“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Donald Trump, 2/4/17
“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” Donald Trump, 2/5/17
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Donald Trump, 11/17/16
America is not bound together by the Constitution. We are bound together by something deeply spiritual: the faith in democracy from which our Constitution emerged. That faith is being undermined by our President.
We in the resistance to the agenda of Trump and the Republicans have an overflowing bucket of issues to engage. There are dozens of dreadful policies being proposed and enacted, all demanding our vigorous response.
But we need to distinguish these debacles from the worst crisis of all, which has nothing to do with partisan politics. Trump’s lies about massive voter fraud are going to weaken Americans' faith in elections. His top advisor told the press to shut up. Trump himself refers to the media as a whole as the “lying press”: he clearly aims to discredit any source of news except his own office. His insult to the authority of the Federal judge who ruled against his Muslim ban will weaken Americans’ trust in the balance of powers enshrined in the Constitution. Without the people’s faith in democratic institutions, without our belief that our system of government can correct itself through elections and courts and the sanitary sunlight cast by a free press, the Constitution becomes nothing more than kitty-litter liner.
Trump swore to protect and defend this document. In just a few weeks, he has repeatedly violated his oath of office.
We're so caught up in the thicket of outrageous rhetoric and inhumane executive actions and bills proposed in Congress that we are losing sight of the forest because of all of the trees. Because we're bombarded by lies and outrages daily from Trump, we lose sight of the gravity of the individual instances of his behavior. We must distinguish between many things that matter a lot and the one thing that matters most of all.
This is a non-partisan, bi-partisan crisis. It is just as threatening to Constitution-loving Republicans as it is to Constitution-loving Democrats. That is why it is essential to separate this extremely serious problem from all the other messes imposed by the Trump administration. Some Republicans are speaking up, notably Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who said on Feb 5 that "We don't have 'so-called judges,' we don't have 'so-called' senators, we don't have 'so-called' presidents. We have people from three different branches of government who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution..."
Our system is antique, it’s flawed, and it needs serious reform. However, in order to change it, all Americans, regardless of their political views, must maintain the faith in democracy that “protects and defends” our Constitution. We must work constitutionally to change the Constitution.
Is the sum of Trump's attacks an impeachable offense? I don’t know. But whether or not it is constitutional for a president to undermine the Constitution, Trump is doing something at least as bad as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
So here’s the message I hope we’ll send to our President, and all members of Congress and the Senate, urging them to say the same. It is a message to pass along to our friends and colleagues, urging them to contact their elected officials:
“We, the people, demand that President Trump immediately, publicly, and unequivocally repent of his attacks on the foundations of our democracy. By lying that three to five million votes were cast fraudulently on November 8, by referring to a Federal court jurist as a “so-called judge”, by calling reporters “the lying press”, among other statements, he has violated his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. His words undermine the trust of the American people in the integrity of our elections, the authority of our courts, and the sanctity of press freedom. Because of the weight of the authority of his office, his words dangerously erode the faith of Americans in the principle underlying our Constitution, without which it becomes a worthless piece of paper. We disagree on all manner of public policy questions. But we join together to defend strongly the principle of democracy and the validity of the structures of our government created under the Constitution. Through them, our policy disagreements can be resolved and rectified. We ask all members of Congress and all Senators, regardless of party affiliation, to join us in this demand, for the sake of the survival of our democracy and the preservation of our national solidarity.”