As I said, Trump reminds me of the narcissists of my life. But the number one question you asked me was “what do we do about it”? I have some ideas, and I want some help.
Narcissists generate chaos to keep others on their heels and allows the narcissist to have control. Every time I hear someone responding to an outrageous Trump tweet or comment, what I really hear is that Trump just won — by creating the chaos he needs. Restart the nuclear arms race, anyone? An important issue, but really just a narcissistic act by Trump. Don’t enable Trump by taking his every burp seriously. President Trump’s budget proposal will not include money for expanding our nuclear arsenal.
Amidst this turmoil, we thankfully have a great filter to pick our battles. With a President as opposed to a candidate, boss, parent, or spouse, we are going to focus on the Law and whether Trump violates the Law.
It’s about the Law, not the “look at me” narcissism. I’ve been reading Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography, and watching HBO’s John Adams series. The foundation of our country rests on the Law (I’m going to keep using the capital “L” to make the point), and the Law does not flow from a King. It flows from our Constitution and our laws. These are the things I care about, not whether Kanye West is giving Trump some narcissism advice. Ignore whether Trump toyed with Mitt Romney’s desire for Secretary of State. Ignore what Trump thinks of Saturday Night Live. Pay attention to when he breaks the Law.
Two potential Law transgressions. As of today, the two violations of the Law that we should fight to investigate are: 1) did the Trump campaign coordinate with Russia on the hacking of the DNC? If so, that’s not just illegal, that’s treason. Treason is punishable by a lot more than impeachment, and 2) Bribery is still illegal for a President (the “Emoluments” clause of the Constitution is just an archaic word for “bribe”). Either the President needs to divest his business holdings or disclose them so we know whether he’s being bribed or driving policy to suit his business needs. A Russian government conference at the Old Post Office Trump hotel generates personal income that can count as an “emolument”.
Serious things we’ll have to ignore, part 1. There are already other examples of Trump Law Skirting, and the list will grow. For instance, nepotism laws explicitly prohibit Ivanka from taking a White House job (which would subject her to conflict of interest and disclosure rules of which Donald is not subjected, which would be fun). I suspect she will be an unofficial but actually official advisor, trying to get around the Law. We could fight that too! But winning that fight would frankly just affect Ivanka, and while important, we will exhaust our efforts focusing on everything. We should leave those fights to others.
Serious things we’ll have to ignore, part 2. While I care about policy, the winning party and candidate get to set policy. That category of debate, like whether the EPA should allow offshore drilling near cities, is one that exists within the Law. They happen every day and after every election. These debates are how democracies make decisions. If I disagree with offshore drilling, or the nomination of Rex Tillerson, I pursue that within the Law. I accept that there is a side of the debate different than mine. Those are arguments worth having, but most of us aren’t full time policy wonks, so we’re going to leave that to professionals and experts.
Help! So after 500 words, the next step is to find the best method for mobilizing action on egregious potential violations of Law (and others likely Law violations as they come). I’ll keep working, thinking, and looking, and you let me know what tools, technologies, and movements you’ve uncovered or have at your disposal. I’m not looking to the Republican controlled Congress to do their job on these issues unless we fight.
It’s not about the tweets or the man or the party. It’s about the Law.