POTUS, The Rule of Law, and Police Powers

Generating Fascism with Ignorance & Fear

Dear POTUS, just a heads up, the Rule of Law is not easily interchangeable with socially constructed descriptors like ‘Law and Order’ or ‘Tough on Crime.’

I will pretend to believe that you are just ignorant (and not cynical), but the term “Rule of Law” refers to the limits on government created by law.

Some consider this concept, of government power restrained and constrained by its own laws, to be the most important concept our system of government ever shared with the world.

Our Constitution, for example, establishes legal limits on what governments can demand from its citizens. The Constitution creates a social contract, a set of ceilings that law creates that limit the power of government to interfere with the lives of its citizens.

In much of the world, law is primarily used to enforce power on people and it is rarely used to constrain governments from exercising power on the people it is supposed to serve. This is why I was so disturbed when you, President Trump, visited the Philippines and heaped praise on President Duterte for the “unbelievable” job that he has done conducting his countries war on drugs.

For those who have not paid attention to Philippine politics, President Duterte decided that the best way to enforce the War on Drugs in his country was to encourage his police and military to engage in extra-judicial killings with predictable results. And this is why, I am pretty sure you are confusing your clear admiration for fascist leadership with the unique but endangered American concept of Rule of Law.

I am raising this issue today because last night you decided to give a speech praising your Immigration Enforcement agents (ICE) for being “rough” with illegal immigrants. In particular, you said:

“Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon you just see them thrown in rough. I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause).”

And if that was not scary enough (because even if you hate gang members, not all of the people that your ICE agents arrest are gang members or even close) perhaps you should have rethought this statement:

“And I have to tell you, you know, the laws are so horrendously stacked against us, because for years and years they’ve been made to protect the criminal. Totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers. If you do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws. But in the meantime, we need judges for the simplest things that you should be able to do without a judge. But we have to have those judges quickly. In the meantime, we’re trying to change the laws.”

Except that in the United States, part of the “Rule Of Law” holds that you are innocent until proven guilty and that you have rights guaranteed by the Constitution that are supposed to protect you from police interference in your life. These laws are not designed to protect the criminal, they are designed to protect every citizen from the police and from government intrusion. When you say you want to change the laws stacked against the officers? Which laws are you talking about exactly?

Not surprising but equally terrifying was your embrace of the purchase by Police Departments of Military equipment which has been anything but a positive in neighborhoods and cities throughout the United States.

In the end, I just have one big ask, could you take a few hours (away from Fox News) and maybe read a few books about the American System of Government, so you can understand what made its establishment such a strong unique and liberating signal (for governmental restraint) throughout the world?


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