The every-other-year failure of democracy

Judson Berger:

The news doesn’t quit, of course. Why, since early last week, Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested and Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro had his home raided by police, all while Peru juggles the extradition of former president Alejandro Toledo and the detention of more-recent former president Pedro Castillo.

And . . . if none of these events created so much as a blip in the continental United States, that’s probably because these scandals are no more extraordinary than our own. Gone are the days when, say, the arrest or exile of a former Pakistani leader (more or less protocol on that slice of the subcontinent) might have aroused some morbid curiosity in foreign dysfunction. Developing-nation political chaos is starting to look uncomfortably familiar to the American voter.

Okay, it’s not quite so bad as Pakistan. But Jim Geraghty, surveying the 2024 landscape, describes a sorry sight:

We have one guy who is the likely nominee on the Republican side who is fundamentally and indisputably unfit for public office, and who a majority of Americans thinks should be charged with crimes, including trying to steal an election.

We have another guy who is definitely the nominee for the other party who a majority of Americans thinks does not have all the marbles to be president anymore.

Concerns about President Biden’s fitness extend well beyond his dotage. Republicans on the House Oversight Committee this week released evidence about Biden family dealings that are alarming, and cannot be easily explained away. From NR’s news report:

The Biden family and its business associates created a complicated web of more than 20 companies, according to bank records obtained by the House Oversight Committee — a system GOP lawmakers say was meant to conceal money received from foreign nationals.

Sixteen of the companies were limited liability companies formed during Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president, the committee said in a press conference on Wednesday. The Biden family, their business associates, and their companies received more than $10 million from foreign nationals and their related companies, the records show. These payments occurred both while Biden was in office as vice president and after his time in office ended.

Expect this story to snowball. Also hanging over the Biden presidency is Delaware U.S. attorney David Weiss’s investigation involving Hunter Biden. Andrew McCarthy writes that President Biden, by publicly declaring his son’s innocence, has already interfered in the probe — this, amid whistleblower allegations that the FBI “has supposedly been sitting on evidence that implicates the president in a bribery scheme.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump.

He was impeached twice, you may recall. On Tuesday, he was also found liable for battery and defamation in journalist E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit. Put another way, by NR’s editorial: “For the first time in history, a candidate will seek the presidency having been found civilly liable for sexual abuse.” (And so, we simply must nominate him.)

Add it to Trump’s distinguished pile of legal woes: Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s questionable case relating to Stormy Daniels (in which Trump was arrested), the DOJ special-counsel investigation covering classified-document handling and January 6, and another stop-the-steal-ish probe in Georgia. Coinciding with these developments, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago was raided last year, followed by searches of several Biden properties, both in connection with the handling of classified files.

So yeah, Jair Bolsonaro and his problems are boring by comparison — to George Santos alone.

None of this is to say America is trending banana republic, or becoming “third-world,” as Trump repeated at this week’s CNN town hall. Our economy, for one, continues to be an unstoppable and innovative force for good that defies the popular pessimism. But when it comes to our politics, to adapt an admonition: We’re not electing our best.

That includes Wisconsin, which is being governed poorly by a lifelong education bureaucrat, who was chosen by voters the second time (assuming no Milwaukee or Dane county voter fraud) over one of the worst candidates to have won a GOP primary in the state party’s history.



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