Donald Trump and the Office of President
He must channel the humility, humor and optimism of Ronald Reagan by enlisting all Americans to join together in order to "make America great again."
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” —Article II, Section 1, Clause 8, Constitution of the United States (1787)
This week, Donald John Trump will become the 45th president of the United States.
After the most contentious year of any quadrennial presidential cycle since 1860, Trump’s predecessor, desperately seeking a legacy makeover, claims he’s “surprised by the severity of partisanship.” But he shouldn’t be. After all, he devoted two presidential terms fomenting it.
That notwithstanding, the incoming Trump administration is shaping up to be more conservative than that of Ronald Wilson Reagan, from whom Mr. Trump borrowed his campaign slogan, “Let’s make America great again.”
Indeed, he is laying the groundwork to do just that.
Trump’s presidential tenure and future legacy begins with the most solemn of obligations — his oath of office “to Support and Defend” our Constitution. While the media will be consumed with the topical fanfare, I encourage all of our fellow American Patriots to revisit the context of this solemn occasion.
In 1776, an extraordinary group of men signed a document that affirmed their God-given right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as “endowed by their Creator.” By attaching their signatures to our great Declaration of Independence, they, in effect, were signing their death warrants in defense of Liberty. Indeed, the last line of our Declaration reads, “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
A decade later, the freedoms outlined in our Declaration having been won at great cost, our Founders further codified their independence and interdependence by enshrining the protection of Liberty in the United States Constitution.
As written and ratified, our Constitution stipulates in its preamble that it is “ordained and established” by the people to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” To that end, it established a Republic, not a popular democracy, which is to say it affirmed the primacy of Rule of Law over rule of men.
Accordingly, the first order of business for those elected to national office is that they be bound by oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution under which they were duly elected.
For those elected to the presidency, Article II, Section 1 specifies, “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”
Article II, Section 3 specifies that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…”
Likewise Article VI, clause three specifies, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
On 30 April 1789, America’s first Commander in Chief, President George Washington, took his oath of office with his hand on his Bible, opened to the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 28. He ended his oath with “So help me God” (which was added to military oaths for officers by Act of Congress 29 September 1789).
In President Washington’s first inaugural address before the senators and representatives, he declared, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.”
He referenced the limitation our Constitution places on the central government and those elected in that service: “The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given.”
Such was the conduct of his administration.
He proclaimed, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
In closing, as with his 1796 Farewell Address, President Washington appealed “once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”
In his 1981 inaugural address 192 years after Washington’s first address, President Reagan assured the nation: “The economic ills we suffer … will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Reagan’s inaugural was replete with concrete solutions to rectify “the crisis” our nation faced. His appeal to the best in all of us was antithetical to that of the White House occupant of the last eight years, who has chronically appealed to the worst in his constituents.
Donald Trump faced almost insurmountable odds in 2016. According to political analyst Bradley Smith: “Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump by more than two-to-one. Pro-Clinton ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads by three-to-one. Independent groups (aka ‘super PACs’) supporting Clinton outspent independent groups supporting Trump by three-to-one. The average contribution to Trump was smaller than the average contribution to Clinton.”
But Trump was victorious where it mattered most: the Electoral College vote.
William F. Buckley, in his 1959 treatise “Up From Liberalism,” argued that America is in grave danger because of our “failure to nourish any orthodoxy at all. The attrition of the early principles of this country has made America vulnerable to the most opportunistic ideology of the day.” Buckley noted that our objective must be to “bring down the thing called liberalism, which is powerful but decadent; and salvage a thing called conservatism, which is weak but viable.”
As was the case with President Reagan, the Democrat Party’s vitriolic opposition to Donald Trump increased exponentially the day he was elected, and he now faces endless histrionic hostility moving forward.
But if Trump can channel the humility, humor and optimism of President Reagan, if he can contain liberalism and revive conservatism by enlisting all Americans to join together in order to “make America great again,” then “America’s best days” will, indeed, be just ahead.
If he rises to the occasion — and I believe he can — his 100th day in office, April 29, will be marked by great success.
Pray for our nation.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertas — 1776