Saturday, October 15, 2016

#Hillary and #Trump May Have Done The Democratic Republic A YUGE Favor

'And so will be the 2016 Presidential Campaign!'
When this presidential election finally and mercifully ends on November 8, hopefully*, America will be ready to remember Gerald Ford's statement after he was inaugurated to succeed Richard Nixon in August, 1974:

'Our long national nightmare is over'

Isn't there anything we can do to adopt some semblance of the British electoral system where elections are called and usually take place 60 days or so thereafter? 1 year is too long. 2 years is insane. If we are looking at 4 years of campaigning by anyone on the losing side this year, we should just all agree to ignore them until October, 2020 and be done with it all.

After the latest revelation of another inappropriate comment by Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton's drip, drip, drip of damaging Wikileaks emails and memos, it occurred to us that between his comments and Hillary Clinton's almost pathological inability to tell the truth about anything, both may have done something that will actually help the American Republic down the road.

As hard as that is to believed right now.

Think about it. On Election Night, one or the other is likely to get to 270 electoral votes, barring some unforeseen circumstances. Will there be euphoria and fireworks on the winning side? Will hundreds of thousands of people swarm to see the President-Elect give a rousing, positive inclusive speech on the grounds of some historic building where something important happened in the past?

Both candidates combined have the highest aggregate unfavorability ratings of any 2 candidates in American history running at the same time. Out of a total of 200 points, 100 points of unfavorability being the worst for each of them, these two presidential candidates have a grand total of about 140 negative points, around 70% apiece.

They have both earned them fair and square for reasons and incidents that are too numerous for us to share here.

It is highly unlikely that the next President will enter the White House with any sort of positive 'electoral mandate' or have a post-election honeymoon with the Congress and Senate. On what sort of basis would either have an 'electoral mandate' to do anything? Both would claim 'Hey! I am not as bad as that other person!' but that is hardly any sort of galvanizing force to rally the country around.

Neither will enter the White House with anything close to being considered as having the 'moral high ground' on much of anything. How could they possibly look the American public in the eye and say in essence: 'Trust me to do and say the right thing. All the time. No matter what'

The respect either will have with the American public might rival the respect many Americans have for a dishonest used car salesman who somehow stays in business despite cheating and lying to the same customers year after year after year.

That is not good.

However, the silver lining in all of this might be as follows.

We have long been proponents of diffused governmental power. The more checks and balances the better; the less power any one individual has at their disposal the better as well. We are very Jeffersonian in that regard; legend has it that he did not like the concentration of power in a few hands in Congress even if they were members of his own political party and persuasion!

He wrote a lot about the tyranny of power concentrated in a few. Except when he became President for 8 years and found out that having a lot of executive power at his disposal was something he rather enjoyed.

Which brings us to our point:

Perhaps Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have done us a massive favor. Perhaps this presidential campaign has so damaged the reputation and respect of the Office of President and reduced the aura of that office to the degree that we can return to the ideal that was central to the Founders of our Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 which was this:

'We Don't Want No King!'

The Founders had absolutely zero interest in setting up a President who could do whatever he pleased, much as the king they despised, King George of Great Britain, had done to set them off on the dangerous and treacherous course of independence from the Crown.

They fully intended to have a government 'of the people, by the people and for the people' as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put it 76 years later at Gettysburg and that did not include having total indiscriminate powers on anything really.

Every single thing the President was tasked to do in the Constitution is subservient to the US Congress and Senate. The office of the Presidency was the second article, not the first, which dealt with the legislative branch comprised of elected delegates 'of the people'.

The President was tasked to be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. However, no funds could be spent on prosecuting any war without the concurrence of Congress.

The President could nominate people to the Supreme Court (who don't need to be lawyers or judges by the way). However, he could only do so with the 'advice and consent' of the majority of the US Senate on top of their recommendations in many cases of lesser judges in the judicial branch.

If there was anything that the President was seen as doing outside of the specific powers allocated to him in Article 2 of the Constitution, Congress always retained the 'power of the purse' and could either agree to fund something the President advocated or could withhold funding in total.

Of course, Congress retained the ability to impeach a President in the Constitution, not the other way around. A US President could never try to disband Congress as you may see in other lesser republics around the globe; the reaction to such an effort would be immense and hopefully, it would be unanimous and seen across-the-board as antithetical to the American spirit and system of self-governance.

We think that regardless of who is elected this year, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, both are such damaged goods in terms of being viewed by a vast majority of Americans as a 'moral leader' that we might see a golden opportunity for the US Congress and US Senate to reassert both legislative bodies as the 'board of directors' as elected representatives 'for the people' for whom the President works, not the other way around.

Henry Clay and other great leaders in Congress spoke often of 'legislative supremacy' which in its purest form embodies exactly what the Founders had in mind when they decided to give representative democracy a good go in 1787. Many did not think it would last long. Even James Madison, The Father of the Constitution, soon regretted many of the features of the ratified Constitution and thought the young republic would soon fail under the weight of its many pressures.

Ever since FDR, we Americans have somehow become inured to the idea that maybe a great President can all of a sudden become 'Superman!' and save us from all our troubles.

A good friend of ours, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC (yes, such a place does exist...check it out) cautions us all to adopt an 'Augustinian sensibility' when it comes to politics and the ultimate impact it can be expected to have on our lives. Augustine said we are here between the temporary and eternal worlds so we should moderate our expectations for a mere mortal man to lift us up and our depressions when our side doesn't win an election.

Maybe the accumulated foibles of both major political candidates for President this year will finally pop the bubble that 1 person can and will 'solve ALL of our problems and set us free!'

They won't. No matter how great any candidate could possibly be.

No, we think there is a silver lining after all to this truly desultory political campaign. Regardless of who wins, 40% of the country is going to completely ignore his or her legitimacy as our President. A large percentage of people beyond that are not going to respect either one who is elected because neither has seized the high moral ground of leadership and authority by their conduct or by their prosecution of this campaign.

It is a campaign of anger on all sides. And that anger will take a lot of time to subside and heal which usually takes place when great leaders emerge to lead us.

In the meantime, however, knocking down the concentrated power of our Chief Executive to its proper place as envisioned by the writers of the Constitution might not be altogether a 'bad' thing after decades of more and more power accruing to the Executive Branch of our federal government.

#Hillary and #DonaldTrump may have both contributed more to that diminution of power than even they recognize at this point.

If it happens, and more power devolves back to the legislative branch in the US Congress and Senate in the coming years, we might even be able to thank them one day.

As soon as we forget how disgusting this campaign has been.


*(unless something else happens, that is,between now and then to allow Gary Johnson to win New Mexico's 5 electoral votes or something crazy happens in Utah to allow Evan McMullin to win those 6 electoral votes and deny Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump a majority in the electoral college and send it into the House of Representatives for the election of our next president)

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