Trump week one is done. Just 207 more weeks to go. A week of turmoil, chaos, and plenty of commentary on how this President is the next Fuhrer. He’s shut the borders to specific groups of people, reorganized his Security Council and put his imprimatur on the Presidency.
I don’t agree with much of what he’s done so far. I’m not a fan of his Cabinet choices, and I don’t like the continued divisiveness, attacking the Press and discrediting the judiciary.
As a lawyer who writes for a newspaper, and more than one digital media company, I’m a big proponent of the importance of the First Amendment. I believe that both the press and the judiciary are our strongest bulwarks against the encroachment of fascism, from either the right or the left.
Being an American means we don’t just have the right to speak up, but we have the duty to state our opinions with full-throated vigor if we disagree. Our republic cannot survive without a vocal dissent. Like a blacksmith making steel, vocal dissent pounds out impurities and leaves us stronger as a nation.
This country was founded by people who wrote and printed their thoughts. They motivated others to protest, to organize and to fight back. Jefferson’s words rang true to more than the echo chamber of his friends; they rallied others to a worthy cause.
We are faced today with a new government. By all accounts it was a peaceful transition of power, but that does not mean it was without dissent. There are many who feel nauseous, anxious and downright afraid of what this current administration can and will do. It’s actually a global cause for concern and other countries are feeling the unease.
The good news is that we have a deep and calcified bureaucracy that can and will slow any radical shifting of the direction of the government. The balance of powers with the judiciary and the legislative will find its equanimity soon enough. It started this weekend with those much maligned attorneys at the ACLU working to staunch the impact of the President’s Executive order on immigration. The order itself is an expansion of the prior President’s actions, and is clearly a public relations ploy by the current President to make good on campaign promises. However, it was poorly thought out, poorly drafted and poorly executed which made it easily contestable.
Attorneys for the ACLU jumped on the crisis and were able to put in place injunctions issued by the Federal Courts that protected those people who were affected by the travel ban. This is a temporary injunction and was crafted to protect a relatively small group of travellers. But it is precisely this type of guardianship of our liberties that the judiciary, and the press, are built for.
The power of the press to promote good or evil is not to be underestimated. Media crafts perceptions of individuals, issues and countries. History is written by the victors, but it is the media that tells everyone about it. Today there is more media, and more direct access to the masses, than ever before, which makes it a ripe situation to be manipulated, abused and confused.
We have a President who directly speaks to the country through his unsecured phone by a Twitter account. He is unchecked in his facts, opinions and statements. That is the good and the bad of it. He can present his unvarnished, immediate thoughts directly to the world. Unless we have a strong and vocal press, a durable and empowered judiciary and courageous Congress, he will be the victor who writes his own history. The current actions of Mr. Trump demonstrate that he is more concerned with investigating voter fraud in his own country, than in determining if a foreign government illegally interfered in our elections. So where are his priorities?
The tent-pole promise of his campaign was the building of a wall between the United States and Mexico – at a multi-billion dollar cost that is to be borne by Americans in the form of new tariffs. His supporters may believe that this is crucial to our survival – but I don’t see it that way. I’d prefer to see no new wall. Instead I’d like to see our $56 billion Department of Education funded to the same level as our $582 billion military spending, or half, or even a quarter, that would be revolutionary.
Whenever there is a changing of the guard there is a lot of “the sky is falling” rhetoric – thankfully we have many pillars to support our government and freedoms – but we must remember to be vigilant against infringing behaviors and we must support those who are on the front lines fighting for our freedoms, whether in the trenches of Afghanistan, the courtrooms of our courts, or the hallways of our Capitol.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra