Well, Trump visited central Indiana yesterday, for a fundraiser and rally. It only increased the intense speculation about whether he would add Indiana’s embarrassing Governor to his ticket.
In many respects, they would be a political odd couple, but they do have one thing in common: neither of them appears to have much familiarity with, or regard for, the Constitution.
In his recent meeting with Congressional Republicans, for example, Trump emphasized his readiness to protect America’s Constitution–including Article Twelve.
Of course, there is no Article Twelve.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised; to the extent that this particular candidate has policies, a significant number of them are patently unconstitutional. Trump says he would authorize torture, round up and deport immigrants (no mention of due process, which is evidently not a phrase in the vocabulary of the man who brags that he has lots of “good words”), and he has proposed “passing a law” to eliminate the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provision.
It’s mind-boggling that any citizen of the U.S. knows so little about America’s legal framework that he thinks passing a law can change constitutional mandates. (Even Pence and my least civically knowledgable students know better than that.) The fact that the Presidential nominee of a major political party is so ignorant of the most basic rules that constrain all elected officials–rules that he would be charged with defending and obeying if, God forbid, he should win–is stunning.
I know I am a broken record on the subject of civic literacy, but the ability of a man like Trump to garner 13 million votes in the primaries is at least partially attributable to the fact that too many Americans know little or nothing about the country’s legal framework or governing architecture.
The American Constitution was not handed down by God (although some on the far Right actually have made that claim). There are good reasons to consider amending parts of it, and serious political figures and scholars who advocate for such changes–but no credible source suggests that the Constitution is irrelevant and can simply be ignored.
What separates successful countries from theocracies, autocracies and banana republics is respect for the rule of law. The basic premise of the rule of law is that laws and regulations apply to everyone. It is the obligation of all citizens–including Presidents, Governors, and all other elected officials–to follow the same rules that apply to the rest of us.
Actually, it shouldn’t surprise us that Trump doesn’t understand that. He’s lived his entire life convinced that the rules don’t apply to him, and he’s made it quite clear that, if he should be elected, he won’t let pesky rules or constitutional provisions get in his way.
That attitude and ignorance explains why citizens who are civically literate find the prospect of a Trump Presidency terrifying.