Rather than reassure the public, the anonymous op-ed published in the NYTimes by a Trump administration official should really unnerve the American people. It corroborates claims that the President is not the man in charge and that deep state is working to undermine his presidency.
The op-ed shows the disdain that unelected officials hold for the 62 million Americans that voted for Trump. Instead of submitting to the will of the people, Trump aides are adamant about preserving the political disorder that Trump had vowed to thwart.
Let’s turn to the op-ed.
There Has Been a Bureaucratic Coup
The author of the op-ed is clear that Trump cannot rely on his aides. Instead of obeying orders from the commander-in-chief like they ought to, officials within the administration are stalling the implementation of the agenda that Americans voted for.
It echoes the ‘we will stop him’ sentiment expressed in Peter Strozk’s text messages to Lisa Page. To quote a few lines from the op-ed:
As an official serving within the administration, it is natural to have disagreements but to somehow think that you or a group of unelected individuals within the administration have the mandate to override the will of the people is nothing short of treason.
With stirring court rulings over the immigration laws, there is already much debate about the role of unelected judges in overriding the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Throw the role of unelected bureaucrats into the mix and you are essentially debating over inner workings of a banana republic.
The Author Doesn’t Realize What a Constitutional Crisis Looks Like
The writer of the op-ed repeatedly references Trump’s lack of understanding, cat-like attention span, malignancy, and disregard for the Republic as his justification for undermining his Presidency. Towards the end of the article, he talks about invoking the 25th Amendment to oust Trump:
After mentioning whispers of invoking the 25th Amendment, the author quickly backtracks saying that it would have created a constitutional crisis. Their level of willful ignorance of what a constitutional crisis looks like is astounding.
In his mind, invoking a constitutional amendment to constitutionally remove a President incapable of performing his duties would create a constitutional crisis but if his closest aides undermined his Presidency on the pretext of saving the Republic, it wouldn’t create a constitutional crisis. How does his logic work?
A constitutional crisis comes about when you encounter a situation on which the constitution is silent. It is when you hit the limits of the constitution and find yourself in the territory not covered by the constitution.
A bureaucratic takeover of the Presidency would be the embodiment of a constitutional crisis.
On the other hand, if the Federal cabinet recommended to the Congress the impeachment of a sitting President on the basis of the 25th Amendment, it would be a legitimate course of action and wouldn’t result in a constitutional crisis since the constitution lays down the framework for such an impeachment.
The author falsely suggests that invoking the 25th Amendment would have resulted in a constitutional crisis to justify the bureaucratic takeover of the government.
Concerns About Free Trade
The author rebukes what he sees as efforts by President Trump to thwart free trade and free markets possibly referencing trade war with China and conflicts with the European Union.
First off, the ‘free trade’ with China and the EU was not really ‘free trade’ per se according to Adam Smith’s definition. These were free capital agreements that allowed inhibited flow of investors’ capital from one country to another and protected their rights. To Adam Smith, free trade and free markets were free movement of the workers. By that measure, tougher immigration restrictions have cut the flow of immigrant laborers and have thus decreased globalization, exactly the kind of thing Adam Smith warned against.
The fact that the author invokes free trade and free market repeatedly in his op-ed shows that he is a lifelong Republican and the trade restrictions that hurt the Koch brothers and other political donors go against his political ideology.
He goes further by praising deregulation and tax reform, both of which largely favored mega-corporations and the wealthy class.
By these accounts, the author is not some lifelong public servant. He is a political figure who had a career before Trump’s election albeit insignificant one and plans on continuing it after Trump leaves office. Although my aim here is not to speculate on who the author of the op-ed might be but it appears that he has a close ideological affinity to Senator Bob Corker.
Donald Trump won the 2016 elections. That’s a fact. 62 million Americans voted for him to be the President because his message resonated with them. People may disagree with his statements and rhetoric but the American public gave this man a democratic mandate. Despite that, the author shows a flagrant disregard for the democratic path that Trump walked on to reach the Presidency and tries to justify the shortcut he and his co-conspirators took to seize power.
The ‘we as a nation’ he cites are the people who voted for Trump. If Donald Trump is destroying the Presidency, he is doing so with a democratic mandate. Rather than singling out Trump, he should talk about the resentment that neoliberal policies instilled into the hearts of millions of Americans. President Trump sunk as low as he could during his election campaign, it didn’t put off the American public.
The damage that the bureaucratic takeover of the government inflicts upon the United States goes far beyond Donald Trump. It sets an administrative precedent that justifies the seizure of the President’s authority if his closest aides have differed with him ever so slightly. This was why President Nixon’s role in the Watergate burglary could not be overlooked even though his insight into foreign relations was greater than of any other President post-WWII.
Once you begin delegating unconstitutional authority whether they are on the pretext of national security or incompetence and malignancy of the President, you initiate an administrative chain reaction that ultimately ends up causing more harm than good.