By Christine Todd Whitman
May 9, 2019

Someone needs to remind the President that he is the President of the United States — and that means all of it. It means the people who voted against him, as well as those who voted for him. To pit one part of the country against another is shameful. Florida clearly needs hurricane relief, but not at the expense of Puerto Rico. To use false numbers to make a case is not just deceitful, it’s unconscionable. When used by the President at a political rally it can only have one purpose and that is not policy, but politics. To add that ”they don’t like me” is an excuse that should worry everyone who holds an opinion contrary to the President’s.

This inclusion of only those who agree also seems to be the motive behind the latest rules laid down by Sarah Sanders on press access to the White House. Freedom of the press is a basic foundation of our democracy and is enshrined in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson famously said that if given the choice between a government without a free press or a free press without a government, he would choose the latter. As citizens, this effort to limit coverage of the President and the White House to only those who praise him should scare us deeply. This is the stuff of dictators. Republican or Democrat, Trump supporter or hater, protecting the fundamentals of our democracy and the decency and dignity of the Presidency is our basic civic duty.

The United States is a great country and the world still looks to us for leadership, albeit with more and more reservations today. As we undermine our values, other dictatorial leaders act with greater impunity because the United States no longer has any standing to question them. What has always set us apart was our commitment to the freedoms (and moral decency) enshrined in the Bill of Rights and our Constitution. Sure, the economy is in good shape, but we know that doesn’t always last. Our values should. Ours is a great experiment – one that seems increasingly fragile. We must do all in our power to protect it, including calling out leaders who seek to turn the country to meet their own desires.