On Nov. 11, 2016, three days after voters elected President Donald Trump, Warwick’s veterans were split over whether his demonstrated disregard for prisoners of war and the Constitution warranted concern.
Almost three years later, Trump is poised to run a military parade through the nation’s capital to celebrate the Fourth of July, with tanks, a fawning tip of the hat to the dictators and despots that must be spinning our founding fathers in their graves.
The Fourth of July is a celebration of American courage in standing up to and humbling a tyrant, a point clearly lost on Trump, who, days ago, shared smiles and pleasantries with Kim Jong Un, North Korean supreme leader and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
With Kim Jong Un, Trump marked history as the first President to set foot on North Korean soil Sunday, June 30, a political coup for North Korea with no clear upside for the United States.
Putin’s meeting with Trump the day before in Osaka, Japan, on the other hand, was a unequivocal victory for the leader of America’s Cold War and modern day enemy.
Trump, clearly unmoved by the gravity of the Mueller Report’s conclusion that Putin’s government aided his election and is still meddling in the American political system with an eye on the 2020 election, jokingly told the dictator, “Don’t meddle in the election.”
Neither dictator need worry about the consequences of their brutal and anti-democratic regimes’ actions, even naked aggression toward the United States, so long as Trump remains president.
But threats to America under Trump’s rule aren’t limited to foreign adversaries.
Last year, the Trump administration authorized use of force by the military deployed to the southern border, a dangerous move toward erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act, which reserves law enforcement actions to civilian authority.
Recent reports from the country’s southern border, where the Trump administration is warehousing legal asylum seekers in unsanitary and inhumane conditions indistinguishable from concentration camps, stain the consciences of decent people. The situation is one America would normally be expected to marshal its immense military and humanitarian aid to defuse, were our own country not the architect of this disaster.
This week, a federal judge in Washington state blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to deny asylum seekers bonding hearings, which would have meant indefinite detention for them. Knowing that some elements of the judicial system continue to uphold the Constitution in the face of Trump’s relentless assault is cold comfort, since his judicial appointees are joining the ranks of the judicial branch, reaching as far as the Supreme Court.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court legitimized voter suppression, ruling against intervening in gerrymandering of state voting districts. The court’s decision was made by a conservative majority built by Trump.
That majority included Trump’s appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who replaced President Obama’s appointment, Merrick Garland, following an unconstitutional obstruction of presidential power by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked hearings on Garland through the end of Obama’s term, then waved Gorsuch through a speedy confirmation.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has reined in efforts to impeach the President, because Republican complicity in the Senate makes impeaching Trump at best a wounding, but not decisive, political blow.
Tellingly, McConnell’s obstruction and defiance of American democracy continues as he allows bills drafted by a Democrat controlled House of Representatives to gather dust. The most damning of those ignored bills is one that would bolster America’s defense against future foreign election meddling, bringing the existential threat to our democracy full circle.
When the fireworks fly this evening celebrating the country’s defiance of tyrants and the birth of our democracy, let that legacy stiffen your resolve to preserve it.
Let it embolden you at the dinner table, with friends and family, with your elected officials.
First, McConnell and Republican senators must receive an overwhelming and unmistakable message that Americans — not Republicans, not Democrats, but Americans — expect them to uphold their oaths to protect the Constitution and our country.
Happy 243rd, America. Best wishes for many more.