In the past week, Trump has made it very clear that he does not agree with many of the basic tenets of the US Constitution. Trump has suggested curtailing First Amendment rights and complained about the checks and balances system enshrined in the Constitution- a system designed to prevent power from centralizing into the hands of any one branch of government. Yes, Trump is against the decentralization of power through the three branches of government, and rather they be centralized into the executive.
Trump first criticized the system of checks and balances, mostly because it prevented him from doing as he pleased in his first 100 days of office without Congress and judges stopping him. He said the system was ‘archaic… It’s a really bad thing for this country’.
To clarify, Trump thinks that the main Constitutional safeguard against a dictatorship is ‘a really bad thing for this country.’
Why Trump is complaining is plainly obvious, his approval ratings have tanked to 42% according to Gallup, exceptionally low for a new President. For reference, former President Obama enjoyed a 65% approval rating at this time in his presidency.
Trump’s dictatorial tendencies don’t end there- Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, signaled on ABC that Trump was considering amending the First Amendment to clamp down on dissent from the media. Here’s what he said:
KARL: I want to ask you about two things the President has said on related issues. First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws. Tweeting “the failing New York Times has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws?” That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?
PRIEBUS: I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters—
KARL: So you think the President should be able to sue the New York Times for stories he doesn’t like?
PRIEBUS: Here’s what I think. I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. I am so tired.
KARL: I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. It’s about whether or not the President should have a right to sue them.
PRIEBUS: And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at. But it’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue.
Yes, Trump honestly believes that he himself should be able to decide what is acceptable criticism and what is not, and that the government should be able to regulate this.
This proposed anti-media crackdown is an enormous issue, even if Trump decides he’d rather not bother with the poltical fallout from pursuing this. In the essence, this means that the President of the United States is at odds with the most basic tenet of the US Constitution since the foundation of this country- the freedom of speech.
Priebus mentioned the ‘stories about constant contacts with Russia’, implying they were based on falsehoods, and under Trump’s new plan for the United States Constitution, he would be able to sue media organizations for reporting on the issue. See the massive conflict of interest? The President under FBI investigation for his connections with Russia will have the power to sue media organizations for reporting on his connections with Russia because he personally believes it’s libel.
Trump is acting very dangerously, having a sitting President who desires to centralize more power into the hands of the executive by getting rid of checks and balances and greatly curb media independence will have dire effects on freedom in in America. Americans can only hope that Trump is bluffing.
Most people know about Donald Trump’s real estate empire, but do you know about his dirty backdealings and FBI investigations into his empire? Or when he paid 300 undocumented Polish workers in vodka while forcing them to cut through live electrical wire? In our book review of Donald Trump: The Candidate, we dig into these mostly unknown stories about Donald Trump’s dirty business empire. Read here to learn our President’s shady real estate dealings.