First things first. We all know what a bullying oaf the Orange Racist Pussy Grabber is. Well, Vice President Pence is something scarier: a true believer. Pence wants to institute a theocracy in America, a theocracy based upon his evangelical cult’s scary ideas about Biblical law. (I am qualified to call his church a cult, because I am a Catholic, a church that is 1500 years old, and we believe that any faith that’s less than 500 years old is too new to be called a religion, thus it’s a cult 😉 ).
But here’s the thing: His Fraudulency Donald the Trump scares me a hella lot more than Pence. The reason why? Trump didn’t come up through the system. Pence did. What we are seeing now is a radical agent inside the system. We haven’t had a President from outside the political system within my lifetime. The last one was Ike, and he had been in enough rooms with enough Presidents to be something of an insider even if his appeal was that he was an outsider. Every other President since then came up through the system — was a city councillor, then a mayor or state legislator, then a governor or a U.S. Congressman, or even a former Vice President (in the case of LBJ, Nixon, George H.W. Bush).
The thing is, most of our checks and balances are matters of tradition, without any real mechanism to enforce them. They work only because everybody who is part of the system agrees implicitly to abide by these traditions. Courts can rule against the President, but if he has the support of the federal law enforcement machinery as well as of the military, courts cannot enforce their judgements. Yet almost always Presidents do abide by court rulings. Why? Because that’s part of the system, and the system has been good to them. They aren’t going to go against a system that has been good to them.
Pence came up through the system. He uses the system for his own agenda, of course, but obedience to the unspoken rules of the system is deeply engrained in him after all these years of public life. If a court rules against him, I’m pretty sure he’d abide by the ruling. Trump… who knows? And that’s what makes me nervous about Trump. Reports are that he at least strongly considered ordering CBP to ignore the court order. Given that CBP is happy to have Obama’s leash taken off of them, it’s likely CBP would have done so. Then what? Luckily people talked him down. This time. That may not be always true. And remember, once we cross this Rubicon, then as long as he has the support of Federal law enforcement and the military, democracy is done. Even impeachment is off the table, because what is the enforcement mechanism for impeachment? Once he decides to ignore a court order, why should he give any more obedience to Congress? Hopefully Trump is too scatter-brained and self-absorbed to go grasping for absolute power like that on purpose. But with dark eminences like Bannon behind him stroking his levers? We may find out more than we wanted about just how weak the fundamental structures of our democracy really are.
— Badtux the Pondering Penguin