Wednesday, October 9, 2019

PRESERVING THE RULE OF LAW AND CHECKS AND BALANCES


If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about whether the current occupant of the White House thinks he's above the law, his administration’s manifesto saying that it would not cooperate (not uphold the rule of law, in other words) with an impeachment inquiry  should make this fact all too clear. During the run-up to the 2016 election, many clear thinkers and insiders who knew the candidate better than the average voter did—including numerous Republicans, who have since pivoted, after it became clear that Donald Trump had managed to hijack the GOP—warned that he was not a man who would respect the law and that he would want to be a power unto himself.
Like the despot that he set out to be and like the tyrants for whom he has expressed such admiration, Trump is seeking to supersede the powers of Congress and the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States. Latest polls show that even from twelve to eighteen percent of Republicans are now calling for his removal from office and twenty-four to twenty-eight percent of them now believe that an impeachment inquiry should be carried out. Overall, the polls show, over all, that three out of five Americans support the impeachment inquiry being ordered in the House.
Finally, it seems, Americans are beginning to wake up to the fact that Trump is not just any president. He is a man with truly dangerous delusions of grandeur. And, potentially, an even greater threat than Richard Nixon was when he was threatened with impeachment and, instead, resigned in disgrace.
The Trump White House, rather than cooperate in getting to the bottom of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, which it claims are false (“fake news”), is ratcheting up its rhetoric, saying that it is “declaring war” on any and all impeachment proceedings. Had the president or anyone on his staff even summarily  read the Constitution of the United States, they would know by now that the presidency is not an all-powerful, autocratic entity—or, at least, it is not meant to be—and that it is subject to congressional oversight and accountable to the investigative power of the House of Representatives.
Under the Constitution of the United States, the Executive doesn't get to make the rules for what the House or Senate can or can't do. It's only under dictatorships that the head of state can get away with dispensing with legislative oversight whenever it doesn't agree with his or her personal or political interests. The three branches are carefully, constitutionally designed to act as near perfect checks and balances on each other. But that only works when all branches respect the rule of law.  And the current executive is not doing that. Nor is he taking seriously his vast responsibilities as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, as witnessed by his stunningly capricious, unilateral and inadvisable weekend order to remove US troops from Syria, taking America’s allies by surprise and leaving friendly Kurdish troops open to immediate attack by the Turkish military.  
The founders of the United States wrote the book on the three-branch balance of power under representative Western democracy. Trump apparently wants to re-write the rules according to his own convenience. He seems to want to re-write history as well, and to turn America’s democratic republic into an autocratic state. It is self-evident that he yearns to re-write the Constitution, or at least to ignore it.
As such, he is a clear and present danger to US democracy, and Congress has a duty to the American people, and to the system of checks and balances, to bring him into line.


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