President Obama anticipated incoming President Donald Trump’s assault on democracy in his letter to the 45th president.
In an exclusive regarding the last direct communication between the 44th and 45th presidents, CNN obtained a copy of the letter President Obama left for President Trump, in which he warns against using the power of the office for political gain.
“We are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for,” read the third piece of advice from then President Obama to Trump.
“Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”
CNN”s Kevin Liptak observed, “That passage, read seven months after Trump took office, appears prescient. Trump has been accused of flouting rule of law in his broadsides against federal judges and his own attorney general. His verbal assaults on Congress have led to charges that he’s disregarding the constitutionally enshrined separate but equal branches of government.”
Trump’s attacks on the tenets of democracy in a mere seven months are dizzying. Trump might not be a competent president, but he is good at grabbing resources, abusing power, creating chaos, and spitting on the very principles upon which our country was founded, so Trump is not without talent.
Obama’s letter is as gracious as the man showed himself to be during his eight years in office, opening with Trump’s much needed praise and flattery, “Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.”
No one can ever say Barack Obama doesn’t understand the people with whom he has had to deal; he knew he had to open with praise or his words would have no hope of reaching Trump. Obama is ever the diplomat.
Yet I fear President Obama’s language too lofty for the current President of the United States, whose Twitter talk continues to provoke North Korea’s crazy. The ideas Obama presented – “rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties” – are principles for which Trump has shown disdain and contempt. It’s not even clear if Trump understands these basic tenets of democracy or how they apply to the executive branch.
For the man who thinks Twitter is an appropriate format to deal with North Korea, there is slim hope that the founding ideals of our country might appeal.
Obama tried. It’s up to the people of the United States now.