A tyrant is an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or person, or one who has usurped legitimate sovereignty.
I’m 62 years old and have lived through Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, and the American glorification of torture. Yet things keep getting worse. It’s hard to know where to begin, but just this year alone we’ve seen the sabotaging of health care, the firing of the FBI director to obstruct justice, the pardon of Arpaio, withdrawl from the Paris climate agreement, nuclear saber rattling, more voter suppression, the EPA approving dangerous chemicals and silencing of scientists, the undermining of the energy, education, and most of the other governmental departments, and more. And this is all just off the top of my head. Those who are aware and possess a moral compass should either cry or revolt.
And for what? Mostly for a little bit of money. For tax cuts that won’t even make the rich happier. But now I think we are at a crucial moment, and here’s what I think will happen—although I hope that countervailing forces of which I am unaware will prevent this.
As Mueller’s investigation of Trump closes in, I believe Trump will fire Mueller and the Republicans will not object. This depends on how close Mueller gets, but if he uncovers enough of Trump’s crimes then I think the firing is almost inevitable. I hope I’m wrong.
And the Republicans won’t object because their position has been staked out—party over country. We have seen this over and over, most recently with the revelation by PBS Frontline that when the Obama administration and intelligence officials informed Ryan and McConnell in a closed-door meeting that the election was being compromised by Russia, the Republican leaders said they would not join a statement informing the American public of this fact. Here’s one reporter’s commentary on that meeting:
“It’s a moment when politics and partisan positioning appears to take precedence over national security,” Greg Miller of The Washington Post tells FRONTLINE. “In other words, they are so worried about each other, the Democrats and Republicans as adversaries, that they can’t get around the idea that there is a bigger adversary.”
So if Trump fires Mueller and the Republicans don’t object, then the thin reed upon which an already fragile rule of law rests will collapse. If there is no accountability of the executive branch, then nothing prevents it from shutting down opposition media, jailing political opponents, completely looting the treasury, and all the rest.
And McConnell and Ryan aren’t protected from the onslaught either. Like other conservative Republicans—Cantor, Boehner, Flake, Corker, McCain—they too won’t seem sufficiently loyal to Trump, Bannon, the Mercers, the Koch brothers, and all the rest of the suit wearing gangsters. In the end no one is safe from arbitrary power, even the mafia godfather Trump himself must look over his shoulder. Perhaps they will prefer Pence. But even the oligarchs themselves aren’t secure. By unraveling the social stability upon which their fortunes rest, they too become susceptible to the chaos. It is hard to see how undermining the stability of the country is in their long-term interest.
Aristotle said long ago that when human passion rather than reason provides the basis for law, we are all at the mercy of the changing, irrational passions of men. Aristotle was right.
What all this implies is that white Americans might actually experience what African and Native Americans have experienced for centuries—law based on power alone, with considerations of justice being irrelevant. At that point we live under tyranny, as most people have in human history. Perhaps it is our turn?