When a President Puts Self Over Country: Opinion
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2017—Placing country over self is the essence of public service. It is a principle that has been embodied by the chief executive since the inception of the United States. Until now.
Nowhere is the breakdown of this principle more apparent that in Donald Trump’s obstinate refusal to publicly accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite clear and concrete evidence from the nation’s top intelligence agencies.
It appears that Trump is unable or unwilling to accept anything that calls into question the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, even if it imperils the country for decades to come.
From the moment he was elected Donald Trump has shown he does not understand the guiding principle of public service. Unlike every single modern president, Trump refused to divest from his businesses or release his tax returns. He has flouted nepotism laws by placing family members in high-profile government jobs for which they are clearly not qualified, and ignored conflicts of interest and emoluments clause violations as he and his family continue to profit off the presidency.
On the question of whether Russia interfed with the country’s democratic process, Trump appears to believe that acknowledging that Russia meddled in the 2016 election is also admitting that his campaign colluded with Russia and that he therefore did not win the election fairly.
More alarmingly—but not surprisingly— it is clear that Trump would rather deny and ignore the Russian attack than recognize anything that, in his mind, puts his victory in question.
Because of his refusal to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, Trump has exhibited little interest in finding out how Russia was able to interfere and how this kind of attack can be prevented in the future. His selfish, self-interested insistence on ignoring the Russian attack is certain to guarantee that this kind of interference in our democratic process will occur in future elections.
The White House’s lack of interest in Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election was clear last week when Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he had not had a single briefing regarding the hack before he recused himself in early March.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified in early June that apart from questions that impacted Trump personally, Trump did not appear to be concerned by other aspects of the Russia probe, including national security issues.
As recently as Friday morning, when CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Kellyanne Conway what the administration was doing to prevent a similar attack in the future, Conway was unable to provide a concrete answer or specific plan.
It appears that Trump and his administration would rather ignore the fact a hostile foreign power attacked the U.S. than acknowledge something that would in any way delegitimize the victory he cherishes so much.
This is shocking but not surprising. Throughout his short presidency, Trump has made it clear that a win is the only thing that matters to him.
Take ObamaCare repeal, for example. Trump held a beer and lounge music reception at the Rose Garden to celebrate the House passing the AHCA, apparently ignoring the fact that the bill still needed to pass the Senate, where it was likely to face strong opposition. The passing of the House bill was a minor victory at best, but to Trump a win is a win, no matter how hollow or how many people’s lives it destroys. Given the distinct lack of wins for his administration, Trump’s fragile ego required a victory lap, no matter how bizarre it appeared even to Fox News.
However, as soon as the new bill faced problems in the Senate and Trump was no longer getting applause for it, Trump did not hesitate to call the bill “mean,” turning his back on the dozens of Republican House members who voted for the bill to their own detriment in order to give him his short-lived win.
Trump had no problem throwing those House members under the bus, and he has no problem throwing the entire country under the bus to keep his “win” intact. The election was Trump’s ultimate win; he still talks about it, presents journalists with electoral maps during interviews and even displays a framed map of his victory in the White House. There is nothing—not even the future safety, welfare and autonomy of the American people—that is going to ruin that for him.
Even more alarming is that the majority of Republicans in Congress—who currently control the entire U.S. government—are happy to go along with Trump to the detriment of the nation.
When an entire country, its electoral process and its sovereignty are subject to one man’s ego and insecurities, that country can no longer call itself a democracy.
Featured image:Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons