America needs a civics lesson. I’m not talking about an advanced course in constitutional law or an in-depth look at the inner workings of Congress. If you’re like me, you probably weren’t aware of the arcane Senate Rule 19 that was used to censure Elizabeth Warren. That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is a basic, sixth grade civics lesson.
With the ruling yesterday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the legality of Trump’s Muslim ban, it’s evident that a frightening number of Americans don’t comprehend the functions and importance of the three branches of government and how they act as checks on each other. These aren’t lofty concepts. Rather, they are foundational concepts that every American should understand and appreciate.
I don’t often recommend this, but read the comments section of an article about yesterday’s ruling. You’ll be amazed at the ignorance of so many “patriots.” It’s not uncommon for people to suggest that the president ought to just ignore the court. Really? Ignore the court? Comments like these are alarming and show how little average Americans understand about the Constitution which they profess to hold so dear.
Other comments are likely to suggest that Congress and the courts “work for” the president and ought to be loyal. Seriously? They work for him and should be loyal? If this were the case, there would be no need for either the Legislative Branch of the Judicial Branch.
It’s really no wonder that so many Americans have these misguided notions about the nature of government. Simply tune into Fox News or visit their website. Their commentators spout these very lines and only add fuel to the fire of an already angry base.
The Religious Right, as usual, is not helping matters. According to commentators from the American Family Association, which is perhaps the most repugnant organization in the Religious Right, the Judicial Branch has become our “unelected overlords” and “tyrants in black robes.” I wonder whether they are truly ignorant of how our country operates under its Constitution or are simply trying to keep their supporters and listeners as ignorant as possible. Either way, they are doing a disservice to all who hear their message.
Trump certainly isn’t happy with the unanimous opinion of the court. Within minutes of hearing word of the ruling, Trump put his tiny hands in motion and sent a grammatically incorrect tweet from his unsecured Android. He must have been really upset because he managed to locate the Caps Lock key to send out his 140 character tweet and further prove to the world that he’s nothing more than a petulant child who needs a civics lesson.
Trump said in his tweet that he would “see you in court.” I assume that means that he’s hoping the Supreme Court will hear the case. That would be an interesting scenario, especially if his justice pick hasn’t been approved. If this were the case and the Court split down ideological lines, there would be a tie and the lower court’s ruling would stay in place. Trump would lose again. If his new justice were confirmed, it may well be a 5-4 split. However, it’s unclear which way it would fall.
This ruling provides a glimmer of hope for us liberals. It tells us that the system still works, at least for the time being. Trump may be the ruler of his gaudy Gotham tower. His word may be law there. However, it appears as though things may be a little different in the real world. In the real world, there are laws and systems of government designed to keep the likes of Trump getting his way all the time.
So, yes, America needs a civics lesson. Perhaps it should start with the President and his administration first. For all of the Trump Patriots who drape themselves in the flag and carry around pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, it’s becoming clear that not many of them have actually read it, much less understand it. It’s appalling that so many know so little about the system of government that sustains our everyday lives. However, with all of the attention on politics, particularly the interactions between the Executive and Legislative Branches, perhaps America will get a little first-hand training.