11.6.17

WHO REFUSES TO ACCEPT THE LIMITATIONS OF HIS OFFICE?

You want Trump Derangement Syndrome?  Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages, I give you Chris Matthews, in full eyeballs-bulging, veins-popping, spittle-flecked dudgeon.

I'd believe you, Tingles, if you didn't shout so much.  Not.



You're a self-described advocate of a Strong Executive, and you're OK with a Strong Executive, as long as the pen and the 'phone are being used in support of Administrative Usurpations you like.   But let a Strong Executive engage in Administrative Usurpations you don't like, and now, now, Tingles, you make a case for Congress rediscovering its Article I powers, and for the president to be constrained by Article II.

It's not a bad idea, Tingles. Let's take it seriously. "Forget Morlocks and Eloi—we're breeding Reds and Blues," according to Reason's J. D. Tuccille.
Can America's political tribes learn to live with each other? Perhaps. But it will take more than dumping one controversial political figure and replacing him with another who just infuriates a different set of people. To reduce political conflict and to head off violence, politics have to become lower-stakes. We have to stop treating policy choices as weapons against the opposition and zero-sum, I-win-you-lose contests.

As a libertarian, my preferred solution is always to defer to individual preferences—to make participation in various programs voluntary, and to minimize bans, restrictions, and mandates. People are unlikely to fight over politics when political contests matter much less.

But we could also breathe life back into the federalism that motivated the country's founding Constitution. If we can't devolve decision-making to individuals (and we should), at least do so to the state and local level. Impose policy choices on as few unwilling people as possible to keep conflict to a minimum. Localized decision-making also empowers dissenters to easily move to jurisdictions they find more amenable. People are highly unlikely to fight over laws that affect the lives of people only in the next state, or another town. They're even less likely to get upset when they can make their own choices without regard to the preferences of political opponents or government officials.

If we want to bring political life and discourse in the United States back from the boiling point, we have to make politics less important. When politics and policy matter less, the silly opinions of other Americans, or the rough conduct of a politician, will be far less likely to set us against each other in the streets.

But if we continue to pretend that the battle is only over putting "the right people" in charge, you should count on disagreements remaining very hot for a long time to come.
That's an opportunity, dear Tingles, to stand up for the Federal Constitution more generally.  I bet, though, we're going to see a lot more speculation about primary challenges to Our President, to flipping control of the House in order to expedite censure or impeachment or the sale of Alaska back to Russia, to contemplating who the Democrats' front runners for 2020, in other words, Tingles, to making sure the Strong Executive has the right personnel.  That, dear Tingles, is the bad end.

Here's The American Conservative's Robert W. Merry, providing the clarity.
When a man as uncouth and reckless as Trump becomes president by running against the nation’s elites, it’s a strong signal that the elites are the problem. We’re talking here about the elites of both parties. Think of those who gave the country Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee—a woman who sought to avoid accountability as secretary of state by employing a private email server, contrary to propriety and good sense; who attached herself to a vast nonprofit “good works” institution that actually was a corrupt political machine designed to get the Clintons back into the White House while making them rich; who ran for president, and almost won, without addressing the fundamental problems of the nation and while denigrating large numbers of frustrated and beleaguered Americans as “deplorables.” The unseemliness in all this was out in plain sight for everyone to see, and yet Democratic elites blithely went about the task of awarding her the nomination, even to the point of employing underhanded techniques to thwart an upstart challenger who was connecting more effectively with Democratic voters.
None of which matters to Tingles.  It's all about protecting the perquisites of the coastal Entertainment - Media - Academic Coalition of the Rent-Seekers.
Now comes the counterrevolution. The elites figure that if they can just get rid of Trump, the country can return to what they consider normalcy—the status quo ante, before the Trumpian challenge to their status as rulers of America. That’s why there is so much talk about impeachment even in the absence of any evidence thus far of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That’s why the firing of James Comey as FBI director raises the analogy of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.” That’s why the demonization of Russia has reached a fevered pitch, in hopes that even minor infractions on the part of the president can be raised to levels of menace and threat.
The rent-seekers mocked the Tea Party, and that movement came back as Trump voters. Now they mock the Trump voters, do the rent-seekers really want to face the torches and pitchforks?  That's the fate of royalists, and the Coastal Establishment have been acting like royalty, claims John Tierney for The Wall Street Journal.  (Also available here, in full.)
At this point, the idea of restraining the executive branch may seem quixotic, but [Columbia law professor Philip] Hamburger says there are practical ways to do so. One would be to make government officials financially accountable for their excesses, as they were in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they could be sued individually for damages. Today they’re protected thanks to “qualified immunity,” a doctrine Mr. Hamburger thinks should be narrowed.
That intrigues.  But it implies limitations on the office of talking-head pundits, who might have to get beyond the process worship and the horse-race aspects of the presidential polls.

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