Watching the House impeachment hearings sickened me with a realization: We live in two Americas. Not just rich versus poor or black versus white – those are worrisome enough. No, I am talking about fact versus gaslight. This trend threatens our democracy.

In democracy scholar Larry Diamond’s most recent book, “Ill Winds,” he writes: “Some of the most frequent warning signs of a democracy’s decline are easy enough to spot: endemic corruption, recurrent high-profile scandals over graft, (and) power-abusing presidents … .” I see those problems – and more.

We are awash in corruption. Take California Rep. Duncan Hunter, who broke finance laws with reckless abandon; or seasoned grifter Mitch McConnell, who got Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s company, Rusal, removed from the U.S. sanctions list so Rusal could invest $200 million in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky – and a major Rusal shareholder could give a McConnell-affiliated political action committee $1 million.

The Republican Party was the party of law and order. Now they are the party of corruption as they repeatedly attempted to fend off hard facts with “alternative facts” and gaslighting.

Listening to them, I wondered how far they would be willing to support President Trump. For instance, because Trump’s agents failed to use secure phones, it is almost certain Russian intelligence listened to their conversations. Vladimir Putin could have easily taken Trump’s lack of support as a green light to invade Ukraine. Would Republicans sit back?

If you don’t check Trump’s power now, you open the door to further corruption by him and future presidents.

Richard McWilliams


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