Donald Trump: When The Checks And Balances Do Neither

The United States has three co-equal branches of government. The Executive (Presidency), Legislative (Congress) and the Judicial. The rationale for three is so that no single branch would achieve too much power. The President can veto legislation. The Legislative branch can override a veto, The Court can determine constitutionality. The founders were prepared for an overreaching President. They depended on Congress and the Courts to keep him/her in check by performing their designated roles. I don’t think they imagined that those institutions would abdicate their responsibilities.

Taxes, Trump and Capone
Taxes, Trump and Capone

The current Congress operates out of fear instead of conviction and they won’t cross the President for fear of his base. Even the worst transgressions get a feeble response which they generally walk back at any sign of resistance. The Supreme Court (with the help of Mitch McConnell) is becoming closer to being stacked with partisans than it has in recent times and a sudden death or retirement could further shift them to the right. This Court has already given businesses the rights of persons. They’ve allowed the rich to exert greater influence on elections through anonymous donations of unlimited amounts. They’ve chosen the “religious freedoms” of business owners over those of their employees. Their interpretation of the Constitution seems to fall more in line with the interests of their wallets.

There are further potential checks and balances including Cabinet members who have sworn an oath to “protect the Constitution, against all enemies foreign and domestic.” The foreign enemy in the example of Trump giving out classified information would be Russia. The domestic would be Trump.” Instead of patriots serving their country, Trump is surrounded by the incompetent (e.g. Carson & DeVos), the misguided (Price, Mnuchin) and the lost (Perry, Tillerson, et. Al). Then we have the appointees including McMasters who we’ve been told was a brilliant choice for National Security Advisor. Instead he lies, “I was in the room… it didn’t happen.”

There is much speculation that the President has lost his mind. He allegedly walks around the White House at all hours. During the day he yells at televisions. During the nights and early mornings he tweets. I do not claim to know the status of his sanity. The checks and balances apparently don’t care.

Four months have shown us a trend. Republican Senator Bob Corker who Trump once considered for Vice-President says, “The White House is in a downward spiral.” The ever increasing pressure on Trump from the normal demands of the Presidency plus the mounting number of investigations from the FBI, House, Senate, and various others are taking their toll. The investigation seem to be focusing on his businesses and finances, areas where Trump has never been forthcoming. He’s cracking under pressure while Republicans in Congress pretend not to see.

At his present pace, Trump is unlikely to complete his first term in office. Whether it be impeachment, resignation or perhaps Mike Pence and half the Cabinet will use the 25th Amendment to usher him out the door. If it’s proven that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win. I don’t see how the election results can stand.

In the long run, assuming we aren’t involved in a nuclear confrontation with North Korea, or Russia, or “an island in the Pacific.” We will survive Trump. In the meantime, without the checks and balances performing their function. We’re watching Jeff Sessions reignite hyper mass incarceration, watching Trump try to inject religion into elections, watching Trump ignore citizens and remove Federal oversight of police departments. Watching a plethora of Executive Orders replace the legislative process. Watching!

The courts play their role in a reactive manner. Typically long after the fact. The Congress is the immediate response to the actions of the White House. Congress do your job!