Thursday, December 21, 2017

Retiring and the Dual Edged Nature of Accountability (and its Absence)

Political accountability is a tricky thing.  So is wishful thinking, I guess.  Democrats and perhaps Never Trump Republicans have placed their hopes on Senators who are retiring as they don't have to worry about the Republican Party anymore and they don't have to worry about the Republican base.  No fear of being primaried.  So, the hope (not a plan) was that folks like Bob Corker would vote the correct way, defying Trump.  In the case of Corker, on some stuff, maybe.  But on cutting taxes?  On cutting his own taxes?  Nope.

Ah, yes, the whole idea of accountability via elections is that politicians won't nakedly enrich themselves at the public's expense.  Folks doing that are handing their opposition a critical weapon for the next election.  No next election means no concern about appearing incredibly corrupt.  So, oops.  How about that Bob Corker? 

Elections may produce pressures we don't like--to play to one's base, to be outbid.  Having no such pressure means freedom.  But freedom to do what?  Sure, we enjoyed no F's to give Obama in his last couple of years, but, well, most of my readers liked that version of Obama.  No F's to give Corker has been a mixed blessing, looking into Trump's authority to launch nuclear weapons (good) and cutting his own taxes and harming the country (not so good). 

Of course, the GOP folks who are still running for office and still planning to serve for a while longer are also betraying their voters by caring afar more about their donors.  Hey, Susan Collins, how well are you serving Maine? 

In these times, not much seems to be working. The Canadians are crowing about how their institutions are better than the American ones.  I don't think they are right (or wrong), but I am not well armed these days for that fight as the American system depended not just on institutions but on norms of conduct and a sense of shame.  Which are not in play right now.  Not great. 

So, yeah, the key is not hoping for those less accountable Republican Senators to do what is right but working to replace them with Democrats.  That is not just a hope, but the start of a plan.

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