I’ve gone through the other traditional steps of grief: Anger, Denial, and Bargaining. Now I think I’m ready to move on to… Acceptance.
Yes, I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that cartoon character “Donald J. Trump” will likely be our next president, and in the process will very likely dismantle our federal republic, a system of government that has stood for over 200 years.
As a student of history, I take some solace in knowing that I will be witnessing a major historical event. It’s not often one gets to witness the birth or death of a nation, especially one’s own nation.
So… lock all the doors, turn out all the lights, grab a bag of chips and your favorite shotgun, curl up on the couch, and together, collectively, we will turn on the TV or laptop, and over the next few months watch the end of civilization as we know it.
For those of you who don’t know what to watch for, here now is my “Practical Guide to the End of the Republic”, for the casual observer…
- Suspension of Constitutional Rights. We’ve already seen a preview of this…
Freedom of Religion? Only if you’re the “right” religion, otherwise we’re creating a national database to track your movements. And we’re closing the border to you.
Freedom of Speech , Freedom of the Press? Nope, we’re going to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to go after people that say bad things about us. This is clever, after all Freedom of Speech and of the Press does not protect libelous speech, so all we have to do is redefine “libel”. (I expect the new definition to be something like “words not double plus good about Trump”.)
Freedom of Assembly? Sort of, if you can take a punch. For a preview, just look at how protesters fare at any Tump rally today.
Other constitutionally guaranteed freedoms? Yeah, they’ll stay mostly intact. Unless you’re Mexican. Or look like you’re Mexican. Or know someone who might by Mexican. Or eat too many tacos. Nope those folks we’ll cart off to, oh I don’t know what we’ll call them, maybe “deportation camps”, where they can help build the wall.
- Suspend the Constitution. Don’t think it can happen? It’s probably easier than you think…
The Constitution provided for the checks and balances we all know about between the President and Congress. but… Today is different. Teddy Roosevelt established the precedent of going around Congress with a little something called the “Executive Order”. It’s meant to allow the President to direct various governmental departments on how to do their job, but over time has become essentially a unilateral law-making ability for the Oval Office.
Now before you go blaming Obama or George W for this abuse of power, understand this… Obama and W each issued less than 300 executive orders, none of them particularly ground-breaking. Teddy R. issued over 1,000 of them, and distant cousin FDR over 3,500 of them. TEN TIMES the number of the typical modern president. So… blame the Roosevelts.
But here’s the thing. In 1933, when a certain German president suspended that country’s constitution, he did it with a single executive order, just one, issued in response to an act of terrorism. And that is exactly how I expect it to happen here. This is how we created the Department of Homeland Security. This is how we passed the Patriot Act.
Trump has four years to wait for an act of terrorism on American soil, then, in a single patriotic-sounding executive order, and with great fanfare about protecting the people, he will do away with all those liberal, politically-correct concepts of yesteryear, such as the Bill of Rights (whatever remains of it), national elections every four years, and so on.
- Suppress the opposition. Here there’s not much to do. The Democrats have already done most of the hard work for him.
I mean seriously, Hillary Clinton? That’s the BEST they could offer as an alternative? It’s like they want him to win. Have they completely given up already?
But that’s not the only opposition to presidential power, what about Congress? No problem, they’ve spent the last two decades using partisan obstructionism to render themselves completely impotent anyway, without any outside help. They’ve made it easy. If they ever do pass anything, all Trump has to do is veto it, when’s the last time you saw a veto override. And Trump can do anything he likes, via the previously mentioned executive orders. Eventually our Congress will disappear in much the same way as the Roman Senate, victims of their own self-induced irrelevance.
What about the Supreme Court? Our third branch. Sounds good right, nine individuals, appointed for life, beholden to no one. Surely they can stop the abuse of power, right? Nope. Hear again, Congress has already shown the way on how to eliminate the power of the Supreme Court. Currently there are only eight justices, and they won’t rule on anything important for fear of a 4-4 deadlock.
Here’s how you would normally get a 9th justice: the President appoints someone, and Congress approves them. Yet, Congress has made it perfectly clear they are willing to approve no one, literally not a single person on the planet, and let the Supreme Court do without, for as long as they like, in this case until there’s a new president.
So all Trump has to do, is appoint only Trump yes-men, Congress can either approve them, or do nothing, and eventually the existing eight will die out. Either way Trump wins. Trump is young enough he could outlive the entire Court, and unless Congress re-stocks it exclusively with Trump minions, it will disappear entirely.
- Adopt a new title. Every elected leader turned fascist dictator has adopted a new title for themselves, something to set them apart from the past, something for history to remember them by.
So, what then for the orange one… “Furher”? No, way to German. I mean Trump is probably an admirer, he liked the salute at his rallies until someone pointed out the connection, so no. “Dictator-for-life”? No. To third-worldey. “President-for-life”? Even worse.
I think he will probably take a page from a slightly older history. When Rome transitioned from republic to empire, the dictators took the title “Caesar”, in honor of their first dictator, Julius Caesar. It only remains to be seen, will future American dictators be referred to as “Trumps” or as “Donalds”. Of course, my first instinct is to call him “Orange Julius”, but that’s just me.