As we said it would, the early days of Trump’s presidency has certainly been interesting.
And a little scary.
But certainly not surprising.
What has been surprising is the reaction of the populace as a whole.
According to the latest Gallup Poll, President Trump has a 45-percent positive approval rating. His highest point in his term thus far has been just 46 percent, while his lowest point has been 42 percent.
By comparision, the average U.S. president, according to Gallup, enjoys a 63-percent approval rating during his first quarter in office. At this time in their respective presidencies, Barack Obama enjoyed a 64-percent approval rating, George W. Bush stood at 59 percent, Bill Clinton was at 53 percent, George H.W. Bush was 63 percent, and Ronald Reagan was at 53 percent.
We find Trump’s low rating puzzling because of all the former presidents on that list, Trump has perhaps been the one who most doggedly remained the same after taking office as before. He is what was advertised. Most presidents get a bump in the ratings after taking office, with even those who voted against him offering a bit of a honeymoon.
With Trump, it looks like he hasn’t even been able to hold on to his base. He received 46.1 percent of the national vote in winning the election, yet has an approval rating already slightly lower than the percentage of people who voted for him.
What has not been surprising, and what we consider more than a little scary, are some of the statements he and his top staffers have made.
The moratorium on immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen was instituted Jan. 27 by Presidential order, banning immigration from those nations for 90 days (longer for Syria), while the United States examines the vetting process to determine who it allows in from those nations.
Whether the president was simply blowing smoke or if he really meant for an examination of the approval process, we can’t be certain. And we have no real problem with the moratorium, other than it should have included some additional countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Pakistan. The United States is under no legal obligation to allow immigrants from any nation, and those it does allow should be in the best interest of the United States, not of the nations from which the emigrates originate.
Still, the aftermath of the presidential order has grown disturbing. A judge in Seattle blocked the ban over the weekend, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s request to overturn that judge’s decision.
So far so good. If the Trump administration wishes to challenge that ruling, it is free to do so.
The president’s response, though, is unnerving. His administration says a judge has no constitutional jurisdiction over an executive order that deals with national security.
The Constitution is crystal clear in its system of checks and balances, and that none of the three branches of government has absolute authority. The courts do have jurisdiction to rule on laws approved by Congress and on proclamations and orders issued by the president.
Stating an elected leader has absolute power – beyond questioning by Congress and the court system – is among the first steps down the road toward dictatorships.
We are not trying to sound melodramatic, nor do we want to overstate what’s going on. And we certainly believe the United States, its people and its government, would act appropriately to prevent such a government from taking hold here (at least we hope so).
But if this were nearly any other nation on earth, we would have great concern about the road we are on.