Years ago, when I was supervising school counselors in Baltimore, a big part of my job was visiting schools and writing a report on their counseling programs. I visited a city high school and wrote a mildly critical report with a few suggestions for improvement.
I was summoned to the school. The principal called me into his office. He launched a major tirade against me. He stammered that I had no right to come in to his school and tell him what to do. He went on to tell me how he had longed to be a principal for many years so he could do what he wanted in his school with no interference. He even said that he saw himself as a king in his own little fiefdom.
It turned out this principal was not able to do whatever he wanted in his own school.
President-elect Donald Trump will also find out that he does not have absolute unfettered power. He is accountable in many ways.
We may be seeing the first signs of this accountability following his attack on the Central Intelligence Agency and his pick for secretary of state.
Republican leaders are calling for an investigation into Russian hacking during the election, an investigation that is seen as unwarranted by the president-elect. These actions offer some hope that Republicans will respond appropriately.
Although the Republican establishment remained hostile toward Trump during the election campaign, almost all Republicans have acquiesced and are now seen as supporting Trump and even protecting him from criticism. The question is, "How long will Republicans remain quiet?" What will it take for them to turn on their leader, or will they be able to keep his worst impulses in check?
The signs, thus far, are not so good. We have seen the Trump from the campaign continue his disturbing behavior now that the election is over. Every time something he says or does is questioned, he doubles down and attacks the questioner. He has attacked the press. He has had difficulty understanding what is true and untrue.
I fear his behavior is especially concerning in the area of foreign policy. He seems to want to dramatically change the way we do business in the foreign policy area, but can he keep the lid on foreign crises when he starts major controversies by overturning decades of settled bipartisan policy? When foreign leaders respond with anger will he tamp down the flames or escalate the situation into a crisis? Could he precipitate unnecessary and unwanted wars by his bullying and crude behavior?
It is understandable that Republicans have decided to support this president. They have a majority in every branch of government. Speaker Paul Ryan believes he can enact much of the program he has sought in Congress for years. The plans to cut taxes and reduce regulations are appealing to Republican businessmen.
Though I fear these policies will do major damage to those who are the most marginalized, they are solid Republican positions.
Yet, paramount has to be the safety and security of this country. If we continue to see signs of a reckless foreign policy that might prove dangerous, we have to count on Republicans rising up and rejecting the policies and practices of this president.
Democrats and the public at large have little leverage to change what happens over these next four years. Donald Trump has effectively cast the press as an adversary weakening its power as an effective voice.
Only Republicans can step in and check this incoming president, and assure the country that the interests of the United States will come before any partisan advantage they may have.