The magnitude of powers of the American presidency is all about the responsibility not to abuse them in the way dictators do. Trump, warns Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer, fails his most fundamental responsibility as leader of the free world: to use his power to defend freedom, not to take it away.

 

Bullies are everywhere. In your workplace, school, and neighborhood. In the Oval Office. Bullies are having a moment. They are for the first time proudly showing off their nastiness. The inauguration of Donald Trump welcomed in an age of bullying. The president has opened a Pandora’s box and let out the worst of humanity. Before Trump, bullies were in hiding. They knew that they could not practice in public, but Trump has changed all that. His command, “be best,”  gave them a free pass to not even need to camouflage bullying anymore. They now can tell you on the bus to “go back to your country,” at a MAGA rally, they can ethnically and racially profile you, they can make false accusations and call you the “enemy of the people” just because you refuse to give them a megaphone to spread propaganda.

These new intimidators think that they have the freedom, given to them by the leader of the free world, to insult and abuse, and this oppression of reason and common decency was introduced from the top-down, causing damage to the very texture of society that will be very hard to repair. 

We have way passed the debate on political correctness. With the presidency of Donald Trump, political violence is emerging as the status quo.  

Who’s afraid of Donald Trump?

“How doesn’t he know what he is doing?” I asked a former senior White House Official who knows him well. “Oh, he knows. He is well aware of what he is doing,” he told me.

I paused. I stood there in silence with a question mark looming over my head. How is it possible to intentionally inflict harm on your own country, people. How can an American president do that? 

Donald Trump unleashed the public bullying on live TV, on Twitter, as a new normal. Even on Hannity the other night, I was watching Trump’s favorite presenter, Sean, saying the words “media mob” and telling Sarah Sanders that she should never make a pie for the press, unless, perhaps, to throw one in our face. He claims he was joking. Humor, though, in the political context, and on a political TV show, is a way to insert dangerous ideas. The audience filters less rigorously what has been served to them in the form of entertainment. Trump figured that out better than anyone.

In what world do you pardon war crimes?

I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Trump decided to override all council and pardon NAVY Seal Gallagher, who was charged with war crimes. Every president has the freedom to pardon. Trump acted within his rights. That he can do all this and still be within his legal rights is what represents the most troubling aspect of his decision-making. 

The magnitude of powers of the American presidency is all about the responsibility not to abuse them in the way dictators do. Trump fails his most fundamental responsibility as leader of the free world: to use his power to defend freedom, not to take it away.

Trump’s blatant disregard for international law and the Geneva Convention

It will become harder for the U.S. military to maintain discipline among soldiers knowing that Trump created this dangerous precedent. Why bother to respect the rules and the Geneva Convention if you know that the leader of the free world will grant you a pardon?

Trump went after Acosta and Karem, aggressively seeking severe punishment, and then he pardons a soldier who made selfies with the dead corpses, who opened fire on civilians. But pardon was only the prelude for the reward. Gallagher got to keep his rank and full benefits. But then, at the rally in Florida on November 26th 2019, Trump talked about Hunter Biden being thrown out from the Navy. In one instance, he pardons a war criminal and in the other he flaunts Hunter Biden being kicked out of the navy. 

Donald Trump’s political actions demonstrate moral inconsistency and depravity. Trump’s ethics are relative to his political and ideological interests. He seeks to punish only those who think critically and can threaten him politically. 

Anthony Scaramucci said in 2015 that Trump was the future president of the “Queens County Bullies Association.” He knew him then, and he knows him now. 

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...