Sunday, June 3, 2018
L'etat, c'est lui.
Donald Trump believes that, because he has the power to end the Mueller investigation, he cannot be subpoenaed by it. Because he can pardon himself if convicted of crimes, he cannot be accused of them.
Is he right?
The argument set out in a letter by his lawyer claims that since the president can "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon” that he can also refuse to testify before the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
A court will no doubt decide this, in the months to come. But clarity can be found now by simplifying it to a more mundane level, by asking a few hypothetical questions:
Can a police chief, who has the power to hire and fire officers, be arrested?
Can a county sheriff, who has authority over prison guards, be put into jail?
Can a senator, who has the power to pass laws, himself violate a law?
Can a president?
The answer of course is yes, yes, yes and yes. Because if it isn't "yes" in every case, then we no longer have a society of laws, but a society of men.
Men like Donald Trump.
Not a society of rules, of order. But a society where ordinary citizens follow orders. The orders of men like Donald Trump.
Every American is facing a choice, right now. Respect the United States, respect its laws and traditions.
Or respect Donald Trump.
Follow our morals, values and laws.
Or follow Donald Trump.
It's that simple.
Simple, yet so many don't get it. Trump supporters, having put their bets on Trump, whether out of economic anxiety, racial bias, seething resentment, ordinary fear, free-floating malice, Republican habit, gender bias, or whatever pathology causes a supposedly freedom-loving American to support a would-be tyrant, refuse to be put off by whatever new low Trump sinks to. They are willing to pay any price, bear any blunder, meet any transgression, support any traitor, oppose any relief, to assure the continuation of the Trump era.
It is shocking how many people bend their knee to him. Past rivals, abused and trivialized on live television, now kiss his ring. Politicians who fought and struggled against Barack Obama's every act—try to bring more health care to more Americans—roll like puppies at the feet of this demagogue.
I see on Facebook the common meme that someday Trump supporters will regret their support. I severely doubt this. First, because if you go down South, you will not find aging bigots who battled civil rights tooth and nail now hanging their heads in shame. I never see those people. It is far easier to deny folly and keep denying it than to eventually face it. People, generally, are cowards. Hence the popularity of Donald Trump.
The only time such reckoning has a chance is when the people lost in follow are soundly defeated. The Germans, crushed, began to sincerely wonder whether they had erred, morally, with all this Nazi business.
Keep that in mind, foremost in mind, this November. Unless these guys lose, we all lose. We won't be given many chances to reverse this. It will set in, settle in our bones. It might already have done so. It might already be too late. Some days, it feels too late.
Because second, he may prevail. The abused system of laws and standards and decency gives way, day by day, inch by inch, and we stagger toward the same power-driven, money-driven dystopia we find in so many other countries. A world where Russia has won. It's so strange. They couldn't defeat us through strength, through bombs and armies. But they have us on the mat through guile, their tool in the White House, the evidence of his perfidy being quashed before it has come out. And 40 percent of the American people eager for it to happen.
We could not only end up with Trump, but worse to come. If you can gaze at Trump's words and actions and endorse that, put your words and your heart and your vote behind it, I believe you can endorse anything.
Here's what I don't understand: What do his supporters get? What's in it for them? A frisson of self-love? As bad as betraying your country is, at least Trump and his family and cronies get a payday, in money and power and perceived status. What do their supporters get? Nothing, but a pat on the heads, a few facile lies, a couple sympathetic judges and country in ruins. Maybe that's secretly what they wanted all along, chaos. Finally, a reason for all those guns.