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Mon Nov 4, 2019, 10:40 AM

The institutional damage cannot be magically reversed, it is immense and deep.

Last edited Mon Nov 4, 2019, 02:56 PM - Edit history (2)

Prof. Garrett Epps Retweeted

That's the thing, the institutional damage cannot be magically reversed, it is immense and deep.



For Halloween, read the parable of Young Goodman Barr.



{edited to add}

IDEAS
America's Goodly Veneer Was a Lie
If the country awakes from its nightmare, the knowledge Americans will have gleaned from these years is harrowing.

OCT 31, 2019

Garrett Epps
Professor of constitutional law at the University of Baltimore

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1835 short story “Young Goodman Brown,” an upright citizen of 17th-century Salem journeys into a New England forest on a dark night and finds himself among fellow Puritans—“faces that would be seen next day at the council board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward, and benignantly over the crowded pews, from the holiest pulpits in the land”—who are summoning Satan himself to bless their revels.
....

Hawthorne is appropriate Halloween reading, and especially this year: American society is living through its Goodman Brown moment, a moment when many of the norms we have been taught to admire have been revealed as a shell game for suckers. As Trumpism took hold in the nation in 2015, it was regarded as a kind of temporary madness. But time has revealed that this vulgar spirit is no aberration. It was there all along; the goodly veneer was the lie.

[Adam Serwer: The cruelty is the point]

Consider the devolution of Bill Barr, from an “institutionalist” who would protect the Department of Justice to a servant of Donald Trump. Consider the two dozen House Republicans who used physical force to disrupt their own body rather than allow government officials to testify to what they know about President Trump—because to follow the rules of the House, and the strictures of national security, would threaten their party’s grasp on power. Consider the white evangelical leaders who prated to the nation for a generation about character and chastity and “Judeo-Christian morality,” but who now bless Trump as a leader. Consider, if more evidence is needed, the unforgettable moment at the Capitol on September 27, 2018, when Brett Kavanaugh dropped forever the mask of the “independent judge” to stand proudly forth as a partisan figure promising vengeance against his enemies.

The last incident, I think, sums up the horror of what the nation has learned about many of its leaders. It seems likely that Kavanaugh’s self-abasement was not the impulse of a desperate man, but a conscious choice made because, unless he showed himself willing to fight back viciously, he risked losing the support of the president. That choice had the desired effect. Trump embraced Kavanaugh, and used his tirade to move supporters to the polls that November.

This is the point. These are not victims crazed by “polarization” or “partisanship” or “gridlock” but cool-headed political actors who see the chance to win long-sought goals—dictatorial power in the White House, partisan control of the federal bench, an end to legal abortion and the re-subordination of women, destruction of the government’s regulatory apparatus, an end to voting rights that might threaten minority-party control, a return to pre-civil-rights racial norms. The historical moment finds them on a mountaintop; all the kingdoms they have sought are laid out before them, and a voice says, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

[Quinta Jurecic: Why the Kavanaugh confirmation still haunts us]

One by one, they have bent the knee.
....

For Hawthorne’s young Goodman Brown, the vision in the woods came to define his life. “And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grandchildren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.”

Our republic may not be in its dying hour, but if it awakes from its nightmare, the knowledge Americans will have gleaned from these years is gloomy indeed.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

GARRETT EPPS is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He teaches constitutional law and creative writing for law students at the University of Baltimore. His latest book is American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.

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Reply The institutional damage cannot be magically reversed, it is immense and deep. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 4 OP
malthaussen Nov 4 #1
The Blue Flower Nov 4 #2
machoneman Nov 4 #3
Nitram Nov 4 #4

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 4, 2019, 11:29 AM

1. Yeah, I've been making this point for awhile.

It isn't necessarily negative, however. If Mr Trump causes the complacent part of our nation to take a look at themselves and what we, as a country, have permitted, it could trigger a gag reflex and result in a cleaning of house. Which Mr Trump will doubtless claim was his idea all along.

The damage to other institutions -- the core of professionals making up our bureaucracy -- will take time to fix, as well. "I worked in the Trump Administration" is not going to look good on anybody's resume.

-- Mal

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 4, 2019, 12:37 PM

2. Wow--great article

We may need a truth and reconciliation commission when this nightmare is over. I'm hoping the silver lining is a national recommitment to what we once said we valued--democracy and justice.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 4, 2019, 02:40 PM

3. Maybe but....due to Trump's total inability to work even with Republiscums.....

meant that virtually all he has claimed via Executive Orders can easily and quickly be dismissed, reversed and more with a newly elected Democratic President. Sure, the SC judges and lower court can't be reversed at all or in some cases only with extreme measures. But even his vaunted tax cuts to the rich and corporations can be reversed in a heartbeat.

Agree that those highly qualified folks who left due to his stench may be hard to replace yet many may come back. The EPA, State, HS, Education and more can and will re-institute common sense rules and dump all the stupid and self-serving RW rules and talking points.

But, we must win it all to stamp out the crazy, misguided and plain stupid wingers once and for all!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 4, 2019, 03:56 PM

4. Someone like Trump was bound to come along eventually to test the boundaries and resilience of

our democratic institutions. If Trump is removed from office, we may emerge from this stronger and a little wiser. If.

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