The President of the United States is constantly under heavier scrutiny than any other national leader in the world. When POTUS and the team behind the President make a mistake, members of professional media outlets and the vast armies of the political industry are poised to force the issue down the throats of the American People. Even media darling President Barack Obama had to contend with the classic narrative that a lack of leadership was causing his Administration to implode. With the early ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as the future of high profile figures like Chief Strategist Steven Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer in doubt, the unraveling of the Trump Administration is a story the Press is waiting to break.
Trump’s willingness to fire, reassign, or promote subordinates based on their performance can, however, be seen as a positive. In politics, the fear of looking incompetent often leads public officials to maintain the status quo and retain under-performing officials. Given Presidential terms are only four short years, Trump’s lack of paralysis might be a very helpful thing. On the other hand, the reasons Mr. Trump might retain or terminate a particular subordinate are questionable. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration appears to prioritize loyalty to the President above all other qualifications, which means he is likely to fire and retain the wrong subordinates. Instead of purging government of weak links, the Trump Administration will be busy fighting a “Deep State” of dissenters.
The “Deep State” and the “Fifth Column” are Cold War-era terms describing forces acting against the American People that have been revived in the American lexicon by US President Donald Trump. Where anti-Trump forces have stoked fears that Donald Trump is more loyal to Vladimir Putin than the American People, i.e. he is part of the traditional “Fifth State,” Trump has accused factions like the Media of being a “Fifth Column” while outright declaring the Media is the enemy of the American People. In tandem, he and his supporters proclaim a “Deep Stat”e composed of Obama loyalists is undermining his Presidency. Cracking down leakers and dissenters from within government has proven to be a top priority of the Trump Administration. The “Deep State” and “Fifth Column” as described by the Trump Administration are, however, not a threat to democracy or the American People.
In fact, Donald Trump’s versions of “the Deep State,” which actually describes elements of government that are unresponsive to the American People, and “Fifth Column” are actually part of a healthy democratic government. Only in a ill-democratic or non-democratic state is the government owned by the emperor, monarch, or dictator. In democracy, loyalty to the democratic ideals of the country and the People is what matters. The US government is not the President’s government. There is no Trump government. The President is simply the administer of the People’s government. Unlike Trump’s private business empire, where loyalty reflects his ownership, loyalty to the American People supersedes loyalty to any public official. Government employees are called public servants, because they are supposed to serve the public, not the President.
Donald trump is currently the highest government official and his subordinates are responsible for supporting his leadership, yet even he is nothing more than an employee of the American People. Abusive leaders like Richard Nixon also valued loyalty to himself above all else, which is why he ultimately betrayed the American People. It is why he suppressed dissent and political alternatives by every means possible, including through the use of illegal and unconstitutional tactics. It is also why countless other political leaders start to neglect the diverse collective interests of the People in favor of their own political agendas, which may or may not serve their constituents. The most important qualifications of government employees are, therefore, their loyalty to the American people and capacity to serve the American People.
Clearly, the kinds of leaks the Trump Administration has endured, which all Administration face to varying degrees, have legal implications. If something is illegal, it the responsibly of all governments officials to uphold the Law, i.e. show loyalty to the US Constitutional and legal system. When something should not be illegal, yet is, the Law should be changed. Where the public policies of an Administration undermines democracy , the rights of individuals or the Law, leaks help the American People. Leaks may be unlawful , but leakers need a degree of impunity in order to safeguard democracy while efficient channels must be established for leaking information that belongs to the American People. Instead of cracking down on leaks and suppressing dissent from within government, the Trump Administration needs to embrace transparency and dissent.
Beyond leaks, and transparency, dissent is a key component to democratic governance. The greatest strength of democracy is that it affords the People of the nation the opportunity to express the interests, which enables government to adapt with changing times. Respect for dissent from outside and within government is essential to build policies that best address the interests of the People. When alleged loyalty to the President is prized so heavily that dissent disqualifies individuals in the eyes of the leadership, and hardliners, government becomes unresponsive and increasingly indignant to those who disagree with the leadership. Dissenting from the leadership in an open and respectful manner is not being disloyal to the President. It is safeguarding democracy and serving the American People.
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