Some presidents continue the irony of their first two terms ignoring the Constitution’s instructions to faithfully execute the laws — that is, the most constitutionally circumscribed branch of the federal government.
Their speeches and actions are voluntary declarations without commensurate checks and balances and outcomes are subject to mere proclamation by the president or the Congress. Having already delivered the message repeatedly, they can now reflect on it again and again and feel no loss of discretion.
Donald Trump has made his prolific and sinister journey in only a few short years. On foreign policy, he boldly cast aside the constraints of America’s supposedly strong commitment to international norms and formed special relationships with an array of countries and actors in every arena. On climate change, Trump eliminated all conventional rules on efficiency and innovation, contented himself with solely handing over his own energy options for solving global warming from his own desk. In his effort to render the rule books meaningless, he enacted the most devastating piece of “interpretation” he could ever imagine — amending the Clean Power Plan and the associated regulations.
The 37th president of the United States must. This is why people love sitting with him. Trump does what he does because he wants the things he wants — health care for all, removing sanctions on Iran, immigration from hell, etc. He believes if you love something, you should do whatever it takes to advance that idea, as long as it doesn’t burden others.
His choice of women for Cabinet positions was contemptible. It also took away protections the LGBTQ community was not given by the Hyde Amendment in the first place. When he was confirmed to Congress, he forced a committee vote by the second day after all. All because he opposed the appropriations bill backing it. His skepticism of the Supreme Court when it goes against his conservative agenda is almost universally ignored and even ridiculed. His claims that if the Senate confirms him — as they seem to want — we’ll have a different Supreme Court is coupled with the explicit assurance that the freedom of speech, religion, and press will be subordinated to his overbroad executive powers.
Recent events in Saudi Arabia demonstrate what these rules don’t protect. This is the country Trump should absolutely, positively and openly acknowledge (and reject). Just as he effectively withdrew the United States from international nuclear disarmament agreements that ensured non proliferation, Riyadh exploited Trump’s assertion that he wouldn’t relinquish the rights to harm or destroy innocent men, women, and children to abrogate its national security obligations.
Unlike Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush, Trump has never accepted the balance between liberty and security and sovereignty and judicial supremacy, but he’s proved to everyone else that he understands it. America could no longer afford to be a bystander to protecting the inherent rights of minority communities — simply because he believes they need protections or faith-based institutions — and where this was possible, Trump exercised restraint and made good on his promises on trade and foreign policy.
The president’s interests exceed all others, and no reason to rush him through the process. In meeting with our foreign allies this week, he reaffirmed our allies’ commitment to security, prosperity, and liberty. He renewed our longstanding commitment to freedom and democracy in foreign nations. He released a set of rule books on governance and rule of law with the belief that rights are not directed at imposing iron-clad regimes on the people, but by nurturing the character and natural tendencies of their governments. America could have spent days on these issues without Obama spending time and effort attacking his predecessor.
Trump remains a political novice with no outside advisors who can review and even criticize him without fear of retribution, or even suggesting that they do so. However, this unprecedented step suggests that he’s at least willing to listen to his own advisors, and not just his activist inner circle. Just last week he appointed the Justice Department’s chief constitutional lawyer as the head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. “If Donald Trump doesn’t listen to his own people,” warns the American Civil Liberties Union, “his foreign policy and national security may end up looking very different very quickly.” There’s no need to look at those words again.
For too long the government has resolutely enforced arbitrary and unaccountable rules. Now that Trump has indicated he doesn’t want to, perhaps we should look at the court system again. If Trump doesn’t like its rulings, he could consider the Supreme Court a “second home” — and he knows it will tolerate many more of his unconstitutional and unconstitutionally destructive rules before he falls in love with the judiciary.
Abraham H. Foxman is the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the