It is Friday, January 8th, around 11 o’clock in the morning, and I now have to write a blog that I sincerely wish I never had to write.
Some of this may be rambling, and for that I apologize. There are many important thoughts going through my head right now, some anecdotal, others somewhat profane that I need to express… and for that, dear reader, I thank you for being my remote therapist. (Whisky consumption only goes so far.)
Two days ago (a week ago for those of you reading this), we saw the end of a Presidency. Actually, more specifically, we say the culmination of idiocy reached a stratospheric level, essentially matching the darker hyperbole that the Left has said about Trump from the get go.
An American President has a number of unique compartmentalized responsibilities. First and foremost, he must marshal his resources to protect the integrity of the United States. He must act rigidly and forcefully, but fundamentally constrained by the Constitution, with the realization that he does not, and cannot, make laws. This aspect is afforded to the legislature. He must also act as our “representative”. That is a vague and ambitious term, I know, but, ultimately, that is what he must do. He must reassure us. He must console us. He must educate us… and, most importantly, he must act in a measure that is not only beyond reproach, but also serves as an example for others.
Candidly, few Presidents are able to pull this off.
Obama, while articulate, was so spectacularly partisan that he essentially alienated half of the population. Clinton was decidedly more moderate, but so fundamentally flawed as a human being he sorely lacked for inspirational value. Bush the younger had a degree of decency, but allowed himself to be seen as easily manipulated by individuals. Ronald Reagan, regardless of your philosophical differences, seemed to embody the full spectrum of strength, honor, decency, and resolve. Sure, many people hated him for his decisions, but few felt belittled by him by his tonality.
When Trump arrived on the scene, many of us… including me… dismissed him. His antagonism towards the establishment was attractive to be sure, but his behavior was… well…cartoonish at best. As he began gaining strength and defeating Republican contenders, one after the other, we needed to take note… why was he resonating?
It would be easy to say that half of the country is abjectly racist, that finally there was a modern pontificator who was willing to articulate the deeply held animus that “the fifty percent” felt. It would also be intellectually lazy. If it were really true, we would no longer have a race problem in the United States… we would have killed each other off generations ago.
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But wait, Steven… this post-mortem on the Trump Presidency is too premature! The riots in Washington last week were not about him! They were about protecting democracy! They were about free and fair elections!
As I have said before, if there really were provable widespread voter fraud significant enough to turn an election, then there would have been hundreds of arrests within a couple of days after the election. Low-level operatives would have begun turning on their superiors as prosecutors offered deals. The wizard behind the curtain would have been revealed. Instead, we got civil suits and vague references to postdated ballots. We got anger at unconstitutional state actions done by judges and the executive branch, but what would have been the remedy? Disenfranchising an entire State?
No… this was about delegitimizing the Biden Presidency for the singular benefit of Trump. Not even for the benefit of the Republican Party… really more of a personal thing for him. See… I have never really felt that Trump was a Republican in the first place. Not that I’m fully sure Republicans even know what being a Republican is. The animating philosophy of limited government and rigorous adherence to Constitutional principles has been jettisoned from the party for years.
Both Republicans and Democrats advocate expansive government programs that fall squarely outside the four corners of the Constitution. Their specific goals and special interest clients dictate the policy objectives… not the goal of a more perfect union.
I saw a reference from someone on Facebook essentially saying that every Republican is a racist.
Okay… then by extension every Democrat is an anti-semite.
Seriously clowns… do we really want to go down this route? When the hell did our electorate become so enchanted with carnival barkers and side-show freaks? Seriously… and this applies to both sides and their allies: Our candidates and their relative attractiveness to the American voter are probably the biggest indictment of the public education system possible.
Trump did some truly remarkable things during his tenure: peace initiatives in the Middle East, deregulating calcified federal regulations that hampered business, serious shot in the arm to criminal justice reform.
Then he egged on his supporters on telling them that “He really won in a landslide!” He suggested that Pence could unilaterally change the outcome of the election! This rally ultimately led to the storming of the Capitol.
It is funny though… during the summer when cities were burning, Democratic congresspeople felt a serious hesitancy to acknowledge the violence, or suggest that is was a manifestation of domestic terrorism. Trump, on the other hand, wanted states to deploy the National Guard, declaring that those defacing federal buildings should face 10 years in prison. When the other side came through the doors of the Capitol, suddenly it was the Democrats (and to be fair a number of Republicans) who suddenly screamed that domestic terrorists were attacking America!!!! (I’m not sure if this was a result of political ideology, or the instant realization that the academic had suddenly become all too real.)
(Perhaps we must explore if the protesters are Republicans or Trumpians… and if, in fact, a distinction does exist.)
In Foreign Affairs, Pippa Norris wrote that this was the inevitable result of a Trump Presidency. He was, and is, an authoritarian and fundamentally anti-democratic. She writes with an aura of learned maturity and an understanding of the semi-religious nature of democratic government: the sacred halls of Congress. For Trump and his supporters delegitimizing an election has no fundamental ramifications for America going forward. Yet… Dr. Norris conveniently forgets that a few months ago Hillary Clinton was publicly telling Joe Biden to not concede the election under any circumstances regardless of what takes place on election night! Eventually we will find the votes!
I feel that Trump will essentially be “Stalinized” going forward. Just as Khrushchev toppled statues and repudiated the monster that was his predecessor, the same thing will happen in the upcoming administration. Future Republicans will also want to distance themselves from the memory of Trump.
This is, frankly, a mistake, as both parties… actually both camps… need to fundamentally reject the cartoonification of what has become the American political system.