Every 4th of July, my father, a World War II veteran, recites the Declaration of Independence at a gathering in the senior facility where he lives.
And every year, as a dutiful son, I have ignored his one-man show of principle. Till now.
This year, I finally heeded my old man’s call and read the Declaration in full. There was much in it I knew, from the soaring statement “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” to the famous prescription “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
But I had forgotten that the rest of the document signed by John Hancock and 55 other brave souls is essentially a list of grievances against King George III, who ruled England and the thirteen colonies at the time.
As I read through the accusations laid out in the Declaration, I realized that, 243 years on, the great founding document of the United States of America could serve as an indictment of President Trump and the entire Republican Party. Consider the charges:
- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Think of President Trump’s continuing attempts to destroy Obamacare. Think of his decision to hold the so-called Dreamers – kids who were brought to the U.S. as infants and know no other home and who have come forward voluntarily to get a path toward citizenship – hostage to his desire to build a wall on our nation’s southern border.
- He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance.
This could apply to Trump’s efforts, together with Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership in the Senate, to stymie almost all bi-partisan efforts to legislate.
- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature.
This seems a clear reference to Republican efforts to gerrymander local districts and to create voter ID laws that block African-Americans and others who tend to vote Democratic from exercising their legal rights.
- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither.
Think immigration, the Muslim ban, the family separation policy, the appalling camps – whatever label you want to put on them – at the border.
- He has made judges dependent on his will alone
Think of the President’s tweets targeting judges who issue decisions he doesn't like.
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislatures
A clear reference to the nation’s 20,000 border patrol agents and 20,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees whose powers have become increasingly broad and whose actions have become increasingly harsh and punitive
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
Think of how Trump, acting through executive orders and administrative rule changes, has been gutting the nation’s environmental laws, and cutting the powers of other federal regulatory agencies. Think also of how he pulled the country out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris agreement on climate change. And how the President is now trying to find a way around the court decision regarding putting a citizenship question in the census.
- He has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.
An unmistakable reference to the administration’s vow to target Sanctuary Cities – most of which are in regions that did not support the President in the last election, and also to his accusation that those who report critically about his maneuvers are enemies of the people.
On and on, through the Declaration, the parallels are clear. Here’s the bottom line:
- A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Congress doesn’t need to impeach the President -- because the Declaration of Independence already has. All the House of Representatives has to do is vote to reaffirm our oldest and most revered political document and it will have handed up the most effective indictment possible against the current president and the party that has embraced him.