Tags: trump | founding fathers | john jay | nation | unity

Donald Trump Reaffirms the Founders' Faith in National Unity

Donald Trump Reaffirms the Founders' Faith in National Unity
U.S. President Donald Trump waves prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 14 January 2020 12:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We are nearing the end of the ill-conceived impeachment imbroglio. This effort by the House Democrats was a nakedly partisan enterprise to weaken the Republican candidate for president in 2020.

The claim of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and Jerry Nadler is that President Trump was using his office for personal political purposes when he sought to enlist Ukraine officials in seeking “dirt” on his expected opponent Joseph Biden, and that, further, President Trump acted in a manner that obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate in his own impeachment investigation.

In the course of the impeachment trial that is likely to begin this week, enough Senators will become convinced that the narrative of the House Democrats is specious, and the president’s defense will prevail.

This defense is that Trump was legitimately seeking to explore corruption in the Ukraine involving former Vice President Biden and his family, and the concomitant possible misuse of federal funds given to that nation, and that in declining to provide executive branch testimony to the House he was properly invoking executive privilege to protect the prerogatives of a coequal branch of government.

Once the president has been acquitted, we will be able to get on with the business of clarifying the choice that the American people must make in November about what kind of a nation they want.

The choice has never been more clearly marked between our two major parties, but it is remarkable that the mainstream media, the Democrats, and their allies in Hollywood and the Academy have still been unable to grasp what Donald Trump actually represents.

Because it is always easier to seek to ridicule one’s political opponent rather than to contest his or her ideas and principles, it has escaped the president’s critics that he actually is maintaining an established American tradition grounded in a direct appeal to our founding principles.

In 2008, Barack Obama disparaged American small-town voters about whom, he said, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Hillary Clinton made the same mistake in 2016, when she infamously referred to half of Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables.”

Amplifying her remarks, Mrs. Clinton explained that these Trump supporters were “the racists and the haters, and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he's going to restore an America that no longer exists.”

But Donald Trump’s continuing appeal is not simply a nostalgic one, nor is it grounded in the kind of hate Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama were inadvertently demonstrating.

For many, especially Americans in the heartland, Trump is invoking the same notion that animated those who founded our Republic. There is no better explication of that idea than the one John Jay, eventually the nation’s first Chief Justice, articulated in Federalist No. 2.

Jay was addressing whether the newly independent British colonies in North America ought to continue together as a single national alliance, or whether they should form many separate countries.

In making the case for a single nation, Jay appealed to his fellow Americans to recognize that “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”

He went on to say that, “This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.”

Jay was arguing that, even in 1787, we were actually already one nation, and that we should remain so. Donald Trump has made the same case for American nationalism. His, as was Jay’s, is actually a unifying vision, appealing to a common Judeo-Christian Anglo-American conception of individual liberty, piety, and patriotism.

Mrs. Clinton appeared to believe that that American nation no longer exists. The vision of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, of a centralized federal government that operates with open borders and is devoted to the fundamental transformation of the manner in which Americans live their lives, is the antithesis of what Jay wanted.

Once the impeachment nonsense is over, Americans will make the choice between that fundamental transformation and the continuing validity of the framers’ nation and faith.

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 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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We are nearing the end of the ill-conceived impeachment imbroglio. This effort by the House Democrats was a nakedly partisan enterprise to weaken the Republican candidate for president in 2020.
trump, founding fathers, john jay, nation, unity
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 12:46 PM
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