RESIST…AGAIN

All right thinking people are spending at least part of their time RESISTING. Something must be done, because the guy in the White House is a boor and a narcissist. We must rise up to save democracy in America.

I would agree that Trump is a boor and a narcissist. But I would assert that the RESIST phenomenon is not saving democracy, but endangering it. Democracy is all about process–consent of the governed, rule of law and equal protection. Once you start overriding process in search of the greater good, once the end starts justifying the means, the guillotine or gulag are not far behind. RESIST is trashing process in search of salvation.

It started with the election. Before the voting ink was dry, it was loudly asserted that Trump was not legitimately elected because he didn’t win the popular vote. He won the popular vote in a group of states whose electoral votes constituted a majority. Those were the rules of the game. Hillary was aware of the rules. To assert that you really won, but for unfair rules, is to denigrate the rules. Democracy’s way of changing rules is to go thru a process that gains consent of the governed. Several impeachment resolutions have been introduced in the House of Representatives, but nary one amendment to the Constitution that would shift the presidential ballot from the Electoral College to a popular vote tally.

Next comes the perversion of the judicial process. The prime example is the so-called travel ban. Trump publishes an order that clearly falls within his powers–specified by legislation, tested by the courts, augmented by ample precedent. Democratic state attorneys general file suits in judge shopped courts. The order is deemed unconstitutional. Sloppy wording is cited. Subsequent orders clean up the wording. Those orders are deemed unconstitutional. The reasoning can be summarized as follows: The words may seem to be constitutional, but we know what is in his dark heart, because we can cite campaign rhetoric. How you get much farther away from rule of law I am at a loss to imagine.

The establishment news media has joined the fray. The original newspapers were mostly party organs–Tory papers or Whig papers. Readers got slanted news, but it was advertised as slanted. The 20th Century brought us standards of journalism–separation of reporting and opinion, multiple sourcing, etc. To use an ugly quote: We report; you decide. It’s all gone. The distinction between the news pages and editorial pages has almost disappeared. Anonymous sources, unattributed leaks and innuendo underpin many so-called news items. A free press seeking the facts is at the heart of a vibrant democracy. Right now, we are left with competing narratives. Trump has some accomplishments which should have been noted. The Europeans are beginning to spend more on their own defense. Obama asked them to do so; they ignored him. Trump ranted; they are now taking some action. The Caliphate of ISIS is almost gone. I suspect that outcome had a lot to do with alteration of the rules of engagement. The corporate tax rate has been aligned with that of our international competitors. Democrats used to favor that, until they reflexively started opposing all things Trump. A detached media would point out that hypocrisy.

Finally, we have the entertainment media. Late night shows, Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live and an endless procession of screeds on the endless procession of “give ourselves awards” shows strive to denigrate Mr. Trump. The assumption must be that he is bound to be swept away in the tsunami of scorn, satire and derision. The problem is that those who support Trump think the derision is also aimed at them. The deplorables don’t appreciate being deplored. Imagine that!! So what. His approval rating is only 38% (and those 38% are undoubtedly cretins). Even if that were the case, heaping scorn on 38% of the voting public is not conducive to a civil discourse and a functioning democracy. But 38 is not the right number. The last election conclusively proved that the pollsters can’t get at the whole truth. Lots of the deplored refuse to respond to pollsters or lie to them. Amazingly enough, they don’t feel like being objects of scorn. The real number is 40 or 45 or 50%. In addition, there are those of us who deplore Trump, but deplore RESIST even more. My sense is that our ranks may be growing by the day.

If we want to have a functioning democracy, we need to take the process seriously. We need to take into account the views of a large segment of the population that voted for The Donald. Some of us think border security is a good idea. Some of us think that the Chinese engage in trade rigging and intellectual theft. Some of us think that the Europeans should pay for their own defense. Some of us think that judges who engage in social engineering are a threat to democracy. Some of us think that attempting to racially profile car loans is an intrusion too far. If you don’t agree with those views, come up with a plan that garners a majority of electoral votes. If the Democrats win a majority in the House in 2018 because RESIST has energized the base and revived fund raising, I won’t like the legislation they pass, but I will try hard not to heap scorn on it. The VERY ESSENCE of democracy is peaceful transition of power and acceptance of electoral outcomes by the losers (preferably graceful acceptance).

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