By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer
An unsigned opinion column, titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” appeared in the Sept. 5 New York Times.
The writer, a senior official, claimed to be part of a secret “resistance” inside the government protecting the nation from its commander in chief, who was portrayed as incompetent and dangerous.
Not surprisingly, calls for Donald Trump’s removal from office reached a crescendo pitch from his many enemies inside the political establishment.
Trump supporters fired back. “The official complains about the president’s supposed lack of principles,” wrote Kevin McCarthy, the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, two days later, in a response in the Times.
“However, it is clear that his real grievance is that the president does not share his principles, on issues like trade and foreign policy.
McCarthy contended that “there is a permanent political class in Washington that believes that it has a divine right to rule the American people.
“The members of this political class claim to love democracy, but they are ‘working diligently’ to ‘insulate’ the government from democratic decisions. They claim to love the norms that protect constitutional government, but shatter constitutional norms of executive power. They claim to be above party and ideology, but are in fact so blinded by groupthink that they cannot tolerate any challenge to their 1990s-era consensus on trade, immigration and foreign policy.”
Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, in her own Sept. 7 op-ed in the Washington Post, argued that what this anonymous author was doing was very dangerous.
“Everyone in government owes a greater loyalty to our country and our Constitution than to any individual officeholder. But a central part of our democracy requires that those who work directly for the president not secretly try to undermine him or his policies. What the author is describing is an extra-constitutional method of addressing policy disputes within the administration.”
Haley called the action “cowardly” and “anti-democratic.”
Issues like free trade and foreign policy “were hotly debated and thrashed out publicly in the campaign,” National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty observed, in a Sept 6 piece, “No, This is Not How You Run a Resistance.” And the writer’s side “lost the popular debate.”
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat agreed. In “Thwarting Trump, or the Voters?” published Sept. 6, he suggested that the most troubling thing about the anonymous op-ed was that the author didn’t seem to acknowledge “any distinction between protecting America from Trump’s erratic personality and extra-constitutional whims and frustrating the agenda that won our president the White House.”
Trump’s opponents are making it the “new normal” to investigate, interrogate all known associates and acquaintances and relatives of a president. This has now been extended to anonymous attacks.
In a major piece of irony, as Rutgers University historian Jackson Lears noted in “Aquarius Rising,” in the forthcoming Sept. 27 New York Review of Books, today “the dream of impeaching Trump has driven much of the Democratic Party into an uncritical embrace of the FBI and the CIA.
“The institutions that have conducted illegal surveillance of American citizens for decades have been suddenly transmuted into monuments of integrity.”
Trump may be “amoral,” ill-tempered, erratic and narcissistic – I’m an American citizen and I didn’t vote for him – but these are not criminal, or impeachable, offenses.
Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon pursued an unwinnable war in Vietnam that resulted in more than 58,000 American deaths. Bill Clinton bombed Serbia for 78 days in a campaign not sanctioned by the UN.
And George W. Bush destabilized the entire Middle East and caused the death of some 4,500 soldiers in Iraq. How much blood is on Trump’s hands?
The November Congressional elections in the United States will, in a sense, be a do-over of the 2016 presidential election.
Because if the Democrats capture the Congress, they will impeach Trump and remove him from office.
But removing a president should be done through the ballot box, by the American public -- or American democracy will never be the same again.