By calling on the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton, and lamenting he cannot do “the kind of things I would love to be doing,” Trump crossed a particularly dangerous line.
In a democracy bound by the rule of law, presidents do not prosecute their political opponents. Nor, until now, have they tried to stir up public anger toward their former opponents.
Our democratic system of government depends on presidents putting that system above their own partisan aims.
As Harvard political scientist Archon Fung has noted, once an election is over, candidates’ graciousness to one another is an important demonstration of their commitment to the democratic system over the specific outcomes they fought to achieve.
This helps reestablish civility and social cohesion. It reminds the public that our allegiance is not toward a particular person or party but to our system of government.