America is now two nations. The people of both nations are, for the most part, polarized against each other along racial, cultural, and political lines. We stand at the crossroads of a difficult time, the very essence of our country at stake.
Roughly 70 million Americans, mostly white, expressed the position of their nation by voting for a president who represents:
- Passing classified national security information to America’s adversaries;
- Routinely stoked racial division in the country;
- Oversaw the most corrupt cabinet government in modern American history;
- Personal profiteering for himself and family through the presidency;
- Using executive clemency powers to protect and silence his criminal allies;
- Lying to the American people on a routine basis about real and imagined events;
- Demonizes his political enemies with lies, misinformation, and disinformation;
- Routinely undermining the integrity of law enforcement and intelligence agencies;
- Calls American troops who die in wars “suckers” and “losers;” and
- Calls American generals under his command a “bunch of pussies.”
Corrupt and Callous
These are but a few of the corrupt and callous behaviors that President Donald Trump has engaged in over the nearly four years of his presidency. These behaviors do not include his laundry list of incompetence in handling the nation’s worst health crisis that has led to more than a quarter of a million dead, nor his weaponizing the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute his political “enemies. He propagates and endorses some of the most bizarre and outlandish conspiracy theories imaginable and supports the repeatedly debunked “Deep State” conspiracy about Democrats and prominent Americans operating pedophile sex-trafficking rings in pizza parlors.
Any one or a combination of these behaviors would have sunk the presidency of any other Republican and Democrat President. As President Obama has asked repeatedly, “Imagine if it had been me…”
Yet it was these corrupt, criminal, and mentally unhinged behaviors that endeared Trump to his fervent “political base,” as evidenced by the nearly 70 million voters who supported his reelection bid.
Wasteland of Trump Era
There is no solace or triumph for those who voted against the president in an effort to deny him a second term in office. American social and moral values, its political norms, its law enforcement/intelligence agencies, its race relationships, and, perhaps most importantly, its historical commitment to the rule of law now lay in the wasteland of what will be known as “the Trumpian era.”
As attorneys and the stalwart defenders of the Constitution, we are most concerned about how to restore our country’s respect for the rule of law, our Constitution, and our courts. We cannot accept, much less tolerate, the police continually killing unarmed Black people (mostly men) for little or no reason at all. We cannot accept, much less tolerate, the nation’s Department of Justice being used by a president like a Mafia consigliere, and we cannot accept, much less tolerate, activist judges imposing their religious and political ideologies in their judicial decision-making.
The rule of law is meant to protect the nation’s governmental institutions and assure the American people that they will always be treated fairly and equitably when dealing with those institutions. Our solemn duty as attorneys is to do everything within our legal and ethical power to ensure the rule of law prevails when the government confronts an individual.
Abuse of Power and Political Corruption
Over the past four years, the rule of law has meant one thing: how its power could be used to further the political and financial interests of Donald J. Trump. The rule of law was perverted to bring as much harm as possible to anyone who dared stand against or speak out about the president’s political corruption and personal criminal wrongdoing.
Most of the people who voted to defeat Donald J. Trump’s bid for reelection have either lost faith, or have little reason to believe, that the rule of law will protect and serve their interests. Those that voted to protect Trump, who now know now exactly where he stands, appear driven by forces that resurrected political themes inherited from American ancestors who gained power by appealing to our basest instincts of racism, supremacy, and nationalism.
That is the tragedy facing America in the post-Trump era: A gravely injured rule of law trying to resurrect itself. The American legal system must rise to the occasion; it must have the courage to meet and fulfill the challenge to save our historical rule of law. We have survived an authoritarian dictator. We must now restore the integrity and purpose of the American presidency, which can only be done through the rule of law.
The tasks before this nation are many. There are many dark days ahead of us. There is sorrow, hatred, regret, and animosity that must be acknowledged, confronted, and defeated. We are a stronger people when we understand and abide by the rule of law, and it is the rule of law that will save and rescue us from ourselves.
We must come together because we belong together. Our differences are what make us strong and capable. We draw courage not by hating but by respecting each other—and it is the rule of law that allows us all to live in peace with our differences.
That is the challenge before us.