Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Is the US ballot question getting too heavy?

The logic behind Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, President Obama’s ex-cathedra observations, and a wave of conscience-stricken conservatives all claiming that Donald Trump is “unfit” for high office is too depressing to voice on mainstream television.

So hide the children: this year’s presidential election is too dangerous to be close. Indeed, the democracy-wary founding fathers may have been right: today, with all its awesome power and global obligations, maybe America shouldn’t be using the popular ballot to select its party candidates and elect its Commander in Chief.

The Khan family took the high ground and played it safe, simply questioning Trump’s knowledge of the US Constitution. The Clinton campaign, however, has gone much further, declaring that Trump is irredeemably, “temperamentally” unfit; that by his tweets alone, it’s evident that if we gave him the power he might blow us up.

The crazy guy is saying it would be nice to get along with Putin; the sane lady is claiming that she can save Estonia and, as well, has the right fingers to rest near the Red Button. Republican leaders in positions of trust are being told to put America First and ease the way for another Clinton Presidency.

As a small Canadian talker, not a fighter, I’m temperamentally unfit to cheer for a bully. And Trump baldly presents himself as that. Likewise, however, I suspect that Americans don’t welcome    months before the big day, before even a candidates debate has been held instructed that ‘civilization as we know it’ will be on the ballot this November.

The election probably will stay unpredictable for weeks to come because in the land of the free there are millions of independent voters who don’t like to be hurried.

You have to trust insiders to trust what they tell you: what they think is cooking deep inside the heads of the two leading candidates.

In a popular incumbent’s year, the insiders can scare you silly. Think of Mitt Romney. Before he challenged President Barack Obama, he was widely recognized as the progressive, Republican policy-wonk that authored Obamacare.  By Election Day 2010, he was a tin man who’d like to disenfranchise the poorer 47percent of Americans.

Or more to the point, remember liberal Senator Ted Kennedy’s pal, conservative Senator Barry Goldwater? Goldwater was trounced in a landslide by Lyndon Johnson’s anti-nuke campaign in 1964, just month’s before LBJ’s massive escalation of American military participation in Vietnam’s civil war.

Events can be hard on voter expectations. Close elections, however, haven’t yet put America’s direct democracy in fatal disrepute.

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