The most emotionally and politically potent moment of last week’s Democratic National Convention came on its final night, when Khizr Khan held up a pocket-sized copy of the US Constitution and spoke directly to the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee.
“Donald Trump,” he said, “you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?”
Cheered on by the delegates, and by a nation that has been waiting for just this rebuke of Trump and Trumpism, the Muslim father of a US Army captain who was killed in a Baghdad suicide bombing 12 years ago announced: “I will gladly lend you my copy.”
As Democrats campaign in the weeks and months following the convention that nominated Hillary Clinton for the presidency and Tim Kaine for the vice presidency, they should endeavor to lend a copy of the Constitution to America.
The race against Donald Trump and the remnant of the Republican Party that has embraced him does not need to get bogged down by the tiresome repetition of Trump’s offenses against common sense and common decency. They are too many to catalogue, and the list grows too rapidly to keep up.
The response to Trump needs to go to the heart of the matter, as Khizr Khan did.
Trump may or may not have read the United States Constitution. (The candidate claims, with a pathetic defensiveness that illustrates just how deeply this charge stings, that “Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things.”)
But the Republican nominee surely has not understood or respected the founding document.
Trump refuses to recognize the constitutional commitment that Mr. Khan (a Harvard-educated legal scholar who has worked for many years as a legal consultant) highlighted: “equal protection” under law.
The American Civil Liberties Union has produced an analysis of the Republican candidate’s public statements and policy positions that details the extent to which Trump would shred the Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights in particular.
It is a sobering assessment that ought not be left on the sidelines of this campaign.
“Taken together, his policies and positions, if put into place, would violate the Constitution and federal and international law,” says Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, which determined that “Trump’s proposals would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments of the Constitution.”