact that many of their colleagues have been on a quest for Trump’s impeachment since before his inauguration, with one incoming congresswoman after the mid-term elections, in fact, gratuitously stating so in particularly inflammatory terms. It seems an equally bad faith stance to pretend otherwise; at the very least, it provides their opposition with ample evidence of ugly blemishes to their objectivity and supposedly principled position.
This all seems all the more ridiculous (even pointless) as the end result has been preordained since before it began: the Democratic majority house will vote to impeach, the Republican led senate will vote against, not one person involved – elected or otherwise – will have changed their mind (and worse, will have even been open to that possibility), and the president will emerge to proclaim his complete exoneration, yet again, a banner which he will surely wave to buttress his likely re-election.
Must the Democrats act, in accordance with their sworn oath, if they feel the president’s specific actions have violated the constitution and jeopardized our national interests? Of course. But wouldn’t it be nice if they could do so unburdened by us having to feign ignorance of pre-existing prejudices members of the oversight body have long gone on the record to state? And must the Republicans endorse the interests of a president they see as potentially being removed from his rightfully elected position? Sure. But is it too much to ask a defense based on, heaven forbid, the facts of the case, and not a demonstrably preposterous premise that screams of ribald hypocrisy? Apparently so.
Principled differences are now passé. Compromise is absurd. We have lost minimum good faith on both sides, and even any reason going forward to expect it. It isn’t just that alternate facts have begotten alternate realities, it’s that even committing to reality has been abandoned. A dearth of good faith has led our nation to a very bad place. And in the current delusory environment I have little faith in that improving.