The sad truth unfolds: Even when compelled by Congress, President Donald Trump will simply disobey the law. That's scary. We've always assumed that every citizen is subject to statute. But Trump's not everyone; he holds himself too important to answer to anyone.
We're seeing the worst imaginable scenario—and our democratic principles are being put to the ultimate test. The walls between the executive, legislative and judicial branches have been breached. This is not a matter of Republican or Democrat; it is a battle over whether our democracy will survive.
The short list: 1. A cabinet of corporate Howdy Doody puppets; 2. A Justice Department led by an attorney general who chooses to defy the law; 3. News organizations that rail against all legitimate purveyors of the truth; 4. A president whose pathological narcissism could easily make cannon fodder of America's boys by creating an international diversion. What can citizens do but bury their heads deeper in the sand, hoping that this awful debacle will eventually pass? It is a crisis—a crisis in which silence itself empowers and feeds the foe.
Now, I realize that calling the president "the foe" makes some Americans a bit uncomfortable. But Trump has made it easy; he has failed the leadership litmus test and he's made it clear that he will neither be overseen nor censured. Trump has shown us where his loyalties lie—the tenacious commitment to line his own pockets. Stacking up very favorably to Stalin, Pinochet and Mussolini—all of whom would have, undoubtedly, loved his style—Trump's favorite pastime is to trade personal compliments with the other mega-despots of our world.
Some people are naively asking, "Is this a constitutional crisis?" Yes, folks; defecating on the Constitution and the American flag is serious stuff, and that's very much what our clown-prince is doing.
Checks and balances are the foundation of our democracy. Yet Trump spends most of his energy finding ways to circumvent the constitutional restraints that were designed to keep rogue presidents in check. When asked about his disregard for oversight, he quipped, "I support the principle of checks and balances. Just keep those checks coming; my balance is growing." (No, you won't find a source; I wrote it myself. The sad thing is that this really is the way Trump thinks.)
Enter: Mormonism's Elders of Israel, guided by the religion's Articles of Faith, one of which includes the commitment to "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law." Instead of fiercely opposing the president's corruption, Utah's largely-Christian, moral "Right" continues sporting their star-spangled lapel pins, pledging their undying Republicanism, going to Sunday meetings and scratching their butts. Their sheep mentality is well established: Go where the shepherd leads. But, in so doing, Utahns have failed in both their religious and civic responsibility. It's not enough to just pay lip service. Real respect for the law demands that those who disobey it are firmly dealt with.
But, alas, help is on the way. Joseph Smith foresaw today's constitutional crisis and prophesied how it would be resolved: Eliza R. Snow reported in the 1840s: "I heard the prophet say, 'The time will come when the government of these United States will be so nearly overthrown through its corruption, that the Constitution will hang as it were by a single hair, and the Latter-day Saints—the Elders of Israel—will step forward to its rescue and save it." Similar revelations were widely reported.
Such a prophecy seems crystal clear to me. So, how come President Russell M. Nelson isn't mobilizing his "elders" to save the Constitution? Although churches today have the freedom to take on political issues, the Mormon church—along with most other Christian faiths—has chosen to shirk its moral leadership in favor of a cautious neutrality. While pervasive corruption plagues our president, his family, his appointees and his legal team, why is the Christian Right hiding in Christ's manger among the sheep? I suppose it all comes down to the very definition of sheep. They follow willingly, bleat in unison and respect the authority of any shepherd without making any incisive determination of whether the guy with the crook is good or bad. Big mistake. This is a time for good men to be heard.
This isn't just about Utah and the Mormons. It's about all the religious groups that fail to inspire their members to pursue the highest standards. America's so-called devout, including Mormons, have a moral duty. Trump is the man-who-would-be-king, and we all have a personal responsibility to make sure that never happens.
The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org