Tags: Barack Obama | Supreme Court | Trump Administration | constitution | framers | gorsuch | scalia

Trump's Restoring of Self-Governance Threatens Left

Trump's Restoring of Self-Governance Threatens Left
President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, during an event celebrating military mothers and spouses. The order addresses military spouse unemployment. In part, the executive order holds agencies accountable for increasing their use of the non-competitive hiring authority for military spouses. (Carolyn KasterAP)

Monday, 21 May 2018 02:04 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We appear to be on the cusp of learning that the Obama administration, including the CIA, the FBI, and the Justice Department (DOJ), were involved in some levels of illicit surveillance of and interference with Donald Trump’s campaign.

Specifically, while that activity was allegedly justified because of a purported threat from Russia seeking to undermine our electoral process, we may also soon have overwhelming evidence that such a threat was an excuse manufactured by partisans of Hillary Clinton — in and out of government.

Those partisans apparently sought either to hobble the Trump campaign or, effectively, to undermine his presidency if he were elected. If this turns out to be true, many officials will be facing criminal charges, and the scandal will taint the Democrats as darkly as the Nixon imbroglios hurt the Republicans.

As this seems to be occurring, it raises a grim question.

What led so many people so blatantly to seek to sabotage a legitimate campaign for the presidency?

Mere political loyalties are not enough of an explanation, because our parties have always zealously opposed each other, but official misdeeds of the kind that have now been alleged — appropriately by President Trump — are unprecedented.

The late Andrew Breitbart famously observed that politics is downstream from culture, and it's a cultural upheaval that best accounts for what we are witnessing.

When Mrs. Clinton called Trump supporters "deplorables," she was reflecting the same condescending cultural view as President Obama did when he opined that Americans who were not sympathetic to him were bitter and were people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment."

Those who plotted against Donald Trump were, it would seem, fearful that Mrs. Clinton would lose to a candidate who appealed to Americans nostalgic for an earlier age and culture, in which America was regarded as a moral and religious beacon to the rest of the world, an America proud of its own heritage and cautious and concerned about losing it.

This is what candidate Trump viscerally understood, and this is what his "Make America Great Again" slogan was all about.

For eight years under President Obama a different, and ultimately contemptuous, cultural ethos reigned in Washington. A reign which has been condemned by some of Mr. Trump’s supporters as some kind of elite Ivy League internationalism, more fit for an Oxford common room than an American barroom.

The real tragedy of the president’s enemies is that their progressive culture, which posits a world moving toward free immigration, removal of borders, and international rather than national norms simply blinks at reality, if it's not a dangerous ivory-tower fantasy.

Enraptured with their own ideology, Obama administration officials, and President Obama himself sought to change basic national ideas about the rule of law, the primacy of Congress as a law-making and treaty-confirming entity, and our tradition of the states and localities as primary makers and implementers of policy.

It now seems increasingly likely that when powerful federal bureaucrats sensed that candidate Trump was a threat to their most cherished political and cultural beliefs, they concluded that he had to be dealt with.

Wholly apart from the lamentable partisan corruption involved in protecting Mrs. Clinton from prosecution for the security lapses of her and her associates (when she was secretary of state) the extraordinary failure on the part of so many in the Obama administration to realize how their shameful efforts ran contrary to our deep-seated traditional beliefs is staggering.

It cannot be denied that it is now fashionable in many of our cities, our universities, and in many of our courts to disparage tradition; to see in it evidence of oppression, discrimination, and privilege.

As the late Justice Antonin Scalia understood, however, and as his replacement, Neil Gorsuch (appointed by President Trump) also grasps, without following our legal and constitutional traditions, and without adhering to traditional notions of separation of powers and federalism, something precious, something that is the essence of this country will be lost.

Our Framers, in erecting a Constitution involving checks and balances, and, indeed, most concerned with restraining the arbitrary power of officials, tried to put in place structural features that would prevent the kind of machinations that the Obama administration launched against candidate Trump. In exposing this misconduct, and in punishing those who perpetrated it, Congress and the president will be restoring what we came very close to losing — our right to govern ourselves.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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It now seems increasingly likely that when powerful federal bureaucrats sensed that candidate Trump was a threat to their most cherished political and cultural beliefs, they concluded that he had to be dealt with.
constitution, framers, gorsuch, scalia
Monday, 21 May 2018 02:04 PM
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