Donald Trump is getting tough.
In an interview with the sycophantic Breitbart “News,” Trump stated “I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.”
This is a horrific, inexcusable statement for any president to make. He effectively threatens citizens of the United States, which no president should ever do.
But it is also laughable. Bikers for Trump is a bad joke. Let them start even trying to beat anyone up and I would expect local law enforcement to do their jobs by arresting the bikers in question. Bikers have no formal authority to use force against anyone, so if they do so, they will violate statutes prohibiting battery and other acts of violence.
It is hard to imagine exactly what conduct Trump objects to, that he wants his supporters to get tough with. Anyone living under the government of the United States Constitution is free to criticize him in whatever manner they see fit. If he means the various members of Congress who are investigating his many, various misdeeds before becoming president and since, they have the same right to criticize him as anyone else, and they have the obligation under the Constitution to serve as a check against an overweening executive. That Trump got used to having a supine Congress during his first two years is not the fault of the Democrats who are now doing the job properly. Neither ordinary police officers nor U.S. soldiers is going to take on any attempts at law enforcement against any member of Congress, not least because the Constitution expressly forbids it, except in certain specific cases that do not apply in this situation.
Federal law prohibits the U.S. military from taking on law enforcement duties against U.S. citizens, which soldiers understand better than does Trump.
So Trump has nothing, except his own stupidity. Once again, he only illustrates with his bluster how little he understands the job he is pretending to do.
Trump’s statement does nicely illustrate one of the most pernicious effects “conservatives” have had on our politics since the 1990s. He implicitly casts U.S. politics as a battle between two warring camps.
That it too often seems that way is deeply regrettable and mostly the result of the irresponsible bomb throwing of Newt Gingrich and his Republican colleagues during the Clinton administration.
In a properly functioning national government, all of the players will have the best interest of the nation as a whole as their primary goal. They will almost certainly have different ideas about how best to achieve the nation’s best interest. They may even disagree to some extent about what the nation’s best interest is. But they regard those officials they disagree with as what we used to call the “loyal opposition,” which suggests differing opinions within the ambit of shared goals.
Modern Republicans regard politics as a game in which their only concern is to make sure that they win, and by any means necessary, including ignoring the rules to the extent that they can get away with it. It is especially absurd to hear any Republican call for civility when Republicans entirely abandoned any pretense to civility or to respect for long standing political norms during the 1990s and show no signs of reversing course.
Democrats’ investigations of Trump are just good faith efforts to enforce federal law in response to the most lawless president in our history. Trump may threaten “the left” all he likes, but against the Democrats’ investigations, his forces are useless and will avail him nothing.
Trump’s toughness is pathetic and meaningless.