First, it was Hillary and the Democrats. Then it was the leakers, the hackers, the Ninth Circuit (and other courts), the media, and the “fake news” that earned the esteemed titles of scapegoats for President Trump’s political shortcomings. Now, the president has turned his sights on the most inconceivable scapegoat of all — the very document that provided a vehicle for his election.
That Trump has attacked the United States Constitution is beyond any irony and about as bizarre as his first 100 days in office.
During an interview with Fox News, yesterday, Trump blamed the checks and balances that are an inherent and fundamental proviso of the constitution. He implied that the most important document in America’s history is a “…really bad thing for the country.”
What exactly is really bad?
Is it that Americans can choose to practice the religion of their choice without fear of persecution? Or, that they can express themselves — politically, socially, artistically, and personally. Maybe it’s bad that it gives the accused a right to legal counsel and a trial by jury; or that it abolishes slavery and cherishes equality.
I doubt that Trump told members of the NRA this weekend that the constitution was “really bad” because it included the right to bear arms.
More than 225 years ago, the founding fathers drafted the documents that became the United States Constitution. Their concerns for a fair and just government of the people are clearly expressed in the constitution. They also framed the national system of a federal republic that relied on checks and balances in order to protect the people from the oppression they had fought to repel.
A little over 100 days ago, Donald J. Trump stood before a nation born from the constitution and swore an oath of office on a worldwide stage. Like the presidents before him, Trump recited the 35 words required by Article 2, Section 1 of the constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Unlike those before him, he has not quite embraced them.
If he does not appreciate the United States Constitution, Mr. Trump should not have sworn an oath that unequivocally mandates that he preserve, protect, and defend it. He should not have assumed the great responsibility that is being president of an “archaic” system in a diverse nation.
Time and history occasionally have exposed flaws in the constitution. In response, the government has made legitimate amendments over the past two centuries. However, changes that have been enacted benefit the entire nation and its population. They have never advanced the glorification and ego of the chief executive. As they did in the 1700s, the founding fathers would likely lobby vigorously against the one great leader concept today.
If anything, Trump has validated that our “archaic” system is in fact, imperfect. That the constitution allows anyone to run for the highest political office in the land — without regard to experience, education, or intelligence — demonstrates a tremendous flaw. As detrimental as that single defect may be, it emphasizes the fundamental driving philosophy that the founding fathers sought to attain: the equality of all.
If Trump was referring to the constitution as a “really bad thing” because it allowed him to be elected president, he may be correct. Otherwise, Mr. Trump, for the rest of America, the constitution is what made America great and what protects its people from tyranny.