Archived Opinion

Is it Trump or 
the Constitution?

Is it Trump or 
the Constitution?

Donald Trump is many things most people wouldn’t want in a neighbor, co-worker or son in-law. He’s uncouth, lecherous, manipulative, egotistical, arrogant, vindictive, paranoid, humorless, bigoted, willfully ignorant, lazy, dishonest — a grifter as well as a pathological liar — and cruel.  

Even so, he got nearly 63 million votes for president in 2016 and more than 74 million in 2020, when he was defeated according to every reckoning but his own 

Could so many people be that blind to his obvious faults? Not likely. To some voters, they may actually have been attributes. His combativeness, disdain for institutions and so-called “elites,” and his contempt toward minorities and immigrants appealed to people sharing his prejudices. To some folks who oppose abortion, nothing else matters, and he didn’t disappoint them. Wealthy contributors were rewarded for their indulgence with enormous tax breaks. 

But now, he’s gone far beyond debatable policies. Within days of entertaining two notorious antisemites at Mar-A-Lago, he confessed — indeed, boasted — his contempt for the Constitution and his instinct for dictatorship. 

This is what he wrote on Truth Social, his woefully misnamed in-house medium: “Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” (Italics added.) 

That would be the Constitution that on Jan. 20, 2017, he swore to “preserve, protect and defend.” 

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That oath is spelled out in the Constitution itself. It is noteworthy that the oath does not command loyalty to the nation but rather to the Constitution. Nothing in it allows the “termination” of any part of it. The writ of habeas corpus may be suspended “in cases of rebellion or insurrection,” but the power to do that is lodged in Article I, the congressional article, rather than in Article II, which governs the executive branch. 

Trump’s stated contempt for the Constitution illuminates his state of mind when he urged a mob to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, promising “it will be wild,” and when he sent the mob to the Capitol, inflaming it with angry words at his own vice president for refusing to set aside the electoral votes that would make Joe Biden president. 

In so saying, Trump made Attorney General Merrick Garland’s burden much lighter. It would be no easy call to authorize the indictment of a former president for sedition no matter how much he might deserve it. But in Trump’s own words, that former president has renounced his oath to the Constitution — an oath that comes with no expiration date. 

Each citizen also has a decision to make. Trump is running for the presidency again. No one who truly loves our country and its Constitution should be comfortable with that, no matter what else Trump might say or do. 

One can be loyal to Trump or loyal to the United States. But no one can possibly be both. 

(Martin A. Dyckman lives in Asheville and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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