Perhaps the very best thing that one can say about Donald Trump is that he does ask the big questions.
Big questions, but questions that most of us, and for good reasons, would not ask. For we like our Constitution with its 27 Amendments, and would not question it or try to re-interpret them for our own purposes. For another we like our allies and would do nothing to withdraw from our treaties and drive them away. For a third we like the message on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and would not want to add, as Trump has proposed, “the tired and poor who can stand on their own two feet.”
These questions, and others like them draw attention to Trump himself, and that alone seems to be his principal reason for asking them. For he is most of all a liar, braggart and narcissist
Now it’s true that the Constitution is an ancient document, written during a time where there was little, almost nothing in fact, of our modern world. And because of this there is some question whether the Constitution needs to be changed accordingly, as the world has changed. It’s ironic that Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court are both originalists, followers of Justice Scalia, who believe that the judges have only to identify what’s at stake and then rely on determining the original meaning of the Constitution, the meaning it would have at the time of its writing, to resolve the present issue. One cannot imagine how one can be an originalist. At the time the Constitution was written there was slavery (the Founding Fathers were slave owners themselves) and that by itself puts the entire document in question.
Now there has always been agreement that within the Constitution there are “checks and balances.” Agreement that the naked power of each of the three branches, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, is somehow tempered by the powers of other two. By a veto in case of the executive over the legislative, by impeachment in the case of the legislative over the executive. And it’s this last check that Trump would question and thereby obstruct. For in order to correctly and properly oversee the words and actions of the executive the legislative has to be allowed free access to the individuals and documents involved in whatever may have been the questionalble executive action.
Now it’s likely that Trump assumes, like most of us, that the three branches are equal, that one branch does not have sway over another. But he asks a big question in this regard, why should he, the executive, almost like a king, obey the wishes of the legislative? For Trump, he shouldn’t, and that question by itself puts the legitimacy of the entire Constitution in doubt. Fore this reason now, in Trump time, we are saying we have a constitutional crisis. And it may very well be that, in spades, especially if Trump goes on to win in 2020.
Of our relationships with our allies Trump questions what is the reason for NATO, that which came into being when the Soviet Union was a threat. Now Russia has taken the place of the Soviet Union and is no longer a threat. Not only that but Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, respective leaders of the two countries, are bosom pals.
About immigration Trump is asking the simple but big question why should we accept into our country immigrants that will once here become a heavy charge on our more and more costly welfare services. Why not, he asks, accept only those who can pay their own way? That is a big question. But there are answers.
The three questions: Why should the legislative power have access to the relative documents that are for whatever reason in the hands of the executive? There’s nothing explicitly stated in the Constitution that gives the legislative that power. Then, why should the United States go on paying for the defense of European countries, no longer threatened and well able to pay their own way? And finally, why should the United States go on accepting immigrants who will end up being heavy charges on our welfare services?
On the other hand perhaps the very worst thing one can say about Donald Trump is that his questions, and others like them, are undoing our democracy. And I haven’t even mentioned his questioning the reality of global warming (what’s wrong with beautiful coal and the jobs it provides for our people?), his questioning of the use of chemicals in our agriculture (why not allow them since we all profit from the resulting increased production numbers?), and his questioning of the worth of the thousands of the world’s insect and animal species that will become extinct, much like the earlier carrier pigeon and the now not yet extinct but seriously threatened grisly and polar bears. Trump asks the reasonable to many Trumpists, why prevent our citizens from enjoying open access to the world’s remaining but rapidly diminshing wildness areas? In comparison what’s the value of the life of, say an elephant, a giraffe, or tiger?