Trump Is the Culmination of All That Has Gone Wrong in Our Politics

October 13, 2019
In The News

The indictment of Giuliani’s associates is well worth reading as a road map to how the system can be gamed. It illustrates, said veteran campaign reformer Fred Wertheimer, how Citizens United “created a clear path for unlimited amounts of foreign money to enter our political system.” ... The indictment, said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the lead sponsor of H.R. 1, the comprehensive reform bill approved this year by the House, “is a glimpse into the broad culture of corruption and ethical blindness that has infected our politics, particularly in the area of campaign finance.” His use of the word “culture” is important. Legal limits on unsavory practices outlaw socially destructive actions but also signal what kinds of public behavior are morally unacceptable. Bad laws encourage bad habits.  “People cross these lines with impunity,” Sarbanes told me, “and if they can’t even see the lines, they start thinking they can get away with anything.” Which brings it all back to a man whose words and actions suggest he really does believe he can get away with anything. It is a supreme irony that Trump triumphed by exploiting public disaffection with a political system so many Americans see as infested with sleaze and controlled by forces operating entirely for their own benefit. Rather than being the cure for such maladies, he is their apotheosis, the culmination of all that has gone wrong in our politics. The task of the impeachment inquiry is to use his Ukrainian misadventure to bring home the breadth of the president’s venality and self-dealing. The goal should be not only to rid the country of a dangerous leader but also to show how desperately our system needs repair.