Email #234: “we all agreed”

I want to thank you for voting for the Russian sanctions bill that passed both the House and the Senate this week. Speaker Ryan said on Thursday:

“The message coming from Congress on a bipartisan basis is these are hostile regimes and sanctions are warranted — sanctions are called for. And we want to make sure that they’re tough sanctions and that they’re durable sanctions. It took us a while to figure this out and come together to get the policy right . . . and we all agreed we believe these tough hostile regimes deserve sanctions and this is the bipartisan compromise that produces that.”

When Speaker Ryan said “we” and “us,” for once he meant the entire House, not just its GOP members. In addition to twice using the adjective “bipartisan,” he even echoed the Hillary Clinton campaign slogan “Stronger Together.” And the rhetoric was accurate. The bill passed in the House 419-3 and in the Senate 90-2 where even its opposition was peculiarly bipartisan with Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders joining against it.

While it is easy for Democrats to defy President Trump, I am more impressed by how the GOP resisted White House efforts to weaken the bill, especially the absurd assurance that the President needs the freedom to “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.” Instead the bill increases Congressional review, requiring the President to notify Congress in advance of making any changes to the sanctions and giving Congress thirty days to block them.

This is Congress’ first, clear statement of distrust in President Trump’s ability to deal meaningfully with Russia after its interference in the election. In a form letter your office sent me last January, your assured me: “Our constitutional system of three co-equal branches of government and a Bill of Rights … prevent one branch from assuming too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.” This is the first instance of the GOP-controlled legislative branch challenging President Trump’s executive authority.

As a loyal Republican, you voted with your party because your party was voting against the President. While this makes you nothing like the Republican Senators McCain, Collins, and Murkowski who joined with Democrats to defeat all of the flawed health care bills in the Senate last week, it does mean you place party loyalty above Trump loyalty. While I would hope for more from you, this does suggest that as the GOP turns increasingly against the President, at least you will not block their efforts. You are no leader, but you are an obedient follower, and so you are bipartisan when your party tells you to be bipartisan.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: