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Trump Candidacy Tests the Resilience of Our Democratic Institutions

Monday, October 17, 2016 6:01
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WaPo reports that faith in the American political system is deteriorating alarmingly:


Whatever its outcome, this dumpster fire of an election will continue to exacerbate the problem.

If he loses, Trump will of course scream louder than ever that the system is “rigged.” Those who believe him will not accept the election results. As with all truly destructive lies, this one is constructed around a kernel of truth. There really is voter fraud, and it needs to be addressed. But there is no evidence of fraud on the massive scale Trump implies.

Elections are an important safeguard of our liberty. Promoting the idea that the entire election process is invalid does vastly more damage than any level of fraud this country has seen.

If Trump wins, the damage could be worse still. It is horrifying that people continued to support him even after he proclaimed back in March that he would issue explicitly unlawful orders to murder the innocent relatives of suspected terrorists and to torture people. (He has made it clear that by torture he means “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” He has also made it clear that he does not care whether torture is effective as an interrogation device, since his purpose is not to acquire information but to punish and to terrorize.) Someone who is elected after promising to issue unlawful orders is unlikely to recognize the limits free people place on government power.

It isn’t only suspected terrorists and their innocent relatives he has threatened. Due to Washington Post coverage not to Trump’s liking, owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon, could be in big trouble if he takes power. The same might have been said for the Ricketts family, who received this threat for donating $5.5 million to an anti-Trump super PAC during the primaries…

…except that they were probably forgiven after donating $1 million to Trump. He has promised to expand libel laws so that they can be used to crush those who criticize him.

His supporters go wild when he proclaims that he will throw Hillary Clinton in jail. Without doubt, an indictment for her evidently criminal mishandling of classified information is warranted. But whipping up mobs by shouting that you will imprison your opponent is banana republic behavior.

Charles Krauthammer puts it well:

Such incendiary talk is an affront to elementary democratic decency and a breach of the boundaries of American political discourse. …

It takes decades, centuries, to develop ingrained norms of political restraint and self-control. But they can be undone in short order by a demagogue feeding a vengeful populism.

If he is able to take power, Trump’s conspicuous vengefulness will escalate from demagoguery to action.

This election is not just about placing the nuclear codes in Trump’s hands. It’s also about handing him the instruments of civilian coercion, such as the IRS, the FBI, the FCC, the SEC. Think of what he could do to enforce the “fairness” he demands. Imagine giving over the vast power of the modern state to a man who says in advance that he will punish his critics and jail his opponent.

For her part, Hillary flouts the law, and has escaped indictment only because Obama is for the moment her political ally. She exudes such a foul miasma of corruption that virtually any candidate other than Trump would be preferable. Nothing about her helps restore faith in the system.

The reason this is a constitutional republic and not a democracy is the Founding Fathers foresaw potential tyrants getting elected. Whatever the results, this election will test the resilience of the system they devised to safeguard our liberty.

On tips from Torcer.


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