Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Donald becomes The President

Ok, so, a few quick comments about Trump's inaugural speech. It was simple, direct, unpretentious, even pithy in its restatement of those themes he campaigned upon, which, given his reputation, is all the more striking, as he apparently waved off the speech writers who customarily put words into our president's mouths, and wrote his speech himself. Personally, I thought it was a good speech; I have some concerns about parts, but in comparison to the soaring rhetorical pap and constitutional horror shows of Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush...?, this inaugural speech was a tonic.

That being the case, of course, the Left hated it, hated it in pretty much every way it could be hated, and not surprisingly, some of the more interesting things about his speech, from an event perspective, are what Leftist's have been saying about it. I won't waste space here going over their reactions, but I urge everyone to read NPR's attempted fisking of it - an exercise in tag team biased editorial commentary, arrogantly dressed up in 'annotated' drag. What's amusing though, is how much they manage to reveal about themselves through the lines they comment upon, what they say about them, and even more so through what they skip right on by without comment. It gives us a fine illustration of why the left lost so badly in the last election, at every level, across the nation.

It's easy to find the theme of his speech reflected in multiple passages (which, BTW, is what good speech writers strive for, yet often fail to do), and they indicate both why he was elected, and why the media's go-to buzzward of the day on Friday was "Dystopian". :-)

This one passage sums up both why the Left is so upset by it, and why the Right was so not:
"Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another.

But we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."
The Pro-Regressive Left, conceived as it was upon the intent to centralize power away from the people, and under the watchful eyes of agency experts in Washington, absolutely hates that! Yet as much as I enjoy the imagery which that evokes, it is also conveys the 'partial good/potential bad', that most things Trump do. See if you can see what I mean, as he continues:
"What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
Right on the face of it, those are very satisfying, even reassuring sentiments. Also welcome, was his reference to the 'Forgotten Man' (which NPR completely whiffed). The Forgotten Man was a term from an essay at the opening of the 20th century, describing how one group of men in society are made to bear the brunt of that society's demand that they struggle and pay for the benefit of another portion of society, are made to follow the orders of yet another, smaller, self aggrandizing portion of society who take the credit for those efforts, while that first group of men who made all of their plans possible, are taken advantage of, abused and forgotten by society. Amity Shlaes, in her book "The Forgotten Man", detailed how FDR twisted that term to the purpose of expanding govt power, making the true 'Forgotten Man', even more forgotten (maybe NPR left it out because they remembered).

Of course, if Trump even partially succeeds in righting that (and his movements out of the box on the ACA, the EPA, TPP, and pledges to drastically cut regulatory controls, are extremely encouraging), that'll be a very good thing.

But righting society in that way isn't exactly what he said, is it? That's not what 'returning power' and '...become rulers once again' mean, or could be played out as. What he did say... well, not quite 'say' exactly, but what he evoked, was the idea of government deriving its power from the consent of the governed, and that they will not be ignored, and will regain their power - an admirable sentiment to be sure - but... that's also where the slope begins to get slippery, and a host of potentially bad things begin to loom before us.

For instance, how do you 'return' power to the people?

You can't, of course - if you were to try, which people would you return it to? Sure, most common sense people, and perhaps even Trump, would assume that meant stopping the government from usurping the powers which rightly belong to the people, but however it was meant, I assure you that politicians and bureaucrats mean something very different. A phrase like that evokes in them numerous committees, studies, oversight boards and commissions, because their livelihood, their very political futures, are rooted in power, and that is derived from extending favors or fears. At best, they'd set about picking some few to be empowered to 'return' powers to this neighborhood committee, or that economic forum, etc, all at the expense of everyone else, which is unlikely to be an improvement for them, and will surely put a burden upon still others, who will in turn become a new crop of forgotten men.

Of course, if Trump does cause the federal govt to cease and desist in usurping those powers which the Constitution doesn't give it the power to claim, that would be a very definite good - but the fact is that that isn't what he said, and what concerns me, despite the very middle class tenor of the passage, is that he spoke of 'Rulers', with the people becoming '...rulers once again'.
(You should check out the Gigapixel)

That's something that may be benign, but it could be much worse. Political power is a dangerous thing, it is why we do not have rulers in the United States of America, and keeping a vigilant and wary eye on those 'could's', is extremely important to keeping rulers out of the United States of America. Instead of 'rulers', we have a representative system, which, when adhered to, is very much about not giving We The People such power; rather, it is designed to separate the Sovereign, which is 'We The People', from the reigns of power, and it is also intended to separate their hired management team (our elected officials), from having full control of the reigns of power as well. Our Constitution is all about mediating political power, between powers, by means of laws derived from our Constitution, and in concert with it (Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, has an excellent, and extraordinarily brief book explaining this aspect of our system, called 'The Founder's Key'. Highly recommended).

It is an ingenious feature of our Constitution that it derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, but even more ingeniously, it does not give either they, or their representatives, direct power. Any opening that enables the bureaucracy to do end-runs around it, even with the pleasing sound of 'returning power' to the people, however that might be accomplished, will inevitably further short circuit the Constitution's structure, balance and purpose, and lead to the further powerlessness of We The People.

The next section is problematic as well,
"...For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left. And the factories closed."
The first line there, is of course true, and detestable, as is the last, but the second line opens up the rhetorical gates. How could 'the people' be made to "share" in the nation's wealth, without redistributing it? Now relax Trump supporters, I'm not saying that Trump is proposing to pull an Obama by seeking to 'spread the wealth around'. But the nearness to an open door that this edges towards, is concerning to me; it is concerning to me that he apparently doesn't notice that the good intentions he feels over the wrongs he sees, just might intensify those same wrongs, through an unanticipated angle - and that won't be a good either.

That double edged sense flows and stirs throughout the rest of the speech, as in the next section,
"...At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction -- that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.

These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public."
Again, there is a positive sense evoked, a very welcome sentiment, that the citizens are the reason why the nation exists - and issues of family, good jobs and educations are reasonable expectations, but if they are made into demands, they will soon transform their reasonability into something a great deal less reasonable. Does the nation exist to serve 'them'? No, in a very important sense, it most emphatically does not exist to serve them. Our constitutional government exists to uphold and defend the individual rights of its citizens from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but there is a sense where casting its purpose to be 'serving' its citizens, can, has, and will easily continue to abuse their rights in the name of providing them that 'service'. BTW, this is not simply speculation on my part, the fact is that the first solid fractures in our Constitutional government, the first instance of the federal government intruding upon the states with carrot and stick mandates (soon followed by laws and regulations) came upon us through exactly what he is focusing upon here: the notion that great schools and good jobs, are something that Govt should have an active hand in.

That particular good intention, which I've often gone into before, such as in this post, was originally proposed by Republicans, back in the 1860's, and it spawned both the Dept of Education (yes, in the 1860's, not 1960's) and the Dept of Agriculture, and all of the 'brooding monstrosity of American educationism' that we battle today, sprang from those very fertile weeds. It has helped to destroy the concept of Education in this nation, transforming it from the community efforts to provide the exemplars and information which best aid in becoming a moral, self-governing person capable of making intelligent decisions... into becoming economic chits in the workforce, something for businesses to order up by the bushel with these or those skills.

These are not good things, but they are easily and very understandably taken to be as such, by those who are too quick to reach for the apparent good, without further reflection, and a sense of direction that is rooted in a framework of our laws, and the concepts behind them.

And this, finally,
"...At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice...."
This is as it should be, America should be the first concern of Americans, and with a patriotic commitment to individual rights defended by the rule of law, there is no room for the hateful and stunted notions of prejudice. And of course our politics should devote total loyalty and allegiance to the United States of America, but that is only possible, through an understanding of, and adherence to, the Constitution and the concepts it was derived from. If we understand those, and their purpose, and we strive for those, we will reawaken and reanimate the greatness that is inherent in America... but without that... like unskilled miners, we are more likely to chase the fools gold of populism and nationalism, than the real thing of constitutionalism.

I am not a Trump supporter (though I certainly used his name on my ballot to help defeat the greater threat facing us in Hillary Clinton), but I am also, most definitely not a NeverTrump'r, or an anti-Trump'r. I do not buy into the easy lies and delusions that have been served up by all the various forms of media, as well as by other more well intentioned observers who are nevertheless so eager to find failures and offenses in Trump, that they will sully their perceptions of reality with pleasing bits of half chewed principles, petty illusions and sad to say, outright lies. If your argument hinges upon portraying President Trump as a dullard, a narcissist, a puppet of Russia, then your argument lacks an argument, it substitutes self delusion, credulous reporting spun from 'sources say', and flagrant propaganda, where its premises should have been. And frankly, both the Trump supporters, and the NeverTrumpr's, are speculating on his coming actions, for good or ill, on the basis of their own emotional evaluations, based largely upon the hearsay that resonates most with their own preferred enthusiasms/fears. I have no use for such 'arguments', or the peddling of them.

Of course I'd have preferred to have had someone with a track record of commentary on constitutional ideas and positions so that I could have something to base my evaluations and expectations on, but just because we don't have that, doesn't mean that I'm now going to conclude that I should buy into all of the ginned up fears about him that come along - but.. yes, I'm also very conscious that that too is based upon my hopes and off the cuff evaluations of him. The die is cast and we will have to see what we see, and respond accordingly.

But leaving the hysterics aside, there is much to be wary of in a Trump administration, but not because I think that he's a fool, a crook, or a Russian puppet, but precisely because I do not think he is a fool, a crook, or a Russian puppet. I do believe that President Trump loves America and wants to improve it... but I'm also painfully aware that such good intentions, without a solid respect and understanding for what is essential and primary to what truly does make America great, can, especially in the hands of a skilled manager and showman, easily, unintentionally, become every bit as dangerous as the actions of those who do mean to do us harm, and his supporters should not ignore that.

Still though, despite the best efforts of the masked thugs of the fascistic pro-regressive Left, his inauguration is past, and we have yet again been able to thank God for the peaceful transfer of power, from one worldview, to another - and that is damned near miraculous!

Now let's keep an eye on that power, and let's be especially on the lookout for any well, or ill-intentioned moves that might tarnish America's luster even further, and let us all hope and pray that President Trump is able to help de-grime, de-clutter, and pollish up America's greatness once again.

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