LETTER: Trump’s presidency a turbulent flight

To the editor:

Following Robert Lee’s March 2 piece about walls, President Trump’s Feb. 28 observation about gun policy, and his proposal of import tariffs, it’s clear that Mr. Trump has some confusion about walls.

According to Pew research, illegal Mexican immigration here has declined some 15 percent over the past decade. The best U.S. border security seems to be an improving Mexican economy. Further, undocumented workers in the U.S. pay about $11 billion, annually, in state/local taxes, and about $12 billion to social security for benefits they will likely never collect. Why would Mr. Trump want to “wall off” some $100 billion of “free” money filling social security coffers over a decade?

Leading economists and financial markets are deeply concerned about an economic wall the president desires through proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Mr. Trump seems happy enough, though, to crumble the wall between individual liberties and over-zealous government. After decades of fundraising letters stoking fears of “gun-grabbing liberal politicians coming for your guns” (think Kennedys, Clintons and Obama here), imagine the dyspepsia at NRA headquarters upon Trump’s Feb. 28 observation: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” Picture the firestorm had President Obama uttered those words. Of course, the former professor of constitutional law knew better. Really, to maintain its integrity, the gun lobby should make Mr. Trump the bogeyman of its next fundraiser.

Progressives should take stock before growing too giddy, though. If due process can be kicked to the curb for taking guns, the same could happen to abortion restrictions, or other leftward causes.

Donald Trump was sent to Washington by his faithful, largely, to “shake things up” and usher in a businessman’s approach. It’s one thing to set aside company policies for the greater good; quite another to dismiss “inconvenient” constitutional protections.

I suspect those faithful fastened their belts, in advance, for the bumpy plane ride of the Trump presidency. His easy dismissal of due process, last May 10’s handover of sensitive intelligence to Russian officials, and assorted Tweet bombast, represent the stomach-flipping wind shear drops until — we pray — someone rights the craft.

Is this how freedom dies? I think such hyperbole is premature; America has survived worse. Building unneeded walls, though, and a cavalier approach to the concept of due process is how it begins to erode.

Douglas Smith