Blessing must arise from within your own mind. It is not something that comes from outside. When the positive qualities of your mind increase and the negativities decrease, that is what blessing means. The Tibetan word for blessing … means transforming into magnificent potential. Therefore, blessing refers to the development of virtuous qualities you did not previously have and the improvement of those good qualities you have already developed.
― Dalai Lama XIV
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
“But for now, the crucial question — the question on which much of American democracy hinges — is not what Trump does. It is what Congress does.”
After I used the phrase “must-read” in a recent column to describe Jonathan Chait’s work, a reader asked me which other journalists’ work I make a point of reading. It’s not a short list, and today I’ll add two names to it: David Frum, the former George W. Bush speechwriter who’s a senior editor at The Atlantic, and Ezra Klein, the founding editor of Vox.
Yesterday, Klein published a column responding to Frum’s cover story in the current Atlantic. I highly recommend both.
They revolve around what Frum calls “ominous indicators of a breakdown of the American political system.”
The founders created a system in which Congress was supposed to act as the main check on the power of the president. But the polarization of politics, Frum writes, has meant that “Congress has increasingly become a check only on presidents of the opposite party.”
I’d add that the radicalization of the Republican Party — playing games with the debt ceiling, refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee, etc. — has made the problem especially acute with a Republican president. And Trump isn’t just any president. He is willing, even eager, to violate all kinds of long-held American values, threatening opponents, lying frequently and reveling in conflicts of interest.
This combination — an anti-democratic president and a quiescent Congress — is very dangerous. Even though many members of Congress think his approach is wrong, they have refused to confront him because he is a member of their party. He has the power to sign bills that Republican legislators have long favored, and their political fortunes are tied to his popularity.
So they look the other way. They duck questions about him, or they offer excuses. They enable him. They put the country at risk of what Frum calls autocracy and Klein calls “partyocracy.”
Klein writes: “But for now, the crucial question — the question on which much of American democracy hinges — is not what Trump does. It is what Congress does.”
Both pieces end on an important note of conditional optimism. Trump’s worst tendencies, and the threats to the American system of governance, can clearly be stopped. They can be stopped if Congress stands up to him, and Congress tends to respond to public opinion.
“What happens next is up to you and me,” Frum concludes. “Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”