Thursday, November 3, 2016

Weighing My Choices Between Trump and Hillary

On Trump

There is no conservative or libertarian case for voting for Trump. There's no Republican case for it either. He's never been conservative and he represents a screw-you to the Republicans. A President Trump would represent the end of the Republican Party as we know it and he'll probably spend the next 4 years running against Republican Congressmen and Senators. He would not be comfortable with the party until it were re-branded as a channel for his twitters.

But... although it might be bad for conservatives and Republicans, a President Trump might be good for America. You see, Trump will never have the full support of his party and will always have full opposition of the Democrats. He will always be one major scandal away from impeachment. This is good. A democracy is not well served by high-trust in the government or leaders. It is very possible that starting in February 2017 or earlier, the Republicans and Democrats will unify to lock away the considerable tools of the imperial presidency forged over the last 15 years. That will simply not happen under President Hillary Clinton.

Consider why the US Constitution was so singularly successful among other republics formed near the same time. As it was constructed, Americans were greatly concerned that some leader in another state would attempt to become a dictator. Consequently, they nailed down all the rules of power in a true legal document with lots of trip-wires against the unidirectional implementation of power. They created a constitution that did not require angels for it to work as intended.

On the other hand, compare the constitutions of the new French Republic or the one in Haiti or Columbia. Those republics did not have to unify various state powers with a significant degree of mistrust. The designers of those constitutions trusted each other and did not need to win over the trust of anyone else. Consequently, their constitutions were not so much legal documents as grand statements of high principles and general rules of procedure. But there was no actual delineation of what the government could and could not do -- no clarification on where public supervision ends and where private organization is sacrosanct.

America could benefit by having a president that a majority of our political class believes to be intemperate, of limited intelligence, morally and intellectually weak. It could motivate them to redesign the presidency so that it would not require a genius-saint to reliably perform the job for the best of the American people.

True, Trump has made a lot of nonsense promises, but they are promises he will never be able to do even if he had the discipline to see them through. On the up-side, they will almost certainly never happen. On the down-side, this fact can only deepen the Americans cynicism regarding its political class.

On Hillary

Just like Trump, Hillary will rot away the Democratic Party with her touch. They'll have two years during which Hillary will certainly devote most her time paying back Goldman-Sachs for their investments. After that, President Hillary will have done more to patch up and rejuvenate the Republican Party in the eyes of voters than any wise inspiring leader could. While the Republicans will have an opportunity to reform in the face of the quickly changing political alignments, the Democrats will spend the next four years shorting up a 30 year old ideology and litigating the last 16 years of Clinton Foundation shenanigans.

Unlike Trump, there nothing about President Clinton that would be palliative for the country or beneficial for her party. If you are looking forward to Hillary picking Scalia's and Ginsberg's replacement or harassing firearm manufacturers (just as 3-D printing is on the verge of rendering them obsolete), then she could rightly be seen as kamazi flying the country and her party into the Republican obstructionists.

If Trump is cytokine storm in reaction to a chronic wasting disease in our democracy, Hillary is the personification of that disease. Self-dealing and entitled, she shares the human weaknesses typical of our political class but, by far, Clinton Inc has been the most virulently successful in those anti-virtues. The Clinton's are a super-virus against which, apparently, our democracy has no natural immunity. And as with Trump, Hillary will be bone cancer to the Democratic Party. The Republicans will have an opportunity to reform in the face of the (self-evidently) changing political demographics. The Democrats will spend the next four years implementing 90s ideology and litigating the last 16 years of Clinton Foundation shenanigans.

However, Hillary does have certain weaknesses that can prevent her doing serious harm. First, she is an unpleasant person. Her party will never mythologize her. They will always find her embarrassing. Also, she's corrupt and shady and contrived, but without any glossy veneer. If a Bond villain strokes a beautiful white cat in his lap, Hillary would have a scaly kobold. In the 90s, prosecutors sought for years certain records from Hillary's Rose Law Firm work. On the day, after statute of limitations expired, the records were mysterious discovered in the to public room adjoining the First Lady's offices. As the magician Raymond Teller, of Penn & Teller, said to NPR of the event,
In magic, we usually employ some kind of distraction so that it will appear to the audience that something is happening besides what is actually happening. That doesn't seem to have been done in this case. [paraphrase]
Hillary is the brutalist architecture of retail politics and public corruption. She will always be scrutinized. At the same time, she will have new powers of the Executive to hide her misdeeds and gain increased immunity from prosecution for it. It would be nice if -- as with Trump -- President Hillary's naked venality would result in the Democrats and Republicans unifying to reform the presidency so that a corrupt president would have limited capability to do mischief in the job. Unfortunately, I don't think that is in the cards.

But as Kevin Williamson said in National Review, there is still an upside to be gained from Hillary's temperament and character.
there is one thing about you [Hillary] that gives me a little hope: You are a coward. You are so risk-averse politically and personally that you have a natural tendency toward what might be described as a kind of conservatism — not conservatism of the Buckley–Goldwater–Reagan variety, but a certain conservatism of disposition
This is the same up-side with Trump's worthless promises: Many of her promises will likely never happen. Unfortunately, it would have the same downsides: It will deepen our general cynicism. But, given the effect of a President who would have been indicted were she not in office, that effect would hardly be noticed.

Conclusion

Hillary has no upsides and lots of downside. Trump does have upsides - at least temporarily. At this point, I suppose it is only what is left of my pity for the Republicans and my personal disdain at hearing him say anything that keeps me from going for Trump. I don't think I'm patriotic enough to do it.

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