A Brief Note On What May Happen

Jasmin Mujanović, a political scientist, wrote the following on Twitter yesterday:

Assume for a second that the US is in the midst of a constitutional crisis (it is). Notice how the stores are still open, your bus completed its usual route and the game is still on? That’s what makes genuine crises terrifying, because they (co)exist for so long within our normal expectations of life.

They continue to do so all up until the point that they don’t. When the news is no longer something you can turn off, when it’s on your street, at your kid’s school, in your community, it’s too late for “resistance”. Then it’s largely a matter of individual survival.

That’s why both scholars of authoritarianism/sectarianism and/or survivors of such regimes have implored you to organize and inform yourself now, when it is still “normal”, when it’s still “someone else’s” child, when it’s a question of archaic rules of order.

The last two days have brought credible allegations of major dysfunction and crisis within the US government. There are fundamental questions regarding the integrity/legitimacy of the 2016 election. It’s unclear what, if any, steps have been taken to secure the mid-terms.

The fact that it is unclear who is genuinely in charge, what the civilian/military chain of command is, what would happen in event of a major security crisis, suggests the situation has already catastrophically deteriorated.

Until there is a concerted and consistent civil society and Congressional effort to restore accountability and leadership in the White House, it is difficult to see any of this ending without major instability of the sort unlike anything Americans have seen in generations and possibly ever.

Mr. Mujanović is probably too pessimistic. Somehow the federal government will continue to muddle through despite having a dangerously unfit person in charge of the Executive branch and a supine majority in charge of the Legislative. But there is no guarantee.

That’s why it is crucial that the Democrats take at least one house of Congress in the upcoming election. If that happens, at least half of Congress will once again take on its constitutional role and operate as an equal branch of the government. 

The midterm election is only 61 days away. We all need to do what we can in order to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We need to encourage all reasonable people to register and vote. That’s how we can begin to address the current crisis,  restore some sanity to the federal government and avoid the dark future Mr. Mujanović fears.