Russian President Vladimir Putin figured out early on that in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, “no one has authority to do anything.” This isn’t what the Constitution anticipated nor what has to be. Congress, especially the Senate, should step up to stop the chaos.
Veteran investigative reporter Carl Bernstein reported this Putin quote in an extensive story about concerns raised by Trump’s resistance to expert advice from diplomatic and intelligence experts. His habit of failing to listen to his advisors leaves him vulnerable to manipulation by more experienced and strategic foreign leaders.
It is part of a pattern with this president. Autocratic figures like Putin, and especially Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, get instant access, offers of improved relations and a friendly ear. Democratically elected leaders and long-time allies, especially women, get insults and threats.
America’s foreign policy is in chaos. Allies no longer look to the United States as the leader of the free world. Adversaries do what they like without fear of American retribution.
Internally, America isn’t doing any better. Trump continues to communicate with the nation only through tweets, interviews in the friendly environs of Fox News and harangues at rallies designed to pump up his re-election support.
Meanwhile, most of the gains made against COVID-19 have disappeared as aggressive government efforts to stop the spread expired. Peaceful protests continuing to expose the dark legacy of America’s relationship with slavery are portrayed nightly on Fox News as violent outbreaks, a view Trump reinforces in his rhetoric.
This kind of chaos is exactly what Putin hoped for. With no one in charge, the United States is not much of a barrier to Russian attempts to reassert itself on the world stage.
The balance of power created by the Constitution should be America’s fail-safe in these times. When a president either attempts to gather too much power in the executive office or is too weak or incompetent to protect the nation’s interests, the legislature can step in.
But don’t hold your breath. The Republican Party, especially in the Senate, has been feckless, completely failing in its duty to balance the executive by either reining in Trump’s overreach or giving serious consideration to independent actions that might mitigate the chaos.
Americans must save themselves. Listen to experts. Trust facts. Reject fearmongers. Act responsibly. Stop the chaos.