*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Anyone who has ever spent much time in a courtroom, whether as an advocate for the law or a naughty print journalist assigned to cover boring criminal trials, knows that defense lawyers work tirelessly to impugn the testimony of an expert or eyewitness to, or victim of, a crime. One can forgive a defense attorney for “going after” witnesses who endangering their client’s freedom because no matter how sleazy they appear, it is what they are paid to do; delegitimize the witness at all costs. However, when a nation’s leader spends months attempting to delegitimize what it considers its opposition, the courts, scientists, the intelligence community, and the press, it is beyond despicable; it is a tyrannical dictator’s means of seizing ultimate power. It is precisely what Americans are watching Donald Trump and his propaganda machine do on a daily basis.
Because America is, or rather was, a representative democracy with three branches of government to serve as a system of “checks and balances” against any one branch ruling as unopposed tyrants, it has been safe from the likes of a Hitler-type dictator. Add in a constitutionally-protected free press serving as an un-official “fourth branch” to keep the three “official” branches honest, and it used to be relatively impossible for a fascist to ever seize uncontested power and control over the government. Donald Trump cannot and will not accept that he is not the ultimate authority in America and has demonstrated that if he is not granted, by his own decree, uncontested and unchecked power, he will systematically delegitimize any opposition to his goal of becoming supreme ruler.
Although Trump has not yet attempted to delegitimize the United States Congress, he will get around to them as soon as they fail to unconditionally acquiesce to his demands or do required acts of obeisance at the mere mention of his name. However, he has spent no small amount of time and energy casting aspersion on the judiciary branch of government, the press, and the intelligence community; only because they are not in a state of thrall over Trump and in fact did their jobs as public servants. And yes, journalists are public servants; just ask one how little they earn for informing the population about what their government and elected officials are up to.
Trump has been up to no good since he entered the race for the presidency, and he repeated what any decent American would call a dangerous and despicable act this week when he first; impugned the integrity of a George W. Bush-appointed Federal Appeals Court Judge for daring to rule against his religious ban against adherents of the Islamic faith entering America. Then he said a federal court opinion was “ridiculous” and publicly blamed the court for preventing law enforcement from keeping Americans safe.
This was the second time Trump demeaned the federal judiciary and it is informs a pattern of sowing distrust among the population that any court ruling or opinion contrary to a Trump edict is hazardous to the American people. It is, according to most sane human beings, a deliberate attempt to completely delegitimize the entire judiciary branch; the only thing Trump didn’t say was that the ruling came from a “fake court” and a “fake judge;” although this author believes that calling the judge a “so-called” judge is tantamount to calling him “fake.” It isn’t an errant belief either because Trump started calling accurate reporting media outlets “so-called” journalists before he embraced the “fake news” pejorative.
By now it’s no revelation that Trump is in a very serious unilateral war against the media; except those who work directly with the administration’s propaganda arm in the White House press office, the one Steve Bannon oversees. Trump isn’t content working tirelessly to persuade the people that the media cannot be trusted, that only he is the source of information, he attempted to convince the intelligence community, after comparing them to German Nazis, that the media is dishonest; and that as president he is “at war” with the constitutionally-protected free press. And most recently, he repeated the lies he told at the CIA to the highest levels of the Department of Defense; that the media cannot be trusted because they refuse to report on or publicize terror attacks. Those kind of “newsworthy” events, terror attacks, always incite a media frenzy no matter where they occur. “It’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
Of course the intelligence community and officials at Central Command and Special Operations Command understand that Trump is lying, and undoubtedly they know he is being aided in his propaganda campaign by his conspiracy theory advisor Alex Jones. But as practiced propagandists are wont to do, Trump keeps reciting the lies that, like the Judiciary, the scientific community, and the intelligence community, the media can’t be trusted; only Trump is trustworthy. It is noteworthy that only Congress remains to land on Trump’s “illegitimate” list and they know their day is coming; sooner rather than later. He will not take refutation from Congress any better than rejection from the judiciary and he will attempt to delegitimize them.
Everything Trump has done since before being given the keys to the White House has been to focus all authority and power on himself; it’s why he will not endure anyone disagreeing with or questioning his judgment. It is also very perilous if for no other reason than the average American isn’t smart enough to recognize the Nazi tactics of centralizing all power and authority in one man. And if any American thinks the Trump will be stopped by the Constitution, they had better think again. It is not out of the realm of reason that he will attempt to issue a decree, by his own authority, to neuter the Judicial Branch.
Another fascist Republican, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, used another means to castrate the Kansas courts when the state’s judiciary ruled against him. Congress can’t impeach Sam Brownback, but they can Donald Trump and whether they become his enemies for not passing a law he wants or drawing up articles of impeachment, he will try to delegitimize them because he will not be the unopposed ruler until there is only one legitimate branch of government; the Trump branch.
*The commentary is the opinion of the author.*