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US democracy in cataclysmic churn?

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Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
The author is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court

@realdonaldtrump will be dumped to the dustbin of history, as a single term POTUS by not the voters in USA but by the Grand Old Party viz. Republicans, after the Nov 3r, 2020 US elections. That is as clear as it can ever be. GOPians have extracted every single ounce of utility they had in Trump. They got the Iran Nuclear deal eviscerated, primacy of NATO belittled, pulled out of Climate Deal signed in France, etc. And above all else, the Senate Republicans led by the cunning Majority Leader Mitch ‘Moscow’ McOnell got the highest ever tax breaks for the rich and famous using the Trump White House.

But this was not all. The most important use that GOPians put the Trump Presidency to maximum benefit, was in the appointment of Judges to US Federal Courts. Moscow Mitch worked tirelessly and zealously, under the radar, while most of the Media was focused on the ‘chaos’ in White House administration, to ensure filling up of more than 400 Judges who would all be life time appointments. “The Federal Judiciary is now packed with true blue conservatives and American social life is likely to face transformational changes, be it in immigration, abortion rights, LGBTQ rights et al,” says a Harvard Law Professor. It will be hugely impactful on US for decades to come.

Forget not that Republicans led by the spiteful Mitch spiked the Barack Obama nominee Merick Garland to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia on The Nine on Supreme Court, from even having an audience with the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2015. This, on the ‘principled opposition’ that with elections due in Nov, 2016, Obama was a lame-duck President. This enabled Trump acolytes to appoint a conservative in Neil Gorusch to replace Antonin Scalia.

And then, a conservative on the SCOTUS Bench, Justice Anthony Kennedy obliged Trump to take a shot at another appointment by resigning. We had the Brett Kavannaugh imbroglio perpetrated on the US public but the numbers in the Senate prevailed. Two out of Two score line for the Republicans and it was Trump in the White House which opened the door for it.

With less than 2 months to go for the Nov 3rd, 2020 US Presidential elections, the legendary notorious RBG- Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Jewish woman Justice and a lifelong liberal died. Even as she was dying she issued a public statement that, “I hope and trust the incumbent White House administration would nominate my replacement only after the 2020 elections.”

Mitch and Co cast aside RBG’s last will and testament. They drew upon their historical hypocrisy by rejecting their own Merick Garland rule for Barack Obama and running faster than a hare and a cheetah to get their woman nominee approved. The replacement is a clear favourite as the GOPians hold a 53:47 majority and they can bulldoze their ways overcoming any filibustering the Democrats could come up with. The nominee Amy Coney Barrett is just 48 years of age and can last generations and beyond on the Bench. She is a devout catholic, an evangelist and is outwardly Anti-abortionist and has contempt for gay marriage. The Republicans are rejoicing that their choice to go for Trump in 2016 has paid rich dividends, as they have the rarest of rare celestial event of 3 nominees for a US President during the 4 year term, an occurrence that happened when Ronald Reagan in office in 1980s and almost never ever before.

It is a huge inflexion point in the US, as a democracy. SCOTUS towers above as an influential institution and with just The Nine on the Bench, their decisions play a huge part in the lives of ordinary citizens too. Roe v. Wade- a 1963 verdict from SCOTUS is now seriously threatened with a possible 6:3 majority, if and when Trump nominee Amy goes through. But the Democrats are not sitting tight and quiet. They have promised a fight back including the possible increase of SCOTUS Bench strength to 11, to tweak the skewed philosophical twist on the Bench. No constitutional amendment is necessary and one can therefore look forward to a formidable battle on the cards.

No matter that Donald Trump is slated to lose, as per the forecast in overwhelming number of polls. to Joe Biden, the Republicans led by Moscow Mitch are smug that they have achieved far bigger that most GOP administrations could even dream of, during a two-term Presidency. Donald Trump was no Republican. He was a registered Democrat. He funded Bill Clinton in his Presidential election. Hark back to what the Republican primary in 2015 told and taught us from the long line of Republican adversaries. No one liked him. They despised him for his lack of morality and principles.

But typical of the GOPian hypocrisy, it was the Republicans who pivoted and not Donald Trump. They followed the leader for achieving their private, personal and political ends. Now that they have squeezed out every millilitre from Trump Presidency and used his administration to the hilt, they will dump him to the dustbin. One can easily foretell the stories and comments the GOPians will talk about, on how and why Donald Trump lost the elections. ‘They’ will blame him for the loss. But they need to know that in making full use of the Trumpian Presidency they have thoroughly exposed their party for what it stands for. Total lack of principles and unity in selfish hypocritical principles, which is their manifesto for assuming political power.

This is US democracy in action and the Donald J Trump election was not the result of all things wrong, but symptomatic of all that is to come. And that does not bode well, even for a Joe Biden Presidency, as a Democratic nominee.

(Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan- Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)

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Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
The author is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court
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