Tomorrow (February 18) is Presidents Day. Not Dictators Day. Not King George III’s Day. The holy day is known as Presidents Day in honor originally of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and more recently to honor all the honorable Presidents of the United States. And when necessary, to challenge a dishonorable President.
Throughout the United States, at Noon local time tomorrow, Monday, February 18, there will be solemn rallies of protest against the so-called “National Emergency” just proclaimed by Mr. Trump.
The Shalom Center has endorsed the national wave of protests, and I will be speaking at the one in Philadelphia. It will gather at NOON Monday at SOUTH SIDE of City Hall.
We the People chose to bind our President by a Constitution. Here is what that means:
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
Article. I. Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted
shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,
which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Article. I. Section. 8. ... No money shall be drawn from the Treasury,
but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law
Article II. Section 1: He [The President] shall ... take the following Oath or Affirmation: --
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute
the Office of President of the United States,
and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution of the United States.
This teaching – We the People have no Dictator, no King – goes deep not just into our Constitution but into the moral fabric that preceded it by about 2500 years. Even when people chose kings, the Bible taught that even a king, especially a king, must have his powers limited.
“When you enter the land that YHWH [Yahhh, the Interbreathing spirit of all Life] your God is giving you, and you possess it and settle in it, should you say, “I will set over me a king like all the nations around us,” you may set, yes, set over you a king that YHWH [Yahhh] your God chooses....
“Only: He is not to multiply cavalry for himself or make the people return to the Tight and Narrow Place [of slavery] in order to multiply his cavalry, since YHWH [Yahhh] has said to you, “You will never return that way again!” And he is not to multiply wives for himself, lest his heart be turned aside. And silver and gold he must not multiply for himself.
“But it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself a copy of this Teaching in a scroll, face to face with priests of the tribe of Levi. It is to remain beside him, and he is to read out of it every day of his life, so that he may learn to have awe for YHWH [Yahhh, the Breath of Life] his God and to be fully caring for all the words of this Teaching and these laws, to observe them, so that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”
[Translation by Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses (Schocken Books, 1995), with a few modifications by Rabbi Arthur Waskow]
That last line about the danger that kings will lift their hearts above their community, not turn their hearts toward their community, is at the heart of all the political rules. For us as well.
Back to the "political": No previous invocation of a "national emergency" has purported to usurp the sole power of Congress, by “withdrawing from the Treasury” money that has NOT been drawn “in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
Moreover, in the very proclamation of this “emergency,” Mr. Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”
That's the very definition of a non-emergency –-- except to meet the raw emotional and political needs of the proclaimer to subjugate everyone who will not bow to him. He kidnaps children from their families, he brings wildfires and hurricanes and famines on all living beings. Doing exactly what the Bible forbade: “that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”
In our country, We the People – the whole People -- are the “priests of the tribe of Levi.” We ALL breathe the Breath of Life. We –- along with all the life-forms of our planet, the life-forms that this President is radically endangering. We demand that this President obey our Constitution.
We demand that he stop lifting up his heart in contempt and arrogance above and against his people, all peoples, and all life; and turn his heart instead toward justice and compassion. Or leave.