The *crickets* problem with writing about post-Trump reforms

Cricket singing.

Two major reports from civil society groups came out Tuesday outlining bold proposals for legislation to fix some of the dangerous loopholes that Donald Trump has opened, widened or simply exposed in our increasingly fragile-feeling constitutional democracy.

But you probably didn’t hear a peep about them.

I wrote about them here and here. I think it’s fascinating stuff! But like everyone else trying to draw people’s attention to something beyond the moment’s news, I wasn’t particularly successful.

The weight and velocity of news dropping on our heads every day makes it hard to look past it. Journalists don’t have the energy to put the latest load in context, much less tease out the ramifications and consider possible solutions. For consumers of news, the outrage is so thick it sometimes threatens to turn into nihilism.

The co-chairs of the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy – former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara and Republican former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman –  launched their report with an op-ed in USA Today.

They recognized the challenge:

We’re not asking Americans to look past the daily developments of our politics. But rather than careening from crisis to crisis, we want to do the hard work of repairing our democracy and restoring public faith in government. As a country, we’ve weathered crises before. But we’ve also risen to the occasion to fix what’s broken. Let’s do it again.

So it’s a long game.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Public Citizen issued Tuesday’s other report, on “Trump-Proofing the Presidency”.

“We really haven’t expected a ton of response because we understand that there are a lot of different people focused on a lot of different things right now,” Jennifer Ahearn, CREW’s policy director, told me on Wednesday.

But Ahearn said her community is operating on a long time horizon. “Major legislation takes a long time,” she said.

A lot may change after the November mid-term elections, if Democrats win either or both houses of Congress, giving them muscular oversight tools if not the ability to get legislation passed.

The goal now, Ahearn said, is “to set a baseline for what a real response to these problems would be.”

And hey, at least you’re reading this.

“I do think that there’s an appetite among some folks,” Ahearn said. “They’re tired of the horror and they want to actually think about how to fix these problems.”

In the coming days and weeks I’ll be writing more about these two sets of suggestions — and others. I’ll be interviewing people to get their reactions and thoughts. And I’ll be trying to encourage a conversation. So stay tuned.


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