Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The non-republicanism of Trump vs. the republicanism of Clinton, and Why That Should Matter to Republicans (and Democrats)

If one wanted to be appalled by Donald Trump's performance in the first (perhaps only) presidential debate, one would have had a virtual cornucopia of comments or mannerisms, each one a subtly different flavor from the next in terms of belligerence, complete lack of knowledge or understanding of public affairs, and just general indecency. But as is often the case with placing Trump in perspective, the truly meaningful moments--where the menace he represents to American democracy in a way heretofore never seen is laid bare--can get lost in the dust cloud of nattering about whether "stop & frisk" was unconstitutional, or whether he really did say that China invented the concept of global warning (he did), or why he hates Rosie O'Donnell so, or who on earth Sydney Blumenthal might be, and so forth. All that noise, in which people who sympathize with either Republican or Democratic views can disagree or at least emphasize different ways of looking at a contentious topic, can obscure the statements that should, to any sane individual, show that this is not a Republican running for president, but a man who has no apparent regard for the democratic process at all.

For Trump may be running as a Republican candidate, but there is no republicanism--small "r"--in his governing philosophy whatsoever. For over a year, his overt bullying indicated to tens of millions of Americans that this was probably true, but last night, in front of more than 80 million people, he stated in no uncertain terms what he really thinks about the purpose of the US government, and especially the US military: they're a moneymaking machine. Trump said that "we defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us." There's very little need to reach for elaborate explanations to grasp the unsubtle nature of his view that the purpose of the US military should be an elaborate protection racket, in the words of the National Review (!). One pictures Trump envisioning small NATO countries the same way a mafioso might wander through a neighborhood of weak individuals, taking a casual stroll through, say, Estonia, as he drops a little hint to its leader, "Nice houses you got here. Pity if something bad should happen to them."

And what might have gotten missed in the literal he-said-she-said was that Hillary Clinton's reply was not the articulation of the philosophy of the Democratic party. Instead, it was the articulation of the philosophy of the United States of America--one shared, in almost absolute unanimity, by every member of both political parties, and is a philosophy that dates back to when Donald Trump was in swaddling clothes. The level of contempt that he has shown not simply for Hillary Clinton, or the Democratic party, or Jeb Bush, or Marco Rubio, or a former Miss Universe, or nearly anyone who speaks Spanish, or any number of people on a seemingly endless list--not these individuals, but the level of contempt for America as a democracy was undeniable in his NATO remarks, and this was not a spontaneous riff, for he has articulated this view before. It wasn't a mistake; it's the centerpiece of how he thinks.

I am aware of the difficulties that Trump's candidacy has created for lifelong Republicans who do believe in basic ideals of democracy and republicanism as part of the American project. But from where I stand, after today, now that he has gone before tens of millions of people and explained in clear terms what he really thinks about the meaning of US military force around the world, only someone who has taken complete leave of their senses could defend this man as being the standard bearer for what previously constituted Republican party philosophy. This undoubtedly leaves many Republicans having to deal with the unpleasant question of what, in fact, does currently constitute Republican party philosophy, since a clear majority of Republican primary voters prefer Trump to what has been peddled before. But either way, I think such voters will have to make the decision as to whether they are willing to throw their lot in with a man who thinks that, with respect to our military commitments, extremism in the defense of wealth is no vice.


1 comment:

  1. Billy,

    I completely agree with you on Trump and the unpleasantness of thinking of his occupying the White House.

    But you overlook three crucial facts concerning the upcoming choice the electorate faces.

    1. Presidential elections are choices between candidates, not fill in the blank. The Electorate will face a choice on their individual ballot between Trump, Clinton, a pot-head, and an eco-zealot. The latter two are mere throw-away votes. Only either of the first two are within the conceivable realm of receiving the necessary electoral college votes to become President on January 20, 2017.

    2. Clinton is a very poor choice as well. She has demonstrated this time and again. She (1) puts herself and her close circle above the law, (2) lies about matters of required public transparency with seeming impunity and when caught in a lie, she lies again, (3) sees no problem running a self-enriching graft machine that melds seamlessly with her official public responsibilities, and (4) has no compelling agenda other than she is a woman and it is her turn.

    3. Republican presidents are impeachable and removable. Trump would be impeachable and removable if he steps over the line of separation of powers or ignores black letter law to enact his agenda, or commits other high crimes or misdemeanors. Evidence: Nixon, forced to resign or face impeachment and removal after Senate republicans told him they would vote for removal. Democrat presidents are impeachable but not removable due to the lack of ethics by enough Senate democrats to preclude removal of a Democrat president. Evidence: Bill Clinton impeached for his perjury before a federal grand jury (a felony), but Senate Democrats refusal to remove for a clear high crime. Obama is unremovable and because of this immunity he has violated separation of powers repeatedly with impunity and alters and reqrites black letter law with executive action. That facet of unethical Senate democrats is the key reason Washington DC and Congress are dysfunctional.

    Faced with those facts and those ballot choices It comes down to this conclusion:

    Choice: Putting an unremovable, criminal, serial liar in the White House or an incompetent loud-mouth, possibly bigoted but removable President in the White House? I'll choose the removable one. Trump can and would be tossed out on his keister if he so much as hints at the type of imperial president that Obama has turned out to be. A President Hillary Clinton from Day 1 of her presidency would carry the immunity idol doll, and allow her to continue her criminal ways for at least 4 years.

    Best regards,