When It Changed

If one desires a federal and constitutional government, with each state, and each branch of the federal government playing their appropriate parts; if one desires a sound, relatively low tax fiscal policy, and a wise and unadventurous foreign policy conducted with the interests of our own nation in the fore, what is one to do? Hillary Clinton is, in these terms, nightmarish. She is beholden to identity politics, economic incoherence, and the agglutination of power in all the wrong places. Bernie Sanders is an economic illiterate. Donald Trump is not only crude and arrogant, but ignorant and unpredictable. He carries the danger of The Man Who Gets Things Done, without regard to law or justice. None of the current likelies offers any hope of return to orderly and constitutional government. So forget that.
North American Anglicans sometimes like to play a game called, “When Did It Change?” When did the downward trend of the Episcopal Church become irreversible? There are lots of favorites: the election of Gene Robinson, failure to take action of James Pike’s heresies, the loosening of marriage canons. Others blame the Enlightenment, some go so far as to blame the Reformation itself (for them, one may as well blame the Battle of Bosworth that put the first Tudor on the throne. So blame the traitorous Sir William Stanley).
Similarly, where did the slide to an authoritarian and autocratic executive begin? We can pick lots of points. For corruption of the political process, my favorites are the 1960 and 1964 Presidential elections; 1960 because John Kennedy lied about the existence of a “missile gap” he knew did not exist, and because he indulged a cult of personality centered around himself that was almost altogether make believe, and 1964 because Lyndon Johnson’s enormous ego required not only that he win, but win in a landslide. But I suspect that the Wilson presidency had the worse effect, in institutionalizing a contempt for the Constitution. That contempt, long present among Progressives, is openly expressed by some of Trump’s supporters, an odd and unhomogenous lot.
Some near term events are predictable; Madame Hillary’s minions will portray Trump as the Worst Thing Ever, his supporters as only nominally human, certainly racist, and possibly psychopathic. This may not work. Hillary’s husband did a great deal to lower expectations of Presidential behavior, and Trump has made his gleefully erratic behavior an asset. Back in 1964, Johnson’s surrogates made much of criticizing Goldwater for being a shoot-from-the-hip sort of gunslinger, dangerous chap, never accurate or true. Trump has turned this impression to his advantage. Hard to tell how attacks on Trump will play for Hillary, an atrociously bad campaigner. I wonder what will happen if in mid-August polls show Trump ahead? Remembering that Progressives play only by their own rules.

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