It is clear to the world, but most especially to the American people who are experiencing at first hand and with sobering immediacy, that their new President is determined to continue unrelentingly questioning the basic principles of American democracy.
From the time he called Seattle Judge James Robart a “so-called judge” only because the judge set aside a 120-day ban imposed by President Trump on refugees from several countries, mainly Middle Eastern, the new American leader has been seriously questioning the basic principles of American democracy that have underpinned (fortified, buttressed) this great democracy since its very founding.
President Donald Trump not only dismissed the judge’s ruling as “outrageous,” but derided Judge Robart as “a so-called Judge.”
This is a clear indication that the new leader of the world’s greatest democracy, like the leaders of so many badly run countries, especially in the Third World, does not believe in independence of the judiciary.
In another broadside against the judiciary, Trump also criticized the arguments made in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday by lawyers for the state of Washington, which sued Trump’s administration, arguing that the measure would harm its economy.
President Trump’s antagonism against the American judiciary is likely to continue because judges, from the Supreme Court on down, are sworn to “protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And no amount of ranting by the President or anyone else can change that.
But the judiciary is not the only target of Trump’s anti-constitutional outbursts. He is becoming increasingly at odds with the United States Congress itself, especially over the burning issue of alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections. Congress is determined to conduct a bi-partisan investigation into the serious and persistent allegations of the Kremlin’s involvement in Hilary Clinton’s defeat. Trump has meanwhile dismissed the allegations of Russian involvement and is opposed to Congressional investigations. But Republican Congressmen know the general skeptical mood in the country regarding this new president, and that they (Congressmen) must also watch their own backs. As one American writer recently remarked, Congressmen will not risk their own political future for Trump.
Perhaps President Trump’s most alarming and dangerous threat to American democratic principles is his adversarial (confrontational, antagonistic) relationship with the American press.
He has consistently accused the press of lies, false reporting and being fake, dishonest. Trump has also accused the America media of being “the opposition party.”
The Trump administration made two announcements that further poisoned his relationship with the American media. The first was the President’s Press Secretary denying access of the New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times and other major news organizations to White House press briefings. The second came from President Trump himself—that he will not participate in the White House Correspondents Dinner.
That hasn’t happened in a hundred years! The only exception was in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan missed the dinner because he was recovering from an assassination attempt on his life. But he did send in comments by phone.
Here, we have to say that Trump is behaving typically like African tyrants, who consistently maintain a mean-spirited, even brutal relationship with the media. The only reason Mr. Trump would not go further than what he is doing now is because he knows that any attempt to shut down a media institution would lead to his immediate impeachment. He claims to believe in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but were it not for that First Amendment, his actions against the media would have been far sterner.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the 10 amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
We know not how far Donald Trump will go in his antipathy (hostility, ill feeling) toward the press. One thing we know is that he will not stop; nor will the press cave in to his rants (angry outbursts, raging). The New York Times has already declared that it will continue to cover the Trump administration “without fear or favor.”
What Trump, like Abacha of Nigeria, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Zuma of South Africa do not realize is that despite whatever they do to the press, they will soon discover that like Sana Abacha of Nigeria, Samuel Doe, Idi Amin, Yahya Jammeh, they all will one day depart and leave the media right where it has always been—writing the first draft of history and eventually, history itself.
Mr. Trump has no idea how history will treat him. Not that he even cares, since he is rich. But remember Jesus’ immortal question: “What does it profit a [person] if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?”