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A Brief Reminder of the Teachings of Our Founding Fathers

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More and more, life in Trump World suggests many of the leaders in the new government didn’t study their history; or perhaps had major gaps in their education.  

The President seems to struggle with separation of powers and lashes out at the Judiciary, which is not subject to his authority; Devin Nunes runs classified intelligence information over to the office targeted by the FBI investigation; the other day, Congressman Ted Yoho defended Nunes, saying he “works for the President.”  Photo: salon.com

No he doesn’t.  

No one in Congress does.  Members of Congress are in the legislative branch of government, whereas the President heads up the Executive Branch.  

The Executive and the Legislative branches, along with the Judiciary, compose the three branches of government.  Our founding fathers identified the exercise of a Free Press, under the First Amendment, as the “Fourth Estate,”  in effect a further check and balance against these three branches.  Of course, the new President is continually lashing out at the media and what he cites as “fake news,” seemingly trying to bend that Fourth Estate to succumb to his will.

Every time, I hear the President or people on either side of the political aisle charge “fake news,” It makes me wish that many of those in the headlines would go back and review what their 7th and 8th grade history teachers attempted to impart to them.  The press may be flawed; some articles and news reports contain inaccurate information, present unbalanced or perhaps slanted representations of contrasting points of view, or mistakenly restate data discovered elsewhere that are not actual facts.  However, it’s the beauty of our nation’s democracy and an enlightened citizenry that should sort through all of this to help shine the light on the truth.    

Increasingly, I think, it’s the lack of an enlightened citizenry that may be the biggest danger in what we see happening right now. People rejoice when they hear the President talk about “fake news,” whereas if they’ve studied their history, the alarm bells should go off. Such bullying by a national leader represents a characteristic effort to make himself the arbiter of truth.  

That ladies and gentleman, is a red flag for dictatorship—something that a sound understanding of history and American Constitutional principles would suggest we should avoid at all costs.  At least that was the crux of the repeated warnings about abuse of power voiced by those founding visionaries.

Philip Gimson is a former newspaper editor who now works as an executive recruiter in the pharmaceutical industry.  

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Photo: salon.com