Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Politics
Originally from the entry: Apathy, Crisis, and Zappa (another blog I posted to before WordPress).
So what exactly is a constitutional crisis? We should be clear about what does — and, more importantly, does not — merit this description. It’s possible to have a major political crisis even if the Constitution is crystal clear on the remedy or to have a constitutional crisis that doesn’t ruffle many feathers.
Political and legal observers generally divide constitutional crises into four categories:
1. The Constitution doesn’t say what to do.
The U.S. Constitution is brief and vague. (Compare it to a state constitution sometime.) This vagueness has one major advantage: It makes an 18th-century document flexible enough to effectively serve a 21st-century society. But sometimes the Constitution leaves us without sorely needed instructions, such as when William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office in 1841. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether the vice president should fully assume the office or just safeguard the role until a new president could somehow be chosen. (It wasn’t until 1967 that the 25th amendment officially settled the question.) When Vice President John Tyler took over, no one was sure if he was the real president or merely the acting president, nor was anyone certain what should happen next. Tyler asserted that he was, in fact, the new president, and since then, vice presidents who have had to step into service as chief executive have been treated as fully legitimate, but early confusion took its toll on the perceived legitimacy of Tyler’s presidency.
2. The Constitution’s meaning is in question.
Sometimes the Constitution’s attempt to address an issue is phrased in a way that could allow multiple interpretations, leaving experts disagreeing about what it means and making it difficult or impossible to address a pressing problem. In this way, both the Great Depression and the Civil War created constitutional crises. The problem sparked by the Civil War is obvious: The fight rested on a bunch of unsettled constitutional questions, the biggest of which was about slavery and the federal government’s ability to control it, a subject on which the Constitution was silent. And while the Constitution provided information on how a state could join the union, it didn’t say whether one could leave it or how it would go about doing so. It obviously took a war to resolve this crisis.
3. The Constitution tells us what to do, but it’s not politically feasible.
This category of constitutional crisis can crop up when presidential elections produce contested and confusing results. In the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were separated by just a few hundred votes in Florida, the tipping-point state whose electoral votes would determine the winner, the state’s election results remained contested for weeks due to a number of irregularities and a secretary of state who seemed determined to cut a recount short. In theory, the Constitution allowed for various solutions to this problem: Congress could have decided which of Florida’s electors to recognize, or Congress could have determined that neither candidate had achieved a majority in the Electoral College and let the House of Representatives decide on a president (per the process spelled out in the 12th Amendment). Such outcomes, while certainly constitutional, would have been politically infeasible, creating a significant legitimacy crisis for the new president.
4. Institutions themselves fail.
The Constitution’s system of checks and balances sets the various branches against each other for the laudable purpose of constraining tyranny. However, due to partisan polarization, individual corruption, or any number of other reasons, sometimes the political institutions in these arrangements fail, sending the governmental system into a crisis. This was the type of constitutional crisis commentators were seemingly referring to in describing reports that Customs and Border Protection agents (members of the executive branch) weren’t following orders from the judicial branch.
Five Thirty-Eight blog: The 4 Main Types of Constitutional Crises, Julia Azari and Seth Masket
Occam’s razor: a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities Merriam-Webster
So, what do we call this?
Too many people who know that you’re supposed to keep official records (Secret Service, Homeland Security) aren’t keeping official records.
The GOP had CPAC in Vicktor Urban’s authoritarian country (he’s apparently not a big fan of diversity, and by extension, neither is the GOP).
Homeland Security: a lot of angst about the name came up post 9/11 because it sounded so – “Nazi.” This is, sadly, when Alex Jones gained a lot of traction. He popularized “9/11 truthers” before he saw where his depraved bread was buttered with Sandy Hook, lying about dead children, and anything else he could glom onto for a fast buck that I hope he’s finally being separated from his exchequer. It’s like the chips all fell in place for the Joker to take over Arkham, and Batman is TDY across the universe with the Justice League.
Dumbo Gambino lied to 9/11 victims about going after the Saudis (15 of the 19 highjackers) to their faces in the height of their grief and loss. That hasn’t stopped the sociopath from hosting the LIV golf tournament at his Bedminster course, because that would take something he has ZERO in his emotional fuel tank: empathy. It’s all about money and protecting those who he thinks will give him boatloads more.
Malcolm Nance’s new book: “They Want to Kill Americans” couldn’t be starker. The Introduction had me up past midnight! He’s gone back to Ukraine to help them win the war. I sometimes think it’s safer than America right now.
Orange Satan didn’t do this by himself. He had a lot of complicit help that doesn’t mind turning our high-sounding Constitution into toilet paper (for flushing). He just saw where the wind was blowing after the country elected its first and so far, only black president, and lost its collective mind!
Coup. Insurrection. Insurgency. They’re all words. We went from Obama’s tan suit and Michelle Obama’s bared arms controversies to the Grand Pooh-Bah storming the Capitol to save us from whatever addles their loose minds. For the record: the 1995 Million Man March was a peaceful exercise of the First Amendment that resulted in no Capital Police Officers’ deaths, storming of the Capital, the display of an insurrectionist flag, Grand Pooh-Bahs howling at the moon, or the deposit of urine and feces.
The only option Malcolm gives in interviews about his book is to vote. Vote in record numbers every election. Vote for the proverbial dog catcher. Nothing is trivial. Fascism is a fungus on the body politic. You can’t give it any room to grow, otherwise, we’ll have a January 6 in 50 state Capitols. Dysfunction equals dystopia, not democracy or civilization.
Maybe we’re not calling it a constitutional crisis because four decades of dumbing down a previously “informed citizenry” has led to the dichotomy of proletariat drones carrying “smart phones.”
Also from the previous blog post:
“One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics,” Zappa went on to explain. “Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what’s in it…And so, if you don’t know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don’t know what’s in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?“
“Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen,” a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large
A few months before January 6, someone was flushing it.