It seems that Trump’s presidency’s main achievement since his inauguration is lowering the standards of democracy. What was once the greatest democracy in the world serves as an example of the abuse of the democratic system. While democracies advocate for transparency and accountability, these values did not make the cut in Trump’s plan to ‘Make America Great Again’.
Trump, once a supporter of Comey’s investigative thoroughness regarding Hillary Clinton, turned his back and fired his FBI director. Trump’s decision paints the picture of the lengths he will go to avoid being exposed. In addition, the fact that Comey learned his new employment status via the media adds to the ridiculousness of the situation. In doing so, Trump orchestrated his own political destruction. It started with Michael Flynn, continued with Sally Yates’ removal from the Attorney General’s position, and persisted with Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the investigation. Trump’s denial of him being vulnerable will only hurt his credibility – or what’s left of it – and his popularity amongst his voters.
As impeachment rumours start circling in Capitol Hill, the absurdity of the situation seems unnoticed by many. Presidents usually experience a long honeymoon period in their first term and use this opportunity to pass easily supported policies, such as education reform. Trump has once again defeated a long implemented theory. After losing the popular vote, one would think that Trump would do his best to forge the divided America he eloquently reprimanded during his campaign. He deemed fit, however, to create a Muslim Ban in his first month, which consequently was blocked by state and federal courts. His American Health Care Act remains a failure, and yet he blames Democrats and disloyal Republicans instead of reflecting upon his own skills as a policy maker. Recently, he removed the United States from the Paris Agreement only to have states participate in the agreement independently from the federal government. His policy decisions reflect the mind of a megalomaniac: he wants everything fast and blames party politics when he doesn’t get it. Every decision he’s made has resulted in ridiculing not only the president but the seat itself. While his lack of policy knowledge could be overcome by his ability to communicate with the voters, Trump’s rhetoric to defend himself and attack others will only jeopardize his already tarnished public image. The standards of what a president ought to do is continuously lowered by his inherent inability to preside.
The possibility of Russian interference in a domestic election is a frightening reality. The American electoral system has been exposed as undemocratic by many, and the involvement by a foreign country only adds to the reality that American elections are undemocratic. Trump’s plan to prioritize American interest in his foreign policy in his “America First” speech during the election is hindered by his relationship to Putin and the many conflicts of interest within his own cabinet. Trump labelling the investigation a political witch hunt and Comey as a ‘nut job’ only confirms theses suspicions. His erratic behaviour makes it impossible for his outside circle to know what his next move will be.
The Presidency is usually a symbol of a political ideology, conservative or liberal. Trump is neither, he does not subject himself to a political ideal. This position is applauded for some such as Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! Party, but for Trump, it exposes a lack of political knowledge and his constant need to fit in the majority – he acts like America’s CEO instead of its president. In this case, voters will have to be satisfied that Trump’s decisions are either based on Russian promises, Steve Bannon’s council, or the Fox News coverage.
Thankfully, the special investigation is underway, now led by Robert S. Mueller who benefits from great autonomy. Mueller represents the power a bi-partisan agreement and of checks and balances. Moreover, his immaculate reputation will prevent Trump from attacking him personally and labelling himself as a victim of party politics. On June 8th, Comey spoke in front of the special committee, and while he never explicitly accused Trump of obstruction of justice, he gave enough information for the committee to strengthen its case. Comey spoke about his private conversations with the president and how he thought it best to take notes of everything that was said because he was unsure of what Trump was capable of, maybe recording the conversation and leaking it when the time is right and the dialogue around this case is in his favour. On June 13th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to the committee and as expected, he denied any knowledge and involvement with Russian officials. Trump should beware of the loyalty of his close advisers: there was a time that being a Republican meant following Trump’s bandwagon but with this special investigation underway, however, his advisers are long-term political bureaucrats and they will not sacrifice their career and reputation for their executive leader. If only Trump had implemented successful policies to gain popular support but his continuous failures prove he is, simply, not fit for the job.
At this time, one can only hope for some silver lining. Possibly, a bipartisan alliance of congressmen and women trying to save the American democracy faced by Trump-like politicians whose tunnel vision prevents them from looking beyond tax and immigration policies. Trump may be the solution to this divided America because at the rate his presidency is unfolding, a popular coalition might be created against him.