In earlier chapters of American history, bad presidents eventually led to good government. Andrew Johnson’s stupendous failures after the Civil War spurred Radical Republicans to take command of Reconstruction, briefly turning the American South into a multiracial democracy. Richard Nixon’s downfall in the Watergate scandal in 1974 inspired a decade’s worth of reform: the creation of inspectors general, new ethics and transparency standards for public officials, stronger anti-corruption laws for campaign finance violations and foreign bribery, and more.
Donald Trump’s presidency requires a similar reckoning. On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats unveiled a new bill aimed at fixing some of the systemic weaknesses that Trump exposed in the American system of government over the past four years. “Our democracy is not self-effectuating—it takes work and a commitment to guard it against those who would undermine it, whether foreign or domestic,” six of the Democrats’ major committee chairs said in a statement. “It is time for Congress to strengthen the bedrock of our democracy and ensure our laws are strong enough to withstand a lawless president. That’s why we are acting today to introduce the Protecting Our Democracy Act."