I have met many people who say they will vote for Donald Trump. They are always patriotic and liberty loving. But something strange happens when I bring up Donald Trump’s un-American and despotic sentiments to his liberty loving and patriotic supporters. They dismiss Trump’s comments of banning people due to their national origin or religion, making torture legal, threatening to renege on our national debt, and deporting eleven million+ people because they immigrated here illegally, as empty rhetoric.
The typical defense is Trump won’t really do these things. His supporters say Constitutional checks and balances will temper Trump’s actions and prevent despotism. Seems like wishful thinking.
The tried and true approach to despotism is martial law. Chancellor Adolf Hitler was able to impose martial law in response to The Reichstag Fire in 1933 (an alleged communist plot), permitting his consolidation of power and rapidly leading to his dictatorship. Alarmingly, the three necessary components for the imposition of martial law would exist under a Trump Presidency. There would be no Constitutional brakes on him except wholesale mutiny of the military.
First - Legally, It Can Happen Here:
The U.S. Constitution explicitly permits the most odious component of martial law, arrest and indefinite detainment without charge, through the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus at Article 1, Section 9 in cases of “rebellion or invasion.” The President (Abraham Lincoln did so in 1861 without Congressional approval) or Congress may suspend it. The President can call something a rebellion, shoot first, and explain later.
Additionally, the War Power Clauses of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8 and Article 2, Section 2) permit the Congress or the President to suspend civil rights and to use troops to enforce these actions in times of war, or in modern times, equivalents, such as in Korea, Vietnam, or arguably, our current “war on terrorism”. Based on these powers, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 in 1942 to evict 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry from their homes and to place them in internment camps.
The Insurrection Act of 1807 (Title 10, Chapter 15) laid out the parameters of the President’s power to use the military “to suppress, in any state, any insurrection, domestic violence….that hinders….or opposes or obstructs the laws.” Modern example: On May 1, 1992, President George H. Bush sent in the military to quell the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles by Executive Order 12804 which was rooted in this act.
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids the use of the military to enforce civilian laws, except “…in cases and circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution”…Therefore, actions under the Insurrection Act of 1807 (above) areexempt which explains why U.S. troops were used not only in the Rodney King riots, but also for the Waco Siege, Wounded Knee, and many drug interdiction actions.
As to the courts, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist in his book, “All The Laws But One: Civil Rights in War Time”, develops the premise that the Supreme Court will defer to the Presidents’s suspension of civil rights in national emergencies.
Second - “Trumped- Up” National Emergencies:
Imagine tens of thousands of Latinos, and their non-Latino sympathizers, openly and violently resisting a President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE order to deport them and their families from the country that they call home.
A similar foundation for a national emergency, ostensibly warranting the imposition of martial law or exclusion orders, could evolve from Trump’s promised policies banning Muslims, or people from nations predominantly Muslim, from traveling to the United States. Muslim Americans might be seen as a threat, too.
Third - Trump’s Predisposition to Despotic Power:
On July 26, Donald Trump strongly implied on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the nation should not commit “suicide” by adhering to the Constitutional protection of freedom of religion in the face of radical Islamist extremism. Thus he has shown that he has the stomach for suspending Constitutional guarantees.
When he says that “he alone will save the nation” , that “he” will make America great again, the stench of a strong man, despotic cult rises from his rhetoric. He has shown admiration for the authoritarian ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.
More damming, is his lack of a “love for justice”. Federalist Essay #10, by James Madison, 1787, assumes, specifically at paragraph 16, that our political leadership will have a “love of justice” which will temper the hot blood of the masses or fractious leaders. Trump’s belittling of a Gold Star mother, Ghazala Khan, mocking the physical disability of a reporter, vulgarities toward women and negative generalizations about immigrants, all point to an alarming lack of a sense of justice, if not humanity.
Joseph Schwartz, the co-author (and primary writer) of Trump’s “Art of the Deal”, who observed Trump closely, has made it his mission to inform us that Trump is a menace to the nation. Schwartz in a July 25, 2016 New Yorker interview said, “…lying is second nature to him (Trump)…he had a compete lack of conscience about it.”
When one adds up the many red flags that signal despotic tendencies of Donald Trump, it is imperative to deny him the presidency. Liberty is too precious to take this risk.
Massarsky is a strategic management consultant, entrepreneur, and private investor. He was the legal research clerk to the Presiding Judge of the San Francisco Superior Court. Follow him on Twitter
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