American Presidents have never been wilting violets with tiny egos. Once Richard M. Nixon averred out loud, that criminal activity is not criminal activity if committed by the President of the United States.
Nixon believed it was lawful to order some of the President’s men to break into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters and steal their plans for defeating his reelection efforts. Also, any subsequent lies to cover up his involvement in the break-in was a legal exercise of the powers of the Office of the Presidency. After all the federal criminal code was designed to prosecute all other Americans except the President - the only person in the American system of justice whom the law did not apply - placing the President above the law, at least so Nixon thought, vowing to the bitter end that he was “not a crook.”
While watching the Nixon Presidency fall apart in the early 1970s, I believed at the time, that it was the height of arrogance, pride, and power in the White House, a level of which, I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime.
How could Americans fall for this personality trait/disorder twice in 100 years? The answer must have something to do with being a “law and order” candidate. Those who strongly advocate keeping others in line are most likely to be the chief lawbreakers among us.
However, there is an arrogance of pride and power coming out of this White House that is unparalleled in the annals of the American Presidency.
In one day, December 10, 2018, the embattled 45th President of the US managed to call for shutting down the government and suggested to his base that should Congress hold him accountable for committing high crimes or misdemeanors, they should do as the colonist did in 1776 and revolt against the government.
The arrogance of the President to flat out state he will move to shut down the government four days before Christmas if he does not get funding for a wall that he campaigned on getting the Mexican government to fund is un-American.
Moreover, according to Nancy Pelosi, only six percent of funds earmarked for border security in the “Continuing Resolution” passed 12 months ago has been spent. This begs two questions:
If funds earmarked for border security in 2018 has not been spent, why is there a need for more funding for 2019?
Why should Congress appropriate more funding if last year’s appropriation has not been utilized?
Needless to say, if the government closes on December 21st it is likely to be closed throughout the remainder of this year. This will put federal workers in the position of missing work and the paycheck that comes along with their employment with the government. What a way to bring back Merry Christmas, Mr. President. Another promise made, another promise kept!
What leader does this? Who puts the well-being of the American people on the back burner to achieve small-minded political gains? And these are not rhetorical questions. Who?
While the legislative branch of government may dilly and dally over funding the government, the executive branch must never encourage, support or be the main clog in shutting the government down. It is hard to see how such activity does not fall under the heading of a “high crime,” the type of which could cause Articles of Impeachment to be drawn up by the House of Representatives against an arrogant President.
During a meeting in the Oval Office with Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Trump proudly said he would take up the mantle of shutting down the government if Congress did not appropriate $5.1 Billion to build a wall. This ultimatum comes a year after his administration failed to spend a tenth of the $1.3 Billion in last year’s appropriation.
Trump’s position is untenable. Clearly, he is playing to the lowest common denominator of his base without providing supporting documentation for the necessity of building a physical wall on the border between the US and Mexico. He cites drugs, disease, and terrorists, none of which based on objective data, plague our southern border with Mexico.
A few hours after Trump’s meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump told a reporter that he was not worried about being impeached because if he were impeached “the people would revolt.”
Twice in American history, people in high places have called for a revolution.
First, in 1776, the colonist moved to separate themselves from the political control of the British Crown. In that day, instead of demanding the building of a wall or shutting the government down, Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The very constitution that set forth impeachment proceedings for the removal of federal officers who have committed high crimes and misdemeanors was forged out of this revolt.
Secondly, before the new nation was 100 years old, in 1860, southern slaveholders said, give me my slaves or to hell with the federal government and its constitution.
After three years of bloodshed, they lost the war to succeed from the US Constitution. So they assassinated a sitting US President and simultaneously plotted to kill every member of his cabinet on the same evening. Failing to rid themselves of Lincoln’s cabinet, they filed impeachment proceedings against his successor Andrew Johnson, coming within one vote in the Senate of removing him from office via the use of the constitutional powers contained in their founding document.
Today, 158 years after the revolt of the southern states, the nation’s 45th President uses the threat of revolt to chill congressional action to remove him from office for breaking the law. In criminal pleadings filed in federal court last week, it is alleged that “Individual -1,” whom many believe to be Donald Trump, broke the law, by encouraging the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s computer and steal her campaign secrets, while orchestrating his private attorney to pay off two women, whom surprise, surprise, he had had extramarital affairs, with donations which were contributed to his campaign for the Presidency.
In the 1960s the mere mention of the word revolution was enough to open an FBI investigation. Yet on December 10, 2018, the US President arrogantly proclaims that he has no worries of impeachment powers of Congress because his base supporters “will revolt.” Trump says it with the clear knowledge that Second Amendment enthusiast would take up arms against Congress.
This utterance from Trump places the United States government in clear and present danger from a violent attack. And as one troll who was offended by an article I wrote on Medium last summer holding Trump accountable, threaten me, “We are not armed to attack the government, we are armed to attacked people like you.”
There is trouble ahead. Last month top Democratic officials were the subject of attempted mail bombs. These bombs were mailed to two former Democratic Presidents, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, two former First Ladies, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama and two Black US Senators, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Eric Holder, the former Attorney General for the nation’s first President of African descent. This was the largest and boldest attack attempted on American governance since the assault to wipe out Lincoln’s cabinet on the night he was slain. Last month’s dastardly mail bomb attempts happened without any condemnation coming from the White House. Without any White House plea to uphold the rule of law. The silence is not altogether surprising as the attempted targets were all people perceived by this President to be his enemies.
Had this attacked been successful, it would have wiped out the leading opposition voices to Trumptopia. It would have eliminated the Democrats ability to respond to the aftermath of the revolt 45 sees coming down the pike once he is finally held accountable under the constitution for any “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the Muller investigation uncovers.
One shutter to think what will be the response of the Generals should the pride and arrogance of the President order them to protect right-wing anarchists in the streets of America should they revolt in the event of his constitutional removal from office.
If the time comes for removal, will the President board the Presidential Helicopter, ala, Richard Nixon and fly off to Mar-a-Largo? Will he plea bargain a no prosecution deal for the opportunity to take that helicopter ride out of the American psyche? Or will he pit Americans against Americans for the mere sake of protecting his presidency, his pride and his ego?
As we approach Mueller time, these and other hard questions must be asked, answered and preparation made for those answers.
Oh, the arrogance, of the arrogance of pride and power in the White House.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org