It’s Time to Make Some Presidential “Norms” Official
Donald Trump has broken many things: the USFL, multiple marriage vows and many innocent golf clubs. Also, norms. So, so many norms. Many of the things that we just took for granted that all presidents should do have been not just broken but left in ruins by Hurricane Donald.
Some of them, I’m fine with. For example, one presidential norm was “you don’t talk s*** about the previous president, even if he’s from a different party”. I’m glad to see that one go so…thank you Trump, I guess?
Here are a few of the “unofficial presidential norms” that I think we should look to codify in the coming years.
1.) Disclosing Your Finances
Trump promised numerous times that he would “at some point” release his tax returns. He never did, though, probably because admitting you paid more in taxes to China than you did to your own country wouldn’t have played well to your blue-collar base (it probably wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker, though).
Showing one’s tax returns and some financial disclosure should come with the territory of being president. Candidates should be REQUIRED to reveal that information, unvarnished and undiluted, as soon as they formally register as a candidate.
2.) No More Firing People Who are Investigating YOU
Nixon did this one first but, arguably not as good, as Trump. Richard Nixon fired so many Attorneys General and Special Prosecutors it is actually referred to as a “massacre”. There is so much confusion, to this day, about who the president has the right to fire, under what circumstances and what the repercussions of an “illegal” firing should be. It’s time we make it official: if you, as President, are under investigation you can’t just fire everybody until you find someone who will do what you want.
3.) No More Free-Tweeting
In fairness, Tweeting insults, threats and secrets of national security really wasn’t an issue for any presidents before Trump. Obama only sent his first presidential tweet during the last years of his second term. Chester A. Arthur didn’t send a SINGLE TWEET the entire time he was in office, although he was said to have had a secret Instagram where he would just rate the quality of onion rings in various places he’d visit.
You wouldn’t leave an open mic in the president’s bathroom so the whole world would know what was going on during his nightly 3 a.m. dump. For the same reasons, you shouldn’t leave an unattended Twitter account that a president can just “jump on” anytime he feels like it.
4.) Limit on the Number of American Flags you Can Have on One Stage
Just like “bigger isn’t always better”, no number of American flags increases anyone’s actual patriotism. Trump had more flags at his rallies than Biden had PEOPLE at his.
Three is a good number. One at stage left, one at stage right and maybe one behind the dais. And not one of those giant hangy-downy ones like George C. Scott stood in front of in “Patton”.
Also, standing for the flag is respectful; dry humping it like a love-starved bulldog is not.
This one has always seemed really weird to me. We have a system of laws, courts and jurists who pass down rulings on matters of guilt or innocence. All Americans must follow the law or face the American justice system. Unlesssss, ONE GUY decides he doesn’t agree?!? Or, owes a favor. Or, is trying to reward someone for participating in a cover-up. What?? I think this is a tradition where we HOPE presidents would not use it to benefit themselves, like when Lincoln pardoned a 15 year old Union soldier who was sentenced to hang for desertion. Now, THAT’S a good presidential pardon! But we’ve seen too many presidents give pardons to big donors (Clinton), wayward siblings (also, Clinton) and former presidents (Ford. Possibly Pence. I have a hunch).
This power is exercised largely without oversight and, since it often done as a POTUS is headed out the door, without voter repercussions. It’s antiquated, smacks of the “divine right of kings” and needs to go.
Also, while we’re at it, no more pardoning turkeys at Thanksgiving. Look, it was cute the FIRST 120 times we did it. It’s getting a little hacky and predictable now.
In Pictures: What Education Looks Like Around the World During a Pandemic