To the Editor:
Donald Trump is our president. He deserves credit for having won the nomination over many well-known and well-qualified Republican candidates and for winning the election against a highly qualified, well-funded Democratic candidate.
Trump won the electoral college, which is the count that matters. As in sports, the rules of the game and the rules of scoring are known in advance. It is unseemly for the losing team to whine.
Many Democrats refer to Hilary Clinton winning the popular vote, but they fail to point out that this margin occurred due to overwhelming support in just two states, New York and California. She was behind in the popular vote for the remainder of the country. A map that shows red and blue counties (not red and blue states) reveals a sea of red with isolated small pockets of blue, primarily in cities and along the coasts.
Trump (and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) did our country a service by bringing to the fore the voices of a vast number of Americans who feel forsaken by our government. Addressing their concerns is our collective challenge.
It would be good to have a vigorous debate over public policy. I believe that there is quite a bit of agreement as to the problems we face and not much agreement as to the solutions. Unfortunately, we face an even more daunting task – preserving our democracy.
Just as Trump deserves respect due to the office he holds, he must also respect the other branches of government. The founding fathers gave us three separate but co-equal branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. These branches function as a system of checks and balances upon each other.
Trump signed a hastily prepared problematic executive order establishing a temporary travel ban on people from seven countries. Soon after, a federal judge imposed a temporary restraining order on the implementation of this ban. It is perfectly human for the president to feel frustrated by this, and it would be perfectly acceptable for him to say that he believes the judge is wrong, that his administration plans to appeal the ruling, and that he expects their view to prevail. Instead, Trump referred to the federal judge as a “so-called judge.” There is no such thing as a “so-called” judge! A judge is a judge. Fortunately for all of us, we have a multilayered judicial system; when you disagree with a judge’s opinion there are avenues for appeal.
When Trump refers to someone as a “so-called judge,” he is not just insulting an individual, he is denigrating our legal system. Either deliberately or unintentionally, he is undermining the public’s faith in our judicial system as a whole. We also recall his previous attack on a judge in Indiana claiming that he could not be impartial due to his Hispanic heritage.
Trump swore an oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Respect for the judiciary is not optional.
Another bedrock American value, written into our Bill of Rights, is freedom of the press. A free press is a hallmark of any democracy, one of the many freedoms that Americans have fought and died for. Trump regularly denigrates the press. He speaks of “the failing New York Times” and the “failing Washington Post.” Even worse, he has called the press “the enemy of the American people.”
He appears to deliberately seek to undermine the public’s confidence in the news media. Why he would wish to do so is a disturbing question.
Equally important to democracy are the citizens’ rights of assembly and free speech. There has been vocal resistance to the Trump presidency.
Trump recently tweeted that these protests were being organized by “liberal activists. Sad.”
Really? Is it somehow a surprise that protests in support of liberal policies are organized by liberals who are active? And this is “sad”? Isn’t that exactly what citizens are supposed to do?
Isn’t it a positive thing that many citizens are concerned about the good of the country and that they take time to make their views known.
I hope that we can have an energetic national debate on public policy. That would be a welcome relief over worrying about whether American democracy can survive a Trump presidency.