Not long after the White House released the rough transcript of President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Latin phrase ‘quid pro quo’ started to dominate the American lexicon. That phrase is now bandied back and forth by Republicans and Democrats, as if it is the shuttlecock in a game of political badminton. Democrats have erroneously objectified ‘quid pro quo’ as a symbol of the President’s corruption while Republicans have fetishized it in their lust to win. Both ‘teams’ seem to believe that by battering this fraught phrase past their opponent’s verbal rackets they will earn points toward an irreproachable match victory. However, victory is not the proper objective when faced with a possible infringement upon the freedom and fairness of our electoral process. Truth is!
Failure to safeguard our elections, no matter the source of the threat, has the very real potential to set fire to the tinder of hyper-partisanship and social mistrust currently littering the national landscape. When faced with a moment as fraught as this in the middle of the 19th century, a generation of Americans equally, and as ferociously divided, but lacking their own example which we have today, were unable to suppress the resulting spark. That spark ignited a conflagration which consumed the nation, and 500,000 American lives. At least in the case of the Civil War, a moral correction, the end of slavery (though not the sole impetus for our internecine conflict), was initiated.
Many people will discount the possibility of a second Civil War arising from the present moment, but even the least engaged American should acknowledge it is not impossible. Still, short of war, the hazards to our American way of life are significant, without a hint of potential for moral correction.
When the person holding the most powerful elective office in the land is credibly accused of trying to elevate his interests above the interests of the nation and its citizens, especially in an attempt to retain the office and its power, the nation is on the precipice of tin pot despotism, at best. Then the question is how far from democracy our political system slides. At the very least, in every sense in which it is meaningful, freedom will be lost. Even those who may construe theocracy or some other version of fascism as a moral correction, will soon lament the loss of freedom.