I’ve written this many times, but it needs to be written again: The institutions of democracy are only as strong as the people who run them. Before Donald Trump, we tended to think that because these institutions have been around for so many years, they’re sturdy and stable and one man can’t destroy them in a mere four years.
But now we’ve learned that no institution of democracy is inherently stable or strong. They’re only as strong as the people who are in charge of them. The special counsel’s office can be strong. But Robert Mueller decided, at the moment his nation needed him most, to be weak. Congress can be a strong check on presidential power. But Republicans have turned that to mush. The Department of Justice can also be a strong defender of democratic principle against an abusive president. But Bill Barr is a fascist.
Now, let’s consider the Commission on Presidential Debates. This, of course, is the bipartisan organization that sponsors and makes the rules for our debates. It consists of three co-chairs, five honorary co-chairs (two of whom are dead), a chairman emeritus, 10 board members, and an executive director. That’s 17 people, excluding the two deceased. And if their hair is not on fire today, they are not only sleepwalking. They’re actively helping to suffocate our democracy.