For those who think things are bad now, wait till or if Donald Trump becomes president.
Currently, even though there is much division in the country and even though some people have been calling for the impeachment of President Obama from the start of his presidency, and even though the Republican Party obstructs him at every turn, our government holds together, for one reason: the rule of law.
Yeah, Republicans of course object when Obama issues executive orders, but let’s be honest here, they did not object when their presidents did so or when they made those signing statements on laws that basically said even though they signed them they would not necessarily follow the letter of them.
And, the way it works, or has worked, when presidents show strong or aggressive leadership they can go so far and then the Supreme Court and/or political and public pressure take over.
Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court by creating extra positions not provided for in the Constitution. In the end, even his own Democratic Party would not back him on that.
Richard Nixon tried to defy the rule of law on many levels, but in the end the leaders of his own party paid him a visit at the White House and in a private meeting told him they were ready to remove him from office via the impeachment process if necessary. He resigned.
But in all of this, the only thing that gives the president his power or that can remove that power is the rule of law and the willingness of those in government voluntarily following it, including a president who goes too far. And of course the government cannot have legitimacy if the majority of the general public does not respect it.
But what if Trump just defied the rule of law? He has already given hints he would do just that. He has tried to intimidate through disparagement a judge who is trying a case against him. Trump has no respect for the law, except when it works in his favor.
He has also promoted and egged on violence, racial and otherwise, in his campaign.
If he acted this way as president — and he would — the whole system would likely collapse or everyone would go lockstep behind him Hitler-like and our democracy would be gone.
No one is perfect. Even Obama at one of his state of the union messages criticized the Supreme Court, and that is close to disrespecting the separation of powers, but he has not defied the high court. And he is a legal scholar who would no doubt always follow the rule of law when it came down to the final wire.
Trump is no scholar. He has demonstrated by his public utterances that he is rather uninformed, and what is more, he does not care. He is just a sounding board for all who are so mad and think all their problems are the fault of others of a different nationality, skin color, or religion, or social class, and who just want to lash out, damn the consequences.
There is some sign that the Republican Party establishment, which has caved into the Trump movement because getting votes is more important than principles, is getting cold feet.
Maybe there is still time for the Republican Party to get its self-respect back.
I don’t know.