I thought I was watching Saturday Night Live. Someone impersonating the famous Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, was making the hilarious argument before the U.S. Senate that the President of the United States could do literally anything he wanted as long as the president thought it was in the “public interest of the country.” Trump believes that it is in the “public interest of the country” for him to be reelected. Ergo, he can do anything he wants related to his reelection. No exceptions.
But wait! This was not SNL. This was really happening.
Of course, the Republicans took the bait and rejoiced that one of the most famous lawyers in the country–a revered Harvard law professor, no less– was taking their side that Trump should not be convicted and thrown out of office for withholding military aid to a foreign ally pending an investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden. It appears that McConnell has the votes to prevent anyone from testifying and that the Senate trial should be over by the end of the week. While there never was a question as to the verdict by the Senate, the closing legal arguments by the Trump legal team raised more than a few eyebrows.
So not so fast Republicans. You could, one day, rue the day….
But in the meantime, what do you think the Trump reelection machine will be doing? Certainly, calls to Russia and China are on the to-do list, perhaps to other adversaries as well. Why stop with social media interference? Why not go whole hog? Hey, there are lots of opportunities for tampering with the voting machines and repressing voter turnout; and if that is what it takes to achieve what Trump believes is in the “public interest of the country,” there is not anything that anyone can do to stop him. According to the Republican legal team, he can’t be impeached, and since no sitting president can be tried for a crime while he or she is in office, Trump is covered. Green light, baby, whatever it takes. “All for the public interest of the country.”
It does not take a constitutional scholar to realize where this could take us. What if Trump were to determine that it was in the “public interest” for him to remain in office indefinitely, for martial law to be imposed, for the news media to be shut down? What if he actually were to shoot and kill someone on Fifth Avenue?
The United States of America is not a totalitarian country. Not yet. We still have a free press. So far. Political adversaries are not locked up. Not now. And we used to be able to say that our voting process assured the will of the people, that America was the shining light of democracy. We know now that this is not the case because of all the money that corrupts elections, gerrymandering, and interference by foreign adversaries. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by three million votes and yet won in the Electoral College. Many think that the popular vote margin will be even greater in 2020. Yet we may be stuck with him for another four years.
Make no mistake: Our democracy is at risk. We have set the record for the longest lasting democracy on the planet Earth. But it is not guaranteed. I recall the words in a James Taylor song, “nothing lasts forever.” Watch out, America. We are getting close to the line.
Editor, Faux News