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The Destruction of Checks and Balances

By Jackson Gaden


The separation of powers as established in the Constitution are there to prevent abuse of power and prohibit the possibility that our nation would ever have a king or dictator. Over the last four years, Donald Trump has been able to erode and neutralize the checks and balances intended to prevent any individual or political entity from becoming too powerful. The Congress, the Judicial, the media, the IGO, and the Executive branch have been minimized or neutralized. In doing so, he has extended his power so that he can operate with total impunity and with no threat of consequence. The damage he has done to our democracy by attacking and controlling these institutions will last far beyond his term in office. This is an absolute abuse of the powers given to him by the people.


He has been viewed as inept and unfit for office not only by his adversaries but by those who have served under him. Former Department of Defense Secretary, General James Mattis said, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” Mattis went on to say, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”[1] Former National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton said in an ABC News interview, “I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job.”[2]


Donald Trump is a serious threat to our Constitution. He doesn’t understand it; he probably has not read it; and he views its very nature as a threat. As with every other threat that he encounters, he lies and cheats and does whatever necessary to get around it. This represents a deep danger to our democracy.


The one check and balance provided in the Constitution that Donald Trump has not been able to nullify, however, is the vote of the American people. He can bully and lie throughout the presidential campaign, but the people will have the final say. Will we fall for the falsehoods and misleading statements one more time and make him king? Or will the citizens of the greatest democracy on earth refuse to be bullied and speak their mind? We will know in less than 100 days.


Editor's note: This post is a summary of a longer article that you can read here, if you would like more detail.

[1] Goldberg, J. (2020). “James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution.” The Atlantic, June 3, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/james-mattis-denounces-trump-protests-militarization/612640/

[2] Wagner, J. (2020). “Trump ‘unfit for office,’ lacks ‘competence,’ Bolton says in TV interview.” Washington Post, June 18, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-unfit-for-office-lacks-competence-bolton-says-in-tv-interview/2020/06/18/6982d2f4-b14f-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html

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