Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Seven Broken Guardrails Of Democracy

There's an interesting article over at The Atlantic about how Donald Trump got to be the Republican candidate for President in 2016, and it is a very revealing article on just how broken representative democracy in America has become; the crux of it is is that there are certain norms within American politics that one expects candidates of all stripes to adhere to, Trump's basically blown through them like a .50 caliber bullet through stacks of toilet paper...here the 7 broken guardrails Atlantic writer David Frum is referring to (and how Trump got through them):


  1. Americans expect a presidential candidate to act in a certain way; namely, that of personal restraint, the idea that candidates for office should, to a broad extent, be humble in their pursuit. Now, this doesn't mean they have to be Mary Sues in their actions, but it does mean they should acknowledge that their fight is not just for them alone, but for America on the whole. Donald Trump, by his very nature, chucked this one out the window right at the start; as Mitt Romney infamously said about him, ("he) exemplifies what millions of parents would fear in their sons: “the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”
  2. Americans expect some degree of truthfulness in their elected officials and candidates. Case in point: in 1940, FDR campaigned on a platform of - in part - "not getting American boys involved in foreign wars". However, since World War II was already underway in Europe and odds were America would eventually get involved at some point, it didn't mean FDR wasn't trying to get America ready to fight at some point, as illustrated by the Carolina & Louisiana Maneuvers (in other words, he said what he needed to say, but didn't outright lie). By contrast, Donald Trump's lies are so numerous, they're like the zombie hordes in World War Z - one on top of another, on top of another, on top of another, etc.,etc.,etc....indeed, his lies are so numerous that no one even bothers counting them anymore for fear of missing one; worse, he lies so much its' made Americans cynical towards him and its' fed into the Trump (and Clinton, to a lesser extent) narrative that "everyone lies" and "everybody does it".
  3. Americans expect elected officials to have at least a surface knowledge of public policy. Donald Trump doesn't even have the most basic of knowledge on anything; case in point: when asked by conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt about America's nuclear arsenal, Trump couldn't identify the specific parts right. (For the record, the U.S. nuclear triad consists of a bomber force, a sub-based missile force and a land-based missile force.) Now, to be fair, its' generally expected that Republicans will have somewhat less of a surface knowledge of public policy than their Democratic counterparts, but as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush proved, you can mroe than make up for that by having some executive experience prior to running for President (Reagan was a 2-term governor of California, Bush was a 2-term governor of Texas). Unfortunately, thanks to the rise of dingelberries such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert, its' no wonder that Americans recoil from Republicans on public policy matters...and Donald Trump doesn't do any better; in fact, in some ways, Trump makes the Quitta' from Wasilla seem smart in some respects.
  4. Regardless of political party, Americans expect some adherence to ideology. While both parties have become more Europeanized (i.e. partisan) in their ideological hewings, Republicans have, through nominating Donald Trump, picked someone who's basically taken conservative orthodoxy and chucked it right into the wastebin (just look at his flip-flops on abortion, the Mexican border wall, his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, etc.). Worse, even if Republicans were to begin complaining, it wouldn't do any good: this is the same political party that thinks than long-time conservatives such as John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Jeb Bush are squishy "RINOs", but have - instead of rejecting Donald Trump outright - embraced Donald Trump because he reflects the exact opposite of the groups opposing him.
  5. Similarly to #3, Americans expect their political leaders and candidates to have at least some bit of working knowledge on national security matters. Unfortunately, Donald Trump - who still, I suspect, doesn't have a clue what the nuclear triad is - has taken this guardrail and crashed through it in a tragic, Francois Cevert-kind of manner (with the GOP losing its' proverbial head in the process). After all, this is the same guy who said NATO was obsolete, who thinks Japan & South Korea should develop nuclear weapons and who thinks Saudi Arabia should develop nuclear weapons, so draw your own conclusions as to what a Trump Presidency would entail.
  6. Americans expect their elected officials to have a respect for both tolerance and diversity in their dealings with the American people. Case in point: while politicians like George Wallace were marginalized within the broader American body politic for espousing racist/proto-racist viewpoints, Donald Trump, by contrast, has been accomodated to such a degree that its' become a sad spectacle in and of itself; worse, as America becomes a more diverse society, this kind of dog-whistle style politics only feeds into the Left's narrative that the GOP is a party of racists and bigots, which doesn't help Republicans down the road.
  7. Finally, Americans, despite adhering to ideology in #4, generally are willing to vote for one party for President, the opposite for Congressional control. Don't believe me? Just look at election results between 1954 and 1992; in that 38-year period, Democrats held control of both houses of Congress (the 6-yr. GOP interregnum, 81-86, notwithstanding) for nearly the entire period despite only winning the Presidency in 1960, 1964, 1976 and 1992. This was due to ticket-splitting whereby Americans would vote for a candidate of one party for President, then turn around and vote for the opposing party in the Congressional election...unfortunately, because of the more partisan nature of American politics these days, ticket-splitting is a far lesser seen phenomenon. Worse, more Americans than ever before now see politics in negative terms, which explains why most Republicans, while horrified at the prospect of a Trump Presidency, are even more horrified at the thought of a Hillary Presidency (even conservative stalwarts such as the Wall Street Journal and National Review have gone this route), effectively saying that while Donald Trump may be an evil threat to America, he's less of a threat than that of Hillary Clinton (which makes no sense given the things Trump has said in regards to numbers' 3 & 5).
So what should we do? That, I don't know....I do know this, fellow conservatives: I myself will never vote for Donald Trump, period. Put that in y'all's pipe and smoke it, okay?

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