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The Mueller report will be a test of American democracy. How will we handle it?

4 33 327
08.03.2019

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, which is expected to be delivered to the attorney general soon, will end up being a great test of American democracy. How will we handle it? In a nakedly partisan fashion, or as a way to bolster our constitutional system?

It has been much noted that we are now in an era of illiberal democracy. Popularly elected governments and leaders — in countries as varied as Venezuela, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and the Philippines — are undermining independent institutions, violating important norms and accumulating unbridled power. In most of these nations, checks and balances have buckled as institutions that protect rights have been weakened, political parties have been craven, courts have been compliant, and the press has been subdued.

In the United States, the story is mixed. The political system has functioned poorly, checking President Trump’s excesses only along partisan lines. This is largely because the Republican Party has capitulated to Trump, even when party leaders have believed that he was undercutting democracy itself. Senators who had spent a lifetime railing against the executive branch’s power grabs have meekly endorsed Trump’s phony national emergency. They have quietly accepted that Congress’s central power, to spend money, can be subverted at will by the White House.

On the other hand, some American institutions have pushed back. The judiciary has........

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