Many in the nation appeared to be relieved or even gleeful at the result of the reopening of the FBI email investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Yes, there was cause to feel a sense of affirmation about the dark world she inhabits. Woe to those of us, however, who retreated into smugness or schadenfreude. In the winner-takes-almost-all system that we have developed over the years it is easy to fall into this trap.
Now, with Comey reiterating what he said in July, is it time for these feelings in reverse?
There is ample cause for us to look inward and self-excoriate, for we have created the very paradigm that has allowed a presidential contest to be so significant. It was never supposed to be that way.
Ok, yes significant, but not like we know it today.
With the power of the Presidency ever expanding and the stakes of who wins so large as to dwarf any other contest, the “win at any cost” mentality of many others seem to excuse wrongdoing and even blatant criminal behavior.
The Founders would feel chagrin as they painstakingly crafted the office of the Presidency with enough power to guide a nation but not enough to replace one tyrant with another.
Power in the office of the President today is in many ways the genesis of how divisive and ruthless our campaigns have become.
In fact, at some perverse level, society may be in debt to Clinton. Without this high-profile contest, we would not know just how corrupt our leadership has become to reach and end.
The revelations about candidate Clinton reveal:
- Most scandals that register are just business-as-usual in our political system. Nothing is shocking or unimaginable today as, sadly, as we hold leadership to low expectations and we seem to tolerate a certain level of corruption. How many others whom are not Clinton are getting away with similar madness?
- Americans are losing confidence and trust in their government. From a Gallop poll taken in September of 2015 a full 75% of Americans think corruption is wide-spread. This suspicion and proof of corruption frays the bonds that tie us together as Americans. A disregard for the rule of law is what Lincoln said would destroy our nation from within unless a law-abiding people rise up and demand fidelity to the Constitution. How is a vote for Clinton not the embodiment of Lincoln’s prediction?
- The Departments of the Executive branch are now largely swayed by and accountable to the party in power. Departments have been coopted. That is the sign of a banana republic, not a flourishing democracy.
- Blind justice and equality under the law are increasingly platitudes, not realities. The admirable work and personal sacrifice of Dinesh D’Souza bears that out. Do we need any more evidence of this than the play-by-play history of how a vengeful administration worked to imprison an opponent?
- Discussions of substantive issues have been subordinated to arguments about the other candidate’s character flaws. This is, of course, a feature of most campaigns but not to the extent seen in this year’s banal dialog. (Neither candidate gets a “by” on this.)
- A Trump victory won’t be seen by the press or the establishment as a mandate but rather a rejection by Americans of the corrupt nature of Clinton Inc. and Washington, in general. This will hurt Trump’s ability to carry-out policy.
- A Clinton victory will dissuade future leaders from taking on the Establishment as it is will be, futile, “too big to fail.”
- A Trump presidency will not bring the Republicans together. The Establishment part of the party will look at his win as a “lucky break” that, in and of itself, will thwart change and reform.
- A Clinton win, particularly a close one, will heap blame on the “Never Trump” movement, which in turn may be a prelude for an intra-party civil war.
The list of negatives continues but a country founded on optimism deserves analysis based on the same. We have in front of us a tremendous learning and growing opportunity.
So, now a reminder and an admonition: the powers delegated to the Executive in the Constitution are few and defined. Washington himself even became bored with the role at times with nothing more to do as he fulfilled his daily duties as Chief Executive. Over time, however, we have allowed this office to grow into a source of such power that its decisions determine our fate.
No, this wasn’t the way it was intended. Just read Federalist 67 and 69. Our Founders were very wary of giving the executive too much power as they did not want to create the King George from whom they had just separated. Great pains were taken to limit our President’s powers.
Over time, however, the ever-growing Executive branch has looked more and more like what our forefathers feared. It is time to be reined in. The ship of state was supposed to be as steady as possible but in today’s environment we see that ship listing greatly in accordance with whomever is at its helm.
Electing our President this Tuesday should not matter as much as it does today. We have allowed our Presidents to become four-year monarchs with ever-increasing power.
Because of this the stakes in victory have grown. Parties are willing to cover up, hide, gloss, ignore, excuse, make light of and even accept treasonous acts by their nominees to win. What are our bearings?
If we care about safeguarding the nation, we subordinate glee at revelations about subversive conduct to revisiting the intentions of the Framers and re-limiting any one President’s ability to save or destroy us.