Presidential power

A democratic republic can have an authoritarian leader. We glimpsed this reality from the past, i.e., the Nixon administration, but never so evident a truth then during the Trump Administration. I was startled that Trump could do the things he did, and there was no one to stop him. He fired the head of the FBI, even though he had a ten-year term. The president fired three active inspectors general whose job was to investigate wrongdoing by people in his administration, even though they were supposed to be immune to political pressure. He was acquitted by the Senate even though the evidence was overwhelming of committed impeachable offenses. He committed crimes, i.e., obstruction of justice, during the Mueller Investigation. He hired his daughter and son-in-law to senior advisor positions in the White House even though there is a nepotism law prohibiting it. His senior advisor Kellyanne Conway consistently violated the Hatch Act that forbids mixing politics and government policy. He refused to divest his real estate empire to avoid financial conflicts of interest as president. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, an infectious disease expert at the CDC, told Americans in late February that the virus outbreak could become a pandemic and needed to prepare; she was sidelined and never heard from again. The list goes on and on. He was despicable, but he shined a spotlight on the holes in the democratic fabric when someone displays autocratic tendencies as president. Congress should fill those holes where they can but be careful not to diminish the presidency’s power; it is essential to have a strong chief executive at the ship’s helm.

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