Of course, presidential lawlessness is a special case. Because the president controls not only the nation’s law enforcement apparatus but also its military, it’s pretty hard to call him to account. But what about the rest of us? If presidents can violate the law, why can’t we?
It would be a bad thing for the country if Americans started to ask that question.
There are different reasons for choosing to obey or disobey the law. One reason for following the law is fear of consequences: If you break the law, you could be sent to jail, fined, or even killed.
The problem with “consequences” as a motivating tool for abiding the law is that often, there aren’t many. Yes, the government’s law-enforcement powers are formidable, and if the authorities decide to target you specifically, they stand an excellent chance of convicting you of something. (In fact, as I’ve discussed before, given the number of poorly understood criminal laws, it would be something of a miracle if they couldn’t.)