Andrew Sullivan presents us with a timeline problem more vividly than most. What do I mean by timeline problem? I mean that he argues from true premises, but points to an impossible outcome – restoration of our democracy – because prior events have already prevented the outcome he seeks. Sullivan’s article, This Is No Ordinary Impeachment, explains his premises, and his hope that we might still save our constitutional democracy.
The United States ceased to be a liberal democracy with the rise of the national security state in the 1950s. It did not cease to be a liberal democracy with the rise of Trump, and Trump’s dismissal would not save our country now. Sullivan argues that a lot rides on the way we respond to Trump. A lot does ride on it, but not our democracy. That ended when we permitted Lyndon Johnson to become president in 1963. Forty years later, with the advent of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, we lost our last chance to restore our republic.
The United States did not cease to be a liberal democracy with the rise of Trump, and Trump’s dismissal would not save our country now.
If we ignore Sullivan’s warnings about Trump, if Trump wins a second term, we can watch the country deteriorate still more. Yet the president’s removal from office would not achieve what Sullivan thinks it would achieve. Trump would never be in office if we had not lost our democracy long ago.