Dear President Trump,
Your decision yesterday to grant Mr. Arpaio a presidential pardon for his criminal contempt conviction has me feeling disgusted and frightened. Others have called you out on this ably and I think ultimately it will be another nail in your coffin and will help seal your fate as the most reviled president in history, but it also looks like it is going to be a very bumpy road between here and there. Mr. Arpaio is a sick, scary tyrant who preyed on people to aggrandize himself and to whip up resentment and fear. He systematically violated vulnerable peoples’ constitutional rights in the process and continued to do so after he was admonished by the courts and told to desist. The courts were correct in sanctioning him and the punishment made sense, although it was quite light given what he inflicted on scores of people. But as bad as Arpaio is, what you are doing in pardoning him make his actions look like the playground antics of a small bully who pulls girls ponytails. You have essentially thumbed your nose at the constitution and have propped the door wide open for tyranny. If whoever is occupying the White House can pardon people who have committed crimes that involve violating people’s constitutional rights, then they can pick and choose whose constitutional rights are up for grabs. In other words, the president gets to decide if he or she is going to allow law enforcement or the military to “disappear” people or hold them for political reasons, which really makes constitutional guarantees null and void and grants the executive branch a far-too-powerful weapon against dissenting voices.
You may have thousands or even millions of people cheering this action of yours and you can selectively tune in just to those voices and bask in their short-sighted adoration, but even if you get all the props in the world, what you have done is still wrong. You are leading us down a very dangerous slippery slope and we all, and I sincerely mean all, are naive if we don’t think our constitutional rights could be violated if we step out of line.
May all our constitutional rights be protected.
May we all protect our right to pursue happiness.
May we all invest in a healthy democracy.
May we all see the divine sparks in one another.