A declaration of independence from Donald Trump
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted on July 4, 1776, by the nation’s founders in Philadelphia, he included a list of 27 grievances against the British King George III. Who knew that 242 years later, the U.S. would be facing another despotic ruler?
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States,” Jefferson wrote. Trump’s not there yet, but it’s not for lack of trying.
The parallels between the actions of George III and Trump are uncanny. The cover of Time magazine with Trump looking into a reflection of himself wearing a crown wasn’t far off.
Others, too, have noticed: There are multiple pieces noting the similarities, in Salon (“Inexperienced authoritarian with a habit of blasting out his opinions in the wee hours of the morn. Sound familiar?”) and USA Today (“President Trump, with his increasingly outlandish ideas about the sweep of his presidential powers, keeps channeling the 18th century royal. … These assertions come on top of others that show a man who would be monarch rather than a man who was elected president.”).
A piece in Quora, however, disagrees: “I find that parallel greatly insulting … to King George III. … One is a decent person who has been unfairly hated due to his colonies needing a scapegoat and a mental illness that set in in the last ten years of his life and wasn’t his fault, and the other is a complete Git.”
Many of Jefferson’s grievances against the British ruler don’t apply in modern times to the internal workings of a country. Here is a partial list of Jefferson’s complaints. Let’s see how they stack up to grievances against Trump.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Check. When Trump doesn’t like a rule or law, he just ignores it. Examples: He ignored a 1967 anti-nepotism law, passed to disallow presidents to appoint the likes of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. He didn’t bother to impose the sanctions on Russia passed by Congress. He ignores the emoluments clause of the Constitution and rakes in money from foreign governments when such officials stay or hold events at his Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.
But the most egregious example is the refusal to support the one law that is really “the most wholesome and necessary for the public good” — the Affordable Care Act. They couldn’t repeal it outright, but Trump and Republicans are killing it with a thousand cuts, such as the action getting rid of the individual insurance mandate. The Justice Department is refusing to defend the ACA in a lawsuits by GOP-led states challenging the insurer mandate on preexisting conditions.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Check. There are likely enough votes in both houses of Congress to pass some version of immigration reform, even one with protections of Dreamers covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, but Republicans refuse to allow votes on anything Trump says he won’t sign.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Check. Well, not really a check, but Trump loves the idea that other world leaders are making themselves, in effect, presidents for life, such as China’s Xi Jinping. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot one day,” said Trump, the would-be dictator. And one poll showed that 52 percent of Republicans think postponing the 2020 election is a swell idea.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Check. His words and actions demonizing immigrants started the day he descended that gold escalator in Trump Tower in 2015, and they’ve only gotten worse. Here are just a few: A decision to end DACA, executive orders for a Muslim travel ban, his references to immigrants as “animals,” especially those in the gang MS-13 (and putting the blame on Democrats), and, most recently, a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separates children and parents of asylum-seeking families at the border.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Check. Trump, his minions on Fox News, and his ever-changing legal team are constantly making threats about and arguing the legality of the investigation into the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That’s on top of the constant drumbeat trying to weaken American confidence in the FBI, the intelligence services, and the justice system as a whole.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Check. The ultra-conservative Federalist Society keeps sending Trump names of conservatives for judicial vacancies, and Trump keeps nominating them.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Check. To beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Trump vowed to hire 26,000 new ICE agents to round up those who might be in the U.S. illegally, even though many of those being harassed are legal residents.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
Check. Ordering a larger number of of National Guard troops at the border with Mexico fills that bill.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Check. Judges may have blocked Trump’s order banning transgender people from serving in the military, but that doesn’t mean Trump won’t keep trying.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
Check. Hello? Trade wars? Trump is alienating allies (his behavior at the recent G7 meeting was just the most recent example) all over the world with his policies of imposing tariffs.
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
Check. What are tariffs but hidden taxes on consumers?
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
Check. Trump signed an executive order to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open indefinitely, and he has declared it open to new prisoners.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
Check. Gitmo prison once again — the prisoners are locked up without a trial.
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Check. The Trump administration might not be suspending legislatures, but it is suing states and otherwise fighting state rules, challenging state laws on such matters as sanctuary cities, the legalization of marijuana, land transfers, emission standards, and many other issues.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
Check. Trump has ordered the expansion of offshore drilling, risking the health of wildlife and the oceans themselves, not to mention the coasts and the economies of states bordering oceans. The Trump administration is not giving enough resources to western towns ravaged by wildfires. Trump continues to ignore the plight of American citizens in Puerto Rico, many of whom are still without power as the hurricane season ramps up again.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Check. Don’t forget that Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the private military contractor Blackwater (or whatever its latest name is now), is still peddling a plan to the Trump administration to use private mercenaries to fight the Afghanistan War. Trump & co. are listening, but luckily, no one has bought was Prince is selling. Yet.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
Check. After Trump’s election, the number of hate crimes in the U.S. against Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, and immigrants surged and is still rising steadily.
Donald Trump is his own kind of tyrant — dishonest, selfish, amoral, cruel, and childish. No matter how unseemly and illegal Trump’s behavior, no one is advocating an overthrow of our government. But we do need a revolution.
At the ballot box.
Originally posted on Daily Kos on July 1, 2018.