Trump’s Second Amendment Controversy: The Real Issue

Donald Trump Reuters/Eric Thayer

Alan Keyes Former Assistant Secretary of State
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“Oh, and by the way, … if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is I don’t know,” said Donald Trump, about Hillary Clinton.

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” So Shakespeare has the character Antonio saying in The Merchant of Venice. (Act I.3) My experience of political life in the United States life permits me to observe that the Devil has favorite passages, mined from Scripture like nuggets of pitchy gold. “Judge not so that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) “The one who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” (John 8:7) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) These passages are often taken out of context and made to bear a meaning exactly opposed to what is conveyed therein. In all three of these cases, for example, the words are cited as if human beings are the focal point of their meaning, even though in context the focal point is God or Jesus Christ.

The admonition not to judge immediately follows a lengthy exhortation to trust in God’s preserving care, because His provision is sufficient to meet all the needs that seem most urgent from a human perspective (“your life… what you will eat… what you will drink… your body, what you will wear”). The injunction to let the sinless one take the initiative when executing punishment as prescribed by the Law points to the Word that was and is with God, and is God — through whom all things are made — and which became flesh to dwell amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ.  And the commandment to “Love Your neighbor” immediately follows the exhaustive command to love the Lord God, and comes just before a parable that points to the Son of God, our Savior, as our true neighbor.

As I listen to his words, as delivered, the furor over the significance of Donald Trump’s comment about the Second Amendment as a response to judicial tyranny, reminded me of another scriptural passage. It is often abused by the father of lies to make it seem as if the scripture encourages people to misrepresent themselves in order to spread the Gospel: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) The Apostle Paul says this of himself after giving several examples — “I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) … I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) … To the weak I became weak.”

What Americans would fail to notice that this is an apt description of what many politicians take to be the consummate perfection of their craft (or should I say, craftiness). At a public gathering, follow an elected official around. To the pro-lifers, what is said represents a strong personal commitment to their life, as a matter of right. To the self-styled advocates of the “pro-choice” position, what comes across is a resounding plug for freedom. Second Amendment people, hear a person dedicated to preserving the wherewithal for rituals of sport shooting, hunting, and the great outdoors. Low taxes for the rich, great welfare for the poor; for patriots a strong defense, and for hearts overflowing with compassion, a war against poverty, hunger and disease that knows no boundaries.

For such politicians, the greatest challenge comes when they must say something all groups hear at the same time without revealing the false pretense that lies at the heart of what has been said to each. Given the requirements of common sense, scientific, scriptural or any other form of rule governed logical reasoning, this general challenge often proves insurmountable. That’s why, on one excuse or another, communications in any public fora (i.e., any place where words and actions may be witnessed by a motley crowd) are being constrained in ways that discourage logical presentation. Soundbites, tweets, punchy multimedia collages in which words are subservient to images — all these things aim to preclude the synoptic presentation of ideas; any train of thought that disciplines and directs the mind toward one destination rather than another, along lines laid out by imperative logical rules.

Donald Trump has a studiously incoherent way of speaking, an anti-logic exactly suited to serve this deceitful purpose. Whatever he himself may be, his words are putty, liable to be applied in this way or that, according to the predilections of those who hear him.  What he says with one phrase, he takes back with another. What he affirms in one breath, he denies in another. By the time he moves from one saying to the next, what remains in the minds of his listeners has less to do with what he is saying than with what each listener wants to hear.

However, someone who refuses to lend his predilections to this tendentious mental and emotional sleight of hand can still pick out telling phrases that reveal somewhat more than the ‘sweet nothings’ Trump’s audience is meant to hear. In the case we are considering, this happens with the words “nothing you can do folks.” In context, this seems to refer to the results to be expected if Clinton gets to pick the judges and Justices of the Federal Judiciary. But in fact, it is spoken in a tone of resignation that suggests that there is no recourse against the actions her chosen Judges and Justices will take. In some form of words, they will have the power to strike the Second Amendment from existence. Resistance is futile.

The song and dance generated by the fight over whether Trump’s reference to the Second Amendment was an allusion to violence totally misses the conclusion actually assumed in what he said — the conclusion that once the Judges and Justices have spoken there’s “nothing you can do folks.” This is not a statement about the force of arms. It is a statement about the force of law supposedly wielded by the courts. It reflects Donald Trump’s acceptance of what is called “Judicial Supremacy” — the false notion that the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States immediately command the force of law.

But the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States, including all the police and other forces armed to physically intimidate and coerce people who refuse to obey laws made pursuant to the Constitution of the United States. But if the SCOTUS hands down opinions that plainly contradict the Constitution’s provisions, how could any president justify disregarding the provisions of the Supreme Law of the Land in obedience to the dictates of the Court? How can it be true to say to the people of the United States that “there’s nothing you can do,” when they are authorized by the Constitution’s provisions to refuse to surrender the rights and residual powers the Constitution (by the 9th and 10th Amendments) leaves to them, or else to the governments of the states respectively, in which they reside.

While pundits on all sides brawl over whether Trump alluded to violent resistance, the truth is that he plainly reiterated the false notion that demonstrably anti-Constitutional decisions of the SCOTUS have the force of law. This is exactly the view he expressed in reaction to the SCOTUS decision in the Obergefell case in re the specious “right” of homosexuals to marry. It is the fundamental issue of Constitutional integrity. The doctrine of irresistible judicial power that Trump espouses is already being used to persecute people who reject the Court’s totalitarian effort to redefine marriage and human sexuality; to abolish the God-endowed rights of the natural family; and therefore to redefine marriage and human sexuality as matters of human law, decided by the coercive power of government, without respect for the transcendent authority of the Creator, God. In this disregard of God’s authority, Trump adheres to the same anti-Constitutional agenda as Hillary Clinton, the GOP quislings and all the other tools of the elitist faction’s inexorable ambition to destroy the character, unalienable rights and self-government of the people of the United States. Accept the choiceless choice between them and “there’s nothing you can do, folks!” Liberty perishes either way.