Senate GOP Votes to Decimate Congressional Oversight

Or, How the GOP Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Unaccountable Government

Even the least jaded among us are probably not surprised by the Senate GOP’s decision not to try the impeachment of Donald Trump by voting against documents and witnesses. Republicans have always had an abusive relationship with the US Constitution, professing love for it while chipping away at its protections (voter suppression efforts, attacks on the press and the first amendment generally, legalizing inequality for the marginalized, the ongoing effort to make women second-class citizens, etc.). Deciding to not fulfill their one constitutional duty to try the impeachment is thus perfectly consistent with past actions and actual values, even if it goes against professed values.

But I have to admit that I have always believed that Republican dislike of government was sincere. That value pervades so many conservative beliefs that I am genuinely shocked to find out that this value, too, was a sham. The vote against witnesses and documents for the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, and the inevitable acquittal next week gives a green light to Trump and future administrations to block congressional oversight wholesale, without justification. That is what the Senate GOP voted for, to abdicate ENTIRELY their powers of oversight.

This gives the president and the entire executive branch, including all the government agencies the GOP purports to dislike and mistrust, more power than they’ve ever had before because they will not be accountable to Congress and therefore to the American people. For all the GOP claims of some nefarious Deep State in government, they just voted to make this alleged Deep State completely unaccountable. Of course, most Republicans probably never believed the Deep State conspiracy theories they promulgated, so in reality, they know they are doing no such thing. But that still leaves the decision to make the real government unaccountable to the Congress and the American People. The GOP has abdicated the ability to criticize the government. Let’s remind them of this every time they try.

And given this blessing of Trump’s attempts to solicit foreign intervention on his behalf in US elections, we’re going to have to work our butts off to get people registered to vote and help people with the logistics of actually voting in areas of heavy voter suppression efforts. We also need to go on a fact-checking offensive against any news that purports to reveal wrongdoing by any Democratic candidates, especially “news” from foreign sources (aka black propaganda). The point won’t be to reach Trump supporters but to inoculate the rest of the population against fabricated smears. I realize that we’ve been trying to do this, with little understanding of our effectiveness. I do not have a specific plan for this beyond fact-checking on this site and on social media, but if you have suggestions for a more effective, perhaps group effort, please leave them in the comments.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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