In a bully's world, many winners can't be heroes because they lack character. Winners can be automatic or predetermined. Heroes, never. A hero is one who takes values that lead to great accomplishment and elevates those values to a paradigm. An individual can be heroic in loss even though a winner may not be.
This aptly describes Democrats in Congress in relation to the least heroic winner in US presidential history, Donald J. Trump.
This week, an optimistic note might be sounded if heroes emerge to oppose the confirmation of Trump's cabinet-level political appointees. There may be Republicans who emerge from the partisan smog to stand up to Trump. They might join Democrats who may or may not be united in opposition, depending on how they weigh their roles in the next four years of the Trump presidency.
But will there be heroes?
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell battled President Barack Obama from his first day in the White House. McConnell and his GOP majority were winners because they denied President Obama any hope of forging bipartisan consensus; his first priority. But they were losers at the same time because their narrow aim -- putting party above nation -- discredited American values.
In comparison, Barack Obama has been an exemplary president. In his articulation of American values, in his calm and reasoned leadership, in his devotion to country and to family; President Barack Obama became an American hero.
Donald J. Trump on the other hand is a winner who already turned into a loser through the most haphazard and reckless transition in presidential history. Through his narcissistic behavior, he lacks the character to be a hero or to even understand how to be more than an infomercial pitchman for whatever version of American values claims hold by grappling hooks.
In an instant, our politics flipped from "yes, we can" to "no, you won't." From the promise of inclusion to the bitter aims of exclusion; exactly the profile of Trump's worst choice for cabinet who faces confirmation hearings on Tuesday; Attorney General designate Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
So the question that starts being addressed this week: are there heroes who will oppose the confirmation of Trump's nominees and to block the rush planned by Trump and his backroom advisors.
Will Congress articulate -- not just opposition to appointees who have refused to provide full accounting and ethical disclosures -- but also frame the battle that begins the moment Donald J. Trump is inaugurated to be the next president of the United States?
It is time for heroes in Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- to clarify for the American people the values that animated our democracy since the founding of the republic, because a significant number of voters lost track amidst the anger, fear and loathing on the campaign trail.
Yes, Trump supporters pledge allegiance to the United States of America, but they voted for a president whose allegiance is in question; compromised by personal secrets and a campaign of public disinformation in relation to Russian hacking; raising questions of treasonous behavior before his first day in the White House. This, in a word, is unprecedented.
If Democrats had won the presidential election, if their candidate had prevailed thanks to foreign intervention, if Democrats tried to confirm cabinet officials and high-level political appointees who refused to comply with precedent on ethical disclosures, they not only would be excoriated by the Republican message machine, especially the Murdoch family's Fox News, they would threaten to shut Washington down.
The week, Republican members of Congress -- who could be cowards or heroes in relation to Donald J. Trump -- should ask themselves whether or not it is time to also join the opposition loyal to democracy first and foremost. No confirmation of Trump appointments until thoroughly vetted according to past precedent. The potential for a constitutional crisis during the Trump term is very high, and so the behavior of Congress this week could show an awareness of the need for preemptive counterweight.
As for Democrats in Congress, they ought to summon the same eloquence in defense of democratic values as Barack Obama. We need heroes because the White House is about to be occupied by winners who couldn't be heroic if the formula was written and handed to them in large type and bold face.
As American citizens, now is time to make your voice clear. Call, email or visit your representatives' offices. Here is a document listing all Congressional contacts relevant to this week's Congressional confirmation hearings.
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