• Carol Harrisburg Young

Where is the Accountability?

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody--Thomas Paine

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) released the DOJ documents this week to the Washington Post that outline the extent to which the former guy, Donald Trump, was willing to go to steal the 2020 election. For weeks, President Donald Trump and his supporters put pressure on federal law enforcement to back his claims o

f voter fraud and a stolen election.

Trump and his inner circle wanted the Justice Department to explore their claims that Dominion Voting Systems machines had been tampered with to alter votes in one county in Michigan. They went on to ask officials about filing a Supreme Court challenge to election results in six states carried by Biden. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, even went so far as to share a link on his social media to a YouTube video outlining a plot in which military satellites in Italy stole the election from Trump.

Though many sane Americans may have poo-pooed such outlandish claims, one high-ranking Justice Department lawyer went along with Trump’s requests and pushed to have the department claim that election fraud had occurred in Georgia, and should be a reason to invalidate the results and appoint new electors.

These and other new details laid out in the DOJ documents this week show how far Trump and his allies were willing to go in their crusade to use the department to overturn Biden’s win. And it hasn’t lost any steam. Trump supporters are still pushing the “big lie” that the election was stolen. A May national opinion poll revealed that 53% of Republicans believe Trump is the ‘true president’ as opposed to 3% of Democrats.

Although the Washington Post reported that the DOJ resisted most of the pressure to appeal to the courts to overturn the election result, they did appear to be irritated with the rash of conspiracy theories coming from Trump’s team.

I doubt that Meadows and Trump’s former cabinet members believed the lies about satellites and stolen ballots, but it is clear that these claims are being used as devices to sow doubt and derision in this country. And let’s not forget that Trump and his allies attempted a blatant political coup on January 6. They may have failed, but don’t think for one second that they won’t try again.

In light of all this, what are Democrats doing to prevent the GOP and the party of Trump from transforming our nation into an authoritarian state? Well, Merrick Garland announced a plan to enforce voting rights, but this won’t happen without Congress passing new voter rights legislation. Passing voter rights laws have little hope without ending the filibuster, and that in itself is a can of worms, especially when a few Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), refuse to end the filibuster and allow legislation to be brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

Sure, Democrats can use congressional powers to investigate the extent of the Trump administration’s misconduct in office, but the filibuster stands in their way. Republicans are opposed to a bipartisan committee to investigate the insurrection, and Nancy Pelosi is reluctant to move forward in forming a committee without GOP support. She has stated that she hopes that Republicans will change their minds, but we know they won’t.

Then there’s the issue of Trump’s secret conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. When a reporter asked about the conversations, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) replied that the “The Biden administration is looking forward, not back.” It seems that in looking forward accountability is pushed to the wayside.

The Obama administration used similar evasive tactics and excuses to avoid holding accountable those responsible for the war in Iraq as well as the financial crisis of 2006. In avoiding past mistakes and transgressions, moving forward was impossible, and only fueled public distrust in the government. We all remember Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” The refusal to address problems, to hold others accountable in part fueled Trump’s rise to power.

As Thomas Paine so adeptly put it, trust is lost when there is no accountability. If we are to repair the damage done to our nation and salvage what democracy we have left, those who have tried to overturn the Great American Experiment must be held accountable.

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