On November 8, 2016 Americans across our great land went to the polls to select their choice for President, and Donald Trump prevailed. His brazen, unorthodox, “lay it all out there” style, attracted the votes of millions of frustrated, disenchanted and angry citizens, who felt their government had abandoned them and its “long train of abuses” were becoming insufferable.
Since his election though, Trump has continued to express himself with little self-discipline, frequently on Twitter, where some of his most controversial statements are made. More often than not, it would appear that Trump gives no thought to what proceeds from his mouth or is typed out on Twitter, ascribing to a “tweet first, think later” strategy.
Case in point. Just this week Trump fired off another one of his ill-advised tweets, where he suggested anyone burning an American flag should be faced with “loss of citizenship or year in jail.” Folks from all across the political spectrum rejected his solution for flag burners, including many in his own party.
With that tweet though, Trump either revealed his contempt for existing law and the First Amendment (the SCOTUS has ruled twice that flag burning is protected under the Constitution), he exposed his utter ignorance, or he continued his flawed “tweet first, think later” routine. Regardless, Trump once again set off a firestorm, and accomplished nothing but to deepen the extreme opposition of those on the left, while creating disharmony for those who voted for him. This discord was expressed this week on my Facebook page, when I shared Trump’s tweet, along with these personal comments:
So for those of you who voted for Trump, what’s your take on this tweet from the President-elect? Do you agree with his view? And if not, does it cause you any concern?
My simple post set off a barrage of over 160 comments in less than 24 hours, with a mixture of strong support and extreme disagreement by those opining. Consider that most of those commenting had voted for Trump.
What was clear though, in the discussion on this one tweet, as well as in many other instances where Trump has pushed the envelope with his nonsensical comments, is that too many of his supporters are willing to cover for, or brush aside, remarks and behavior that should be rebutted or rejected. It’s as if some believe they have elected King Trump, their new sovereign ruler, who can do no wrong.
Note what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had to say, when questioned about his vote affirming the First Amendment right protecting flag burning: “If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged — and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government. That was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress.”
Most people, whether in America or in other less democratic nations, are attracted to strong leaders. Perhaps it’s because many individuals are followers. Or maybe it’s because over the course of world history, civilization after civilization has been ruled by strong leaders, whether kings, monarchs, dictators, or tyrants. Perhaps our DNA includes the predisposition for someone with great authority to rule over us, as we hope he will defeat injustice and elevate what is right. Of course, there has never been a dearth of elite men and women over the ages who have been both willing and eager to step into the role of ruler, or king.
But, America is unique.
Prior to our founding, world history was void of any great civilization whose ideology was based on the premise that “all men are created equal” and that its government would derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the concept that “We the People” ruled and our government leaders were subservient to us, was injected into our nation’s DNA. This new truth became the cornerstone of America, and differentiated us from all other peoples.
But 240 years later, our federal government, a behemoth that has no comparable in world history, has grown to a point where its tentacles have expanded into every area of our life. Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has become a distant and inconsequential idea. And too many Americans have fallen for the errant idea that our President is our sovereign leader and ruler.
So as Americans have shirked their solemn responsibility, that of being an engaged citizen, they have also distanced themselves from the significance of state and local rule. This has led to an infection of the DNA of old, where many voters seek a sovereign national leader who can reverse all the wrongs and order all the rights. The much condemned “pen and the phone” policy of Barack Obama by those who opposed him, is now being embraced by many of those same Americans, with their new King Trump.
But we must remember, there is no King Trump. The truth is “We the People” are sovereign. Donald Trump works for us. And like any entrepreneur knows, employees are accountable to the business owner. Our founding fathers had the wisdom to establish our unique Constitutional Republic, which places the responsibility of power in the hands of the citizens. As such, it is both your responsibility and duty to keep your elected officials in check, including those who are strong willed, loud mouthed and twitter-addicted.
A Course of Action
Most companies have what is called a progressive disciplinary system, where an errant employee can receive verbal warnings, followed by written warnings, then suspension and ultimately termination if such employee is unwilling to reform his ways. In our system of government a similar system exists, but we must avail ourselves of it.
Our elected officials, in this case Donald Trump, should be treated as our employee. He works for you and me. He reports to us. So it’s incumbent for you and me to offer feedback to him and express our concerns openly to others. Initially we may simply express those concerns verbally. But if he continues in his errant ways, then we must escalate to written warnings, perhaps in the form of an email or a reply to an ill-advised tweet. But ultimately, if Donald Trump, or any other elected official, rejects or ignores the counsel of those who employ him, then voters will have to decide whether to retain such an individual in his position.
I pray Donald Trump will begin to act more Presidential, as he seeks to “drain the swamp” as most of his supporters are eager to see happen. But should Trump renege on campaign promises, or continue to speak and act in a manner that is unsuited to the leader of the free world, then who knows but that four years from now, the man who made his TV fame on the hit series, The Apprentice, may end up hearing his own famous words from voters:
I trust that will not be the case. But we must never forget that it is not only the right of “We the People” but it is our duty.
Proverbs 29:20 — “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.”