A Nation of Laws

Trump meets with state and tribal leaders at the White House. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Trump meets with state and tribal leaders at the White House. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Until Donald Trump’s inauguration, America was a nation of laws. Until Trump became president, we recognized the risks of creating dictators and despots. That recognition drove the rule that no one, not even the president, was above the law. Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace because he wasn’t above the law; Bill Clinton faced impeachment because presidents don’t get to lie under oath. Wally Hickel, in his second term as Alaska’s governor, learned the lesson when he tried to unilaterally build a highway down the Copper River canyon.

No one is above the law. That defines what America is. A nation governed by laws, not strongmen, bullies and dictators.

Until now.

In late June, President Trump hosted a group of Native American tribal leaders at the White House. As reported by Axios,

The chiefs explained to Trump that there were regulatory barriers preventing them from getting at their energy. Trump replied: “But now it’s me. The government’s different now. Obama’s gone; and we’re doing things differently here.”

There was a pause in the room and the tribal leaders looked at each other.

“Chief, chief,” Trump continued, addressing one of the tribal leaders, “what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there? I mean, once it’s out of the ground it can’t go back in there. You’ve just got to do it. I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”

We have the spectacle of the President of the United States telling citizens to violate the law. Telling other leaders to violate the law.

Donald Trump has committed many sins since inauguration. But the one that troubles WC the most is his utter willingness to act as a tin pot dictator, to disregard the law, and to direct and encourage others to violate the law. He’s trying to transform the United States into a network of strong men. To whom the law does not matter, or does not apply.

This will not end well.