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Trudy Rubin: Trump's comments show he's a threat to rule of law

The Philadelphia Inquirer Published: October 14, 2016 4:00 AM

Donald Trump's threat to jail Hillary Clinton if he's elected just underlined why he so admires that "strong leader" Vladimir Putin. No pesky checks on executive power when you operate out of the Kremlin. Send your opponents to Siberia and no one says "boo."

But here's what's even more depressing in this ugly election season -- the percentage of voters who cheer as Trump trashes the Constitution. In their anger at a system that appears broken, many Americans embrace Trump's autocratic values. Even if the Donald loses, their loss of faith in democracy threatens our future.

So hats off to Khizr Khan for reminding us -- yet again -- about the danger of undermining democratic values.

Khan, you'll recall is the Pakistani immigrant father of fallen Iraqi war hero Capt. Humayun Khan, who so eloquently denounced Trump's stance against immigrants and Muslims at the Democratic convention -- saying those views betrayed the tenets of the U.S. Constitution. (Trump then made derogatory remarks about Khan's wife Ghazala, a Gold Star mother.)

This week Khizr Khan was asked on MSNBC about the low point of the second presidential debate, in which Trump vowed that Clinton would "be in jail" if he ran the country.

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Clearly agitated, Khan spat out words that every American should repeat daily: "This is not the Congo. This the United States of America, a country of laws."

Unlike many Americans, immigrants like Khan appreciate what a difference rule of law makes, even when it is far from perfect in application. Khan emigrated from Pakistan, where the military overthrows civilian governments that displease it. Intelligence agencies operate with impunity and in cahoots with Islamist terrorist organizations, while critical journalists are beaten and sometimes killed.

So the Khans were thrilled to come to a country where the words "rule of law" had a meaning. "We believed in American democracy," Khan told the convention. He pulled out a pocket copy of the Constitution and asked whether Trump had even read it, including the words "equal protection of the law."

What is most egregious about Trump's pledge is that no "special prosecutor" has ever been used by a president of one party to go after a defeated candidate of another party. As Michael Chertoff, a head of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, put it, this "smacks of tin-pot dictators in other parts of the world."

Yet many Americans chant and cheer when Trump shouts: "Lock her up." Even Trump's supposedly more rational choice for veep, Mike Pence, praised his threat to jail Clinton as "one of the better moments of the debate."

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Are Trump and Pence even aware that Putin sent his most powerful political opponent, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to Siberia for 10 years on trumped-up tax charges?

But Trump doesn't care about democratic niceties, as he continues to praise Putin's leadership qualities.

Wooed by Trump's demagoguery, or just disgusted by this election, too many Americans fail to appreciate the value of the constitutional provisions that distinguish this country from Russia and Pakistan. They never stop to imagine what life would be like without such protections.

Immigrants like Khizr Khan, on the other hand, value constitutional protections. They have seen what happens when they are absent. They know how much worse life can be when there is no rule of law.


Trudy Rubin is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Readers may email her at trubin@phillynews.com


°2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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TaggR Oct 14, 2016 12:12 PM

SoonHillary will pick a supreme court judge.
The Donald will be laughing all the way to the bank.
And we can all thank the party of Trump for this!

childofgod Oct 14, 2016 10:51 AM

Khan says"This is not the Congo. This the United States of America, a country of laws."

But how can Khan and the author of this article ignore Hillary's actions that show she believes she is above the law! Trump hasn't broken any laws, but Hillary has, over and over again. So the biased author is more concerned about Trumps words than Clinton's proven actions, yet insults informed Americans who are upset over Clinton's illegal actions.

What is wrong with Democrats today? Why do you put up with Hillary's lying ways? She's a proven crook, and yet you support her? At least with Trump we have a chance to be safer, a chance to stop the corruption in Government! With Hillary, it's a guarantee that the corruption will continue.

How can you support a crook?

00123 Oct 14, 2016 9:50 AM

We should be chanting "Lock HIM up!"

amt_ Oct 14, 2016 6:39 AM

The rule of law?

Where is the rule of law when the political cronies of Obama and Clinton get off scott free when you and I would be in jail for the same offense?