To the Editor:
As we celebrate the two hundredth and forty-third anniversary of our birth as a republic, we might contemplate a warning from the United States Supreme Court in 1866. At issue was an 1864 Indiana case that challenged the limits of Executive Power, specifically the President’s ability to try a non-military U. S. citizen before a military commission, per martial law. While acknowledging the legal and moral conundrum faced by Abraham Lincoln and his successor Andrew Johnson, the Court nonetheless identified the danger of ceding too much power to the office of the Presidency - even in times of war.
(The United States)“has no right to expect that it will always have wise and humane rulers, sincerely attached to the principles of the Constitution. Wicked men, ambitious of power, with hatred of liberty and contempt of law, may fill the place once occupied by Washington and Lincoln. .” (ex parte, Milligan, 71 US 2 (1866).
I believe that a wicked man, ambitious of power, with hatred of liberty and contempt of law, now occupies the place once occupied by Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, G.H W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush, Obama, and so many others who had at least a shred of decency.
President Trump is obsessed with the personal power of his presidency, in particular the evolving power of the Executive Order. Because of it, he can more easily laugh, joke, find common ground and “make deals” with obscenely wealthy, murderous, dictators. Because of it and because he is truly a coward, he does not have to face desperate refugee families on our borders and say what he really thinks: “I do not want to be reminded of your suffering. You are a threat to my wealth and comfort, so you are not welcome in MY country.” Instead, he can sign an executive order, ramble on in non sequiturs about addressing a humanitarian crisis by military means, and head off for lunch and a round of golf.
If Donald Trump is successful in his quest to build an autocracy, those who disagree with his vision, even just a little, will no longer be welcome in HIS country. We must elect members of Congress who will reassert the bright line distinctions between our three branches of government. Should we fail to revitalize checks and balances, we will most certainly be trapped, and unwelcomed, in Donald Trump’s country.
I wish us all well,