President Donald Trump's actions over the past couple weeks should be particularly alarming for all Americans, even for those whom have steadfastly supported him. His approval ratings are at an historic low for a president this early in their term. Yet, for the most part, Congressional Republicans remain reticent, although pressure is building on them to show courage.
In 1776, Thomas Jefferson warned, "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." Tyranny, the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control, has been a growing characteristic of America's 45th President, who wants to bring an end to the many investigations into Russia's ties to the Trump campaign.
The fact that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man who was leading the FBI investigation, is chilling. That the president would undercut his surrogates and admit flat out that the Comey firing was in part due to the Russian investigation is stunning and may be obstruction of justice. Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt last week, “I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.” Trump added that the investigation should have been "over with a long time ago," and disingenuously continued, "I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people."
The president took the trouble to note in his dismissal letter to Comey that the director told him, "on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation." But according to those who know the director it is highly unlikely that Comey would give such assurances. Of course, only an extreme egotist would invite the FBI director over for dinner and then ask if he is personally under investigation. And only an extreme narcissist would ask Comey for his total loyalty before agreeing to keep him on at the FBI.
The president regularly confuses ethical behavior with his personal interest, as if to say, "If it's good for me, it's ethical." He sees no boundaries when it comes to the FBI investigation. He recognizes no lines when it comes to the many financial conflicts of interest he and his family have in the U.S. and around the world.
Even so, Trump's supporters still believe he will keep his campaign promises, that his obvious bluster is authenticity, that he truly cares about those left behind. How's that working now? Obamacare is still the law, meaningful tax reform is boxed up behind health care legislation, the North American Free Trade Agreement is still in place, nothing has happened on infrastructure, the national debt continues to explode, job creation is modest, and American taxpayers will pay for whatever wall is ultimately built along the border with Mexico. Meanwhile, North Korea is out of control, the Iran nuclear deal has not been altered, there is no "secret strategy" to defeat ISIS, the U.S. Embassy in Israel has not moved to Jerusalem, Trump now says China is not a currency manipulator, and Russians are taking advantage of the president in the Oval Office and in Syria.
Thankfully many of Trump's campaign promises have not come true. His replacement for Obamacare would knock 20 million people out of coverage, and give an $800 billion tax break to the wealthy. His "tax reform" plan would add trillions to the national debt, and his unconstitutional anti-Muslim travel bans have been blocked by the U.S. courts. Last month Trump told Reuters, "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."
Of course, Trump blames the the fake media for his failures and problems. He has even proposed ending the daily White House briefings. But even some leading Republicans think that's a bad idea. In 1776, Jefferson wrote on how to prevent tyranny, "It is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large."
Trump ridiculously claimed the other day that he came up with the term, "priming the pump." Apparently they don't use that phrase at the Wharton School, even though President Franklin Roosevelt began using it in 1937 during the Great Depression. But this is yet another example of how Trump makes it up as he goes. And rumors of a massive White House staff shakeup once again highlights the fact that Trump will throw anyone under the bus for his own transgressions and shortcomings.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans stand silently by as Democrats feel increased optimistism about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections.