Last night, President Donald Trump gave the annual State of the Union address, wherein he shared his thoughts on how our nation is doing and indicated his plans for the upcoming year. Like nearly everything involving Trump, the reaction to his speech was met with either fierce acclaim or criticism, depending on which side of the aisle you’re tuning into.
Trump addressed numerous topics regarding both domestic and foreign policy, notably a call for bi-partisanship and economic prosperity. But Trump specifically drew attention by stating, “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it, are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.”
Trump is, of course, currently under investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. “His company is in the midst of an investigation by the Southern District of New York and House Democrats are preparing a series of investigations into, among other things, Trump’s Cabinet, his taxes and the firing of FBI director James Comey,” as articulated in CNN’s analysis of the address.
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.
It’s astonishing this needs to be mentioned, but that is absolutely not how democracy works. Holding legislation, the economy, and in fact, the entire government hostage for the sake of trying to acquit yourself of responsibility is profoundly disheartening, though at this point, not surprising.
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Given all that has occurred since the election in 2016, investigations have become all but synonymous with this administration, with no signs of stopping.
That is where history comes into play. If one ever needed assurance that our founding fathers were unmatched intellectually, look no further than our Constitution. The ambiguity of the text has allowed all three branches of government to evolve with time. The Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to declare war, but despite efforts after Vietnam, realistically, that power more or less lies with the president.
Though Legislative checks over the Executive Branch have withered with time, partially due to congressional secession of power, investigations remain a core power Congress still holds. Despite there being no mention of investigations in the Constitution itself, they have played enormous roles in American politics. Look no further than Watergate.
This country desperately needs bipartisan politics, and to threaten that by suggesting that it cannot occur if there are congressional investigations, is deeply troubling and incredibly un-presidential.
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Beyond lawmaking, our government was designed so no one branch would become too powerful. One cannot exist without the other, and none can grow too powerful because of our system of checks and balances. Implying eradicating this role so the economy can continue to prosper and bipartisan efforts can flourish is incredibly troubling.
Regardless of party affiliation, it’s imperative to recognize the dangers our society faces. We cannot afford to simply disregard what our intelligence communities are telling us because we don’t like what we’re hearing. Delegitimizing apolitical institutions carries tremendous consequences. Notably, it further propagates the idea that our intelligence communities — not to mention the media — can no longer be trusted, and that the president’s Twitter feed is the ultimate source of truth.
He is under investigation for a reason.
Values of logic and reason must come back to fruition in America. Both democrats and republicans have been incredibly frustrating and hypocritical countless times throughout American history. But the overwhelming majority of our elected officials get into politics because they respect the institutions at place and believe they can help make a difference. Our Commander-in-Chief is undermining our democracy by attacking the very institutions that hold it together.
Mitch Rogers ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in economics.