Rule of Law

This past weekend, I watched a conservative legal scholar [who supported the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court] list the legal reasons why Trump should be impeached and convicted. At present, more than five hundred legal scholars from all across the nation have also signed documents in support of impeachment on detailed legal grounds.

So why does something like at least 40% of the American population oppose impeachment when there’s a considerable legal consensus that the President’s acts and behavior meet the legal tests of impeachment.

Many of those people, including the President, claim that the Democrats are trying to “undo” the election and take power. That’s not only untrue, but nonsense. Even if Trump were to be impeached, his successor is Vice President Pence, who is a right-wing, evangelical Christian far more conservative than Trump. Making him President will actually make things worse and harder for the Democrats and liberals.

No… I’d submit that the reason many people don’t want Trump impeached is because at heart they don’t believe in either actual government by the people or the rule of law.

They want what they want and think Trump will either give it to them or keep the Democrats from enforcing the laws. They believe, despite the progress we’ve made in cleaning up the environment over the past forty years, that environmental laws don’t do that much good and hurt them. They would rather have tens of millions of people breathing air that literally kills them over time so that these non-believers in law and science can make more money or get paid in industries that destroy the environment and the health of the poorest of Americans.

They believe that equal rights for all people under all circumstances go too far. And if you think that’s far-fetched, just consider what happened in the South after Reconstruction was abandoned – the rights granted to former slaves by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment were essentially abrogated by the southern states for a century. And in terms of redlining and financial discrimination, the North wasn’t that much better.

We’re still seeing police discrimination against minorities, despite laws that require equality. All Americans are either immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, but the majority of Trump Republicans want to cut off the opportunities that our ancestors had, and the Trump administration is accommodating them, often violating the law in doing so.

Trump’s even said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And if that’s not disrespect for the law, I don’t know what is… well, except for saying that the President is above the law, which is exactly the way in which Trump has behaved.

We’re supposed to be a nation of laws. That was what was supposed to make us better. But Trump and his supporters are claiming that the laws don’t apply to them.

And what happens if everyone decides to follow that example? Is political tribalism important enough to tear the country apart? We’re still paying for the last time a chunk of the union decided that economic gain outweighed rights, rights for everyone, not just rights for white males.

12 thoughts on “Rule of Law”

  1. Mark Tuckerman says:

    Thank you clarifying the issues – for reminding us that this argument is not about deciding Who is right, or wrong, but WHAT is right for all and unity of purpose toward that end! I love your books and have learned to act more ordered from reading (and re-reading) your books

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    Absolute equality is tyranny, not that anyone is born undeserving, but that the quality and character of conduct voluntarily separates people. Laws discriminate on conduct, that’s the point; and nothing says that they must never discriminate on conduct that might not be harming anyone (give or take adult voluntary participants). Communities (but not the federal government!) have a right to set standards that go beyond obvious criminality, like having to drink booze behind a curtain in restaurants in a certain state, where such activity is apparently deemed a bad influence.

    I believe _some_ environmental protection is good…but it does not follow that carrying it to the point of diminishing returns (regulating CO2, for example) is even effective in its own goals, if it would provide at most only slightly faster reduction than the market will provide in its own good time, when the prerequisite technological alternatives are mature and competitive (getting there, but not there yet). I don’t hate a few _temporary_ subsidies for effective green alternatives, but anyone that thinks we can go fossil free in 10 years is either irrational or wants the excuse to pursue total control of the economy. The “Green New Deal” or anything like it would reduce the US to third world status. Unlike some far left globalist radical egalitarians (curious double standard how many leftist influence leaders that attack the “rich” (actually the middle class too) are themselves multimillionaires), I don’t consider the third world our equal, nor do I think they should be, given their failure to empower the individual, the prerequisite of society, and the only unit of sentience that actually matters.

    Last but not least, the Democrats have been calling for impeachment since inauguration, if not before. They have no facts that would meet a solid standard of proof, just hearsay and endless digging for dirt, and of course their propaganda organs of 95% of the press willing to only tell what’s convenient for the left. If what they’ve done was done to them, they’d be out of office, and some would be in jail. _That’s_ why they’re going crazy, because many of them are dirty and will do anything to distract from that.

    The left is the enemy of liberty. Their existence is the ultimate proof of a failed (or subverted) educational system.

    1. Absolute equality of opportunity under law is not tyranny. The problem arises when politicians want to legislate equality of outcomes.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        I’d agree, with exceptions: employment with extraordinary conditions (military) might argue against those with any special medical requirements (certainly in any range of career fields where it might affect performance, and broadly, insofar as people can be reassigned according to the needs of the service), and there should be limited exceptions where people could not be compelled to hire or do certain business with those where doing so would violate their own freedoms (religion, speech, association); that might include some non-essential medical procedures, hiring by religious organizations, or performance of custom work that might be construed as speech, especially when alternative providers are available. People have a right to their differences, but not to demand acceptance or anything that might approach endorsement; and the attempt is IMO counterproductive anyway, since avoiding confrontation and toning down public flamboyance would likely result in gradually increased acceptance without the need for coercive methods.

        Some of the same folks that want to legislate equality of outcomes, also want any balancing of considerations set aside or modified in favor of their constituencies. I’d like to be forgiven for supposing that some such even want to overturn any semblance of traditional order, culture, economics, what have you, in favor of their flavor of “goodthink” and the power to enforce it.

        People that disagree can always walk away from each other and seek alternatives; only with pervasive and egregious injustice is there any need to appeal to authority. Someone failing to enable alternative moral choices or lifestyles of others is not (IMO) committing an egregious injustice.*

        In other words, I accept the distinction up to a point, but absolute anything is problematic, and often a power grab. But sound bites do not lend themselves to shades and exceptions.

        * in practice, I’d only assert rights of conscience in a narrower range of conditions that I’d defend them for; there are people that I acutely disagree with that I nevertheless care about or appreciate, in recognition of the various other aspects of their character; so where accommodation was not enablement on a critical point, I’d err toward courtesy.

  3. D Archerd says:

    Let’s be clear: SOME Democrats were calling for impeachment since inauguration, but a distinct minority. The majority only began to favor it when testimony emerged that indicated incontrovertibly that the president used the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to begin an investigation into a political rival.

    Those Democrats who were calling for impeachment prior to that are as guilty of the irrational and toxic tribalism as those Republicans who continue to claim the president did nothing wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  4. Tom says:

    Laws or rules of interaction become necessary as soon as two or more humans choose to interact. A friend pointed out the primary reason for this: humans are not natural murderers but kill each other because of greed. Thus we must have rules of behavior.

    Absolute equality of opportunity under law is not tyranny. The problem arises when politicians want to legislate equality of outcomes.

    It is not possible for there to be any equality, even of twins , because as soon as they are born they continue to exist in separate environments as points in the universe with necessarily differing points of view. Defining the way humans, who choose to live in society are to be equal, requires rules or laws of interaction defined and applied equally. The purpose being to subdue greed and the resultant mayhem.

    Calling this a lack of freedom or liberty is correct, but, in order for humans to live in society giving up absolute freedom is a requirement. One cannot have a society without the rule of law. The only alternative would be to live outside society, alone, a hermit.

    Legislating equal outcomes when no two individuals can possibly be “equal” (not otherwise defined) does indeed cause problems. Attempting this is still forced on our chosen leaders/representatives because of our insatiable greed, our necessity to “keep up with the neighbors”, our common competitive drive. Acting as one wishes outside of the rules of society results in consequences either determined by laws or by the unnatural action of one human on another – murder.

  5. Alan says:

    Unfortunately, while I agree that Trump is a self centered scum bag who is only interested in his own power and lining the pockets of himself and his friends, any realistic individual will watch the whole proceeding and know that it will not succeed. At best the Democrats are muddying the waters for the next election which Trump is all too likely to win regardless.

    More over the actual articles of impeachment which have been proposed are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Constitution says that the President ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’.

    Obstruction of Congress isn’t in that list, nor can I find any evidence that such is an actual crime. Obstruction of justice certainly is, and may or may not apply to stopping Congress and it’s investigations but I don’t think that the Democrats can really nail him on this one.

    High crimes, however, might be possibly used under the abuse of power article. Again though, I do not think that the Democrats can successfully pin the man with a charge which will stick.

    What’s worse, from my cynical point of view, with Congress voting out Articles of Impeachment and the case going to the Senate I do not believe that the Republican controlled Senate will do anything other than vote party lines. So the entire affair is a brutal waste of time and resources that serves only to muddy the waters for the next election.

  6. John M. says:

    Aren’t we just now sick of it all?
    I don’t mean this current mess, I know, I believe that Trump is a disaster, sure he should be removed from office, sure everything in the economy is going like gang busters, and of course everything looks super duper big flower roses, and oh my goodness it must be because of Trump…and whatever.
    And let’s not forget that the Republicans support him, and the Democrats don’t, and impeachment hearings….And nothing, and I mean nothing will ever change.
    We’re doomed to suffer through what ever administration is in power and this whole farce of impeaching Trump is just that.
    Not one Republican will support it, and every Democrat will voice their whole hearted support for it.
    In the end, nothing changes for me, or for anyone like me.
    A freaking plague upon both of your houses.

    1. Wine Guy says:

      This is the world of L. E. Modesitt….

      The word is “frigging.”

      And yes, a frigging plague upon both of their houses.

    2. Alan says:

      This is something I’ve tried to stress to others when any sort of civil discussion of politics is had. We the People voted all of these politicians into place, including Trump. If you want to change the system we need to stop voting the same people back into office and recognize that there are choices other than one fish two fish.

      There are a lot of changes which I feel should be made to the political, bureaucratic, system. Not least being that there should be no retirement from public office after a single term, that they should never have control over their own pay rates and that they should be forcibly reminded that their duty is to the people. It should not be a career.

      1. Wine Guy says:

        @Alan: How very Heinlein…. I approve.

  7. D Archerd says:

    I’ve struggled with myself over the point of pursuing impeachment despite the fact that it will fail to secure a conviction in a Republican-led Senate. Is the whole thing a waste of time and money? Perhaps. But the alternative is failing to stand up to it and just allowing behavior a majority of Americans believe is wrong to continue. Sometimes you just have to make a stand even when you know it’s doomed to failure.
    And I’m really not sure the Republicans have thought this through to its logical conclusion, to wit: A future Democrat (or, God willing, some new party altogether) as president will now have precedent on his or her side to permit them to freely enlist foreign governments to interfere in their favor in U.S. elections against the Republicans. Is this really the way we want our government to work?

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