The enduring genius of America’s founding fathers rests on two accomplishments. First, they set forth as the American ideal the very source of all human meaning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all human beings are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;…” The American ideal recognizes the intrinsic value of all humans, and so it has attracted people from around the world.
Second, the founding fathers set up an ingenious system for executing the pursuit of that ideal. They recognized that there would be conflicting opinions about how best to pursue the American ideal, and they also knew that there would be those who would use the system to serve their own interests rather than the interests of all humans. So they installed a complex system of checks and balances: a legislative branch to check the executive branch, and a judicial branch to check them both. A house of representatives to check the senate. The Constitution is filled with provisions that act as checks and balances, all to prevent one private force or interest from obstructing or perverting the government’s service to the American ideal. It is this system of checks and balances that stands between democracy and tyranny.
In recent years, certain moneyed interests have, in their effort to serve their own financial and ideological interests, taking to attacking this precious system of checks and balances. They have funded politicians to gerrymander state and federal voting districts so as to prevent those opposing their views and interests from gaining a voice. They have financed a phony concern for voting fraud to justify limiting the votes of those who oppose them. In doing this and other things, they are attacking the very essence of what it is to be America. They are attempting to break down the single best system ever devised for the protection of the greatest expression of the human ideal ever set forth. They want no less than tyranny.
Now we have elected a president who is not just under the influence of these moneyed powers. He is one of them. Worse, he has no interest except himself, and he uses his substantial assets only for himself, and he has neither understanding nor care for the American way of governing. Nothing illustrates this more than his attack on the judicial branch. Until he appeared, it was inconceivable that anyone running for president would publicly claim that a judge born and raised in Indiana was disqualified from adjudicating hia case because “He’s a Mexican.” That was obviously a clear demonstration of his blatant racism, but he did much worse than that. Here, and in his attack on a federal judge and on the ninth circuit court of appeals, he announced his complete disdain for the American way of government. He is not trying to lead the United States government. He is trying to replace it. He would, it seems, recommend, as his chief advisor did to the press, that we the people just shut our mouths and listen.
Since his words are thoroughly untrustworthy, we can only judge him and his subordinates by their actions. What few actions they have carried out so far only underline this intent to take down the American way of government. They have fought the most fundamental rights — freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They have promised to launch a campaign against the right to vote. They have conspired with other governments for their own purpose. They have plotted the elimination of basic benefits for average citizens while quietly designing massive tax benefits for themselves and their ilk. And they have done all of this and more in the first three weeks of this presidency.
By their deeds we are very quickly coming to know them. Let us hope that those who voted for them are too.