The Communicator

Are you really the adult in the room? A response to the anonymous editorial

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On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the New York Times released an unprecedented editorial. Written by a “senior official in the Trump administration,” whose identity the Times kept anonymous to protect their position, this Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) speaks of a group of officials within the Trump administration that seeks to redirect and thwart “Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses.”

This official, whomever they are, tells us that despite the problems Trump is creating, we should be comforted by the fact that “there are adults in the room.”

However, we should not be comforted by this assurance: No, we should be extremely nervous about the situation described in the article, and the potential problems such a situation could cause for our democracy. And if there truly are adults in the White House, they should be taking more drastic steps in speaking out.

Some may read the Op-Ed and ask what the cause for concern really is. The picture it paints of President Trump in the Oval Office, with “repetitive rants” and “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions” is by no means a pretty one, but it isn’t new. Several recent books and accounts by former White House officials tell the same story.

But the most concerning part of this most recent revelation is not the sections about the president. It is the idea that people within the White House are actively “thwarting” our president, and are trying to “keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing.”

To the many worried about unintended consequences of ill-considered presidential actions, the idea of someone trying to keep Trump in some sort of check may sound good at first. But consider this: Who here is deciding which of Trump’s decisions are ‘good’ or ‘bad?’

Elsewhere in the Op-Ed, this member of the “resistance” cites examples of what he or she considers good things the Trump Administration has achieved. But these so-called “bright spots” —  deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy and more military spending — are things many Americans strongly disagree with. What gives this official the right to decide which presidential decisions to pass on and which to contain? At best, this doesn’t sound right. At worst, it feels almost treasonous.

And it begs the question: if there’s someone interpreting and editing Trump’s decisions, are all of the policies and executive orders that come out of the White House really his, or are they results of redirection and “thwarting” by his aides? Is Trump really the one running the show here? The very fabric of our democracy relies on respect and compliance to our elections. Free elections, among other things, are what set us and other democratic nations apart from totalitarian regimes. For better or for worse, Donald Trump has ended up as our president. Having someone behind the scenes steering things sounds uncomfortably like a shadow government, the antithesis of what our country — with openness, free speech and free press — is supposed to stand for.

Another concerning thing about this Op-ed is that it was even written at all. As previously stated, the story it tells about Trump is nothing really new — several former aides and White House staff members have spoken about it. So why throw the nation into an uproar? Really, this seems like someone’s safety net — a way to show people, if the administration collapses, that this official wasn’t a part of it.

If this official really has the best interests of the county at heart and believes President Trump is unfit for office, he or she should do one of two things: either resign and speak in person about President Trump’s ineptitude or, under the 25th Amendment, band together with the rest of the “resistance” and begin a process — under Section 4 — to have him declared unfit for office. In the article, the official states that the 25th Amendment has not yet been invoked because “no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.” But wasn’t the 25th Amendment designed for just this kind of situation? By not invoking the 25th, we have already landed in a constitutional crisis, with an unfit president who may or may not be making his own decisions.

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