top of page
  • Writer's pictureRaymond Niblock

Principles matter. Why I won’t apologize for opposing Orange Man.


Trump fans, don’t bother reading. And that’s okay!


But if you make it past this introduction, it is probably not a surprise to anyone reading this that I do not support the idea of the Orange Man serving a second term as president for a host of reasons, reasons that I believe transcend the mere fact that “I don’t like him.” No, I’m motivated by an intense love of country.

We have profound problems and serious divisions in this country. If one steps aside from the noise, it isn’t difficult to find fault with both of our major political parties. It isn’t difficult to see that government is, in many ways, alienating itself from many of us. What else could explain the profound disdain for the incumbent, an otherwise decent man who has given his entire life in service of his country? So, I will say it plainly. I oppose Orange Man’s ascension to the presidency, and I wholeheartedly support Joe Biden for a second term. Let’s discuss how I came to this point of view.


It begins with how I was raised by educated and hardworking parents. My father was a lawyer and considered himself a New-Deal Democrat. He was born in 1927 in urban Little Rock, Arkansas, two years before the Great Depression. He often recounted the scarcity during his youth while his mother, a single parent, raised him and his brother. His mother, Nell, was widowed young and survived on her husband’s tiny pension. She was also a seamstress and that brought in a little extra money. As soon as he could, my uncle joined the Marines and served his entire adult life as a Marine in both active service and later in the reserves. My father became a grease monkey (as he called it), then a cab driver, and after the war ended, he went to college and law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. That is where he met my mother.

My mother was also born during the Great Depression, in 1931. The youngest of three children, she was raised in Elkins, Arkansas in a house with a dirt floor. My grandparents farmed and traded dressed chickens, among many other things. Early on, my maternal grandfather trapped and hunted and take whatever he could trade on horseback over the Boston Mountains down to Fort Smith to trade for goods he could bring back on pack mules to sell. Growing up, my mother worked in the business my grandparents had on Mountain Street. She plucked chickens, peeled gizzards, and sometimes helped my grandmother tally up the tickets. Mom later earned a college degree in English and married Dad after college.


My parents were not shy about discussing politics, especially my dad, and we were a split-ticket household. You already know my father was a Democrat. He was thus because he benefited from the New Deal - it helped him find work and later get an education. It ingrained in him at an early age that government can, sometimes, effect positive change when pure capitalism falls short. My mom, however, grew up in a staunchly Republican household. Grandad didn’t have much use for the government. Unlike my father who grew up in urban Little Rock, my grandfather grew up living off the land, farming, and raising livestock while learning to trade what he could to make a living. Self-educated, he made himself into a businessman, and later operated Star Routes for the United States Postal Service as a contract bulk-mail carrier. He had trucks and drivers that took mail from Fayetteville to Kansas City and back as well as other destinations. Even though he had no love of government (at any level), he was honest, kept clean books, and always paid his taxes. Always.


Nevertheless, in the split household in which I was raised, I never recall hearing raised voices even about politics. In my youth I recall nearly every evening my three older brothers and I would sit around the dining table with Mom and Dad, and Dad was often keen to lob and idea on the table to see who would jump in to discuss it. My mother didn’t like it very much, and would often excuse herself while the rest of us would dive in. Lester, my brother, always had strong opinions. My brothers George and Fred were less opinionated. My memory of it all is that I watched and listened, but I don’t remember saying much. I do remember it was fun, though.


If you have made it this far in this blog, you may be asking yourself, “What do Ray’s grandparents or parents have anything to do with why he stands for Biden and shakes his first at Trump?” Moreover, you are asking, “what are these principles to which he holds so dear?”

Here is your answer: I was raised in a household based on notions of hard work, the value of an education, and the importance of applying reason, as matters of principle, not convenience. While my parents might not have shared similar political beliefs or opinions, they did share a common vision that each of their four children should be raised to think for themselves, get an education, and work hard. We were also a patriotic household with a history of military service in every generation on both sides of the family going back to the Revolutionary War. This factors into a large part of my identity and world view.

My parents remember World War II. They grew Victory Gardens. My mother remembers with clarity the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They saw their friends and family members go off to serve in that war, and later, they witnessed their friends go off to Korea, and later Vietnam. Two of my brothers served in the military as commissioned officers. My oldest brother served in the Air Force and retired as an 0-5. The brother next to me in birth order served as a Marine Aviator for his career, retiring not to long ago as an 0-6. I shouldn’t discount my own service, either. I spent 14 years in the United States Army Reserve as a commissioned officer.


It probably isn’t difficult to see, then, that I come from a family that not only believes in education and hard work, but a family that believes in service. What did I say above, let’s see. Hard work. Independent thinking. Education. Being attached to reason rather than outcomes. Service to the greater good. To name a few. But on top of these learned things as a kid growing up, my education in philosophy, political science, and law informed additional principles that are, to me, immutable ideas we must fight to preserve.


I have given this a great deal of thought, and here is a list of fifteen principles that inform my decision to oppose Orange Man’s effort to be re-elected:


                  1.              Rule of Law: The principle that all individuals and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced.


                  2.              Separation of Powers: Dividing government responsibilities into distinct branches to prevent any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. Typically, this includes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.


                  3.              Checks and Balances: Mechanisms that allow each branch of government to monitor and limit the functions of the others to prevent any one branch from gaining too much power.


                  4.              Federalism: A system where power is divided between a central government and various regional governments, allowing for a balance of power and accommodating regional diversity.


                  5.              Protection of Individual Rights: Guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms (such as freedom from discrimination, freedoms of speech, religious belief, and assembly) to protect individuals and minority communities from government overreach.


                  6.              Representative Democracy: Elected representatives act on behalf of the people, ensuring that the government remains accountable to the will of the citizens.


                  7.              Rule of Reason: Decisions and laws should be based on logic and rationality, ensuring fair and just governance.


                  8.              Transparency and Accountability: Government actions and decisions must be open to scrutiny, and officials should be held accountable for their actions.


                  9.              Judicial Independence: The judiciary must be independent from the other branches of government to fairly and impartially uphold the law and protect constitutional rights.


                  10.           Amendability: The constitution must be able to be amended to address changing circumstances and evolving societal values, ensuring its relevance over time.


                  11.           Civic Participation and Education: Encouraging active participation in the democratic process and ensuring citizens are educated about their rights and responsibilities.


                  12.           Equality Before the Law: Ensuring that all people are treated equally under the law, without discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or other characteristics.


                  13.           Non-Partisan Governance: Promoting policies and practices that transcend party politics to focus on the common good.


                  14.           Commitment to Justice: Ensuring that justice is served fairly and impartially, and that the legal system is accessible and equitable for all citizens.


                  15.           Respect for Constitutional Limits: Adhering to the limits set forth in the constitution to prevent abuse of power and protect democratic governance.


So, there is this list, but in my estimation, Orange Man and his enablers evince contempt for these principles, and to that end, I give you a list of twenty examples where Orange Man took actions or said things contrary to these principles that pose a threat to the integrity of our constitutional republic:


1. Incitement of Violence and Insurrection: Trump's speech on January 6, 2021, directly incited the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, an unprecedented assault on the peaceful transfer of power and the sanctity of the democratic process.

 

2. Refusal to Commit to a Peaceful Transfer of Power: In September 2020, Trump refused to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election, saying, "We're going to have to see what happens," which undermined confidence in the democratic process. Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol (https://www.justsecurity.org/74138/incitement-timeline-year-of-trumps-actions-leading-to-the-attack-on-the-capitol/) An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

3. Attacks on the Judiciary: Trump attacked judges, including calling a judge unfit due to his Mexican heritage. Such attacks undermine judicial independence and public trust in the judiciary's impartiality. An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds) Trump’s Politicization of the Justice System - Center for American Progress (https://www.americanprogress.org/article/trumps-politicization-justice-system/).

 

4. Muslim Ban and Surveillance: Trump's proposed "Muslim ban" and surveillance of American Muslims violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, discriminating against individuals based on religion. Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide - POLITICO Magazine (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139/) Donald Trump: A One-Man Constitutional Crisis | American Civil Liberties Union (https://www.aclu.org/issues/civil-liberties/executive-branch/donald-trump-one-man-constitutional-crisis).

 

5. Misuse of Executive Orders: Trump frequently bypassed Congress with executive orders, reversing policies and implementing new regulations without legislative approval, undermining the separation of powers. How Trump Threatens the Constitution | Washington Monthly (https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/01/10/how-trump-threatens-the-constitution/) An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

6. Obstruction of Congress: Trump instructed officials to ignore congressional subpoenas and claimed "absolute immunity" for himself and his staff, obstructing congressional oversight and accountability. How Trump Threatens the Constitution | Washington Monthly (https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/01/10/how-trump-threatens-the-constitution/) An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

7. Repurposing Military Funds for the Border Wall: Trump declared a national emergency to divert military funds for building a border wall without congressional approval, violating the appropriations clause of the Constitution. An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds) How Trump Threatens the Constitution | Washington Monthly (https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/01/10/how-trump-threatens-the-constitution/).

 

8. Steel Tariffs: Trump imposed steel tariffs under the guise of national security without proper justification, overstepping executive authority and undermining the separation of powers. This move disrupted international trade and strained diplomatic relations An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

9. Waterboarding and Torture: Trump expressed support for waterboarding and other forms of torture, which contradict the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, promoting inhumane treatment contrary to American values. Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide - POLITICO Magazine (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139/).

 

10. Blocking Twitter Critics: Trump blocked users on Twitter who criticized him, violating the First Amendment by suppressing dissenting viewpoints in a public forum, a tactic that undermines free speech. An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

11. Politicization of the Justice Department: Trump used the Justice Department to protect his allies and punish his enemies, undermining the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and turning legal proceedings into political tools. Trump’s Politicization of the Justice System - Center for American Progress (https://www.americanprogress.org/article/trumps-politicization-justice-system/).

 

12. Separation of Powers Violations: Trump's actions against sanctuary cities and attempts to undermine federalism violated the principles of state sovereignty and the balance of power between federal and state governments. An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

13. Undermining Press Freedom: Trump's repeated attacks on the media, calling it the "enemy of the people," undermined press freedom and the role of the media in holding the government accountable, threatening democratic transparency. Trump attacks on media violate basic norms of press freedom, human rights experts say | OHCHR (https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2018/08/trump-attacks-media-violate-basic-norms-press-freedom-human-rights-experts).

 

14. Encouraging Violence: Trump expressed sympathy for individuals like Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with murder, and failed to condemn white supremacist groups, encouraging violence and lawlessness among extremist supporters. Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol (https://www.justsecurity.org/74138/incitement-timeline-year-of-trumps-actions-leading-to-the-attack-on-the-capitol/).

 

15. Manipulating Intelligence Reports: Trump's administration attempted to suppress and manipulate intelligence reports on threats like white supremacy to align with his political narrative, compromising national security. Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol (https://www.justsecurity.org/74138/incitement-timeline-year-of-trumps-actions-leading-to-the-attack-on-the-capitol/).

 

16. Using Pardon Power for Political Gain: Trump used his pardon power to reward political allies and protect himself from legal consequences, undermining the rule of law and the impartiality of justice. Trump’s Politicization of the Justice System - Center for American Progress (https://www.americanprogress.org/article/trumps-politicization-justice-system/).

 

17. Misleading Information on COVID-19: Trump's dissemination of false information about COVID-19 and undermining public health guidelines threatened public safety and health, contributing to the pandemic's severity in the U.S. Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide - POLITICO Magazine (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139/).

 

18. Attempts to Overturn the 2020 Election: Trump's baseless claims of election fraud and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election undermined trust in the electoral process and democracy, leading to widespread confusion and division. Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol (https://www.justsecurity.org/74138/incitement-timeline-year-of-trumps-actions-leading-to-the-attack-on-the-capitol/).

 

19. Military Actions Without Congressional Approval: Trump's unauthorized air strikes in Syria without informing Congress violated the constitutional requirement for congressional approval of military actions, setting a dangerous precedent. An Exit Survey of Trump's Constitutional Misdeeds | Cato Institute (https://www.cato.org/commentary/exit-survey-trumps-constitutional-misdeeds).

 

20. Promoting QAnon Conspiracy: Trump's refusal to denounce QAnon and his promotion of related conspiracy theories further undermined public trust and promoted dangerous misinformation, contributing to societal division and unrest. Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol (https://www.justsecurity.org/74138/incitement-timeline-year-of-trumps-actions-leading-to-the-attack-on-the-capitol/).

 

These actions highlight significant deviations from constitutional norms, endangering the foundational principles of the U.S. constitutional republic. Sadly, the list does not even come close to touching the rhetoric Orange Man and his enablers have spun that attack the very ideas upon which our republic is based, like calls for a “national divorce” by Enabler Marjorie Taylor Greene and a rogues gallery of other villains. Truly, what on Earth do people see in this him? What is so wrong with this country that people would resort to re-electing a twice-impeached, failed businessman and convicted felon to office? What, because “He says what he means?” Or, my favorite, “He’s a businessman?” The absurdity of it all cannot be overstated.


As a matter of principle, then, I support Joe Biden. Perhaps one might look at the measure of a man by how he has spent his life. In Joe’s case, he has spent his in the service of his state and our country whereas Orange Man spent his in service of himself. Joe may be boring, or stutter from time to time, but he is, if anything, stable. And stability is what this country needs. I don’t need my president to “connect with me.” I need him to govern soberly, thoughtfully, and above all, to cherish the rule of law.

  

The Choice We Face

 

We must choose a path that upholds democratic values and rejects the erosion of our constitutional principles. Joe Biden, despite his imperfections, offers a stable and principled leadership that can guide us through this turbulent time in contrast to the Orange Man who represents contempt for time-honored principles in exchange for chaos, grievance, and dissection.

90 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page