Editorial: The Protecting Our Democracy Act Seeks to Curb Would-be Autocrats

As instances of using “autocrat” and “Donald Trump” in the same sentence grow more frequent, House Democrats are taking action with a reform bill dubbed the “Protecting Our Democracy Act.” Designed to strengthen the power of Congress to check the executive branch, the Protecting Our Democracy Act is a package of wide-ranging reforms to curb abuses of power, especially by the president.

For generations, we Americans have tended to think of the U.S., as we know it, as infallible. Most of us thought that concepts like “checks and balances” were firmly protected by the U.S. Constitution. It was unimaginable that a U.S. president would think he could get away with trying to be an authoritarian leader, let alone garner unquestioning support for attempting it.

Many Americans were tuned in to the hints that Donald Trump had an autocratic bent even before he was elected—his kidding on the square about being in office for three or more terms…his stoking of fear of immigrants, and his declaration of “I alone can fix it.” Still, we thought, what’s the worst that could happen? Surely, if he went too far, he’d be batted down by the rule of law, or, worst case, we’d elect a new president when his term was up.

But he did go too far— again and again. And now, we’re worried that even if we do elect a new president, Donald Trump will refuse to leave the Oval Office. He has already begun sowing seeds of doubt about the integrity of the 2020 election to ensure that if he doesn’t win re-election, his supporters will back him in rejecting the results. He has joked on numerous occasions about doing away with his term limit, and when asked, he refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if defeated.

Trump fires those who disagree with him, and pardons his corrupt friends. He has weaponized the Justice Department, politicized the military, and welcomed foreign interference in two presidential elections. He requires loyalty to Trump over loyalty to country.

Donald Trump’s presidency has had the effect of revealing the inadequacies in our government when it comes to protecting our Democracy. In fairness, our founding fathers had faith in Americans to exercise common sense and to expect common sense and integrity from our leaders. They knew that human beings like Donald Trump existed, even then; hence, the provisions they created for the branches of government to keep each other in check. They would have expected a leader such as Trump to be hastily and roundly removed from office. But we have outgrown some aspects of the government our founders laid out for us, evolving in some ways, and devolving in others. We have found ourselves not only led by the exact type of despot our founding fathers wanted to protect against, but also with a Congress that is full of his sycophantic enablers.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act is a response to Donald Trump and those who aid and abet him. It is a reform bill that Democrats hope will prevent the executive’s abuse of power from ever happening again in America.

According to a joint statement issued by Seven Democratic House committee chairs, the legislation is intended to “prevent future presidential abuses, restore our checks and balances, strengthen accountability and transparency, and protect our elections.”

“It is time for Congress to strengthen the bedrock of our democracy and ensure our laws are strong enough to withstand a lawless president,” the statement says. “These reforms are necessary not only because of the abuses of this president, but because the foundation of our democracy is the rule of law and that foundation is deeply at risk.”

The Protecting Our Democracy Act includes, among many other reforms, measures to regulate the relationship between the president and the Justice Department (Trump currently uses Attorney General Bill Barr to do his personal bidding, rather than representing the American people); protect whistleblowers and inspectors general, curb the president’s power to grant pardons, strengthen the ability to enforce congressional subpoenas, and protect against foreign election interference. It aims to prevent an American president from going rogue, abusing the office of the president, and fostering an environment of corruption in the executive branch.

Though the Protecting Our Democracy Act likely won’t receive a vote before the election, and probably wouldn’t be considered by a Republican-led Senate, it is a significant move toward reforms that could be put in place should Joe Biden be elected president, and/or should the Senate majority flip from Republican to Democratic. If neither happens, and Donald Trump is re-elected, the window for stopping Donald Trump’s autocratic ambition may begin to close. The future of our country is in unprecedented peril, and its fate depends on how many lawmakers are interested in protecting our democracy over enabling a lawless president.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act | Rep. Adam Schiff [2020-09-23]

Chairwoman Maloney’s Remarks at Press Conference on introducing the ‘Protecting Our Democracy Act’ | Oversight Committee [2020-09-23]

Editorial: Trump’s “Delay the Election” Tweet, as Told in the Spirit of Seuss (Satire)

With apologies to Dr. Seuss and to the Grinch.

Every voter in Blueville liked voting a lot.
But Trump, who lived inside the Beltway, did not.

Trump hated fair voting, the whole ’20 season!
Now please don’t ask why, though we might know the reason.

It might have been that he feared a big loss,
Or because his career goal was “authoritarian boss.”

He’d need four more years for that south border wall,
But his base was just simply two sizes too small.

With his penchant for falsehoods and his bent for deflection,
Trump hatched a plan to undermine the election.

Staring down at his phone in his ill-fitting coat,
He tweeted some lies about purloined mail-in votes.

He knew all the MAGAs, the thin and the broad,
Would retweet his tweets, proclaiming “Mail-in voter fraud!”

“They’ll be posting those memes!” he said with a grin.
And he Tweeted “VOTER CHEATING!” again and again.

But the experts debunked him with data and stats:
“There’s minuscule mail-in fraud, GOP or Democrat.”

Trump feared every state would continue its plan
To allow mail-in votes for every woman and man.

He drummed his small fingers, furrowed his tangerine brow.
“I must stop this election from happening! But how?”

With election approaching, though, Trump was concerned.
“I must get those votes! Even votes I’ve not earned!”

Then he got an idea. An awful idea!
Trump got a wonderful, awful idea!

It was a perfect idea, the best idea ever.
A terrific idea. (Trump was stable and clever.)

He growled, his small fingers on his Twitter feed drumming,
“I’ve got a way to keep Election Day from coming!”

I know just what to do, Trump laughed to himself.
I’ll DELAY the election— put it up on the shelf!

“This pandemic’s convenient,” he said with a grin-
“Covid’s no hoax if it helps me to win!”

“Pooh pooh to Blueville,” Trump was Trumpily humming!
“My tweets will prevent the election from coming!”

“Delay the election,” his tiny hands twote.
“Until people can properly, securely, and safely vote???”

But then he heard a sound rising over the land…
Cindy Lou Pelosi, her pocket Constitution in hand.

“Just a reminder, should you expect a delay…
This little thing here says it won’t be that way.

“Only Congress can choose to postpone the vote.”
(And the tiniest of groans came from Donald Trump’s throat.)

“If there’s no election, you sorry old pup,
On one-twenty, twenty-one, your current term will be up.”

“And then what will happen is what you dread most…
The Democrat-led House will choose who gets the post.”

And what happened then? Well, in Blueville, they say
Trump’s small, cheating heart… Well, it just stayed that way.

Trump Suggests Delaying the Election | Bloomberg Politics

President Donald Trump suggests the U.S. may need to delay the election | 
CNBC [2020-07-30]