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Compelled to declare independence from a despot

Now, 241 years after the Declaration of Independence, do the principles it lays out apply if a country is led, not by a foreign power, but by a leader who behaves as a despot?

Trump has demonstrated a rashness and volatility that make him unfit to hold the highest office in the land.
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia declared independence from a king. Their opening:

Randall W. Bachman
Randall W. Bachman

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

In the second paragraph, these famous words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …. when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government ….

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So now, 241 years later, do the same principles apply if a country is led, not by a foreign power, but by a leader who behaves as a despot? The answer is clear: The People not only have a right to declare independence from tyranny, but a duty to do so.

The Declaration goes on to outline a list of charges against King George that build a case for independence and separation. Examples of similar infractions can be applied to President Donald Trump:

  • Suspected collusion with a foreign power — Russia — to attempt to influence our elections.
  • Financial entanglements with foreign powers in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
  • Sympathy for hate groups that intend to violate human rights by discriminating against ethnic and religious minorities and by calling for racial separation.
  • Bearing false witness by accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his home, and by claiming Obama was not born in America.
  • Attempting to unravel safety-net programs long established by law that provide security for Americans.
  • Demonstrated incompetence by keeping the executive branch of government in turmoil and not filling critical vacancies.
  • Impeding justice by attempting to get then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation.
  • Imperiling the security of the United States by making inflammatory remarks about North Korea, which could lead to nuclear war.
  • Deception by asserting that he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.
  • Dividing America by disparaging immigrants, and mocking those with disabilities.
  • Violating principles of religious freedom by trying to ban visas for people from six mostly Muslim countries.

In addition to the above infractions, Trump has demonstrated a rashness and volatility that make him unfit to hold the highest office in the land, nor to be the leader of the free world. Allies have moved away from him. Members of his own staff and Cabinet have moved to contain him. He has disparaged House members, senators, and other legitimate officeholders. He has demonstrated an instability that imperils the country, and shows him unfit for office. He is a despot whose actions promote tyranny.

The Constitution provides two remedies to remove a president unfit for office: 1) impeachment, which requires evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors; and, 2) evidence of impairment such that the president can no longer effectively carry out his duties. While investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other evidence might eventually be compiled to meet either of these remedies, a third way can be proposed in keeping with the principles of our Founding Fathers:

Declare Independence from the Despot.

While there is currently no constitutional remedy that would allow for such an action, and while such an action could be construed to be sedition, there are some practical actions that the People could take to mitigate the damage this despot has created:

  • Refuse to implement his directives. This has essentially already happened with his statement to ban transgendered persons from the military.
  • Congress should censure based on current evidence.
  • Cooler heads in his administration — staffers, generals, and others, could agree to build a wall around any rash action he might precipitate. They need to agree that he cannot unilaterally launch a nuclear attack.
  • Courts can declare his actions unconstitutional — example: Muslim travel ban.
  • The People must rise up and demand that their representatives stand up to Trump.

These are but a few examples of resistance that can be employed short of impeachment or a declaration of impairment. For the sake of our country, and the principles on which it was founded, we must Declare our Independence from the Despot. Just say no.

Randall Bachman is a retired health and human services administrator, a veteran, and a concerned citizen who lives in Afton. 


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