It took almost an entire term, but the presidency of Donald Trump has finally transformed this country from a well thought out nation of laws into an autocracy beholden to the whims of one deranged, orange man.
One by one our institutions fall.
The Supreme Court — indeed, much of the federal judiciary — has been stocked with Trump and GOP loyalists, which these days amount to the same thing.
Both houses of Congress have been unable to perform their functions for a decade. The Department of Education is run by an ally of for-profit colleges like Trump University, the one that cost Trump $25 million in a class-action lawsuit.
And according to the winning arguments, the impeachment process itself is unconstitutional, except for the pesky fact that it’s in the Constitution.
But pesky facts don’t matter anymore. Witness the resurrection of Roger Stone, convicted last year for witness tampering and obstructing Congress — which doesn’t really tell the full tale. Stone straight-up lied to Congress, forged the documents he presented to them, outright threatened a witness — and his dog! — and repeatedly violated a judicial gag order.
After his conviction on seven felony charges, federal sentencing guidelines put his time at 7 to 9 years. But before his sentencing, on Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted about it, calling it “very unfair” and a “miscarriage of justice.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Bill Barr’s Department of Justice had intervened in the sentencing, adjusting the guidelines to recommend a more lenient sentence for Stone. By the end of the day, four prosecutors had withdrawn from the case.
There were other examples of the utter hollowness of the DOJ — since he took the post, Bill Barr has sounded more like Trump’s personal lawyer than the attorney general for the people of the United States.
But now we are forced to acknowledge that yet another of our institutions has devolved into a farce.
That’s life in an autocracy, which is the very thing this country and its laws were created to prevent.
It’s amazing that we were able to keep it going so long, and also how easily we gave it up.