It has been reported that Donald Trump's personal personal attorney, John Dowd, claims the President cannot be guilty of obstructing justice because he is the President. This is tantamount to saying that if Trump does it, it cannot be illegal because he is president. He is above the law. I thought that one of the principles of our democracy is the rule of law and that no one is above the law.
I'm concerned about the state and the fate of our democratic institutions. How strong are they, really? Will they withstand the disregard for truth and for deception in our public discourse? Let me state that more clearly. Will they withstand the normalization of outright lies coming forth from the President of the United States? Will they withstand the steady march towards increased income and wealth inequality, the politicization of our justice system and the raw pursuit of power over all other civic goals?
A year ago The Economist magazine voiced these concerns better than I can. Here are some quotes from that essay.
"Americans go to the polls, one of the major-party candidates will be a man whose campaign has dispensed with the notion that its talking points should bear any resemblance to truth, and who has routinely promised to take measures in office which would violate the spirit or letter of the law and constitution."
"...institutions are social structures which exist outside the market, and which have evolved to help reduce the costs associated with some human phenomenon."
"What is a political institution really? It is a social consensus supporting particular behavior in particular contexts, designed to prevent people from pursuing narrowly rational actions when those actions are detrimental to long-run welfare."
"We all agree that politicians shouldn't base their campaigns on falsehoods, because the norm that campaigns should be at least somewhat rooted in reality makes for better public policy."
"In liberal democracies, when an important political figure gets caught in a blatant lie, or ignores a public norm that leaders should not engage in open racism, or declares his intention to violate constitutional principles, we expect the public outcry to be fast and furious, and we expect the figure to suffer some professional consequence as a result: to face a loss of power, or a loss of status, or a loss of position."
"That is not to say that all is lost. Events can alter the dynamic and lead to a reaffirmation of the old norms. It is possible, for instance, that a thumping electoral loss for Republicans will lead to a partisan split and a renewed commitment among some GOP leaders to the norms that Mr Trump has disregarded."
We can only hope so.
Donald Trump's personal attorney, John Dowd, claims Trump cannot obstruct justice
The Economist magazine on political instittutions