It’s time for President Trump to build the wall by any means necessary — or resign from office.
He is sworn and obligated to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Yet the Constitution isn’t just a piece of paper: it describes the United States as an independently-governed nation. “A nation without borders is not a nation at all,” said Donald Trump, repeatedly and correctly, when campaigning for the presidency. Enforcing territorial borders is the defining feature of a sovereign nation-state.
Trump’s critics argue that the wall would be ineffectual and merely symbolic. But they have it backward. Words are symbolic. The wall, in particular, and the exercise of federal power more generally, are the tangible projects that give real-life effect to our national symbols, best expressed in the Declaration Of Independence and the Constitution.
These symbols — America’s founding documents — became meaningful when our forefathers fought a revolutionary war against the British monarchy and a civil war against the Confederacy. They deteriorate when Americans lapse in defending our liberties, when we undermine the rule of law, and when we forfeit our prerogatives as a sovereign nation.
We don’t have to be a sovereign nation anymore. Our peers in Europe, and in pre-Brexit Britain, willfully forfeited their national sovereignty to transnational organizations like the European Union. Tens of millions of Americans voted in 2016 for a presidential candidate who had described her vision as “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”
Some argue that the very concept of a nation-state is obsolete, and that the future belongs to non-state entities like Google or the United Nations. (Tech companies, in particular, regret the outcome of the 2016 election and may exploit their power to engineer a different result in 2020.)
For the president, any dilemma between faithfully executing the oath of office versus preemptively surrendering to competing institutions of power must be resolved in favor of the oath of office. During this government shutdown, the president is correct to refuse congressional appropriations that fail to provide adequate resources for the wall: our federal government should do nothing if it doesn’t do border security first and foremost.
Eventually, Congress may have to appropriate funds for the wall or else escalate its impasse with the president. And Congress is entitled to its own interpretation of the Constitution: they needn’t believe that the wall is necessary to American sovereignty. But the president is equally entitled to his interpretation. And, if he deems the wall necessary to the execution of his oath of office, then he is obligated to build it by any means available to him as the trustee of the executive power of the United States and as the commander In chief of its military.
Faithfully executing the oath of office means that the president will let federal checks and balances play out as necessary. Let Congress override a veto or even impeach the president, and let the people elect an open-borders candidate in 2020.
But, in the meantime, the president must not abdicate his power and responsibility as the chief executive of the United States. He must use all available means to do what he believes is necessary to protect American sovereignty. And if he lacks the fortitude to follow through on his oath of office — a heavy burden, to be sure — he should resign.
Lew Olowski is an attorney and formerly a clerk to Radovan Karadzic, president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Lew served under Peter Robinson, who is among the world’s premiere international criminal trial lawyers litigating war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law School.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.