As Election Day 2018 arrives, the nation finds its ideals, institutions, and reputation under significant and growing strain from an Administration and its allies whose values are alien to those on which the nation was founded. Individual liberty has increasingly been set aside by statism. Free trade has been replaced by protectionism. Fiscal responsibility has yielded to fiscal profligacy. E pluribus unum has been toppled by divisive ethno-nationalist Identity Politics.
The Republican Party of Donald Trump is increasingly an angry, immoral, and empty nihilist movement. Its sole loyalty is to President Trump. Its sole mission is preservation of his power and advancement of his agenda. In its current condition, its continuing possession of power poses a growing threat to the nation’s purpose, identity, and republican character. It has become a political party whose Senators and Representatives, with only a few exceptions, has accommodated, encouraged, and given license to a growing body of abuses by the Trump Administration.
It is now the duty of the nation’s voters to throw those elected officials out of office. Those officials failed to uphold their sworn duty to the Constitution. They chose instead to become full partners in the Trump Administration’s amoral policies, practices, and conduct.
In less than two years in the White House, President Trump has put in place policies, produced outcomes, engaged in conduct, and spoken words that are incompatible with the nation’s founding principles, its general welfare, and its historic experience. Ten examples follow:
- President Trump has dramatically increased the nation’s fiscal deficits at a time of robust economic growth.
- He has unilaterally imposed regressive taxes on American consumers in the form of misguided tariffs.
- He has assailed the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy independence.
- He has threatened to issue an executive order that would effectively amend the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
- He has regularly attacked the nation’s press and hailed a Congressman who violently assaulted a reporter.
- He has embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial of election interference despite the findings of the nation’s law enforcement and Intelligence communities.
- In the wake of the violence at Charlottesville, he declared that there were some “very fine people” even on the white nationalist side of the protests.
- He has separated children of undocumented immigrants from their families and threatened that migrants who throw rocks could be shot by the U.S. military.
- He has promoted a racist ad aimed at securing power for Republican candidates.
- He has made the lie the foundation of his public commentary.
Those are not examples of what the Declaration of Independence proclaimed. They are not examples of the great causes over which the American Revolution and Civil War were fought. They are not examples consistent with the liberties that the Constitution sought to secure for all future generations of Americans.
The Trump Administration’s gross contempt for the inherent dignity of all persons, its profound disrespect for the nation’s constitutional constraints and institutions, and its extreme aversion to the truth present significant dangers to the nation’s character and governance. Without moderation, truth, and tolerance, no free society can be sustained for long. Much is at stake today.
With time, the illiberal and amoral thought of the Trump Administration and its backers could become embedded in the views of the larger American public. Then, America’s soul will truly die. Thus, this is a pivotal election. It is an election that can contain that risk in the near-term and lay the groundwork for eliminating it in the longer-term.
In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote on July 10, 1776:
You will see by the Newspapers, which I from time to time inclose, with what Rapidity, the Colonies proceed in their political Maneuvres. How many Calamities might have been avoided if these Measures had been taken twelve Months ago, or even no longer ago than last December?
All who believe in the nation’s founding principles, who put the rule of law ahead of the whims of the current President, and who believe that an American is any person who embraces the ideas that have long-defined the nation are confronted with that very same question. The nation’s republican framework, its foundation of rule of law, and the enormous progress it has made as a force for securing and advancing liberty, tolerance, human dignity, and prosperity are now in peril.
The current governing path in which a supine, often willing, Congress ignores an illiberal President tempts political catastrophe. That path leads to a future that is illiberal, unfree, and intolerant. That future threatens the nature and political existence of a great and good country that was launched on the premise of “unalienable rights” for all.
That calamity can still be averted. That calamity must be averted.
November 6 is perhaps this generation’s July 4.
We know from history how 56 great men, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin chose in Philadelphia back in 1776. On that fateful day, they mutually pledged to one another their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Would today’s citizens have made that same choice? If so, they have a unique historic opportunity to demonstrate at the ballot box that they would, in fact, have made that very same choice.
How will the nation’s voters choose this year? What choice will you make?