It's chaos at the top with top-down government
President Donald Trump has been in office less than two weeks, but he's working hard to implement his campaign promises, from walling out Latin American immigrants to prohibiting people from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.
Here are some of the headlines, as reported by the Associated Press:
--Trump pulls US from Transpacific trade pact;
--Trump's border wall faces reality check;
--Trump denies immigration restriction caused airport chaos;
--Anti-Trump protesters gather again in Seattle;
--Hundreds march in downtown Spokane against refugee ban;
--Trump's immigration order faces mounting legal questions;
--Washington first state to sue over immigration;
--Trump fires Justice Dept. head over executive order defiance;
--White House, US diplomats clash over travel order;
--Veterans protest travel ban, saying it hurts interpreters; and
--In Trump, man elected by Americans is president they'll get.
This last headline is so true. Remember what we saw during the campaign: That's what we'll get.
To supporters, Trump's blitz of executive orders is proof that the billionaire businessman--TV Star--novice president plans to follow through on campaign promises to dismantle Washington's traditional ways. Trump wants to be an instrument of change.
It would have been nice if he had vetted his orders to see if they followed rule of law and were in the best interest of the nation before setting them loose. But that's not Trump, nor his advisors Stephen Bannon and Rudi Giuliani.
According to a Gallup poll, Trump came into office with only a 42 percent approval rating by the public, far lower than any of his predecessors since Gallup started the poll.
The reactions to orders on health care and immigration have energized Trump's opponents and scared a good number of people who live in the various fringes of our society, who suddenly wonder if they're going to lose newly acquired rights. That could happen if we slide into something we might call "state-ism," where the security of the state becomes more important than the rule of law and respect of liberties.
You can see an example of that in Turkey, as described in a Nov./Dec. 2016 essay in Foreign Affairs by Halil Karaveli. President Recep Erdogan took office in 2003 and was seen as a figure who could unify Turkey's various ethnic groups and interests. Instead he began a slow process to consolidate power.
Here are some of the means he used:
--sapping the country's institutions of their independence and subverting the rule of law;
--prosecuting of his political opponents;
--hollowing out the judiciary, which he described as "an obstacle" to overcome;
--eliminating even the pretense of prosecutorial or judicial independence;
--toughening the country's already draconian antiterrorism laws in order to crush all opposition;
--personally instructing prosecutors to indict the chief editor of a newspaper that had been critical of him, and
--showing intolerance for public displays of dissent, including authorizing police to use force against peaceful protesters.
I believe our country's tradition of rule of law is too strong to allow anything like Erdogan to occur here. However, we are seeing some of the same signs.
Don't get me wrong: I want the president to succeed in making this an even safer, more prosperous country than it already is, but I want it done in a manner that follows rule of law and respects personal liberties. I don't think we'll get there by withdrawing from trade agreements, insulting our neighbors, and throwing our weight around.
I close by giving kudos to Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Senators Murray and Cantwell, Seattle's mayor and council, former US Attorney General Sally Yates, the unknown US State Department workers and all the others who are speaking up for rule of law and respect for liberties.