Saturday, June 4, 2016

♫ Back in the ̶U̶S̶S̶...USA?

I'm moving away from a disability-centric topic today, though this topic is inclusive of issues that directly and probably disproportionately affect the disabled. There is something much more pressing on my mind that stands to potentially eliminate Constitutional Rights in the United States. And while I typically stay away from fear-based, catastrophic political rhetoric, today I am no longer looking at things with my rose-colored-lenses; the proverbial crap is getting real.

On June 3, the New York Times published a piece that we all should critically analyze. The headline: “Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say.” For those who do not speak “lawyer,” rule of law basically means everyone is accountable under the law including citizens, government, and leaders (World Justice Project, 2016). Just taking in the headline, one can surmise threatening this rule is not good. Read the article. It gets worse.

Picture is of a bust of Joseph Stalin
in front of a brick wall that is
partially obstructed by an evergreen tree

Highly respected and conservative law professors are alluding that Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric (his promises to “make America great again”) are signs of a forthcoming plan for a dictatorship. That means, goodbye democracy – hello Joseph-Stalin-America [Trump has even complimented Russia's current dictator, Putin and wants to work with North Korea's Kim Yong-un] (CNN, 2016). This means, goodbye to the Bill of Rights and all the Amendments thereafter. Goodbye freedom, hello police state.

Okay, stop rolling your eyes. “He wouldn't go that far,” “No one could actually pull that off with our military,” “the US is too stable for a dictator to take over,” etc. etc.. True? A little civics lesson.

The US Government was set up with checks and balances. We have the Executive Branch (President, Vice President, and the Cabinet), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Supreme Court). Each branch has some power over the other. Congress and the Executive Branch are supposed to keep each other's power in check. This is not always the case, however. The real glaring problematic issue is that the Executive Branch (which includes the cabinet handpicked by the President) holds all the power of the military; the President of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The President may not have the power to declare war, but the President can instruct the military.Worse, the constitution allows for the President or Congress to declare martial law which means they don't have to agree.

I'm looking at the headlines every week that includes gems such as “Violence flares at Trump rallies.” Trump has been caught inciting the violence. During some of the rallies he has made comments to his supporters and even threatened protesters:
I'll beat the crap out of you.”
Part of the problem ... is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.” 
If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them.”
I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
(Mashable, 2016;, 2016). 
This guy obviously has no problem with using violence to get what he wants. As President, he would be in charge of the US military. 

“ As President, he would be in
charge of the US military.

Are you sure that the US checks and balances system could keep Trump in check?

Now, you might be parroting the terms of the trade: “liberal media,” “biased news,” ad nauseam… Some of the news sites might have something to gain by dissing a conservative candidate like Trump, right? Well, here's where I think it gets real.

Ilya Shapiro, David Post, Randy E. Barnett, and Richard Epstein are the contributors to The Times story and they just all happen to work for the CATO Institute. The CATO Institute defines itself as “...a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.” Libertarian to a “T.” If you read through some of the work they do, it is not hard to see they align with small government and other tenets of Libertarianism. Look at some of their individual writing and you will really get a taste.

So that brings me to my point. Trump is not a joke. This isn't reality TV where we get to vote and wait 'til next season for the another exciting episode. Voting for him could mean the end of your rights as a citizen. Using your vote to “shake up the government” because you are angry or dissatisfied might actually destroy a nation. And while you may not like your options, voting in the Presidential election isn't the answer in the first place. If you want change, you need to vote in EVERY election. We need to make change in every branch of government – not just the big one that comes every 4-8 years.

Picture displays Roman ruins with five steps up to a platform
where a piece of column has fallen and is laying sideways.
The US is facing its first major challenge to the Constitution in many years. And while it seems an impossibility that our nation could collapse, our complacency might be our demise. Lest we forget that robust and large empires have collapsed in history. Rome did eventually fall.