We are apparently now living under a new form of government, the name for which is yet to be coined. It has major elements in common with “kakistocracy”, “kleptocracy”, and “plutocracy”, but none of those terms describe it precisely. “Idiocracy” doesn’t quite get the essence of it either. Neither does “dictatorship”, at least not yet.
But the ground is shifting beneath us daily, and could tilt more completely to any of these designations at any time. And then shift and veer more towards another, or something totally different the following day. I’m leaning towards “Twitterocracy” as the most accurate for now, given recent events.
Two quick examples from just yesterday make good indicators of this new paradigm.
The first is the President of the United States, using his own internet account, and with no consultation with anyone else, impulsively “Tweeting” an attack on a U.S. Senator in his own party, for casting a vote that he disapproves of.
This is an insidious change in our national discourse. Murkowski, and every other congressperson, is not an employee of the president, and not appointed by him. Each member of the legislature is part of an institution meant to exercise power equal to that of the presidency. Like all representatives, Murkowski was chosen by the people at home, and directed to vote their conscience and her own, which she has done. In choosing to attack someone this way, Tweety is talking directly to those who elected Murkowski, using the bully pulpit to undermine her.
He is also playing with fire, as there will certainly be someone back home who will now regard Murkowski as “the enemy” who lets the country down. And, since the normal way of doing things is clearly obsolete, that person may not bother waiting for the next election to express his displeasure. What I am saying is that Tweety is recklessly inciting the mob here, and there may be tragic consequences, which of course Tweety will deny responsibility for.
And he’s choosing to attack an ally, a member of his own party, and someone whose support he will certainly need going forward! His idea is to bypass the usual methods of persuasion, like calling her on the phone, or inviting her to lunch, or asking the Majority Leader to give her a message from him, or a million other more civilized options that historical protocol offers. Or simply accepting that she voted her conscience and that this is how our system works. Instead, he has decided that bullying works best. For him.
If Mitch McConnell were actually a leader in any sense of the word, this is where he would draw the line. He would tell Tweety, publicly and sternly, to lay off members of his caucus and to do his own job and let the Senators do theirs. But he is not a leader.
All this comes after days of Tweety similarly attacking his own Attorney General, someone he hand picked for his loyalty and seemingly blind support just months ago. Attacking Jeff Sessions as “weak”, etc., is also unprecedented, not to say nutty, just like so many things Tweety has done. I’m tempted to say “everything” he has done, actually, as I’m having trouble thinking of a single example of Tweety observing presidential protocol or tradition. At least, in this case, the A.G. is someone he appointed, not someone elected by others. But that in no way justifies this method of showing displeasure.
Tweety has had many, many opportunities to talk to Sessions face-to-face about his complaints, as they were both in the same building at the same time on several occasions. But Tweety was holed up in “his private residence”, apparently in a FoxNews-induced trance. He chose to shame and humiliate and antagonize Sessions publicly instead. Sessions, it turns out, isn’t even on Twitter, so not only wasn’t the barrage meant for his ears only, it wasn’t meant for his ears at all. At least not directly. WTF?
The second example is Tweety “deciding” that transgender people are no longer welcome in the military. He woke up in the morning, “consulted with his generals”, picked up his Twitter, and blasted away.
“Please be advised…? Thank you.” That’s it? That’s all it takes now to disrupt the lives of thousands? That’s all it takes to change policy? No bills passed in congress after a spirited debate? Not even an Executive Order? Just 140 characters randomly blasted out to the world?
“Please be advised…”?
“Please be advised that from today forward, you will drive on the left hand side of the road. Thank you.”
“Please be advised that vegetables will no longer be allowed in grocery stores. Thank you.”
“Please be advised that your existing plumbing systems may no longer be used. If you choose to use water, you may purchase approved brands only. Thank you.”
Folks, we’re in uncharted territory here. I don’t know if this form of government has a name yet. Any suggestions?