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Letter: Trump makes war on democratic norms

To the editor,

Every day in his tweets or speeches, President Trump undermines norms that keep us safe and free. Recently in France, for example, on Armistice Day, he renounced internationalism and repeated his to-hell-with-you phrase, "America first!"

French President Macron's response: "By saying, 'Our interests first, who cares about the others?' we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace, and what is essential: its moral values."

Trump scowled. He shouldn't have, because Macron was right. Morals matter.

We should make every effort to negotiate international agreements that benefit everyone, not just ourselves. Alternatively, we can follow Trump's example and act like hogs at table stabbing forks at the best meat.

Trump views foreign affairs as a struggle between winners and losers. He maintains an adversarial posture toward even our closest friends.

The beautiful spirit of internationalism — cooperation among nations for the common good — irritates Trump. He doesn't want to cooperate with others. He wants to beat them in zero-sum combat. We see that most clearly in the belligerent nationalism of his trade war.

Here at home, Trump tried to order the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey. The norm of an independent judiciary exists to prevent leaders like Trump from eliminating political opponents by decree.

Our reverence for a free press is our most sacred norm. Yet, Trump undermines it every time he says, "Fake news," or calls media "the enemy of the people."

He imperils our open society whenever he inhibits journalists with litigation threats. He told a Politico reporter, "We're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."

Trump wants to discredit or muzzle unfriendly media so he can construct a snake-oil truth that supports his autocratic impulses. Like a termite, he degrades the architecture of democratic norms that make our society worth living in.

Richard Hanson

Grafton, N.D.