Book Review: “A Warning” by Anonymous

There is no doubt the anonymous author of this Trump expose is a Republican and ideologically conservative. He (or she) does not want the 2020 election to result in Democratic policies being put in place. Nonetheless, Anonymous concludes that “Donald Trump should be fired” because he lacks the qualities expected and needed from a president.

However, Anonymous opposes removing Trump from office with the 25th Amendment (which he or she claims was whispered about in corridors but never seriously considered by the cabinet) or by impeachment, arguing that voting him out of office is the only legitimate way and the only one the American people will accept.

I disagree with several of the book’s key points:

(1) Anonymous seems to think “criminality” is required to impeach a president. This isn’t true. Official misconduct doesn’t have to be a crime to be impeachable. It should be noted that the “criminality” argument also creates a non sequitur, in that the president is essentially immune from criminal prosecution, therefore criminality can’t be established while he is in office, which would effectively negate the impeachment power set forth in the Constitution.

(2) Anonymous bases his (or her) opposition to impeaching Trump partly on an argument that he was chosen by the American people. But this argument is weak, because the people chose Hillary Clinton by a nearly 3-million-vote margin, and it was the Electoral College (which gives disproportionate voting power to less populous and generally more conservative states), not winning a majority of votes, that put Trump in office.

(3) Anonymous hangs his (or her) hat on the “power of the people,” but this power is undercut when the impeachable offense involves tampering with our elections.

(4) Anonymous then argues against direct democracy, pointing out that our Founding Fathers rejected that system because they feared it would degenerate into mob rule and totalitarianism — they adopted a system of representative government instead — which is all well and good; but part of their framework of representative government gave Congress the power to fire rogue presidents, and if you’re going to use this argument as the basic underpinning of your political philosophy, as Anonymous does, then how can you also argue that Congress should defer Trump’s misbehavior to the 2020 election and the voters? You can’t have it both ways.

(5) This book really is an entreaty for us to do a better job as citizens; it treats the awfulness of Trump’s presidency as a secondary concern. It seems premised on the notion that Americans have been better citizens in the past than we are now, referring of course to the polarization and current sorry state of political discourse in our society, and asks us to collectively do better. But this premise isn’t really true, either; American politics have always been messy, fractious, unpleasant, and at times violent, and our national history is filled with political charlatans and dark chapters including the Civil War, the KKK’s century-long reign of terror, the Native American genocide, the discrimination and violence against successive waves of immigrants (e.g., Irish, Italians, Chinese, etc.), the WW2 internment of Japanese-Americans, McCarthyism, and so on.

Anonymous is unequivocal, though, that America should not re-elect Trump, warning us that

“There is something else to consider about the next four years — how lucky we have been to avoid a monumental international crisis since Trump took office. We have not suffered a major attack against the United States or been forced to go to war, but it’s only a matter of time before that luck runs out. Those of you tempted to vote to reelect Donald Truimp, despite the scandals and despite credible evidence of wrongdoing, might want to consider what could happen when that crisis comes. Do we want to keep our nuclear arsenal, and our nation’s military, under the stewardship of a man who ignores intelligence briefings, who puts his self-interest ahead of the country’s needs during international engagements, who enjoys the company of foreign thugs, who our enemies think is a fool they can manipulate, who has shunned our friends, whose credibility has been shattered, and who our national security leaders no longer trust? Consider it.”

I already have considered it. I didn’t vote for Trump in the first place, and neither did a majority of my fellow citizens. Maybe what our country needs is not smarter citizens — we have enough now — but a better system of electing presidents, such as the National Popular Vote (NPR) initiative now making its way through state legislatures, under which states controlling a majority of electoral votes would mutually agree to cast all of those votes for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. It does not require a Constitutional amendment.

Trump, I repeat, was not elected by a majority of America’s voters. He obviously was not elected by our best voters. The question is how long we’ll continue to support a system that allows a minority of our worst citizens to elect a demagogue appealing to their basest instincts. That’s exactly how Germany fell under the sway of a Hitler; the Nazi Party was never supported by much more than a third of the German population. For all of Anonymous’s concerns about democracy in its most direct forms, it is not the majority of Americans we have to worry about.

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    Anonymous is apparently looking for a political unicorn. (Mike Pence?) There was a President named Ronald Reagan who did not achieve American political Saint Hood until his reelection. And much of what Anonymous is saying about Trump was said about Reagan, particularly at around this point in his first term.

    Increasing the number of Representatives in the house would go a long way to correcting the perceived power of small, and conservative states. It would also follow the constitution, and was of importance to the founders thinking that the house should grow as population grows.

    Other than just being unconstitutional at each states constitution the NPR could give Trump 100% of the electoral college votes if it were implemented for the 2020 election, since it is generally Democratic states have adopted it, and Trump is likely to win an out right majority of the popular vote in 2020.

    As far as war and peace I think many Americans recognized that Hilliary Clinton was more likely to take America to war than Trump.

    Since no President has ever been impeached and removed from office we really do not know whether misconduct arises to an impeachable offense or what crimes are. Andrew Johnson clearly broke a Federal aw, as did Clinton yet both were not removed from office. Perhaps the President is above the law. Though judges clearly run the risk of removal by the Senate if impeached by the House.

    The Bolsheviks as well as Hitler show us how a demogauge comes to power, through a political crises in whole or in part created by those in power, Nancy Pelosi seizing the Presidency would more than qualify.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    Your insinuation that the intent behind the impeachment proceedings against Trump is “Pelosi seizing the Presidency” is absurd on its face, because if Trump is removed from office Vice President Pence, not Speaker Pelosi, will become president. I’m surprised you don’t know this. If you watched the hearings, you would know why impeachment proceedings have been instituted against Trump. Not for partisan reasons, or to overturn the 2016 election, but because Trump solicited a foreign government’s assistance in smearing a political opponent to gain an advantage in the 2020 election. That kind of presidential misconduct strikes at the very heart of our democracy, which depends on free and fair elections, and is one of the specific scenarios the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution.

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