17 Jun WWJS?
I became so incandescent yet inarticulate with rage on hearing Trump say flat-out, whether from arrogance or ignorance or both, that of course he would accept foreign interference in U.S. elections if that would permit him to retain power, that rather than stammer any comment in tongue-tied fury I thought it preferable to rely on my betters. Here are two startlingly applicable examples of my betters holding forth with their highly relevant views.
The first is George Washington. The Framers were particularly and justifiably worried about foreign intervention into the fledgling nation, so that was not only the subject of the now-famous-because-so-violated-by-Trump Emoluments Clause in the Constitution but it also took up a substantial proportion of Washington’s great Farewell Address. Here is a small excerpt:
As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, . . . attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils? Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
Thank you, President Washington.
But then of course this is merely the latest in a long litany of scurrilous Trump offenses to the Republic. How to number them? How to not choke on them? How to . . . Well, you might recognize the following words of accusation, somewhat updated here and there, but unchanged in their meaning and faithful to their original message. Their fresh timeliness is astonishingly appropriate. Tyrants always use the same playbooks. And so do rebels.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes . . .But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the People’s Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. The History of the present . . . is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
[HIS Party] has refused to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
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.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People.
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes [named “Tariffs”] on us without our Consent.
FOR breaking our Pacts , Treaties, and Accords, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
HE has [environmentally] plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE has excited domestic [neo-Nazi] Insurrections amongst us.
HE is, at this Time, inciting large Armies of foreign [CyberHacker] Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
OUR repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury.
And then it continues, of course, with the vows of separation from King George III and England. “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
It is The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, excerpted above with slight modernizing amendations—amazingly few needed—by me.
This Republic breathes in a glorious tradition that is ours to claim. Perhaps WWJS should now stand for What Would Jefferson Say?