The standoff between Judge James Robart and President Donald Trump demonstrates the vastly different ways the two men actually think. One man justifies his legal opinion based on specific, directly-relative factual merits. The other man justifies his executive opinion based on ideological belief.
Shall we look closer at these?
Mr. Trump justifies his travel ban on the premise that keeping all people of seven specific Muslim countries out of America will make us safer. Mr. Robart points out that no rational objective facts support the premise that such an act will make us safer. He specifically documents that since 9/11, from George Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump, the seven blocked countries apparently have not successfully sent anyone to terrorize the USA.
Judge Robart further clarifies his opinion: The U.S. terrorist-vetting practices have some ten years been effectively safe regarding these seven countries; why, therefore, should a blanket ban be imposed upon them? President Trump’s lawyers have offered no clarification other than repeating that President Trump says it will make us safer.
Judge Robart’s position is justified with evidence. Mr. Trump’s position is justified with ideology. The issue now becomes one of power. Judge Robart’s power is the power of factual evidence supporting a logical conclusion; it is the historical power of law. Mr. Trump’s power is the power of ideology; it is the historical power of politics.
Shall we look even closer?
Factual evidence is the nearest humans can get to objective truth: it is the fundamental building block of law; it is the fundamental building block of science. Ideology is the nearest humans can get to personal emotion: it is the fundamental building block of religion; it is the fundamental building block of politics.
Law and science have been in an eternal struggle with religion and politics. Law and science have tended to embrace one another. Religion and politics have tended to embrace one another. Subsequently, the eternal human power struggle has always essentially been objective truth versus personal emotion.
Most humans tend to be highly emotional. Some humans seem seriously to strive for the unique distinction of adding intellectually-valid objective truth to their thinking process to moderate their skittish emotions. Some other humans seem to love power so much that they cling to and wildly wield emotions to wrest control over others.
It is a complex battle of intellect versus charisma. Intellect claims to promise truthful solutions to problems. Charisma alleges to promise easy solutions. It would seem that intellect could subdue emotions. Historically, however, it has been a frantic teeter-totter, an unpredictable seesaw – the outcome always uncertain.
With all the sabre rattling accompanying the emotional character of the present administration’s erratic leader, some sort of intellectual balance is devoutly to be wished. This current battle between Trump’s politics and Robart’s law is vitally important. For if politics becomes based on flimsy laws, the ultimate outcome to you and me becomes potentially perilous.
The worldwide frenetic chaos created by Mr. Trump’s eccentricities mirrors that of other leaders who have parleyed their emotional fragilities into international disasters. Emotional leaders seem to gravitate toward force to enforce their ideological prejudices. And Mr. Trump’s military advisors seem to share his tendency toward provoking other emotionally-motivated world leaders.
So, the outcome of this Judge-Robart-versus-President-Trump confrontation is not simply one man against another. It is a universal test of the hoped-for capacity of humanity to transcend its all-too-deeply-imbedded talent of shooting itself in the foot. And, in this case, probably hitting a much more vital part of its political anatomy.
I sure wish we all had some body armor to put on. We may well need it.