Rule of Law and Donald Trump

By Sherman Jackson, PhD

There are many who have questioned the position of Donald Trump because he has refused to state if he will accept the mandate of the American people if he does not win the presidency. The answer can be found in Trump’s birtherism, rooted in hatred and perverse racism. Trump reached a political apex through the birther movement which attempted to delegitimize the constitutional election of President Barrack Obama.


Trump and supporters dogged President Obama for five years by demanding proof he was American born. Trump disregarded the mandate of the American electorate and became the face of birtherism , a movement that was insulting and humiliating to both President Obama and those who elected him to the presidency. When in April 27, 2011, President Obama released his long form birth certificate,he characterized the Trump and the birtherism as a sideshow complete with” carnival barkers.” President Obama farther embarrassed Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 30 when he commented: “Now Donald can get back to focusing on the issues that really matter—like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

Nevertheless, Trump has been ruthless in his disrespect for the orderly political process and the rule of law. His pedestrian persiflage has poisoned the political atmosphere and has contributed to a racial divide. He has insulted Asians, African Americans, Latino American, Muslims, veterans and women. Additionally, the New York Times has published a 2 page section of insults by Trump since 2012. He has even talked about jailing his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.. Trump supporters have signs and buttons that read “Hillary for Prison.” The Cincinnati Enquirer recently editorialized”There are many countries in the world where losing an election means risking your freedom and personal safety. The United States should not –must not-become one of them.” That kind of atmosphere is reserved for banana republics and dictatorial regimes, not here in America. He has, without reservations, admired Vladimir Putin because the strong man is highly ranked in Russia. Now that he is falling in the polls and his bid to become president is seemingly lost, Trump has insulted the electoral process by accusing the system as being rigged. Consequently, if Trump does not win, the electoral process is rigged, he believes.

Does this not sound familiar? Trump used the birther movement in an attempt to nullify the constitutional election of Barack Obama. Without question, Trump and the birther movement wanted to undermine America’s foundation of democracy. Now that he is losing his presidential bid, he has denigrated the system.

Just as he did with the birther movement, Trump again is willing to delegitimize the election of Clinton, and undermine America’s bedrock of democracy if he is not the winner. Trump does not understand the rule of law in our constitutional system.

At no time during his campaign has Trump stated he would work with Congress. Instead, he continues to say “I can fix it.” His campaign is based on series of lies that Trump and Trump only, once elected, will purge the federal government and throw the “bums”out. That kind of thinking is reflective of how dictators execute laws in their countries.

America is a system of laws and orderly transition from the national to the lowest form of municipal government. Because Trump does not understand how the rule of law works in a constitutional government, he does not respect the rule of law.

However, America is strong enough to meet any challenge by Trump to erode the democratic process. American democracy survived an internal civil war, weathered the era of Jim Crow laws, outlawed separate but equal doctrine, and elected 1st African American to the presidency.

Surely, America can endure whatever is conjured by supporters of Trump, if he is rejected by the American electorate in his bid to become president of the United States.

In America, the rule of law does matter.

.Sherman Jackson, Phd, American Constitutional History and Law, Miami University, Professor Emeritus,

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