Opinion | Muftic: Democrats and GOP switch roles in the Trump era
Watching an interview with the new Democratic Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado’s 6th, a Denver suburban district that flipped from red to blue in 2018, brought home how strange life has become in the Trump era. The Democrats and the GOP have reversed their traditional roles in many ways.
Crow, an army ranger combat veteran who rose from a private to a captain with multi tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan is no oddity in the Democratic House caucus. Now, Congress has many Democrats, ten of the 67 elected in 2018, men and women, who have had combat experience or who were intelligence officers, and who have brought their views to Congress of respect of the military and wisdom about war. Once respect for the military was a GOP patriotic thing, salute the flag, patriotism, and honoring those who sacrificed their lives to keep America free. All of those traits were a guaranteed flag waiver. Democrats after Viet Nam were less supportive of the military and were skeptical of sentiments hyper-patriotism. The generals who had joined the administration’s White House staff are long gone after daring to advise the President in ways that were contrary to his misconceptions. However, Democrats have been the ones who now have their ranks including military veterans and who often cite departing, disillusioned military advisors like the ones who represented forces keeping the President’s worst impulses in check. How times have changed as Democrats view military brass and veterans as forces for good as Trump sheds or fires his military White House advisers.
Once upon a time not so long ago Conservatives and the GOP were seen as defenders of the original intent of our founders in writing the constitution. The executive powers were checked and balanced by the legislature and the Supreme Court in sheer fear some future politician would rise to be King not subject to the same laws as those he governed, free to undermine and trample and interpret laws to promote his retaining power. Now the Trump administration is the one advocating a “strong” leader and stonewalling and subverting the attempts of Congress to hold him accountable. Through appointments of federal and supreme court judges and an attorney general who has a record of advocating the supremacy of the presidency, the Trump administration is proclaiming its power to be above the law and above the ability of Congress to hold the president accountable. On the other hand, it is the Democrats who have become the champion of the original intent of our founders and the constraints on the executive branch as they interpret the meaning of the provisions of the Constitution. It is the Democrats who are supporting the mantra that no one is above the law and upholding the separation of powers as they rail against Trump’s tendency to act like an imperial president.
Once upon a time, the FBI was seen as the ultimate law and order enforcer in the US, admired as macho heroes who went after terrorists and mob bosses with dogged devotion to acting on behalf of the rule of law and order, saving our freedom from the USSR aggression. Now, the integrity of the FBI is under attack by the President, who is engineering a special counsel to investigate the investigators, claiming their Republican-affiliated staff leaders were out to get him. The FBI was the GOP’s good guys in the months leading up to the 2016 campaign when they announced on again and off again criminal investigations into Clinton’s alleged misuse of emails and possibly disclosing classified information. Their actions may have been the ultimate factors in her defeat though Russian interference that painted Clinton in a bad light via bots and disinformation may have played an equal role. That GOP love affair with the FBI went south in 2017 when it became common knowledge the FBI was looking into the Russian connections of Trump and his campaign associated and Donald Trump fired James Comey, the former admired FBI chief whose actions helped Trump get elected. The Democrats emerged as the champion of the FBI and US intelligence services and the rule of law.
Upside down and changing places are partisan attitudes toward Russia. The FBI and our intelligence services kept us safe from the Soviets in the Cold War, when Russians were viewed as our sworn enemies. The Democrats are now the ones viewing Russia as an enemy and the GOP is either in denial the Russians interfered with the 2016 elections or asking, so what is wrong with that? In spite of the post-Soviet era thaw, the rise of former KGB operative Vladimir Putin to near dictatorial control of Russia and looking to reassemble the former Soviet influence in East European border states, has resulted in the US intelligence agencies considering Russia an adversary. On the other hand, Donald Trump sees Russians as a trusted ally with their foreign policy goals worthy of his support. Trump in Helsinki publicly has proclaimed he trusted Putin and Russian intelligence services over our own and after other secret meetings with Putin, he took Putin’s word for it that denied Russians interfered in the 2016 elections. Trump has taken actions to lift sanctions on Russians for their expansion into Ukraine, Crimea, and interference in the 2016 elections and advocated measures to weaken NATO’s mutual defense function that is keeping Russians from advancing their control of NATO members. Turning a blind eye to any evidence of Russian interference presented by Mueller, the GOP seems not to care that Russians attempted to twist the minds of US voters with their use of social media and advertising, subverting US democracy’s purpose of our freedom to reflect the will of our own citizens and to destroy our trust in democratic processes.
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