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Giving Up on Governing

Giving Up on Governing


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

President Donald Trump may lose his bid for re-election without ever having the public judge his Administration on how he handled the pandemic, the economic crisis, racial unrest, and police brutality. Ironically, his own personal legal battles, his embarrassing ineptitude in conducting foreign policy, and his defeats in the Supreme Court may become his political undoing.

The President’s focus on winning re-election has left the country operating on autopilot just when it most needs a leader. Trump has focused exclusively on protecting his image as he proceeds in his re-election campaign less than five months away.

Trump is in Court demanding that the case against his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s who twice pleaded guilty be dropped. In another Courtroom, the Attorney General of the United States is trying to squash publication of a book written by another former National Security Advisor, John Bolton. The problem in this instance is that the book is already in so many peoples’ hands that even if a Court were to block its official release next Tuesday, there could be a repeat of the scenario which occurred during the release of the Pentagon Papers in June 1971. When the New York Times publication of the report was temporarily blocked by one court, one other newspaper around the country published the subsequent installment. All of this occurred prior to the eventual Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision protecting free press from prior restraint.

President Trump, meanwhile, watched this week as the Supreme Court issued a surprising 6-3 decision extending civil rights protection to individuals in the LGBTQ community. Not only was this decision against what Trump’s Justice Department had argued, it was delivered by Trump’s own appointed new Justice Neal Gorsuch. In addition, today, President Trump lost his efforts to shut down by executive order the DACA program to protect young immigrants in the U.S. As if these decisions were not enough of a slap at the President, the Supreme Court is expected to rule before its current term ends on two cases recently argued demanding that the President’s tax returns be released to the House of Representatives and to the New York District Attorney respectively.

There are two additional cases which affect the Trump Administration and the President’s base.  First, this new Court is considering the first abortion case it has heard. The case involved whether a Louisiana state law restricting rights to perform abortions in a Louisiana hospital be permitted only to doctors who have admitting privileges at a particular hospital. Second, the Court is expected to decide a case challenging the behavior of “faithless electors”. The case considers the question as to whether when the Electoral College formally meets, individual electors in particular states may follow their own personal choice or must vote consistent with the popular vote in their state.

President Trump is also battling the CDC, his own Coronavirus Task Force, and most medical advisers in proceeding with holding full blown indoor political rallies without requiring masks and social distancing. This weekend’s forthcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has just seen a spike in Covid-19 cases, is only the first of the many political rallies that the President wants to hold. In addition, his decision to move the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, Florida—which has also seen an increase in cases—is a further rejection by the President of all the scientific recommendations against holding large scale indoor meetings. The Convention would meet over four days and involve thousands of delegates and staff gathering in hotels, meetings, airports, airplanes, as well as the convention hall itself. In both instances the President and the Republican National Committee know how unsafe these events are, as all attendees are being required to sign waivers promising not to sue if they do contract the virus after attending these events.

All of these issues and concerns should raise one final consideration. If in the midst of all the real crises which the United States is facing today, President Trump can only concern himself with how this will impact him personally and his own re-election, what would four more years of President Trump be like?



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