"A republic, if you can keep it."
Benjamin Franklin's response in 1787 to a question on whether we had a monarchy or a republic reminds us still of our civic obligations. The people, Franklin warned us, must be active citizens, not merely consenting to be governed but ongoing participants in the affairs of the nation.
The following is a guest post by Daniel T. Kirsch, and independent scholar who earned a Ph.D. in political science from UMass, Amherst. He is currently writing a book about the politics of student loans. The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Massachusetts Governor and current Libertarian nominee for Vice President William F. Weld recently made the assertion that he would be campaigning primarily to defeat Donald Trump. According to Michael Levenson and Frank Phillips’ October 4 story in the Boston Globe, the Weld family fortune scion and Bush family business associate has “denounced Trump as a ‘huckster’ with a ‘screw loose’ and has said his plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants ‘would remind me of Anne Frank hiding in the attic.’” However, a look back at Weld's own political positions and rhetoric reveals some interesting parallels between the rhetoric of Trump and Weld.
“The people of this country are furious,” Trump said at one point in the debate. “There has never been anything like this.” He was correct. In sum, instead of being content on asking for forgiveness for his behavior, Trump engaged in a fierce, highly personalized and, unlike the first debate, well-prepared attack on his opponent, her husband and her views. Clinton responded in kind and the result was a constant series of exchanges, of an intensity and anger unlike any in previous presidential debates in memory. With the debate came the assurance that Donald Trump would fight to the end. With a month to go, the election was far from over.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is (ironically enough) “A DISASTER” for religious conservatives because it exposes their “ends justify the means” morality, though to say that it reveals their hypocrisy is, frankly, both too easy and not particularly useful. What it exposes is their policy rationality. What it exposes is the reason why it has been quite rational of them to use manufactured “character” and personal “values” issues to muddy the public opinion waters in order to advance anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-science public policy proposals. Hardline social/cultural conservatives support policies that have become political poison in American national politics.
Weighing in on the debate about Hillary Clinton’s “controversial” characterization of Trump supporters, the New York Times editorial board argues that presidential candidates have become too intellectually cozy with their biggest financial supporters; that they have spent too much time with them and been unduly influenced by their worldviews. This is hardly a controversial thesis, however, the Times’ spin here really should be.
This election will be the first one in which candidate-centric rhetoric will be much more than just calculated distraction from substantive policy debate because Donald Trump broke the GOP presidential nominating system. An angry, ignorant demagogue without a clue about the job he seeks successfully hijacked the GOP nomination. The simple truth is that nobody can predict what Donald Trump would do as president. No one can count on him to champion any coherent policy agenda. His rhetoric is literally insane. His promises and boasts are indistinguishable from what one would expect from a mental patient.