You’ve waited for it, you have longed for it, hungered for it, and now it’s finally happening, well, kind of. The nation is on the edge of its seat at this moment as we expect former President Donald Trump will be arrested on Tuesday. While Trumpsters across the nation are up in arms over what they see as an unjust plot to stifle and subdue the former President, many others are celebrating. His upcoming arrest aims to address hush money payments that the former President is believed to have paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the presidential election of 2016. In the wild times we are living in, one might wonder whether a United States President acting or not has ever been arrested before. Here’s the tea on how Donald Trump being arrested can affect our future as a democracy.
How Trump’s Potential Arrest Could Affect Our Democracy
As a democracy, our nation is a living, breathing thing powered by citizens, businesses, politicians, and government workers alike. When Donald Trump attempted to refuse to transfer power to Joe Biden, the rightful winner of the election, it sent shockwaves throughout the United States. Donald Trump’s refusal to concede to Joe Biden ignited chaos as he incited a riot on January 6th, sending the capital into turmoil. Millions of people were upset and concerned that Donald Trump would use force to keep himself in power, defying the rule of law, becoming a tyrannical dictator, and breaking the chain of peaceful elections that has kept this country stable since its birth.
Although many Trumpsters are already outraged about the news of their figurehead’s impending arrest, others are relieved to see that the rule of law in America is not entirely eroded yet. Many see the news of his potential arrest as a sign of more justice to come.
Have Any U.S. Presidents Been Arrested Before?
From a historical perspective, hearing about a United States President being arrested is pretty rare. The only U.S. President who has ever been arrested while serving in office was President Ulysses S. Grant. President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested in 1872 for speeding while driving a carriage. While trivial, President Grant’s arrest showed the people that no one in this country should be above the law. Former President Richard Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, and he was later pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford. Then, of course, there’s President Bill Clinton, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, but he was acquitted by the Senate. Other former U.S. Presidents have faced legal problems after leaving office.
Trump’s being arrested could be truly historic. On the one hand, arresting Trump would go a long way in showing the nation and the world that we still honor the rule of law. On the other hand, the arrest of an American President doesn’t bode well for our reputation with the international community. Many countries and world leaders are still appalled by Donald Trump’s actions and behaviors from when he was President.
Why No U.S. President Should be Above the Law
The principle that no person, including the President of the United States, is above the law is a fundamental tenet of American democracy.
There are several compelling reasons why no U.S. President should be above the law:
Legitimizes Democracy: Honoring the rule of law is essential to legitimizing democracy by ensuring that no one is above the law under a democratic government. All citizens, including the President, must be held accountable for their actions and follow the same legal standards.
Prevents Abuse of Power: Without the principle that no one is above the law, a President could potentially abuse their power and act without consequences, which could lead to tyranny and undermine the very foundations of American democracy.
Upholds the Constitution: The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and it applies to everyone, including the President. Upholding this principle ensures that the Constitution is respected and followed by all, regardless of their status or position in government.
Maintains the Public Trust: When a President is held accountable for their actions, it maintains public trust in the government and ensures that citizens have confidence in the system.
Promotes Equality: The principle that no one is above the law promotes equality before the law and ensures that all individuals are treated equally in our justice system.
Understanding Why the Rule of Law Is Vital to the Future of Democracy
The rule of law is a foundational principle of democratic societies. It refers to the idea that all individuals, including government officials, are subject to and must abide by the law, which is established and enforced through a fair and impartial legal system.
There are several reasons why the rule of law is so important to democracy:
Protection of Individual Rights: The rule of law provides a framework for protecting the individual rights of citizens, such as freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, and protection from arbitrary arrest and detention. These rights are essential to a functioning democracy and are enshrined in many democratic constitutions and legal systems.
Limits the Power of the State: The rule of law acts as a check on the power of the state and ensures that government officials are held accountable for their actions. This prevents abuse of power and corruption, which can erode democratic institutions and lead to authoritarianism.
Promotes Fairness and Equality: The rule of law promotes fairness and equality by ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their status or position, are subject to the same legal standards and are treated equally before the law. This helps to prevent discrimination and bias in the legal system, which can undermine trust in democratic institutions.
Encourages Transparency and Accountability: The rule of law encourages transparency and accountability by requiring government officials to operate within a clear legal framework and to provide explanations for their decisions and actions. This helps to promote trust in government and prevents secrecy and corruption.
In conclusion, the rule of law is a vital component of democracy as it provides a framework for protecting individual rights, limiting the power of the state, promoting fairness and equality, encouraging transparency and accountability, etc. Without the rule of law, democratic institutions are at risk of becoming authoritarian, and citizens may be subject to unfair or unjust actions by state officials. If Donald Trump is indeed arrested on Tuesday, it will deal a heavy blow to the so-called MAGA movement. Without being too optimistic, one could hope that Donald Trump’s arrest could restore some much-needed balance in the theater of American politics.