Well, that was close. Four years of increasing flirtation with fascism that culminated with a well-architected, poorly-executed coup attempt that damn near worked to overthrow our democracy. We can’t afford to ever go through anything like that again — because next time, the fascists we deal with might actually just be competent.
So how do we stop it? Or at least, how can we mitigate the impact? I have some ideas that I think are practical and achievable by the Biden administration, but I’m not pretending I’ve thought of everything. Here are three ideas I’ve come up with so far:
1. Introduce legislation that declares that sitting presidents can be investigated and prosecuted while in office. Mueller used some justice department memo from way back when that said a sitting president can’t be prosecuted as an excuse to abdicate his responsibility to do the right thing and recommend charging Trump and everyone seemed to just take it in stride. I’m sorry, but what kind of bullshit is that? Of course a sitting president can be prosecuted. The president isn’t an elected dictator. They should fear prosecution just like the rest of us. And I call bullshit on presidents being too busy with governing the country to be distracted by defending themselves in court. That’s what Vice Presidents are for. Bottom line: If a president doesn’t want to be prosecuted, then a president shouldn’t do anything to get prosecuted. Now, I don’t know how constitutionally full-proof such a law would be, but I assume it would be more full-proof than a lousy justice department memo. And I think it would be easy to pass. For one thing, Democrats are motivated to avoid dealing with another Trump in their lifetimes. And I’m sure Republicans would be positively gleeful to suddenly have the hypothetical ability to investigate and prosecute Biden. But I’m actually not worried about that, because I don’t foresee Bident doing anything in office that would get him thrown in jail.
2. Introduce legislation to protect individual federal law enforcement agents or justice department prosecutors from having their investigations stymied by political appointees. I don’t know specifically what this legislation would look like (e.g., allowing investigators to appeal to an Inspector General or congress to override political appointees), but there’s gotta be a legislative way to prevent the Bill Barrs of the world from meddling with investigations and/or prosecutions. And again – I don’t know the Republicans would oppose this since it would – in theory – strengthen their hand against Biden. But this is bigger than Biden. This is about mitigating the impact of the next fascist in power.
3. Take down Putin. I’m not talking about sanctions (although I’m in favor of those), or retaliatory electronic countermeasures (although I think these are needed, too). I mean we should TAKE HIM DOWN. As in adopt a “regime change” posture with the Russians. As in fund, organize, and otherwise aid the opposition in his country to remove him from power. Sounds pretty provocative and risky, right? You’re damn right it is. Just like it was risky and provocative when Putin did this very thing to us for the last four years. Because of him and through his actions, we were left with a band of authoritarians in charge of our government who damn near ended our democracy for good. So my question isn’t whether or not we should take Putin on, but rather how we could ever consider NOT taking him on. Because a) we owe the motherfucker, and b) if we don’t take him down – or at least significantly weaken him – there’s no reason to believe he won’t try again. Or, put another way, he’s already been fighting a cold war with us for years – we just haven’t been fighting back.
So those are three ideas off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a million things I haven’t thought of, but the bottom line is we need to start planning and taking action now for another Trump, because next time we might not get our democracy back.
PS. I’ve been a longtime lurker on this site, but haven’t logged in for a really long time – so I actually had to create a new account to post this.