During my semester of taking the course, Global Issues, I have learned a lot. The course was based on various topics including Democratic Erosion. I recently encountered an article that had similar topics to the ones issued within the course of Global Issues. It was quite interesting that some topics that I learned in this course we’re comparable to political events happening in the real world. The article I came across was found on “TheGaurdian.com”. It was published by Tom McCarthy on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018. The author covered how the president’s efforts to undermine the justice department and the Mueller investigation represented a threat to democracy. The author explains that President Trump’s actions can lead to him having more power than usual.
The article explained in detail that the norms governing Justice department independence are being severely tested. Two former assistant attorneys were interviewed, and they described Trump’s assault on justice as being “dangerous”, “alarming”, and “high-stakes”. If these assistants are saying these things about what Trump is doing, why haven’t something been done about or why aren’t people speaking up about his actions? Some even say that national security has been endangered. “As Trump has undermined public trust in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and intelligence agencies whose work is often conducted in secret and who therefore depend uniquely on such trust to function.” (Tom McCarthy) Some describes Trump’s attitude toward the norms of justice department independence as a crisis or even an erosion. Trump is abusing his powers by going against the norms.
President Trump is attacking situations that are convenient for him, it seems like he’s thinking about himself and only what he wants. He doesn’t think about others when he does these things. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general under George W. Bush stated, “We’ve never had a president attack the intelligence and law enforcement agencies that work for him in this way”. (Jack Goldsmith) Many people are not used to the President acting this way, so it’s a surprise when President Trump does it. Since people never had a President to do this, that is probably the reason why people haven’t done anything about it or doesn’t know what to do. “He’s attacking them in order to discredit the Mueller investigation. But the baleful impact on those agencies’ morale and on public trust in them unfortunately extends far beyond that investigation.” (Jack Goldsmith) I agree with Goldsmith, that President Trump is doing this for his own benefits. Knowing people will not resist to the things he does, he continues to manipulate the normality of his power.
Trump’s actions have proven to cause strong feelings of anger and stir up conflict. According to McCarthy, he states, “First, he cooperated with Republican congressman Devin Nunes and others in a campaign that led to the disclosure of the identity of an FBI informant.” (Tom McCarthy) Identities, such as that of an FBI informant, are supposed to be kept secret or not known. For him to help with the disclosing of the identity of an FBI informant, it is quite unacceptable for a President. McCarthy continues to say, “Then, Trump ordered the justice department to investigate its own investigation – of him”. (Tom McCarthy) For this, Trump was even warned that his assaults were a threat to law. Trump thinks his self-interest and reasonings are not conflicting with the “norms”. He will continue to do things his way and for his own cause as long as he isn’t dealt with any consequences.
In the reading, David Kris, a former assistant attorney general under Obama, has quite a theory of his own. Kris states, “…it is perceived that he ended badly in part because of that, then others will be deterred from using the same tactics in the future and we may even see a strengthening of some of these norms.” (David Kris) If people see it’s okay for Trump to do this, then they will do it too because they don’t see any consequences behind his actions. Kris then proceeds to use an example, saying “This is what happened after President Nixon’s misconduct in Watergate, the rule of law and independent norms were strengthened”. (David Kris) President Trump going against the norms is similar to the way President Nixon went against them as well. Furthermore, if Trump continues to participate in activities that will benefit him and nobody questions it, people with power will engage in the same activities. Trump is creating new norms, which can affect the originality of the President’s power. This problem will turn into a huge issue.
I agree with you as to why aren’t people stepping up about Trump’s actions. I think its almost ridiculous that people are making comments about our president such as “dangerous” and “alarming.” I agree that Trump is only thinking about himself. He is completely an autocrat and he is eroding the United States democracy. When I read articles about Trump like this it makes me very eager to go out and vote during the next election. I did not vote last election because I felt like my vote didn’t count but after taking this course, I have learned that it does and I am an advocate for voting now. Trump doesn’t deserve to be in office if he is only thinking about himself and no one else. I agree that it is unacceptable for Trump to disclose an informant within the FBI. I believe that this shows President Trump lacks morale.
Thank you for your post, Mya! I learned a lot after reading it. I agree with you that many of the actions carried out by this administration have shown traces of possible democratic backsliding, such as the obstacles the president deliberately posed to hinder the Mueller investigation. Meanwhile, I’m reserved about your claim about how Trump’s acts of potential erosion are stem from the fact that he is “thinking about himself and only what he wants” and “attacking situations that are convenient for him.” Trump represents collateral of interest groups who voted for him or helped him during the 2016 elections. On that note, I think the problem this president poses is not only about the president himself, but something much deeper. An insightful journal article called “The Trump Presidency and American Democracy” written by Robert C. Lieberman, for instance, suggests that understanding what is uniquely threatening to democracy requires looking beyond the particulars of Trump and his presidency. More specifically, the paper argues that Trump’s rise to power interest with the current conditions of American politics, such as polarized two-party presidential. I think and hope that you might find this article shedding new light for you on this issue, as it did for me ????
How much can we attribute the Trump administration’s detrimental effects on democracy to Trump himself and how much can we contribute to his exploitation of existing divides and cleavages? I do not believe that Trump is always acting in his own self interest, but rather in the interest of those who are invested in his campaign and his reelection. He is such a hated person that a lot, possibly too much, of his administration’s actions are credited to his poor character. Strong partisanship and its encouragement of actions which reject the authority of the opposing party existed before Trump. McCoy described this in his piece, “Polarization and the Global Crisis of Democracy: Common Patterns, Dynamics, and Pernicious Consequences for Democratic Polities.” Is Trump just aggravating an existing backsliding of democratic values of forbearance and respect for the legitimacy of the opposition?