President Trump is often accused of transgressing major political and governmental "norms."
Norms are "rules of the game," enabling participants to contest the game fairly on a level playing field in expectation that others will follow suit. They are also historic and philosophical guard rails preventing government from careening dangerously out of control.
Following are seven significant presidential norms that many believe have been violated by Mr. Trump:
Respect for Truth and Honesty. No president has lied so often about so many issues large and small. When his lies, distortions and misstatements are shown to be false, he doubles down and never retracts or apologizes. It becomes impossible to believe anything he says. How can friend or foe trust his leadership?
Respect for Allies and Firmness Toward Foes. Proven alliances are impugned, historic friends are disparaged and he "falls in love" with murderous, authoritarian regimes. Where will we find our future friends and allies? Who will fear our opposition? How much longer can we rely on the international structure that has maintained global peace since the end of World War II?
Respect for Expertise and Knowledge. Demonstrating ignorance of history, he dismisses scientific and professional knowledge, whether the judgment of the vast majority of scientists on climate change, the experience of military and intelligence professionals or the views of leading economists. He admittedly does not read books but brags of being a "genius" who knows more than anyone else about everything. This denies that rational and objective scientific thought and analysis that have been the pride of western civilization. Without such thought and analysis, how can sound policies be developed?
Respect for the Constitution. He abuses separation of powers by refusing cooperation with congressional inquiries and investigations. He attacks freedoms of speech and press when he charges "fake news" and castigates the press as "the enemy of the people." Is this undermining our most comprehensive and reliable means of discerning truth?
Respect for the Rule of Law. Legitimate judges and law enforcement officials are impugned. He alleges that the Constitution allows him to do "whatever I want." Nearly a thousand bipartisan former U.S. attorneys and senior Justice Department officials believe the Mueller Report documents multiple obstructions of justice. How can citizens respect the rule of law when their leader abuses and rejects it?
Respect for Opponents, Humility and Empathy. Without even pretending intellectually sound arguments, he relies on scorn, invective, ad hominem insults and derogatory names. He claims total credit for everything positive and blames others for anything negative. A braggart and narcissist, his ego knows no bounds. For gold star families, immigrant children, the disabled and others, empathy is absent. Is he to be our future model?
Respect for an Open and Diverse America. Racism, nativism, xenophobia and misogynism are exploited. Since his 2015 "escalator speech," through the dark night of Charlottesville, unceasing attacks on immigrants and rebukes of congressional lawmakers of color, he rejects values that underpin our open society and dynamic economy. Are we moving toward a bigoted, closed and stagnant society?
Disregarding impeachment, are we at risk now of normalizing dishonesty, favoring foreign enemies, enshrining ignorance and inexperience, eroding constitutional protections, repudiating the rule of law and condemning critics, while following a political strategy of fear and divisiveness?
Lincoln appealed to "the better angels of our nature." Surely that is timely now.
Aubrey King is a West Virginia native now retired in Huntington after a career in government affairs and university teaching in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Marshall University and The Johns Hopkins University.