Shutting Down Everything Except the President

Is the White House intentionally humiliating Congressional Republicans? Provoking a government “deconstruction” shutdown (which would not shut down the President’s flurry of executive orders) may be exactly what the White House wants.

Why would a president possibly want to “shut down the government?” If a president ran for office precisely because he or she did not like the government, because he or she wanted to “deconstruct” democracy, then the particular U.S. concept of a “government shutdown” would constitute a brilliant trap for those who support democracy because, at least in the U.S., a “government shutdown” does not shut down the government. It simply shuts down Congress and the bureaucracy, i.e., national parks, protection of food, protection of the environment, and a massive host of other services that the populace treasures. It does not shut down the President.

A so-called government shutdown in fact leaves the President free to go rogue, like a corporate CEO with no board of directors looking over his shoulder.

Even with Congress in session, Trump acts as though its members are little more than his mid-level managers. Trump’s recent remarks and decisions suggest that he is trying to send a message that he does not want a Constitutional separation of powers (i.e., partnership) with Congress but, rather, that he views Congress as a subdivision of his organization.

Unilateral Trump actions ignoring Congress:

  • his idea of withdrawing from NAFTA

  • his cruise missile attack on Syria

  • his use of the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal in Afghanistan

  • his shifting tactics on health care

  • his efforts to exploit the threat of a government shutdown to achieve his most controversial goals

  • his uncoordinated invitation to the extremist and seemingly criminal right-wing Philippine leader Duterte

Trump seems to view himself as CEO of America. Democracies do not have CEOs using their organization for self-enrichment, they have elected representatives serving the public. Congressional Republicans may wish to consider whether or not they believe Congress should be a separate and equal branch of a democratic system (along with the executive branch).

Even for a CEO, this seems odd behavior. If a CEO were to marginalize and ignore both his board of directors as well as all his corporate officers and start making decisions in private with his personal advisers, what would be the reaction of shareholders, corporate officers, board members, other corporations seeking business ties…or the judiciary?

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