Even though he isn’t officially the president until January, it seems that President-Elect Donald Trump can’t do much of anything without stirring up some controversy. In the weeks since the election, the media has devoted ridiculous amounts of time and energy to micro-analyzing every name drop or rumor related to his potential cabinet picks – it’s become so banal it just isn’t worth paying attention to anymore. But while everyone toys with the idea of ‘Secretary of State Mitt Romney,’ The Donald apparently decided that cabinet-related controversies were too boring. Time to stir the pot:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
Here’s a screenshot, just in case the tweet gets deleted:
I know that the vast majority of Republicans aren’t fans of flag-burning, except when it’s done as part of the proper disposal of a flag (or when the protester accidentally lights himself on fire). I’m not a fan of flag-burning-as-protest myself. I don’t condone it, I won’t participate in it, no matter whose flag it is. But regardless of anyone’s personal feelings regarding the practice, it is a legitimate form of dissent, protected by the First Amendment.
Nobody should burn the American flag, but our Constitution secures our right to do so. No president is allowed to burn the First Amendment. https://t.co/nVkq6WcbHV
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 29, 2016
I normally wouldn’t care what Donald Trump has to say about flag-burning, except for a couple of minor details:
- He is the President-Elect, and will be POTUS in just under two months.
- This is not the first time The Donald has made statements that directly contradict the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that flag burning is a Constitutionally-protected form of “symbolic speech,” and the President doesn’t take an oath to protect and defend only those parts of the Constitution that he agrees with.
The big question moving forward is, how will Republicans react to Trump’s anti-freedom screed? One of the hallmarks of the 2016 election cycle was Republicans willing to set aside conservative values and ideals to side with Donald Trump, and I’ve already heard from multiple Republicans (who voted for Trump) who’ve said that they would be okay with President Trump violating the Constitution, as long as it’s for something they agree with.
Thus far, the response from the Right seems to be “meh.” Trump’s comments have been downplayed, called a distraction, or dismissed as unserious…and yet, had this type of pronouncement come from a Democrat president-elect, the resulting apoplexy from the GOP would be epic.
This kind of statement, coming from the next Leader of the “Free” World, should worry all freedom-loving Americans.