Essay on Politics Above Law: How Trump Channels Far Right Icon Carl Schmitt Without Knowing It

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Boston College
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Andrew Kolin wrote the news article. It was posted on September 5, 2017. Andrew looks at the various public statements made by Trump. He believes that Trump is not an ardent reader. Andrew quotes Trump saying that "I never have. I'm always busy doing a lot. Now I'm busier, I guess than ever before" (Andrew, 2017). On the hand, Carl Schmitt was a constitutional legal and political theorist from German. He extensively wrote about effective using of political power. He has had a significant influence on political theories, continental philosophy, legal theory and political theology through his work. Schmitt`s concept of state that the exception, the ability of the sovereign`s to rise above the rule of law claiming it is for the good of people. Schmitt's always emphasized on putting politics above the rule of law arguing that the ruler must still be free from any legal restraint.

Trump's thoughts and actions about sovereign authority and the rule of law are parallel to what Schmitt expressed in his books. Schmitt believed that "the sovereign is he who decides on the exception" ((Schmitt, 2008)) which is a theory seen in trumps perception of sovereign authority. Trump believes that it is within his power to decide which legal exceptions can be made. He replaces the universal law with situational law whereby he thinks that he has authority to determine which situations exceptions can be made. In trumps opinion, the sovereign power is absolute and hence does not understand why it would be questioned.

Trump has consistently been expressing Schmitt`s political distinctions between friend and enemy showing that what is political is an image of Schmitt`s words" the most intense and extreme antagonists" ((Schmitt, 2008)). This is shown after he excused the Neo-Nazis people as "fine people" during the Charlottesville protests. This leads to enforcement of legal ways to endorse reactionary policies like assaults on the immigrant's mainstream media and government branches.

These actions show a governing philosophy closely following Schmitt`s analysis of the sovereign dictatorship. Anyone who questions his authority is regarded automatically as an enemy and terms it as calling into question the base of law. He is seen practicing this when he decides to strip the whole judiciary of credibility because of a judge who questioned his immigration ban by calling him "this so-called judge" (Andrew, 2017). His enemies are those people who support political diversity, and those who do not question his authority are his friends. He tends to unleash policies that favor those that do not challenge him and suppress those that are typical to question him.

Trump goes along to demonstrate his sovereignty when he decides to make the exception and send missiles to bomb Syria overlooking the international law and U.N charter that limits the use of force as self-defense (Andrew, 2017). This idea of him gaining greater social control has caused more significant social harm. Trump appoints Betsy Devos as Education Secretary with the aim of allocating billions to funding vouchers for the charter schools to increase privatization of public education. This will destroy unions of the public sector and social inequality.

Trump also wants to establish "national right-to-work law" which will do away with collective bargaining and destroy funding for the labor unions. The Supreme could deny the public sector unions rights to take away fees from paychecks of the members who wish to bail out.

Trump believes in placing politics above the law which is well emphasized by Carl Schmitt. Laws made by Trump favor the wealthy and those that do not question his authority while those that fight for their democratic rights are suppressed. The law governs the land, and no one should be above it. Trump might not be aware of it, but he tends to follow Carl Schmitt theory of "placing politics above the law" (Schmitt, 2008)


Andrew Kolin (2017) Politics above law: how Trump channels far right icon Carl Schmitt without knowing it. Retrieved on 29th October 2017., C. (2008). The concept of the political: Expanded edition. University of Chicago Press.

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