Trump told White House aides that he had expected Attorney General Jeff Sessions to protect him, regardless of the law. According to Jim Comey, the president demanded that the FBI director pledge his loyalty not to the Constitution but to Trump himself. And he has urged the Justice Department to go after his political opponents, violating an American tradition reaching back to Thomas Jefferson.
…The legitimacy of our elections is in doubt.
There’s Russia’s ongoing interference and Trump’s complete unwillingness to stop it or protect us. There’s voter suppression, as Republicans put onerous—and I believe illegal—requirements in place to stop people from voting. There’s gerrymandering, with partisans—these days, principally Republicans—drawing the lines for voting districts to ensure that their party nearly always wins. All of this carries us further away from the sacred principle of “one person, one vote.”
…Trump is also going after journalists with even greater fervor and intent than before. No one likes to be torn apart in the press—I certainly don’t—but when you’re a public official, it comes with the job. You get criticized a lot. You learn to take it. You push back and make your case, but you don’t fight back by abusing your power or denigrating the entire enterprise of a free press.
…When we can’t trust what we hear from our leaders, experts, and news sources, we lose our ability to hold people to account, solve problems, comprehend threats, judge progress, and communicate effectively with one another—all of which are crucial to a functioning democracy.
…Trump is the first president in 40 years to refuse to release his tax returns. He has refused to put his assets in a blind trust or divest himself of his properties and businesses, as previous presidents did. This has created unprecedented conflicts of interest, as industry lobbyists, foreign governments, and Republican organizations do business with Trump’s companies or hold lucrative events at his hotels, golf courses, and other properties. They are putting money directly into his pocket. He’s profiting off the business of the presidency.
…From day one, his administration has undermined civil rights that previous generations fought to secure and defend. There have been high-profile edicts like the Muslim travel ban and the barring of transgender Americans from serving in the military. Other actions have been quieter but just as insidious. The Department of Justice has largely abandoned oversight of police departments that have a history of civil-rights abuses and has switched sides in voting-rights cases. Nearly every federal agency has scaled back enforcement of civil-rights protections. All the while, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is running wild across the country. Federal agents are confronting citizens just for speaking Spanish, dragging parents away from children.
…I don’t agree with critics who say that capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with democracy—but unregulated, predatory capitalism certainly is. Massive economic inequality and corporate monopoly power are antidemocratic and corrode the American way of life.
…After Watergate, Congress passed a whole slew of reforms in response to Richard Nixon’s abuses of power. After Trump, we’re going to need a similar process. For example, Trump’s corruption should teach us that all future candidates for president and presidents themselves should be required by law to release their tax returns. They also should not be exempt from ethics requirements and conflict-of-interest rules.