By V. Susan Hutchinson
Every action or statement made by President Donald J. Trump is overwhelmingly supported by his own party even if it is not in the best interest of the country or if it flies in the face of the Constitution and the Rule of Law. History shows this is not the first time a political party has sought to redefine the intent of the Constitution or outright challenge it.
Our first president George Washington warned against the rise of political parties in his farewell address. His concerns were valid. When John Adams was elected the 2nd president of the United States his party, the Federalists, dominated Congress. It was early days for the new government and they took the opportunity to enact laws to secure a strong federal government, which was the focus of the party when the Constitution was created. With a Federalist government in place, the Alien and Sedition Acts passed Congress and were signed into law by Adams in 1798.
But were they intended to be in the best interests of America or the Federalists?
Why Is This Relevant Today?
The Federalists were anti-immigrant and felt they represented a threat to national security. Not only that, once here they tended to vote Democratic-Republican, the opposition party. They had to be stopped as the Federalists wanted to ensure that the new government would be set up as they designed with their party remaining in power.
The Sedition Act implemented laws that jailed or fined anyone, including the press, who promoted or vocalized anti-government sentiment. The result was the imprisonment of 20 Republican based journalists.
If this is sounding familiar it should, except the immigrants in 1798 were from Europe, specifically Ireland.
The modern-day version of this is Donald Trump calling Mexicans who try to enter the US, legally or illegally, rapists, criminals and drug dealers and trying to build a wall to keep them out. Trump is also intent on prohibiting immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, claiming it’s in the name of national security and calling negative media reports fake news to try to discredit them so he can control the narrative of his presidency.
The only thing keeping him from jailing journalists is the First Amendment. But it doesn’t keep him from attempting to undermine their protected rights.
And Now We Have a Fake Emoluments Clause
The Sedition Act was challenged at the state level as unconstitutional and was allowed to expire 3 years after passage. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a key issue in the Presidential election of 1800 and, as a result, Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans swept not only the presidency, but Congress as well.
Donald Trump continues to rail against the media blaming all except Fox News, and other alt right outlets who actively support him, for trying to sabotage his presidency and influence public opinion against him.
In response to his attempt to profit off the presidency by holding the 2020 G-7 summit at his private golf club in Florida, Trump took on the Constitution saying the emoluments clause was “phony”. For sure this is a blatant violation of his oath of office as he is supposed to uphold the Constitution, but it is also important in another way. It shows the First Amendment right to a free press is still functioning as intended.
The founding fathers knew that a free press was required to keep check on the government so people could be made aware of what they were and weren’t doing, especially when it came to their tax dollars. Visibility of government actions keeps voters informed so they can choose wisely at election time.
The journalists of today are carrying on the tradition of letting voters know how their tax dollars are being spent, except now they also reveal how the current President of the United States is trying to profit at the expense of the people. This is a violation of the very real and enforceable Emoluments Clause.
If we are to learn anything from the end of John Adams presidency, after only one term, it is that the will of the people triumphed over those who would try to violate the law of the land and challenge the Constitution of the United States.
We have an opportunity for history to repeat itself on November 3, 2020 by voting out Trump and his party who choose to abuse their power and increase their wealth with no intent of supporting the ideals and rights of the American people.
Take a Stand and Vote for the American people in 2020!