The founders of this nation would have condemned Trump and banned from workplace … unanimously
“Defending” Trump as it is relies on analyzing the semantics of what “inciting” is and is not. The defense claims that in the worst case scenario, Trump was making his rousing call to action behind his temporary tempered plexiglass-protected podium – with a pause between each sentence to ensure they had the desired impact on the mob he himself had called out – that he was only speaking “his opinion”. The lawyers insisted that it was simply impossible to equate what Trump was saying with what his followers did at the time.
That defense sounds flimsy because it is actually flimsy. It ignores the context of the moment itself, the infamous months when the mob was just being prepared for this event. It ignores the urgency imposed on this mob, its deliberately selected participants, and the careful timing when Congress got to work just a few hundred yards from its speaker. It ignores the seriousness of the crime that actually occurred. Most importantly, it ignores the fact that it was the President of the United States – someone at the head of the country’s power – who brought the message to its deluded believers, all with the intent of overturning the elections.
Dr. Eli Merritt, visiting scholar at Vanderbilt University who writes for the New York Times, explains how the real creators of this land – Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, and the like – would have seen such an event.
If the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were jury members on the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate, one thing seems certain based on historical records. With emphasis and dispatch, they would cast two almost unanimous votes: first, to convict the president of a criminal offense, and second, to exclude him from holding a future federal office.
They would vote that way, unmoved by partisan passions or the defense claim that the Senate was not competent because they believed, for civil reasons, that ethical leadership is the glue that holds a constitutional republic together. It was a principle they lived by and infused into every aspect of the Constitution that they debated in Philadelphia that summer nearly 234 years ago.
Suffice it to say that the hoarse excuses we hear from the Senate in defense of this demagogue deserve ridicule and contempt from those whose efforts created the very legislators now sitting in Washington, DC. Merritt cites numerous examples showing how Someone With the Moral Void of Donald Trump is a textbook example of everything the founders despised and warned about in an American president.
To fully appreciate their views on the matter, it is first necessary to understand the nature of the individuals whom the founders expected to hold office, including the highest office. They sought individuals who possessed virtue, wisdom, and common decency. As Merritt notes, they emphasized these necessary qualities for government officials almost every day of the debates that were later recorded in the Federalist Papers.
The founders weren’t fools, however. They realized that imperfect people (only white men at the time) would invariably hold high positions in government. But there was one particular breed that they identified as the most dangerous to the nascent republic.
They also left clear statements about the types of public figures that the Constitutional Republic must exclude from office. Carefully designed systems and the power of impeachment, conviction and disqualification have eliminated “corrupt and unworthy men”, “men designing” and “demagogues” from office, according to Elbridge Gerry.
Alexander Hamilton fought hard to equip the new administration with checks and balances to exclude “men of small character”, those who “love power” and “demagogues”. George Mason devoted himself to developing “the most effective means of revising and counteracting the emerging views of dangerous and ambitious men”.
To prevent such demagogues from rising and exercising their power, they created the checks and balances that exist in our government structure – from the separation of powers to the mechanism of impeachment. As James Madison noted, the threat these men pose could be “fatal to the Republic”.
The corruption we see on the Republican side of the Senate is the most literal example of Madison’s warning that can be imagined.
Frank Bowman is a distinguished Professor of Curators at the University of Missouri School of Law. His article, written last month for Washington Monthly, fits perfectly with Dr. Merritt’s analysis of the likelihood of the Framer’s position in relation to Donald Trump’s behavior:
[A] A particular concern of the Framer, not only during the impeachment debate, but throughout the process of shaping the constitutional system, was the danger of a demagogue rising to the highest office and overthrowing the Republican government.
Bowman notes that founders like Jay, Madison, and Hamilton relied specifically on historical precedents from ancient British, Greek, and Roman history to develop, articulate, and justify the language they ultimately used in drafting the Constitution. For example, the penalty for impeachment was derived from a practice followed by the UK Parliament. Impeachment in Britain (by the British Parliament) could not remove the king but could be used against his favorite – and most dangerous – allies to remove them from office, with a whole range of penalties if convicted to keep them out of office public life.
As Bowman, based on Dr. Merritt explains that the potential enemy in the founding days of the republic was not a land aristocracy; Instead, “the particular threat that plagued the founding generation was the demagogue.”
The founders constantly warned against demagogues. The word appears 187 times in the database of the National Archives of Founding Writings. American writers of the 18th century often used “demagogue” as an epithet to indicate that a political opponent was a person of low civic virtue who used the lower arts of flattery and inflammatory rhetoric to win popular favor . In 1778, in the midst of the Revolution, George Washington wrote to Edward Rutledge complaining that “this spirit of the cabal and the destructive ambition that has increased the de facto demagogue in every ancient republic is making a great head at the center of these states. “
But the idea behind the insult was the Framers’ conclusion, based on a study of ancient and modern history, that republics were particularly prone to demagogues – men who craved power for their own sake, and obtained power through dishonesty acquired and retained appeals to popular passions.
Bowman notes that the Founders’ concern about demagogues was so great that it was one of the reasons Madison recommended “large populous wards” to individual officials, since such a large crowd would be less likely to be influenced by such people.
There is no doubt that the founders of this country had someone like Donald Trump in mind when they provided a constitutional mechanism for the removal and exclusion of that person from office. The spectacle of a corrupt cabal of Republican Senators frolicking in fear and cowardice and bending over to defend him is exactly the nightmare they wanted to avoid.