Rise above a narrow path?

Published 8:50 am Friday, May 24, 2019

John Hickenlooper, past governor of Colorado, once said, “Democracy is based upon empathy and the recognition that some decisions are solely for the community’s benefit without regard to one’s own narrow self-interest.”

President Donald Trump this week demonstrated an inability to grasp that fundamental core of national service. It is the Impeachable event of the Trump presidency.

Every U.S. president is expected to represent the peoples’ interest over their own self-interest, but President Trump this week, in announcing that he will not work legislatively with the Democratic House of Representatives as long as that body investigates him, has, in effect, shut down the very government he is charged to lead.

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It is like the passenger train engineer demanding all the passengers get off the train before the train leaves the station or he will not start the train. What passenger train purpose is there without passengers? What legislative purpose is there with an executive that refuses to sign legislation?

Upcoming bills that need legislative and executive cooperation include the new NAFTA agreement, raising the debt ceiling and approving the federal budget. And those do not include the important needs for Infrastructure restoration, prescription drug cost reduction and immigration reform. Nor can Congress address restoring the Affordable Care Act to protect millions of Americans from losing their health care coverage, without a president prepared to sign bills into law.

This president, in refusing to work with the Democratic House, has abrogated his fundamental responsibility to the people of the United States for the sole purpose of protecting himself from further congressional investigation. Donald Trump has publicly chosen himself over his country in public statements that can hold no other meaning.

To be clear, congressional oversight will not stop, as it is a constitutional prerogative. In support of congressional oversight, the Reagan administration issued what is known as the Ronald Reagan memo, which included the following: “to comply with congressional requests for information to the fullest extent consistent with the constitutional and statutory obligations of the Executive Branch.”

And there is precedent here. President Richard Nixon, while under investigation and, later, impeachment, continued to work with Congress and pass laws for the American people. President Bill Clinton, while under investigation and, later, impeachment, continued to work with the Republican congress and pass laws for the American people. These two examples are the reminders that the president must never place his or her own narrow interests ahead of the people.

It is an impeachable offense needing no other basis of justification.

Some have argued that this president should be impeached for any number of issues ranging from the Mueller list of obstruction of justice citations to the unnamed co-conspirator with the imprisoned Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, to the advancing case in Maryland and D.C. over violations of the Emolument Clause of the U.S. constitution. Each may have its justification, but none can rise above the public pronouncement by the president that protecting his own self-interest he will refuse to do the work of the people.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

President Trump will never rise above the narrow path of his own issues and concerns to serve the American people, much less humanity. It is simply not in his character. And that makes him unfit to serve.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.