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Juan Williams: The new abnormal


Am I the only one who thinks we hit bottom last week when President Trump announced plans to celebrate himself with a July Fourth speech and political rally at the Lincoln Memorial while pushing the annual fireworks to a new location?

If this happens, Independence Day will no longer be about America — it will be about Trump.

At a time of tremendous political polarization, why take away the unifying experience of the Fourth of July? Why drive us — the American people — farther apart?

{mosads}John Adams, one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, immediately wrote that Independence Day “will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival…Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

There have been fireworks on Independence Day since 1777. Fireworks from D.C. on the Fourth of July have been nationally televised since 1947. People camp out on the national mall between the U.S. Capitol and Lincoln Memorial to see fireworks color the night sky.

My wedding anniversary is July 1. When my wife and I got married, we stayed in D.C. to see the fireworks.

The world of politics is now so completely crazy that no one blinks at the idea that Trump wants to dump all that history. He wants the nation’s birthday to be about him, a backdrop as he wraps himself in the flag in advance of his 2020 campaign.

Please remember — as we approach next weekend’s Memorial Day — that Trump dodged military service to the nation with a dubious claim of bone spurs. This is the same man who insulted American prisoners of war by saying, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

He also told Howard Stern, the radio host, that avoiding STDs in the 1970s was like serving in the military in “Vietnam.”

This is the same president who last year wanted to hold a massive military parade — with himself at the center — as if the U.S. was a second-rate military power in need of proving it has big tanks.

This latest disgrace just adds to a list of Trump’s offenses against American democratic norms.

— According to a March Quinnipiac University poll, Trump tells so many lies that 65 percent of Americans do not consider him to be honest. That includes 26 percent of Republicans.

— In April, a Pew Research Center survey reported 65 percent of Americans say that since Trump became president it is “more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views.”

— Last week, Trump warmly welcomed Viktor Orban, the brutal, authoritarian prime minister of Hungary to the White House and praised him as “respected.” In reality, Orban is a pariah to the international community because of his far-right, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views. He censors the press in his country and has closed a university.

— Then there is chaotic governance: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “five of the nation’s 10 largest federal law enforcement agencies,” have only interim or acting leaders under Trump. This includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration.

— Meanwhile, Trump’s White House defies Congressional subpoenas and dismisses Capitol Hill’s standing as an equal branch of government. Apparently, Trump does not agree that Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight. In addition, William Barr, the attorney general, assigned a U.S. Attorney to investigate whether the FBI “spied” on Trump’s campaign. This claim has been denied by FBI Director Christopher Wray and the former top lawyer at the FBI. But Barr, following Trump’s lead, endorsed this “Deep State” conspiracy earlier this month and has now taken action to legitimize it.

— Finally, the White House press office issued unprecedented rules earlier this month which rescinded the press passes of several longtime journalists. Most of the journalists write for news outlets that do not toe the administration’s line.

This is the new normal in Washington after two years of Trump in the White House.

This Fourth of July will mark 243 years after the Founding Fathers declared our nation’s independence from King George. In two years, Trump has manipulated and violated the democracy built by the founders to become a kind of American king.

“Once upon a time in America, (James) Madison’s fear of a king would have been unthinkable and unrealistic. Today, it is becoming the norm,” my Fox News colleague Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote last week.

{mossecondads}GOP lawyer and Trump Twitter critic George Conway, who famously dubbed the President “Deranged Donald,” tweeted last week that it is now normal to see Trump put his “self-interest” in front of the nation’s best interests.

By the way, have you heard about this video?

During a March question and answer session with Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, a visibly angry Trump-supporting woman says to applause from the audience:

“Never in my life did I think I would like to see a dictator, but if there’s going to be one, I want it to be Trump.”

And on this Fourth of July that woman can celebrate as her wish comes true — if Trump gets his way and turns the fireworks into a Trump rally. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Andrew Napolitano Authoritarianism Christopher Wray democratic norms Donald Trump Fourth of July George Conway Independence Day July Fourth Pew Research Steve Bannon William Barr

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