A year with Trump
When as a presidential nominee Trump said that a particular federal judge shouldn't be hearing a case against him because the judge's parents were Mexican, Trump did more than insult a member of the judiciary. He attacked the impartiality of America's legal system.
When Trump threatened to "loosen" federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him, and later threatened to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him, he wasn't just bullying the media. He was threatening the freedom and integrity of the press.
When, as president, he equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, by blaming "both sides" for the violence, he wasn't being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining the Constitution's guarantee of equal rights.
When he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for a criminal contempt conviction, he wasn't just signaling that it's OK for the police to engage in violations of civil rights. He was also subverting the rule of law by impairing the judiciary's power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.
When he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, he wasn't just asking that they demonstrate their patriotism. He was disrespecting their -- and, indirectly, everyone's -- freedom of speech.
When he berated the intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he wasn't just questioning their competence. He was suggesting they were engaged in a giant conspiracy to remove him from office -- potentially inviting his most ardent supporters to engage in a new civil war.
America has had its share of good and bad presidents, but Donald Trump falls far below anything this nation has ever before experienced. In less than a year, he has degraded the core institutions and values of our democracy.
We have never before had a president whose character was so contrary to the ideals of the republic. That Senator Orrin Hatch and other Republicans don't seem to recognize this is itself frightening.
(Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few," now available in paperback. His film "Inequality for All" is available on Amazon, DVD and On Demand, and his documentary "Saving Capitalism" is now on Netflix. His daily blog is at www.facebook.com/RBReich/.)