Donald Trump Isn’t The Terminator — He’s Just Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

Photo by S33S313. Public domain.
Photo by S33S313. Public domain.

“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude,” former US president Donald Trump wrote on his pet social media platform, Truth Social, “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” In reference, of course, to his fantasy that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.

Cue outrage from all sides, including prominent members of his own party. Throw out the Constitution? Just so some politician can get the outcome he wants? Unprecedented! Unthinkable! Out of bounds!

Well, no, not really. “Terminating” constitutional requirements when they’re inconvenient is pretty much par for the course. Not just with Trump, both now and when he actually possessed some political authority (see, for example, his unconstitutional misappropriation of funds for the “border wall”), but with presidents and Congresses going back to at least as early as 1798.

That was the year Congress passed, and president John Adams signed into law, the Alien and Sedition Acts, which clearly and unambiguously “terminated” both the First Amendment’s speech/press protections and Article I, Section 9’s prohibition on federal regulation of immigration.

Current president Joe Biden has a habit of candidly admitting the unconstitutionality of his own executive orders on, for example, the COVID-19-era “eviction moratorium” and his “student loan forgiveness” vote-buying scheme. Yeah, the courts will probably overturn it, but Constitution be damned, he’s going to do it anyway.

In between the Adams and Biden eras, we’ve seen any number of US wars waged without the required congressional declarations, constitutionally questionable kludges implemented to resolve presidential elections (Hayes versus Tilden in 1876 and Bush versus Gore in 2000), and laws passed with nary a constitutional hook to hang them upon.

The Constitution is, and always has been, a convenience to justify the  exercise of political power, and an inconvenience quickly discarded whenever it gets in the way of exercising political power. While it’s uncertain that former president George W. Bush actually called it “just a goddamned piece of paper,” his actions demonstrated that that’s how he, like his predecessors and successors, regarded it.

If there’s anything unique about Trump’s outburst, it’s the credence and publicity he’s receiving for it despite his complete lack of ability to  act on it. He’s no longer the Terminator; these days he’s just a piece of that film franchise’s forgettable roadkill. He’s saying the quiet part out loud, but if he’s the loudest, he’s also far from the first.

As American anarchist Lysander Spooner noted in 1870, “[w]hether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

“In either case,” Spooner continued, “it is unfit to exist.”

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Freedom Isn’t Just Another Word For a Job Left to Lose


The editors of the Queens Chronicle admit that it “shouldn’t be surprising when” those who “seem determined to drive businesses out of” New York City “bill themselves as Democratic Socialists, but it still is” (“Another anti-biz bill to nix,” December 1).

Their shock evidently isn’t at socialists being anti-business.  The editorial posits that employers being “allowed to hire and fire whom they choose” makes “the free market better respected,” unrestricted not only by legislation — such as a proposal from the New York City Council’s Tiffany Cabán to require “just cause or a legitimate economic reason” for terminations — but organized labor negotiation.  “Unions aren’t always appropriate,” since they can keep “rubber-room teachers or excessive-force cops” on the payroll.

What should be startling is that the assumptions that workers have it better than they would in a freer market, and that their bargaining power is bad for business, have lasted so long.

The Wall Street Journal has lauded the socialist mayors of Milwaukee who “implemented a range of new programs, but paid for them largely through gains in efficiency rather than tax increases.” Other socialists went beyond such “an entrepreneurial approach to government, improving systems, cutting waste” to entrepreneurialism in the private sector. Some even did so in New York, before its markets became synonymous with the hard-charging capitalism of Wall Street and The Apprentice.

The town that elected Mike Bloomberg leader of its business nearly made free-trade populist Henry George mayor in 1886 on the United Labor Party ticket.  Brentwood, Long Island hometown of hip-hop duo EPMD of Strictly Business fame, was where Josiah Warren’s ideals of Equitable Commerce were put into practice by voluntary trading of “labor for labor.” The dominance of bookstore chains over independents once seemed so inevitable that You’ve Got Mail needed Tom Hanks’s likability to make it palatable. A decade before the first Barnes & Noble, New Yorkers had laissez-faire socialist Benjamin Tucker’s Unique Book-Shop, which boasted the “Largest Stock in the World Of Advanced Literature in English, French, German, and Italian” … all at the “Lowest Prices in the United States.”

Tucker’s little shop shouldn’t have remained an anomaly. He proposed that a free market in credit would “secure the greatest possible production of wealth and its most equitable distribution.” And dismantling the interlocking monopolies he identified would spur producers by the promise of getting well paid for serving consumers rather than the sheer dread of hearing “you’re fired!”

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “Freedom isn’t Just Another Word For a Job Left to Lose” by Joel Schlosberg, CounterPunch, December 6, 2022
  2. “‘Freedom’ not just another word for job left to lose” by Joel Schlosberg, The Daily Star [Hammond, Louisiana], December 8, 2022
  3. “Freedom isn’t just another word” by Thomas L. Knapp [sic], The Madill, Oklahoma Record, December 8, 2022
  4. “Freedom Isn’t Just Another Word For a Job Left to Lose” by Joel Schlosberg, OpEdNews, December 10, 2022

“Free Speech” and “Permissive Platforms” Aren’t the Same Thing, But They’re Both Good


Since his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk has styled himself the very avatar of “free speech,” descending from on high to defend us against the forces of “censorship.” On the whole, I think he’s sincere in his approach to the issue. I also think he’s in error as to what, precisely, “free speech” means.

To be fair, Musk benefits from a great deal of support in his misunderstanding — even more from his opponents than his supporters.

Take, for example, Guardian columnist Nesrine Malike, who tells us that “free speech is not simply about saying whatever you want, unchecked, but about negotiating complicated compromises. … for some speech to be free, other speech has to be limited.”

Unsurprisingly, Malike wants speech she agrees with to be “free,” and speech she disagrees with to be “limited,” with law as the instrument of “limitation.”

Musk agrees: “By ‘free speech,'” he tweeted on April 26, “I simply mean that which matches the law.  I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

Speech regulated by law — even law that embodies “the will of the people,” were there such a thing — isn’t free speech.

Free speech is simply an absence: The absence of threats of force (by law or otherwise) to forbid or punish speech.

I’m a big fan of free speech. The moral principle underlying it is that people aren’t property, and their thoughts and expressions are thus no one else’s to rightfully control. The practical value of it is that freedom to debate makes it possible for us to solve problems instead of just obeying orders.

I’m also a fan of what Musk is actually defending:  Twitter as a permissive platform.

Just as your right to keep and bear arms imposes no obligation on my part to provide you with an AR-15 or let you use my back yard as a firing range, your right to free speech imposes no obligation on Elon Musk’s part to provide you with a Twitter account or let you use his servers as your soapbox.

He’s indicated his intention to let pretty much anyone have a Twitter account, and to let Twitter account holders say as much (or at least almost as much) as the law allows them to say.

That’s not free speech, but (assuming he means it) it’s about as close as he’s allowed to get to free speech, and he deserves our thanks for it. A poke in the timeline with a sharp tweet is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.