I am amused whenever I hear my American countrymen speak of American exceptionalism. I was and am equally amused when I heard and continue to hear my presidential candidate and now president Joe Biden refer to events during his predecessor’s tenure that, in fact, we Americans are better than this. We are not. We are a nation consisting of both good and bad, principled and unprincipled, noble in spirit and avaricious.
We do seem to enjoy taking umbrage at the behavior of other nations and lording over them referring to our own Constitutional framers as almost saints. For me, in this regard, there is particularly a sense of hurt because we often criticize Ukraine for its corruption, its politicians for a lack of integrity, and for being primitive. Yes, many Ukrainian politicians are corrupt, primitive, and deplorable, very much like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and yes Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio, and many others representing a broad and bipartisan spectrum. Frankly speaking, leaders are rarely genuine saints despite proclamations by their churches, and not unlike the often slave-owning and adulterous fathers of our Declaration of Independence and framers of our Constitution, ostensible paragons of many times blemished American democracy. Political expediency is the rule.
The recent impeachment trial in the United States Senate sent many messages, but for me, the loudest was political expediency on both sides and lack of integrity. Donald Trump was acquitted. Congressman Jamie Raskin did better than could have been expected by most Americans. Americans are like Mitch McConnell who voted to acquit Donald J. Trump, yet proceeded to denigrate that same Trump and suggest that criminal prosecution should be the order of the day or “lightweight” Lindsey Graham, “lyin” Ted Cruz,” little” Marco Rubio, ridiculed shills for their tormentor yet pandering for the sake of political expediency.
Consider Senator Lindsey Graham, a pretender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 who was soundly defeated and mercilessly ridiculed by the eventual candidate and President. An important attribute for politicians is a thick skin and Lindsey possesses the thickest going on to become a sycophant for his tormentor. For his behavior during the Impeachment trial, Lindsey deserves both rebuke for his lack of principles or integrity, yet credit for his shameless honesty. Lindsey explained his position many times, Donald Trump remains the most influential figure in Republican party politics. How sad is that? Lindsey despite the Manchurian influence and danger, goes along because he wants his Party to win in 2022 (at any cost-AL) A non-politician may disagree with this logic, but it characterizes, in a nutshell, the overwhelming political mindset of the grassroots that censure those who step out of line. In the case of Lindsey, many have asked what Trump has on him.
Senator Mitch McConnell is a different brand with a much thinner skin. Unforgiving because Trump’s behavior probably cost Republicans two Georgia Senate seats and thus McConnell’s leadership of the Senate, Moscow Mitch is nonetheless hopeful that in 2022 he may regain leadership and thus he plays every angle. He resents Trump for influence in the Republican party but cannot disregard this factor unless Trump is criminally prosecuted and perhaps convicted which would greatly diminish his influence. In the interim, Mitch could not bring himself to vote to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial since that would be public disassociation and condemnation and Trump is a most vindictive person. Let the Courts do the dirty work. McConnell is overwhelmingly concerned with money and his own personal power. However, since some of that stems from his leadership role in the Republican Party he has to manifest loyalty. Wealth is a factor of his marriage and at the same time, he has to accommodate his spouse’s business interests. Between McConnel’s wife who served as America’s Transportation Secretary under Trump while having a Chinese transport interest and Hunter Biden’s financial involvement in China, both the Party in power and the Republicans including the extensive interests of Ivanka Trump have interests in cooperating with the U.S. number one economic competitor. This soap opera will run for the foreseeable future.
Democratic (small d – ASL) politics are the proverbial tangled web no matter where it’s played out. Entangled are simple and weak human beings with significant frailties who should be held accountable to the people. Still, those same people, are equally weak and often less sophisticated which is both good and bad, less susceptible to being fooled but also, unfortunately, lacking the appropriate education which prepares them to recognize issues. Such are the pitfalls of democracy that in a democracy populism is most dangerous. Nevertheless, what was it that Winston Churchill said about democracy?While it’s better than the other forms of government,it has trials and tribulations as well. It is a constant work in progress.There is no exceptionalism here.
February 16, 2021 Askold S. Lozynskyj