Should we rethink presidential powers? | Wim Laven

On Dec. 18th it was agreed that Donald Trump’s charitable foundation would be dissolved. The decision was reached as a result of findings that Donald Trump and his family abused the tax exempt status and abused campaign finance laws.

The lawsuit is not over; a decision on $2.8 million in restitution and penalties as well as possible permanent ban against Trump and three of his children serving on nonprofits in New York still needs to be reached.

Given what was described by the State’s Attorney General office as:

“a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” one hopes they are prevented from betraying the public’s trust in the future. One might ask, “What does this mean?”

Trump is selfish and willing do whatever it takes to get what he wants for himself. His favorite tool is dishonesty — it is all purpose, he lies all the time. In his version of winning the public’s loss is his gain, and we’ve been “big league” losing. Reflecting on the dissolution of his corrupt Trump Foundation, as with so much of his storied career of dishonesty, reveals an ingenious ability to deceive unfettered by any moral decorum—his absolute willingness to betray. He is proof, in financial terms, that in this broken system cheaters do win, and he publicly brags that he doesn’t pay his debts because he is smart.

On Dec. 21st his nearsightedness emerges with even greater clarity. In order to secure $5 billion in funding for a completely unnecessary border wall Trump is willing to shut down the government just in time for Christmas. Forget the fact people don’t want it, and that it cannot get the votes to pass, the cost to taxpayers for a government shutdown is $6.5 billion per week. It is a repetition of his coercive practice. Trump has regularly used this terrorist tactic, earlier this year in an effort to block funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program is one example.

But what if it is all much much worse? Trump is making everyone pay a huge price. His nuclear bomb on the economy could very well be another stunt. He has called himself a debt master, so I wouldn’t doubt that he has plans. He seems to have learned that destruction is easier than creation decades ago; he stole fortunes and left people in ruins by not paying his own bills. His echo chamber continues to get scarier, Sect. of Defense Mattis has just resigned in protest to what is ultimately Trump’s complete refusal to acknowledge expertise as he makes supreme mistakes in policy decisions. Putin and Assad are celebrating the victory Trump has gifted them this week.

Is it his ego? Does he fill his emptiness by seeing that his lies on twitter can make a complete rollercoaster out of the stock market?

When he bragged about accomplishments in China a couple weeks ago investors were optimistic, but when his lies were revealed for what they were the market plummeted.

Or is it revenge? The reality that he is not above the law is likely setting in. Trump and kids are threatened with serving jail time for their corruption and other crimes. Is this just his way of lashing out against the people he sees as having done this to him? He has ushered in the worst December since the Great Depression.

I honestly don’t know his intentions. I’d guess with the first; that he is fully prepared to devastate the nation in securing greater personal fortune.

But, that is only because he has lived his whole life with complete disregard for others. I am scared because he has truly mastered the craft of selfishness and, at least for the office of the President, he is running out of time. This all begs the question: Does Donald Trump wield too much power? Ought we rethink the destructive force of a single individual?

Trump’s singular focus appears to be wealth, and his administration shows a willingness to break and bend rules to achieve goals, but it could be worse.

Foreign emoluments are a big deal, because they suggest conflicts of interest in making decisions as head of the state, but what about flat-out selfishness? It is time that we face the ugly truth that selfish interest and military power are deadly combination. We may never know how many soldiers have been killed or terrorists recruited as a direct result of Trump’s self-serving tweets.

His lies have consequences, the worst of which are experienced by others. What if he decided to support his base and bomb the caravan like many of them request about his make-believe invasion? We also never thought a president would tell 6,420 lies and misstatements in 649 days in office.

It just seems unthinkable that such a corrupt individual could wield so much power, and maybe it is more power than a single person should have ever held.

Do we really trust Trump to resist deploying the military if he thinks it will be good for his investments? It isn’t just a matter of convincing ourselves that a serial liar will live up to the oath of office, every indication suggests the only work he has done as president has been to serve himself — he’s only ever been faithful to himself. Dedicated public servants, like Mattis with four decades of service, cannot do it, and it is time to consider the horrific possibility that a single Trump mistake could end life as we know it. It wasn’t good democracy, but at least we thought there were adults in the room to restrain a tantrum, but they’re all disappearing.

We have a corrupt administration, and we should seriously limit the disastrous potential of such an administration or any other. If we survive, we should take the steps to protect future generations. It is just too much that life and death are abused in pursuit of selfish interests. What if he thinks starting a war could help him win an election or protect him from investigation? What if he decided to go out with a bang?

Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.

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