In a move potentially even more destabilizing for our democracy than the Comey firing, Trump is filling vacant federal judgeships from a list of conservative-libertarian justices supplied by the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation. Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money chronicles the way Koch money has, since 2008, systematically funded state and local races, conservative-leaning law schools, and judicial candidates who lean toward the Scalia approach, in a conscious attempt to turn the country toward an Ayn Rand “every man for himself” philosophy. Couched much more cleverly in terms of freedom and a harkening back to traditional patriotism, the anti-tax, anti-authority Koch brothers conveniently omit the fact that it’s easier to be entirely self-reliant when you have a personal fortune larger than the GDP of most small countries.
Is it democracy, when big money buys the justice system? Maybe it is. The Founding Fathers were all men of wealth, many of them slaveholders. Perhaps domination by men of wealth is what they consciously or unconsciously intended.
The real story in all of this is the corruption of the Republican Party. Apparently, as long as Trump gives them right-wing judges and huge tax cuts for the rich, Republicans in Congress — at least so far — are willing to turn a blind eye to any amount of self-dealing, ethically egregious and perhaps criminal behavior emanating from the White House, and interference in our political process by the Russians.
Does our democracy now depend on our home-grown oligarchs — the Koch brothers, the Ricketts family, the deVos clan and others identified in the Mayer book — getting upset enough about Russian interference to want to shut Trump down? We ought to be able to depend on Republicans in Congress to distinguish between Trump’s business interests and the best interests of the country, but so far there’s no sign of that.