This post is the third in a series of musings about Trump's election in which I identify five concerns and then suggest a response to each (follow these links to read the first and second posts).
- Concerns that Trump's win points toward a fracturing of the Union, e.g., as liberal, more youthful populations, who live along the coasts find themselves increasingly alienated from older, less affluent, less educated, more conservative populations who live in the nation's broad middle
(For more on the demographic disparities between Trump supporters and foes, read this article from the Washington Post.)
Generational divides are not new. What troubles me about this divide is its geographic component, i.e., the US is increasingly segregated as people choose to live in homogenous neighborhoods defined primarily by shared values. In many respects, this is the most intractable of my list of concerns about a Trump presidency and best addressed through acting on the recommendations in response to the other four concerns.
- Trepidation that Trump's election moves the US toward an authoritarian dictatorship, a fear heightened by Trump's repeated and flagrant disregard for facts, the ongoing involvement of his children in both his business and the government, and his evident reluctance to step completely aside from his business interests in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The US is a nation in which the rule of law, not the rule of individuals, prevails. A written Constitution, independent judiciary, and adversarial legal system combine to support the rule of law. Vigilant observation of Trump administration personnel, their actions, and their decisions followed by courageous and unswerving efforts to prosecute legal transgressions are the best defense against replacing the rule of law with the rule of persons. Some Trump opponents have already committed publicly to following this path.
People best exercise this option prudentially. Numerous and unrestrained legal maneuvers can reduce the public credibility of these efforts (as happened with the dozens of cases filed against the Obama administration by GOP foes) and unintentionally undercut other efforts to reform or move the political process in constructive directions.
Impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, followed by removal from office is the ultimate legal sanction. Trump appears headed in that direction for at least two reasons. First, his involvement of his children in government affairs may violate nepotism laws enacted after JFK nominated his brother as Attorney General. Second, some of Trump's global businesses partner with foreign governments, creating a prima facie violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause that forbids any US government official from accepting benefits from a foreign government.