COLUMN: From Here and Back Again

Jim Coufal

Jim Coufal

What Have We Wrought? Part I: Trump and the Constitution

Commenting on the recent presidential election, Tess Rafferty wrote, “I tried to be polite, but now I just don’t give a damn, because let’s be honest, we don’t live in polite America anymore. We live in ‘grab ‘em by the p****’ America now. So thank you for that, being polite was exhausting.” Michael Moore and others have also said it is time to just tell it like it is, which, after all, is what Trump asserts he does. Being polite in our Trump created
Michael Moore and others have also said it is time to just tell it like it is, which, after all, is what Trump asserts he does. Being polite in our Trump-created atmosphere of hate and division has too often meant gagging a bit and saying something inoffensive and meaningless. Liberals love tolerance; I’m a liberal but tolerance has limits. As newscaster Christiane Amanpour recently said, castigating the very media she is part of, quit playing the false equivalency card and speak the truth.

The truth often hurts.
There is no equivalency between Trump and Hillary, or between the Republican party and its operatives and those of the democratic, green, conservative, socialist or any other party. Trump and the Republican party are purveyors of hate, division, demagoguery, and unconstitutional proposals and actions. It is all there to be seen.
So many of Trump’s supporters purport to be Christians, so I note, Jesus said (Mark 4:9) “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” and I presume to think he also meant she who has eyes to see, let her see, and they who have brains to think, let them think critically.
The difficulty of any such action is illustrated by Thomas Paine, writing on Dec. 23, 1776, who said, “…it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.”
More on the hardness of Trump supporters in part two; herein is a quick look at Trump and our Constitution.
To set the scene for more specific examples, let it be noted Trump apparently doesn’t know the Constitution. In July 2016, he told his Republican constituents, “I want to protect Article 1, Article II, Article XII – go down the list.”
But the  Constitution has only seven articles and there is no Article XII. How does this, and examples which follow, fit with Article II, Section 1, which says, “The president must promise to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”?
One of the many Trump Twitter messages said, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps the loss of citizenship or a year in jail.”
He showed no recognition that the Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is protected by the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press), and that the government may not strip Americans of their citizenship.
Trump also said, “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when the New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they are totally protected.”
Again, no recognition of the First Amendment, nor any recognition that the media is not “totally protected.” Further, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, this is totally in keeping with Trump’s egoistic thin skin; “hit jobs” are those that bruise his ego, and to “win money” is primo.
Following the November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, Trump said to Fox news that the U.S.government should close mosques where “some bad things are happening.” Building himself as the hero savior, he added, “Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice. Some really bad things are happening.”
No specifics, just generalities, and neither he nor “a lot of people” understand the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects religious freedom, and to follow the Constitution there clearly is “no choice” except to refrain from sanctioning any religious institution because its members adhere to a certain belief.
Trump has also made statements about using torture in violation of the Amendment protecting people from cruel and unusual punishment; that show no understanding of the role of the President in upholding Constitutional law; that would gut the Constitution to deal with immigrants; that would ignore the Fifth Amendment and its protection of property rights, especially regarding his pushing for wider rights of eminent domain, especially to benefit himself and his fellow crony capitalist real estate developers; and that showed no knowledge of Presidential limits and relations to Congress and the Supreme Courts.
Reason Magazine wrote, “…Donald Trump has trashed the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Bill of Rights generally, the 14th Amendment, due process equal protection, and the doctrine of enumerated and limited executive powers. What part of the Constitution will Trump seek to undermine or attack next? Regrettably (there is) little doubt we are going to find out.”
We are about to find out and he will be acting as president.
What have we wrought?
Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends. He can be reached at

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