Tuesday, June 28, 2016

America, What Are You Thinking? Yours, James Madison.

Here we are in late June of a presidential election year and we have perhaps the two worst party nominees of the last 100 years (certainly in my lifetime, at least).

The Democrats are set to nominate a woman who is certainly qualified to be president from an experiential standpoint but is severely lacking in other ways. The continual discovery of deleted emails, classified information, circumvention of State Department policy, and the questions surrounding the Clinton Global Initiative are enough to at least question whether she should be the party's nominee but no one on that side of the aisle wants to ask that question (except maybe Bernie and his supporters). There may be no wrongdoing but the appearance of it should give everyone pause.

On the other side, the GOP is about to nominate a bombastic protectionist who may well be a racist, chauvinistic bigot. He knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy, economic policy, and little about anything else. Yet, like Clinton's supporters, his defenders drool all over themselves crying out about how he 'tells it like it is' and 'isn't politically correct' as if those were qualifications for the most powerful office in the world. Questions surround his fake university and alleged charitable contributions from his various businesses. Unlike every presidential candidate in the past 50 years, he has refused to release his tax returns. What is he hiding? The GOP leadership recognizes that their prospective nominee is an empty suit and an empty head but lacks the backbone to stand up and do the right thing because they fear the unwashed masses they empowered.

The Founding Fathers created a system of self-government built upon the participation of the most well-educated and respected citizens of their day. Yet, they insulated that system from influence by popular passions and demagogues. We, in our infinite wisdom, have undone their system and turned the selection of presidential candidates over to a population that has the attention span of a tsi tsi fly, the intellectual depth of a dry creek bed, and the judgment of a two year old with its finger in an electrical socket. 
Winston Churchill once said, 'Democracy is the worst form of government...except for all the others that have been tried.'  I suspect after the Brexit vote in the U.K. and watching our presidential election contest he would change his mind.  
Thomas Jefferson once opined that in order for self-government to thrive, citizens must be knowledgeable about the issues.  We're not and haven't been for quite some time.  Think about it and you'll realize I'm right.  We don't have discussions about the intricacies of policy alternatives...we have conversations about whether Trump is a racist or Clinton is a liar.  Both may or may not be true but that isn't what we should be talking about.  We can and should do better.
Whichever candidate wins the presidency in November, two things are certain.  First, we will have gotten what we deserved. Second, James Madison and the rest of the Framers will roll over in their graves.

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