OPINION – The framers of the Constitution were smart guys.
In creating a document that secures our basic freedoms and rule of law, they were able to insert some safeguards that are, thankfully, dousing the flames of irrational behavior and a sense of unrepentant disregard for civil rights and human dignity by an administration in disarray just weeks into its tenure.
That the travel ban has thus far been smacked down as unconstitutional presidential overreach by two federal courts is an indication that the system works, particularly when you have a political tyro launching salvos in the form of uninformed Executive Orders crafted without substance or input from those with an understanding of government structure, procedure and limitations.
There is normally a honeymoon period with a new administration, a time when there is a spirit of unity and accord as the transference of power unfolds.
But, to successfully complete this transaction, the new guys must have at least basic knowledge of how the system works and at least minimal comprehension of how this thing about limited powers, checks and balances and other government lessons taught in high school civics classes, is supposed to work.
I mean, we have seen serious lapses of ethics and credibility from Kellyanne Conway, the top advisor to the president, to Sean Spicer, the top West Wing flak whose job is to spin the day’s events with fervor to favor the administration.
But, it’s getting uglier with each passing day and no amount of spin or shuffle can undo the events and growing mountain of lies that have the nation staggering on the precipice of Constitutional crisis.
What is most astounding is that the administration has been so alarming in its remarks about the system of checks and balances instituted by the founding fathers.
The president’s insulting remarks about the courts and judges who knocked down his travel ban EO are as startling as they are unprecedented. Even George W. Bush, when overruled by the courts, grudgingly acceded to the rule of law. It was a signal of respect for our form of government instead of slapping it down with a churlish 140-character blast on Twitter.
When the framers of the Constitution placed pen to parchment it was impossible, of course, for them to foresee the incredible evolution of the nation’s manner, form, intellect and, yes, even technology that their humble document would defend and define.
But, of the 55 framers of the Constitution, 32 were lawyers who clearly understood what was on the line and what they needed to protect, whether from irrational judgment or challenges by dime-store scholars.
They crafted this seemingly enigmatic document purposefully to set the parameters that would remain useful in a future they could never imagine and imposed these checks and balances to ensure that a wigged-out strongman with revenge in his heart and a skewed perspective could not undo the principles of liberty.
There are vast powers accorded the president, but there are also safeguards to ensure that we don’t end up under the thumb of a Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Un. It’s why the three branches of government have the power to quash actions that violate the Constitution.
It can be argued that some federal court rulings are tainted with the scent of partisanship, but the latest ruling to halt the travel ban came unanimously from a three-judge panel, including one appointed by George W. Bush, which means even some conservatives still adhere to the principles of the Constitution.
It is a lesson being learned hard and fast up and down the ranks, even in Utah where Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a hardline conservative, was uncharacteristically booed during a contentious town hall meeting in Cottonwood Heights Thursday.
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee was clearly flustered, but later asserted that the protesters were paid provocateurs.
Do the math. Progressives simply do not have pockets deep enough to fund the number of protests that have taken place on seven continents since the inauguration.
I have been very aware of Chaffetz since he caddied for former Gov. Jon Huntsman, first as campaign manager, then as chief of staff.
I sat with him through several meetings, his eyes darting furtively in an attempt to evaluate the room and find advantage.
His political ascension was remarkably fast. Of course being the right-hand man for, perhaps, the most popular and arguably the best governor in the state’s history gave him a substantial boost.
Chaffetz was the first Utah politico to withdraw his support of Donald Trump when the seedy comments made by Trump to a former television host were revealed. But, Chaffetz is a slick politician and has now decided to parrot the party line, which is built upon specious media conspiracy theories and alleged covert political operations. He has hedged his bet somewhat by joining Democrats who want to censure Conway for illegally shilling for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
I am fairly confident that Chaffetz will not jump this ship until it is clear that this administration is dangerous to his political ambition and fortunes.
Unfortunately, that is how it is falling out along The Beltway these days.
Partisanship has always, of course, played a role in Washington, D.C. But, there was a time when our elected leaders also applied statesmanship, putting the welfare of the nation ahead of political and personal gain; a time when the tenets of government were honored and defended.
That is, sadly, no longer the case.
Not when a respected federal jurist is denigrated as “this so-called judge;” the thoughtful and scholarly opinions of the court are demeaned as “ridiculous and will be overturned;” and our checks and balances are slandered with the false assessment that “Our legal system is broken.”
Life is more than a 140-character Tweet intended to bully or obfuscate, although the latest Twitter missive – “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” – sets the scene.
For both sides.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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