A former president attacks the Constitution
The oath of office for the presidency of the United States is not very long and gets right to the point:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
First, you say you’ll do the job. The second part is all about the document that underpins our democracy — the Constitution of the United States. Your duty as president is to “preserve, protect and defend” that document, and by so doing, the nation.
This language isn’t limited to the presidency. For example, this is the oath for military enlistees:
“I, (Name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
In this case, the Constitution is the subject of the first two clauses. Your job is to defend and bear allegiance to this document and what it represents, even at the risk of death. You will also obey orders issued by others — the president of the United States and officers in the military. It is no coincidence that they have also sworn an oath to the Constitution.
That’s because there is no United States without our Constitution.
It defines this nation as one ruled by laws and not by men. It delineates our rights. And it provides for us to change our government through peaceful transfers of power as we deem it appropriate.
That’s what happened in the election of 2020. And the loser of that election hates it. By extension, he hates our country and our laws for allowing his defeat to occur.
This isn’t speculation. He said it himself in a post on his social media channel a few days ago.
We quote verbatim (while recognizing the words have no basis in fact and have been disproven countless times):
“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
Is this statement unhinged? Certainly. Is it full of lies, conspiracy theories, and a misplaced sense of victimhood? Of course. And if these were the harmless ravings of a man on a soapbox on a New York street corner, we could hustle by, trying not to make eye contact. But they’re not.
This is a former president. This is a man who still controls much of the Republican Party. This is a man who most Republican officials feel they cannot denounce publicly with any more force than one applies to a feather duster on a porcelain figurine.
Let’s go back to what he said — in his words. This man just publicly called for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”
Many in the press and pundit world worry that words like “fascism” and “autocracy” are too extreme to apply to American politics. Perhaps that was once the case, but there is also a danger in tiptoeing past the truth. Because what is being said here, with all the subtlety of a Harley revving through a yoga retreat, is that this man, who six years ago pledged an oath to defend the Constitution, now seeks to destroy it. This is the definition of autocracy. It is the seed of fascism.
There is a cruel irony that he invokes the Founding Fathers in his anti-democratic delirium. They wrote the Constitution as a check on men like him. Its protections, its separation of powers, its very spirit were meant to create a wall of stability holding back the kind of mob rule he seeks to unleash in his desperate graspings at absolute power.
This man is damaged goods — by definition, a loser. He lost the 2020 election. Most of his hand-picked candidates lost in this year’s midterms. And then there's his pathetic win-loss record in the courts. His nonsense about a stolen election was litigated and readily dismissed; judges tend to like arguments based on facts and evidence. And now, he is personally in all sorts of legal jeopardy, and he’s racking up losses there, as well.
He’s also being further damaged in the court of public opinion. There is the business of hanging out with antisemites. Turns out most Americans don’t like their leaders breaking bread with people like that. Even many in his party are now speaking out.
But if you listen to them carefully, notice their rhetorical two-steps. They may denounce the people he hangs out with and the worldview these people espouse, but few elected Republican officials or other party leaders take on the man himself with anything more than a frustrated tut-tut. When asked if they will support him in 2024, they talk about how there will be many other candidates to consider. Some even say they won’t be supporting him because he will likely lose.
All of this is fine, but it’s far from sufficient. It’s transactional.
It might matter for the Republican Party that he loses them elections, but what matters for America is that he wants to destroy the very foundation of our country. And it also matters to the country that many in his political party won’t come out and say it is wrong to call for the end of constitutional order. And why is that? Do they believe the lies of the former president? Some do. Most, however, are probably more worried that even tepid criticism might anger the base and cause them to lose future elections.
The political calculus is chilling. The political cowardice is reprehensible. You can wrap yourself in the American flag as much as you want, but if your values are not firmly rooted in the Constitution, you might as well be wearing the emperor’s clothes.
Who will have the courage to say what everyone can see?
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