Robbins: Let’s take back our America and make America America again (column)
August 2, 2018
Recently, the President claimed that he is more popular than Abraham Lincoln. Not by a long shot, Mr. President.
If not for Lincoln, then there would simply be no United States. Along with Washington, Lincoln was the greatest of our presidents. Unlike our current president, who brags that he is "a stable genius," Lincoln did not declaim his genius or thump his chest; instead, he simply showed his greatness: humbly, quietly and effectively.
By contrast, this president has mucked things up.
Agree with his policies or not, celebrate him or pull your hair out, this president is pulling the rug of democracy out from under us.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution assures us our most basic freedoms: freedom of and from religion, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to petition the government for redress and the nearly unfettered right of free speech. These are the most sacred rights of a free people — the holiest of holies. In its founding, these principles were meant to be a beacon and exemplar to all the longing world.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …" — "The New Colossus," Emma Lazarus, 1883.
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Among the freedoms subsumed within the right to speak freely is the fundamental freedom of the press. And while not absolute, the necessity of a free, open and unrestricted press has been acknowledged and protected throughout our history. In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the government must have a compelling and immediate interest to impose any limit on speech or the press.
Yet this president demonizes the press, calling it "the real enemy of the people."
There is a reason the press has been called the Fourth Estate of government; its role is to ask uncomfortable questions, to probe into the shadows and recesses where the monsters of ambition lie, to jab and poke and prod and shine a light on truth and on those who serve us.
Let's be honest with one another: Trump loathes the press because he has earned its distrust and because the press intends to hold the president accountable. Because of his thin skin, this president has tirelessly campaigned against the media and, in so doing, has rent the fabric of democracy.
While not entirely his doing, Trump has contributed to the increasing failure of our system of checks and balances. Our democracy is designed for Congress to check the president and the courts to check the Legislature and Executive.
The party of the president has become his whipping horse. Instead of sticking up for what they know is right, they have allowed this unhinged president to run amok, employing him as a tool to achieve their agendas and burying their heads to the damage he is inflicting on our democratic institutions. Their short-term gain is the long-term weakening of our collective values.
Most Supreme Court scholars agree that the Marshall and Warren Courts were the greatest. In the nearly 3 1/2 decades that John Marshall, our fourth Chief Justice, led the Court, its decisions were most times unanimous, rather than the current fractiousness that too often follows "party" lines. The Court was conceived to be truly and completely independent, not lapdogs to who "brung them to the dance."
What of the disaster at our borders? When did this nation of immigrants, this home of the free and land of the brave, instead indulge in the cowardice of separating children from their parents? Since when do we inter toddlers in cages, however wrong the supposed delinquencies of their parents?
Mr. President, this is America.
Ronald Reagan famously referred to these United States as "that shining city on the hill." Mr. President, let's restore it, burnish and protect it. Your ego and expediencies have no place in our America. This is not about you. It is about us and our democracy. It's high time that you respect that. And high time that we all stand up for it.
The emperor has no clothes. In our America, we should never be afraid to say so.
Let's take back our America and make America America again.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the Law Firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC.