Sunday, September 9, 2018

The New York Times Op-Ed piece by Anonymous


The New York Times recently departed from its customary protocol of requiring Op-Ed piece authors to identify themselves and published an Op-Ed piece by an anonymous author who identified him/herself only as a senior member of the Trump administration. The piece, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” available by following this link, disturbed me for three reasons.

First, the anonymous author paints a picture of the Trump White House that is consistent with Bob Woodward’s depiction in his book, Fear, as well as details obtained from multiple sources stretching across Trump’s presidency. Chaos, infighting, and staff jockeying to have the last word with an erratic, inconsistent and amoral president – all apparently common practices in the Trump White House – are extremely worrisome in today’s world. Trump acts as if he would prefer to be a dictator than an elected leader in a nation governed by the rule of law.

Second, the Op-Ed author’s actions presumably unintentionally undercut the rule of law. Neither staffers and political appointees are elected officials; some, but far from all, require Senate confirmation before permanently assuming their position. Allowing, perhaps even trusting, staff and political appointees to temper if not to limit Trump’s most outrageous actions erodes the rule of law upon which the U.S. was founded.

Third, the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides a mechanism for removing, temporarily or permanently, an individual incapable of functioning as president. Staff members surreptitiously removing documents from the president’s desk, anonymously leaking descriptions of a dysfunctional president and staff, and other immoral if not illegal behaviors ignore the real problem and deny the U.S. the opportunity to address these problems in a responsible way. Staffers and political appointees who cannot legally and morally fulfill their duties have a moral obligation (cf. my article, “Duty at All Costs,” in the Naval War College Review for a fuller explanation of the reasoning behind this position – similar reason applies to political leaders as to military officers).

Prayer alone will not change the dangerous political situation in which the U.S. now finds itself. Christians in a democracy have the duty to participate actively in the political process and to vote. Even if one believes that abortion is a terrible evil (and I am not among those who hold that belief), a dictatorship in which abortion is illegal will be infinitely worse than a democracy in which individual women decide for themselves whether to have an abortion.

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