Comment Of The Day: “Yes, It’s Open Forum Time Again!,” And Reflections On The State of Our Democracy, Part 2

Part I, and Michael R’s Comment of the Day, are here.

The embedded government bureaucracy has always been recognized as a necessary evil, because the pre-Civil Service system of cleaning house after every election was inefficient and an invitation to cronyism. It cannot be denied, however, that partisan biases and loyalties within the “Deep State” create other serious problems, including individuals taking it upon themselves to undermine and  sabotage policies they disagree with.  Usually the phenomenon is subtle and not routine, but the partisan hysteria weaponized it against Trump, with anti-Trump government employees with influence and power felt more justified in betraying the President than ever before. Prime among this group has been the judiciary, the intelligence community, the State Department, and the diplomatic corps.

Seduced by a partisan narrative, spread daily by the mainstream media, that an illegitimate President who was elected by racists and morons was poised to destroy the country, and maybe the world, because of his greed, stupidity–and insanity!–once unthinkable levels of disloyalty and active opposition to a President by those paid to support the leader chosen by the people were not only justified, but necessary. This attitude quickly metastasized into a coup mentality. This too is routinely derided as a Fox News talking point, but denial only works for so long. In this case, time is almost up.

I finally concluded, early in 2017, that Trump’s election showed that our democracy works and remains vital. The nation was being dragged into a new culture which was violently contrary to core American principles and values that have made the nation what it was, in great part because of the Left’s ideological  capture  of American institutions, notably education, the legal profession, journalism, and the political elites. Somehow, in the inexplicable wisdom of crowd, the ignorant, confused, misinformed and emotion-driven U.S  public found a way to say “Enough!” in the most startling, obnoxious, disruptive way imaginable.

Lincoln was proven right. You can’t fool all the people all the time.

I analogized the election of Donald Trump to Delta House’s attack on the parade at the climax of “Animal House,” sending a powerful message conforming to the mad logic of Otter’s memorable speech to the disheartened fraternity members:

“We gotta take these bastards. Now, we could fight ‘em with conventional weapons. That could take years and cost millions of lives. Oh, no. No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”

That gesture, in 2016, meant electing someone as President that would drive the Left crazy, and make it realize that our system of government does not make it easy to steamroll “We the People.”  This was our French Revolution against a class that had behaved as if they knew best, and the people should quietly accede to their superior virtue and wisdom. (I think Jefferson would have loved the 2016 election, perhaps even more than Hamilton and Adams would have hated it.)

If Democrats had taken the lesson to heart, respected the will of the people, and followed the traditions, norms and values established since 1789, I think they would be in an excellent position to be given another chance by the electorate. They did not, however. They decided to defy the will of the people, appeal to the portion of their constituency that has contempt for the United States, its history and institutions, and rather than accept the election of 2016, to deny it and try to undo it by any means possible.  The harm this has done to the nation is unmeasurable right now, in the eye of the storm, but it is certain to be massive and long-lasting. If the effort succeeds in removing President Trump or even if it fails but the President is defeated in 2020, it is likely that Republicans will use the same miserable, unethical, crippling and undemocratic tactics against whatever Democratic President is elected. They will behave as if he or she was not legitimatize elected. They will actively seek rationalizations to justify removal. They will use whatever tools they have at their disposal: the judiciary, a majority in either House of Congress, captured pundits and news sources, to make it impossible for the new President to govern. Republicans are no smarter nor more ethical than Democrats. They too are driven by the need for power and base emotions like hate and vengeance.

Our only hope, it appears now, is for voters to deal the Democratic Party/ “resistance”/ mainstream news media alliance a loud and crushing defeat, signalling a rejection of their tactics and contempt for elections–negative reinforcement of the war on this President. I have written many times that as an ethicist I cannot in good conscience ever vote for a man like Donald Trump, one who is essentially without ethics, to lead a nation that is the only one in the world that was built on a foundation of ethical values.

My resolve is failing. Voting against what the Democrats have done to this nation and our institutions may make voting for a repulsive President an ethical mandate.

28 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Yes, It’s Open Forum Time Again!,” And Reflections On The State of Our Democracy, Part 2

  1. “Voting against what the Democrats have done to this nation and our institutions may make voting for a repulsive President an ethical mandate.”

    I completely understand the frustration and the anger but that may be pushing it.

    Since all the candidates are unethical partisan political hacks there is no way of NOT voting for a partisan political hack so I’m choosing to vote strictly on policy.

      • I agree Jack. Where I disagree slightly is that if the voters turn Trump out the D’s will learn that these tactics work. R’s will retaliate in kind when an opportunity arises but when both sides start delegitimizing elections the electorate will revolt violently which will allow our advesaries to take full advantange. If we ever see a hammer and sickle or a crescent moon on our flag we can only blame it on our own biases that allowed a few to destroy our nation.

  2. I’m uncertain whether Trump is “without ethics”. Certainly he has major flaws in his character and is the most obnoxious president ever elected. However, he has some major accomplishments to his credit in spite of fierce opposition which meant that he has kept at least some of his promises to the American people. That per say, is ethical behavior.

    • Per se? Nobody can do everything unethically. It’s ethical conduct, but unethical people do ethical things. I’ve seen no indication that he knows what ethics is, or has functioning ethics alarms at all. He does some ethical things because they comport with his goals and objectives. That’s ethical conduct, but absent more, it doesn’t show he’s personally ethical.

      • Jack,
        If we apply that set of values to Trump we must also apply it to just about everyon else.

        No one is perfectly ethical but we cannot determine the thought processes persons use to come to a choice of behavior.

        Ethical alarm bells ring when one believes something is wrong, correct?
        If that person’s cultural conditioning teaches the person that ridiculing someone to gain an advantage is wrong (which I believe) but others learn the opposite alarm bells may not ring.

        Doing the right thing means different things to different people. Many say it is ethical to “give back”. I don’t because I see guilting people to provide for others who could do what it takes to do for themselves but choose not to unethical. Further, the phrase “give back” suggests what I have is somehow ill gotten and the receiver is deserving of a rebate. Finally, for those that do ” give back”, if they must derive a public acknowledgment – name on a plaque, awards ceremonies for volunteering etc- the idea that giving back is ethical gets very muddy at best.

        With that said, I routinely jump to help those who cannot do for themselves and never seek help.

        I suppose we all live our lives on a continuum and behave accordingly.

        If ever I was asked who would I most likely wish to be associated and my choices were only:

        Harry Reid
        Teddy Kennedy
        Maxine Waters
        Mitt Romney
        Nancy Pelosi
        Donald Trump

        I think I would choose Trump because I know what to expect him be. I need no more underhanded people smiling at me as they twist the knife in my back.

          • I see Mitt Romney as say more ethical than some but when you work to harm someone underhandedly because that person did not give you what you want speaks volumes to me. The biggest complaint most people have with Trump is that he lacks decorum in speech, ridicules others, and has a taste for and ability to attract young beautiful women.

            Romney sought a position in the administration but now will hold his vote over the Trumps head.

            If a person will vote to one way because he likes you but another if he has an ax to grind with you that suggests that person has no more principles than the one who is public with his less than admirable behavior. It tells me that Romney seeks power for his own sake. No one has yet shown me that Trump is using his position to acquire power.

            I said associate not admire. As for Teddy Kennedy, who wants to have him drive you home from the bar?

            • I think you are making a lot of unfair assumptions about what motivates Mitt Romney, and are making a lot of generous ones about Donald Trump.

              As for this “The biggest complaint most people have with Trump is that he lacks decorum in speech, ridicules others, and has a taste for and ability to attract young beautiful women.”

              I think that’s a list of complaints that most people who support Donald Trump have. Those that don’t have a much different, more damning list – starting with, but not limited to, his penchant for lying non-stop.


              • Joey

                Let me elaborate about Mitt. He moves to places where he can win. That is a power seeking strategy.

                I can relate better to Trump who I think actually likes the average American than I can to Romney who sees us as a means to his political ends. We all know a storyteller that embellishes to impress. We have no problem with those folks. We also know users and abusers who I call the Eddie Haskells of the world that would sell you out in a heartbeat. Those are the ones I don’t trust.

                As for the link to Trumps lies. If I only measure one person’s lies – the inconsequential to the very consequential – and purposely avoid the lies told by others I too can skew data. Are you saying that because there are no lists of lies for others they are more honest. If so, on what do you base that assumption when we know Trump’s adversaries find some fault with everything he says and does.

                I will be more likely to give latitude to someone telling inconsequential “lies” “falsehoods”, exaggerations etc. that I can easily check than I am who tell consequential ones whose truth is harder to assess.

                It really does not matter which politician you select they all lie to you at some point. As for Trump I would wager he is one of the most truthful when it comes to what he said he would work to accomplish. How many people attended his inauguration is far less important than saying you will be transparent and then do the opposite and jail whistleblowers. To me politics is what happens consequentially on net.

              • Joey. Are you paid by Mitt Romney or someone affiliated with him to monitor social media? Sure looks that way to me. If so, be gone.

                • OB

                  I understand Joey’s issues. My evaluation of both McCain and Romney has changed since Trump was elected. I voted for both. My choice in 2016 primary was Cruz because it appeared he had a backbone and his approach toward Constitutional issues. When Trump became the candidate I was skeptical but seeing that he doubles down when the progressives threaten to hold their breath if they dont get their way. If I wanted Casper Milquetoast as a figurehead conservative President I could have voted for Jeb or Kasich. I wanted someone willing to stand firm against the expected onslaught from the progressive movement who believe only they know what is right and fair.

                  The irony in the argument that Trump is such a liar is that they ignore every falsehood told by their favored officials but count every Trump utterance that they deem false – even opinions – as lies.

                  If we consider carefully crafted statements that mislead but are technically true are these lies when the intent is to have duality of meaning?

                  A voter made a claim to E. Warren that Warren wants the voters kids to be stuck in public schools while hers went to private schools to which Warren replied her kids went to public schools.

                  Technically true but misleads. Warren’s son only went to public school through fifth grade and her daughter I believe longer. The point was that Warren misled the voter by giving a half truth and was a technical false statement because at some point Warren decided that public school was not good enough for her kid. Had she moved her kid out of private school into public school that would be a different valuation.

      • Heh. Maybe it could be best described as moral luck — he succeeded in spite of himself.

        I suspect he knows what ethics is, but he’s decided that it just doesn’t work for him. He prefers to set ethical considerations aside, for the most part, especially where his opponents (perhaps even reasonably described as “enemies” in this case) are concerned, but also in his personal and professional lives. Never has caveat emptor applied more accurately to a person.

        In other words, he rejects Marquis de Queensbury rules, the Golden Rule, and any other commonly cited ethical principle as the equivalent of gloves in a bare-fisted contest. He extends that to everything, even places where his opposition is really just friendly disagreement.

        It’s an ugly way to govern, but it can undeniably be effective. It’s almost a cave man or mob boss approach — opponents are to be mocked, ridiculed, and hopefully destroyed as thoroughly as possible, however long and bloody the effort, and let no criticism pass without a much harsher response.

        If you want to take on Trump in virtually any area, you’d better bring an entire grocery store, because he holds grudges until they are dead of old age, then stuffs them and hangs them on his Twitter feed. And he never stops punching until you give up or can’t respond. Getting the last word with Trump is a fantasy.

        He is without a doubt the most bare-knuckle, never-bring-a-knife-when-a-gun-would-be-better, brute force is the best medicine politician in my memory, and I remember a bunch of them.

        • Glen

          Do you think he is this way always or only when the opposition takes him on publically in a negative way.

          I’ve known people like him who respect you and speak well of you when you do battle with them privately as long as you don’t try to humiliate them or act condescendingly. If you try to diminish them in public they go Ghengis Kahn all over you.

          Speaking of Kahn’s. This is a good example. The Gold Star dad who the media claimed was attacked by Trump actually prompted Trump’s rather mild rebuke when Kahn went off in a nationally televised tirade against Trump at the DNC convention.

          Here is a question, can you ever punch down when you see your opponent as an equal? I believe Trump sees himself as an everyday guy from the Bronx so he may not have been schooled in the ruling class ways.

            • Jack, I do not disagree that most people see the POTUS as not being an equal. Where they get that opinion is beyond me. I however do not believe the POTUS is above me or below me. He or she is someone brought in by the society to do a job and advance our interests. Nothing more, nothing less.

              The argument that the president can never respond in kind to a citizen criticism is grossly unfair.

              I will agree that responding with an ad hominem attack against a citizen is bad form for a president but so too is attacking the president with similar diatribes.

              There is no real power differential between the POTUS and anyone person. Each gets one vote. The only power differential that existd is that of our president and other heads of state because we as a collective group give him or her the power they command. The internal problems we are experiencing alter that international power differential to the detriment of all of us.

              Domestically, in a society that loves to support victims, our society reinforces the idea that public figures are fair game to villify. The mob will create the illusion that any member criticized by an opposing public figure is being victimized by that public figure and then use their collective power to attempt to bully the public figure into submission. The perception of weakness of one within the mob gives rise to collective power that will overcome any person of higher rank. The perception of weakness of the opposition reinforces the group power as it attracts fence sitters who have patiently waited to see which side hade the greatest probability of winning.

              Glen alluded to mob boss behavior for Trump’s bare knuckles brawling but I can draw parallels to gang behavior among the electorate. D’s and R’s are behaving not much differently than Bloods v Crips. Gangs provide security and resources any challenge to the gang’s authority and power is quickly put down by the group the group will surround and overwhelm a weaker target. The gang has no empathy for their opposition. In my mind progressives are much closer to gang behavior because they require ideological purity.

              This subject requires much more than I can accomplish on my cell phone but suffice it to say, for me no elected person is superior to me or beneath me in terms of power or humanity.

          • Well, Chris, in answer to your first question, I think he made a conscious decision earlier in life to always be a tough guy, to never take a punch without throwing one back twice as hard, and to fight over every inch of ground, giving nor taking quarter.

            I don’t think that is wise, but it has its merits. When you take Trump’s attitude, you never have to apologize, because ipso facto you are always operating from a position of aggression, if not strength. There’s no room in that attitude for apology, and one thing the Republicans have always done badly is being unwilling to fight for their principles, and worry more about optics than effectiveness. Trump has taken the position that being President means never having to say you’re sorry, for good or ill.

            In answer to your second question, I think a President can only punch down against almost any other American not competing against him for the Presidency, either actually or potentially. He has no other real peer, and his power is far more vast than any individual in America bar none. As such, his rhetorical punches are always suspect.

            It may be possible, from a political perspective, to see the Speaker or Minority Leader of the House, the Majority or Minority Leader of the Senate, or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as near enough to a peer to be attacked by the President without the stigma of a power disparity so severe it constitutes a “punch down.” Other than those, and certain foreign leaders or direct Presidential rivals, Trump is always punching down to a greater or lesser degree when he rhetorically attacks anyone.

            That’s what I think, for what it’s worth.

            • Glen, let me ask you when Trump punches down what happens to those he punches? Is their platform elevated? Do many rally behind them?

              The reason you should not punch down is not because it hurts the opponent it is because your victim will engender sympathy of the masses even if the supposed victim started the fight.

              The Gold Star father story involving the Kahn’s fails to recall that Trump mildly rebuffed him after Kahn viciously trashed him at the DNC convention.
              The headlines said Trump attacked a Gold Star father
              They failed to report that Kahn is an immigration lawyer specializing in securing entry documents for Pakistani’s. Kahn labled Trump a racist bigot and much more at the convention. He was used as a human shield by the D’s. Kahn’s power was multiplied by Trump’s rather mild rebuff rather thsn diminished.

              • Well, in answer to your first question, I would say yes. Clearly in today’s environment, anyway.

                I think the reason you don’t punch down is because it’s a bad look for the office. If we were only talking about Trump, the man, I would say your point is well taken. But he isn’t the man, he’s the POTUS, and every unethical act does violence to his office. Punching down is certainly such an act.

                I get the story about Kahn, and I knew about it. The thing is, when you’re in Trump’s position, you have to account for more than just what your words might be intended to do. And while you’re right about Kahn’s profile being elevated in the eyes of some, it was diminished in the eyes of others, as illustrated by your comments. In any case, Trump’s comments hurt the office of the President, dragging it down to a lower level than it deserves to be.

  3. A thought occurred to me as I was reading this;

    Following the 2016 election, there was a trend on the left, it didn’t last long, where they attempted to hitch the Trump presidency to Anti-Semitism, which they deemed to be bad, This was refreshing, because up until the 2016 election, the Democratic party had been a haven for Anti-Semites; Everything from BDS enthusiasts to the DC Councillor who said that Jews controlled the weather and were using it against black people in cities or the rapper who said that it looked like the Nazis were protecting the Jews in their concentration camps. I had said, knowing that Democrat’s newfound attitude towards Jewish people probably wasn’t genuine, that if they actually followed through and started treating racism against Jews as seriously as they treat other forms of racism, that despite the reason this came about, it might have some positive outcomes. I’m a glass half full kind of guy, I guess.

    So, imagine my shock when after a couple years of beating the drum, Democrats realized that they weren’t getting traction on the attacks against Trump from that angle, and it might cause them grief when people like newly elected Illhan Omar invariably deposited their feet directly into their mouths with their colorful opinions on the topic. Again…. Democrats don’t have principles, they have a desire for power, and they will abandon their principles, burn the ground they previously stood on, and then bomb the area with non-kosher salt for good measure the moment it becomes politically expedient for them to do so.

    Apply that theory to this… If Democrats were actually worried about the kinds of deals the executive makes inside it’s purview and the effect that those deal might have on elections, it would be refreshing. I’ll remind you about a certain hot mic where Barack Obama asked Russia to back off on their Western Border until after Obama’s second election because after his election he would have more flexibility. Following that, Russia backed off, Obama was able to project a foreign relations portfolio that wasn’t a complete tatters, and then Russia took the Crimean Peninsula while America wagged it’s fingers and laid a couple of sanctions. I’ll also remind you of how Joe Biden bragged about leveraging American aid to the Ukraine in order to get the prosecutor who was at the time investigating Burisma holdings, who at the time employed his son, fired. I suppose if the Democrats were actually interested in rooting out corruption, then despite the reason they’d come around on the topic, it could be seen as a good thing.

    But at some point…. Who are we kidding? If anyone actually believes that, I have a burnt out French cathedral to sell them. It’s all a show. The Democrats know they can’t impeach Trump before the election, because the Senate won’t cooperate. And after the election, if Trump is elected, he will have been elected with America knowing full well the details of who Trump is and what he does. Elections are the will of the people, and overthrowing them because the person they elected did things they already knew about is going to be about as well received as soggy bag full of used dildos. This whole proceeding is in practice the world’s most expensive Kabuki theater. It’s a multi-year, nine-figure, non-repeating political ad.

    Is getting money out of politics a Democrat talking point only if the money isn’t taken as tax revenue first?

  4. I agree Jack. Where I disagree slightly is that if the voters turn Trump out the D’s will learn that these tactics work. R’s will retaliate in kind when an opportunity arises but when both sides start delegitimizing elections the electorate will revolt violently which will allow our advesaries to take full advantange. If we ever see a hammer and sickle or a crescent moon on our flag we can only blame it on our own biases that allowed a few to destroy our nation.

  5. The final paragraph in this post describes my process regarding a potential vote for Trump in 2020. I didn’t vote for him (or any Presidential candidate in 2016) because I’m not a fan of voting for the “least awful” candidate. Yet, in spite of Trump’s – constant trumpeting – he has worked hard to manifest a number of his campaign promises. He’s done some things that the Democrats have talked about but never delivered. Our unemployment numbers, the economy in areas, and isolationist-leaning take on foreign policymaking, is really impressive to me.

    Yet I don’t trust him. I don’t trust any Presidential candidates generally, so perhaps that’s all it is. All Presidents make choices that the public isn’t always going to like. I have concerns about the Space Force project and his introduction of biometric and genetic tracking of immigrants, legal or not. These may be things any President during this era would do, but taken to extremes, could jeopardize constitutional protections and waste tax payer funds.

    What he excels at and makes me consider a 2020 vote, is his ability to bluntly and deservingly, tell it like it is regarding Democrat/Progressive bullying. Living in Portland is an extra dose of woke identity performance pandering that displays exactly what is problematic (I dislike that word but it fits here) about leftism run amok. Even though I still love this crazy ass place, when it’s a shit show, it’s a messy one, and our country cannot go in the direction this city does.

    A Trump vote, no matter how uninspired, essentially says, “I’m mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore.” But is voting to “push back” ethical? Is voting in spite, right? Perhaps it is if you observe leftist demagoguery up close. Trump is a bully fighting the other bullies. Let’s just hope the injuries our country sustains in the fight can be healed.

    • Lady Q,

      I respect the careful consideration and concern with which you weigh these issues. You have a unique perspective and sit with a first rate view of consequences for the direction our society has been dragged the past decade. Hope and change, indeed.

      The heartland has determined that the high road will result in socialist destruction of all that makes America unique… and successful. Forty years of the high road have not been effective… or even useful. It has actually been used against us, in a despicable way, in the politics of personal destruction to weed out anyone who actually believes in America. What we have had, for a long time, is a GOP Establishment who plays the ‘loyal opposition,’ taking a dive to increase Elite power and personal wealth at every turn.

      Trump was a desperate cry from fly over country. Since we elected him, we have seen how he has been treated… and how they see us. We now understand that the powerful in this nation are determined to sell us into slavery, into a crony socialism that results in permanent power in the hands of a few, just like every other nation on earth.

      Progressives are willing to burn down America to gain the power they crave.

      This is a war in every way short of blood in the streets. The ethics of war are different. We believe, no, we KNOW, that progressives hope and pray to put their opposition in jail or worse.

      Trump is our only ethical choice to prevent that blood from running into the gutters.

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