It Is Even More Serious Than You Realize
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It was reported that as his world was collapsing around him at the end of July 1974, President Richard Nixon was seen walking around the White House speaking to the portraits hanging on the walls of the Executive Mansion. Authors writing about the waning days of the Nixon Administration say he called in Henry Kissinger to pray with him.
Regardless of the arrangements that Nixon did or did not make with Gerald Ford about a presidential pardon, Nixon understood how the American system works. His term in office was finished. The Constitution provided for a process to work itself out which would end with his removal from office. Nixon finally accepted the fact that he would be convicted by the Senate of the charges in the bill of impeachment that the House passed. Nixon knew, as his lawyers confirmed, that it was over.
It is readily apparent today in Washington that as a nation America appears to very much be headed in the same direction as it was 1974, with one major exception. President Donald Trump does appear to accept the fact that the law and the Constitution determine how things work in Washington; not the President. Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017, to “…faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States….” Unfortunately, Donald Trump does not comprehend what that oath means.
It is becoming apparent that like Nixon, underneath all his bravado, Trump too is a very lonely person. Trump goes through the days bullying anyone who stands in his way or disagrees with him. He has no respect for tradition or how things are done. Without even addressing his underlying psychological issues, the President is convinced that he never loses any fights. He fires all those who challenge, embarrass, or make him look bad; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is next.
Trump never thought he would be nominated for President let alone be elected. Today, it appears that Trump has scarcely any advisers to whom he is willing to listen. His best ones have all left or are hiding. Trump barely has a legal defense team left and he has no one to even pray with him. Unlike, Richard Nixon, Trump is convinced he can beat a system which he—unlike Nixon– does not appear to understand and certainly does not respect. The only rules that Trump knows are the ones he makes.
America is fortunate, however, that after almost fifteen months in office the Republic is still standing. Whether it can endure the balance of one term is not clear. Globally, the ante is being raised almost daily. Bluffing and badgering friends and foes alike is already destroying America’s credibility diplomatically, economically, and militarily. World leaders are laughing at America. Domestically, Trump is determined to destroy the entire social and economic architecture that has been created since the New Deal. He is replacing it with nothing. Trump will leave everyone—including his still adoring base—bankrupted.
The American political system is enduring a shock to its guts that will take years to repair. Daily the behavior of the President intensifies as he elevates his challenges to an even higher level. The American culture is being challenged and future generations—as was the case with the Viet-Nam War—will never comprehend how their elders let this happened. The American political system is truly shaking. Even a Democratic victory in November may not guarantee that the nation can survive.
Trump is fiddling while America ….