OPINION – The United States finds itself, today, parked on the threshold of a constitutional crisis.
This wouldn’t be the first time this has occurred.
In fact, the nation has survived – barely – six of these, including one that resulted in the Civil War, one that came about as a result of voter fraud during the 1876 election and, of course, the Richard Nixon debacle.
There is, however, no equivalency to the one staring us in the face as we consider assertions by the Central Intelligence Agency that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election with the intent of placing Donald Trump in the White House.
The CIA said agents of the Russian government hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and turned the information over to WikiLeaks to boost the Trump effort.
The assertion was passed along to members of Congress before the election, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who dismissed the report.
Trump denounced the CIA findings and, in the process, gave a startling, unprecedented condemnation of the CIA.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump said. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and make America great again,” he said in a statement issued Friday.
Both parts of Trump’s statement are false.
At the moment, he holds a 306-232 lead in Electoral College votes, which does not equate to a landslide and actually ranks 21st in the 25 elections held during the last 100 years.
And, as far as the CIA and WMDs are concerned, his statement is also a falsehood. The information used by the Bush-Cheney administration to push troops into Iraq was cherry picked by the Bush administration from information gathered from two highly unreliable informants — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who became known in intelligence circles as “Curveball” because of his lack of veracity, and an informant named Muhammad Harith, whose information was also deemed unreliable by the intelligence community.
Because intelligence documents go to great lengths to include vast amounts of information, the statements of these two informants were included and pushed to the forefront by Cheney to build his case against Iraq and Saddam Hussein and ensure the windfall of government contracts he would help steer towards his old friends at Halliburton. The fact that the CIA released a more in-depth report four months after the initial document – a report that was skeptical of a functional or developing WMD program in Iraq – is lost on Trump and the Billionaire Boy’s Club Cabinet he is building.
This latest bit of drama adds to the growing list of reasons why members of the Electoral College will have a tougher decision than anticipated when they cast their votes next week.
They will ponder, of course, the fact that Clinton defeated Trump in the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes.
They will have to consider the voices of nearly 5 million Americans who petitioned the Electoral College to follow the will of the electorate. It would take 37 Republican electors to switch their votes to Clinton to deny Trump the White House, a fairly large, and, presumably, unattainable number.
Then there are the courts.
In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision by a federal judge to overturn a Pennsylvania state senate election where the winner was ousted and the runner-up taking office on the grounds of massive fraud.
The outcome, no matter how this thing shakes down, will not be good at this point.
Should Trump remain the winner, he will clearly be operating without a mandate and will have difficulty even with a Republican Congressional majority.
Should he be denied office, you can count on civil chaos, insurgence and, worst-case scenario, blood in the streets.
The table is set for high drama and, as we have seen, anything is possible this election cycle.
The way the system is built, the United States should very well survive these troubling times. It could get very rocky, of course, and threatening, but there are still some calmer heads to help steer it all back onto course.
At least I hope so.
The most disconcerting thing I have seen is the movement among those from the far right – the Duck Dynasty types who are seemingly itching to pick up arms against the nation.
They call themselves patriots, but there is nothing patriotic in the stands they made at the Bundy ranch or in Oregon.
Look, I get it.
They didn’t like the idea of a black man in the White House.
There was a cultural discomfort, an unease, and it was all compounded because Obama was also a cursed Democrat.
The absolute worst part of all of this is that we, as a nation, have generated and harbored so much anger; have become so disrespectful of the foundation the United States was built upon; that we have become so polarized that we talk about such dreadful things as taking up arms against each other; that we have created a situation where we have backed ourselves into a corner.
And, the hypocrisy boils over.
Here we are in what is supposed to be the season of peace on Earth and good will unto all men and women, yet we are flashing switchblades at each other in a gutter fight escalating to the point that it can grow to proportions where we endanger the nation that was once a beacon for the rest of the world.
We once were able to fuss and fight amongst each other, then come together with the good solution, the right solution.
It’s all about payback and dealing out punishment and pain.
Forget the constitutional crisis.
Right now America has a crisis of the soul.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela
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