A Coup d’état is not simply an act of opposition to the leadership in power, or even the removal of an executive from power, but rather it specifically denotes an illegal act outside the law and practice of due process.
By David Todd McCarty | Friday, August 9, 2019
President Trump has bragged in the past that he has the best words and a very good brain that he likes to use to promote himself and his agenda. But the reality is he has a questionable grasp on the English language and regularly misuses words in his attacks on political opponents. Whether he does it knowingly for effect or out of sheer ignorance is immaterial.
A Coup d’état, or put more simply, a Coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; it refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction. The phrase comes from the French, literally meaning a “stroke of state” or “blow against the state.” It is defined as an “illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” This almost always involves the use of military power to unseat an executive and install someone else without any democratic due process.
When Donald Trump claims that his political opponents are attempting to perform a coup against him he is attempting to say that opposition to him is only valid when handled by the voters because he believes he has a mandate to do whatever he pleases. He completely ignores the part of the Constitution and the rule of law that gives Congress oversight power over the Executive Branch.
But it’s more than exaggerating for effect, using the word Coup to describe removing someone from office, is simply a misuse of the word. To paraphrase The Princess Bride, that word does not mean what he thinks it means.
What the Democrats are currently doing in the House of Representatives is an impeachment inquiry, a process specifically enumerated in the Constitution, giving the power to impeach solely to the House. The Constitution further gives the House the power to conduct their business however they see fit, by the rules they decide on.
President Trump calling investigations into him a Coup is hyperbole at best, but really it’s just dishonest and deceptive. It’s a dog whistle for his base of support to ignore the man behind the curtain.