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the perils of Trump
A Leftist Who Gets It
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  • Pave Low John

    Constitutional restraints? On a President?

    Now that’s just crazy talk. But here is the bad part – Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats in this regard. After all, both parties have done everything in their power to boost the executive and diminish the legislature in terms of authority and prestige. Why would either side be surprised that this kind of idiocy would blow up in their collective faces? I bet Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama feel pretty damn stupid right now, having weaponized the office of the President just to hand it over to Donald J. Trump. Idiots….

    As for me, I blame the Republicans, the so-called “Party of Small Government” the most. At least the Democrats are open about their worshipful stance towards increased levels of executive power. What excuse do the Republicans have? “What, you thought we were serious about that small government shit?”

    Like that one guy on Sirius XM Patriot puts it: If you love Donald Trump, you only have the Republican Party to thank; and if you hate Donald Trump, you only have the Republican Party to blame.

  • Pait

    The only manner by which the authoritarian danger to the institutions can be avoided is if conservatives and liberals realize they are in danger. It may happen – the far right and the far left have already joined in support of the Trump-Putin axis, in the US and internationally, so it is possible that the center-right and the center-left will join forces to defend the Republic. Perhaps there is reason to be cautiously optimistic, although it has to be found outside the Congress.

    • JR1123581321

      so village idiot John Podesta (he of a multiple person IT staff) falling for a phishing scam is now Trump-Putin axis? Hilarious. Keep it up.

      • Pait

        As I wrote elsewhere, you manner of arguing by swearing doesn’t lead to a dialogue.

        • JR1123581321

          Where did I swear? Please quote me. You are just making stuff up when challenged. You want to be a coward? That’s your prerogative.

          • Pait

            “village idiot”. Calling someone names doesn’t advance an argument. No, it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t me you were calling names. It still doesn’t constitute a dialogue.

          • JR1123581321

            Um, that is an accurate description of someone who click on a phishing link. It still doesn’t make my point any less valid or your lack of reply any less obvious. But keep on scaremongering about Putin-Trump axis.

    • Jim__L

      Thank you for answering my earlier question about whether that hat you have on is made of tin foil. Although, a simple “Yes” would have been clearer than this post.

      • Pait

        I’m not sure what is most impressive: the persuasive logic of your argument, or the constructive civility which you employ.

  • f1b0nacc1

    What utter bilge.

    Given the general march towards ever greater degrees of statism from prior presidents on both sides of the aisle, to suggest that Trump represents some new and unique threat is simply ignorant, and reeks of special pleading. Following Obama (he of ‘the phone and the pen’), Bush (who never met a civil liberty that he didn’t feel could be bypassed), and Clinton (who treated constitutional principles the way that a vampire treats garlic), the real question isn’t what sort of threat Trump represents to constitutional principles but rather what hope he offers that they may be restored. Congress and the courts have hardly been much better, both as enablers of this dolorous trend and active contributors in their own right.

    What really seems to tick off ‘our elders and betters’ here at TAI the most is Trump’s rejection of ‘norms’, i.e. a set of unwritten rules that govern debate, but not the actual implementation of the outcome of that debate. Trump is crude and obnoxious, and I am hardly a fan (though I admit, I have been pleasantly surprised with what I have seen so far), but the fact that he is willing to declare that the emperor has no clothes seems to be his biggest sin in the eyes of most….

    Rather than dark mutterings about his ‘authoritarian impulses’ (really? how do these differ from Obama’s open contempt for congress and equally open willingness to simply ignore any limitations on his own authority?….I don’t remember seeing these referred to as ‘authoritarian impulses’, or does he enjoy some special exemption?), lets see some specific examples of actual behavior, not just violations of drawing room manners that seem to offend you so…

    • Disappeared4x

      Today’s antidote to NeverNormalizeTrumps syndrome, T.A. Frank jumped out of the echo chamber of hypocrisy with: “Can the Democrats Start from Scratch? : Before assailing Trump’s Cabinet nominations, or thirsting for a Warren-Booker ticket, the left must do some serious soul-searching.”

      by T.A. Frank, January 3, 2017 5:00 am

      “Last year, Americans discovered how many of us lived in houses of straw. A few puffs from an impulsive orange-haired wolf blew in the Republican establishment, the Democratic establishment, the fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy, and the conceptions that millions of Americans had of their own country. If ever the times called for hard self-evaluation of world views, this was it. But that has been in short supply. Instead, we see blame being placed on misogyny, racism, fake news, real news, Bernie Sanders, the Electoral College, James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Lenin, and probably Vlad the Impaler. We’re now told to view the FBI as a rogue organization, but to trust leaks from the CIA. We’re supposed to condemn a refusal to promise to accept election results, but entertain arguments that the Electoral College should nullify the election.

      A proper understanding of the foe also makes it easier to see the contours of one’s own worldview. This is helpful when many of the precepts of elite opinion have been so dominant as to go largely unnoticed. Here, I submit some core beliefs of our ruling class: Global interconnectivity and lowered borders set us on the path to peace; the United States must help vulnerable populations everywhere that face oppression, war, or starvation; the United States should remain a leader around the globe; free trade will cause pain in the short term but help us all in the long term; “comprehensive immigration reform” is a sensible and moderate policy.

      These beliefs in turn rest on even deeper ones: that narrow nationalism is immoral and dangerous; that “proposition nations” easily tolerate diversity; and that the history of the United States has been one of a halting march toward equality and away from bigotry, the eradication of which is our most important policy goal.

      To see the contrast, start with the Republican platform. Its preamble offered a dozen statements of core belief, including “We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant,” and “We believe political freedom and economic freedom are indivisible.” On page 1 the platform got to goals and vision: to generate prosperity, “not an end itself” but the “means by which citizens and their families can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, practice their faith, and build communities of cooperation and mutual respect.” You can accept or reject these ideas (I happen to think phrasing like “our enduring covenant” borders on zealotry, for instance), but that is the point. Serious ideas draw both support and opposition

      “Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. It’s a simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.” As the reader may have noticed, these aren’t really ideas, let alone powerful ones. They’re barely slogans. …”

    • Andrew Allison

      Willick is neither older nor better. His bias shines brightly through everything he writes.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Sadly yes….though you must forgive me, I picked up ‘elders and betters’ years ago in school, and have never been able to shake the use of it…

        I haven’t seen much of you….I hope that the New Year was wonderful?

        • Andrew Allison

          We went on an 8-day Lower Mississippi cruise, with daily stops at significant locations — very interesting, and New Year’s was on board — great party. The huge take-aways were from the Ernest Whithers Museum in Memphis and the 1927 Flood Museum in Greenville. The former displays the some (from a total of five million negatives!) of the work of an incredible black photo-journalist especially active during the ’60s, the latter the utter callousness of the white residents toward the black. They brought home to me the sheer horror of 20th Century southern white attitudes toward blacks. How in God’s name the USA gets off lecturing other countries is beyond me.

          • CapitalHawk

            Well, obviously the USA is perfect. For example, some of our greatest former presidents, like FDR (firebombing of Dresden) and Truman (atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) are heroes, and should have memorials built to them. And, if fact, they do.

            By comparison, Vladimir Putin (bombing of Aleppo and Grozney) is a war criminal. Just ask Senator Rubio.

    • rpabate

      I did not vote for Trump; I voted against Hilary. I, too, am very pleased with his proposed appointments and what I have seen so far. I am cautiously optimistic.

      • f1b0nacc1

        My hope was a reasonably decent SCOTUS appointment followed by gridlock and stasis. It is reasonable to say (at this point) that Trump has exceeded my (very low) expectations. Let us hope that he continues to.

        Oh yes, and he isn’t Hillary….that is of course crucial!

      • Proud Skeptic

        I, too, am cautiously optimistic. His proposed cabinet is very promising. He swatted the Republicans with a rolled up newspaper when they tried to waste time on the ethics panel. The Carrier and Ford things have been fun.

        But I still think Trump has the potential to be every bit a tyrant as Obama was. If I could manage it, I would arrange for Trump to have lunch with Clarence Thomas every week for a few months.

  • Frank Natoli

    What a pathetic joke of an op-ed. Isiksel is tearing his hair over Trump doing the political antithesis of Obama. Isiksel had no problem with Obama doing exactly the same a-constitutional acts because they were in the name of Leftist objectives. But now Isiksel is having a nervous breakdown over Trump doing unto Democrats what Obama did unto Republicans. Ain’t that too bad.
    I was a Cruz supporter, humorously for the very reason Isiksel states: Cruz would have been a constitutional President unlike Trump and most certainly unlike Obama. But not even Republican primary voters wanted that.
    I believe Trump will do very well for Americans, unlike Obama, unlike Clinton. But for Trump, as for Obama, the Constitution is a distant memory.

    • Jim__L

      Republican primary voters wanted a president that didn’t look like Ted Cruz. I’m sorry to be so superficial here, but the man just doesn’t have the face of a national celebrity.

      That said, I liked what I heard about him — he tended to make all the right enemies, and the critiques of him that I remember involve quotes from him that I actually agreed with.

  • markterribile

    Many of those Pet Policies, and the means to implement them, are just as authoritarian as what Isiksel fears, and the degree of intrusion into personal lives they represent carries the specter of Orwellian totalitarianism.
    Don’t complain that your enemy gives no quarter when your way of warfare is to rape their women and children.

  • Andrew Allison

    This is beneath TAI. The quoted material is clearly biased, and “It is a struggle between those who believe in preserving the imperfect but serviceable constitutional system of the republic, and those who will try to undermine it.” has demonstrably been an issue withe the outgoing administration, as opposed to the hypothetical threat posited. TAI’s left-wing BS filter reeds replacing.

    • Jim__L

      About the only excuse I can find for a post like this, is that they have to flatter their co-religionalists on the Left into doing the right thing (supporting the Constitution), by allowing them to claim that the right thing is what they’ve been all about all along.

      This is perhaps one of the only tactics open to a minority voice with very little power, in a situation where the speaker has a lot to lose from direct confrontation with the Powers That Be, and instead has to wait for opportunities to advance their interests in an environment normally very hostile to them.

      It’s related to the dictum, “Never attempt to argue with someone who disagrees with you, you’ll never convince them of anything.” You have to agree with someone (establish common ground) before you can change their mind. It’s human nature.

      • Disappeared4x

        At 10 am, Fri Jan 6, DJT travels to One WTC, to meet the pantheon of Conde Nast., whose gospel to NeverNormalizeTrump is based, in part, on an 80’s era NOT meet-cute with Graydon Carter; whatever David Remnick wrote; with the deeply held belief that 18th century gilded Rococo is heresy in 21st century Eco-Contemporary. Cast in polished concrete…
        Apologies, you had me at “co-religionists”, after thinking about this meeting a bit, because I consider NNT so destructive.
        Wonder what common ground can be found? Let Melania wear Gabbana, and celebrate new glamour in DC, would be a start.

  • Anthony

    “…But there is no doubt that the risks are real.”‘

    Yes, the risks are real and we will get an up close/firsthand opportunity to see both how our institutions react and how large swaths of our “patriot correct” citizens respond. Big things (stakes) for posterity’s (nation’s) well being demand more than we’ve witnessed thus far – here’s to staying actively engaged.

  • FluffyFooFoo

    Now you people are worried? Jesus Christ.

    • Boritz

      …on a bicycle.

  • QET

    I just continue to be amazed-appalled is more like it–at the tendency even on TAI to think and write as though Donald Trump evidences some sort of disease or defect in US politics, constitutional order, society, ethics, whatever. Aside from a few Twitter rants–which, by the way, show him to be fully in touch with the mores and practices of the society he is President of (Obama spent his time slagging Republicans on late night TV shows and who can forget his “Hey Look at me, I’m a comedian!” response to Romney regarding Russia?)–Trump has done nothing to merit the outpourings of invective and despair, outpourings whose purpose is evidently therapeutic and not analytic.

    Hey TAI writers–nihil ex nihilo fit.. When Trump re-criminalizes sodomy or lines his pockets with the nation’s treasure, come and speak to us. Until then, if you want to study and understand extra-constitutional and other troubling behavior, please focus your gaze on Soon-to-be-ex-President “We’ve come too far to let deniers in Congress stand in the way of progress” Obama (actual Obama quote); and Hillary “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal” (actual NYT headline) Clinton.

    Oh, and don’t forget National Security Advisor Ben “I am a novelist” Rhodes: Says Rhodes, “We created an echo chamber.” That echo chamber repeated the lie that “negotiations” were bearing fruit, when in fact the Obama administration had already given away the store in 2012. Rhodes explains that such lies are fine: “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”

    At long last, TAI, have you left no sense of decency?

  • Tom Scharf

    “A more personalistic style of politics, in which elites negotiate with one another for power and wealth unconstrained by the rule of law.”

    This is deranged.

    Where does this come from? What is this danger to democracy nonsense? It is entirely baseless. Obama absolutely did his best to bypass Congress and the Constitution in every way he could and nobody labeled him as a “danger to democracy”. This is projection of the highest order. It is exactly the “elites negotiate with one another for power” that got Trump elected in the first place.

    The elites fear that someone may replace them and they label this as a “danger”. Sure it is a danger, to them, and them only. The people want them replaced. If they can’t quantify and justify their existence then they will get kicked out of power. This feels like yet another entitlement temper tantrum. It’s embarrassing and only serves to make people want to kick them out sooner. Do they have no idea what this type of stuff makes them look like outside their own isolated world?

    • ljgude

      Both ears and the tail for an exceptionally incisive comment. TAI is an exceptionally good website but when it lays an egg it is always good to see how quickly and effectively its commeters take them down. Even our resident trolls make less obnoxious reading than this post.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It’s always interesting to hear people with an “other-country” perspective discuss America’s goings on. So Isiksel’s words can indeed be called an “important message”—–as TAI did. Unfortunately, it’s entirely likely that you could randomly line up 100 of our recent Trump voters, ask them who or what “Erdogan” is and not find even 30 or 20, maybe not even 10 who could tell you that Erdogan is a barely-elected leader who has been “intimidating society” in Turkey.

  • SLEcoman

    OMG. Even TAI has caught Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). If one looks at Donald Trump’s list of prospective Supreme Court nominees, it is clear these are constitutionalists, That example alone flies in the face of the premise of this opinion piece. Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention contradicts the LBGTQ comment. TAI should know better than to quote someone who cites President Obama’s progress on climate change and controlling Iran’s nuclear program. Even TAI has pointed out that climate treaties have no chance of working because there is not sufficiently strong international systems to enforce such treaties. Iran nuclear deal – we are relying on the Iranians to truthfully report their violations of the treaty. and that’s considered progress? It baffles me why TAI thinks it is intellectually honest to cite an editorial who lists ‘obvious truths’ as throw away lines that even TAI has previously pointed out are somewhere between exaggerations and flat out false.

  • Eurydice

    I don’t understand. One of the major criticisms of Cruz was his observance of “the strictures of constitutional democracy.” In fact, anyone who dared mention the Constitution was considered a throw-back, a reactionary, an old fogey who should move into the dustbin of history and leave the real world for the new, progressive forms of democracy. But, whatever – if Trump phobia causes people to take a fresh look at and even have some respect for our democracy and its foundations, that’s OK with me.

  • doctor_foo

    The left weeps for the Constitution yet places judges on the US Supreme Court who deplore it. Spare me.

    If they had been paying any attention they would have seen that the majority of Trump’s campaign pledges revolved around enforcing laws that are already on the books, not creating news ones out of thin air (like with a stroke of a pen!). Lord knows we have plenty of them.

    We didn’t trust any of the other Republicans to do anything good for America, and it’s not that we trust Mr Trump, it’s that we knew what we were going to get with the others and with Mr Trump we have a 50/50 shot at pulling the country out of its nosedive. Trust me when I tell you, you poor sweet dears who are suddenly enamored of the Constitution, the primary reason he’s the president-elect is because we hope and pray he may actually do the sworn job of the President of the United States, which is to protect and defend the Constitution and
    enforce the laws that are already on the books.

    Trust me when I tell you that we will be in his face, way before any of you, if he ever starts acting like Obama. We’ve had enough.

    So sleep tight lefties because millions of people who love the Constitution are on the job … goodnight.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    BS, it’s Obama that has been ruling by Executive Order, we can expect Trump to reverse most of these Unconstitutional Power Grabs.

    • Jim__L

      Let me know how that goes. What if he doesn’t?

  • Angel Martin

    “…could pave the way for something much worse: A more personalistic style of politics, in which elites negotiate with one another for power and wealth unconstrained by the rule of law.

    In 2017 America it is a bit late to worry about elites “unconstrained by the rule of law.”

    BTW, if the American constitutional system cannot survive Trump, it has no hope of constraining an actual would-be dictator.

  • ljgude

    When I saw that Trump had bullied the Republican congress out of getting rid of a malicious and absolutely unnecessary ethics body I just couldn’t stop seeing images of Mussolini. Trust me, I’m right on this. I took my degree from Columbia and I know. sarcasm /off

  • Albert8184

    “Donald Trump’s ascent to power despite his willful defiance of established political norms is in part a product of these trends.”

    Nonsense. He won the election. But it seems a lot of you people are out of touch and will never get in touch with why you’re out of touch. Enough Americans have grown sick of the open borders globalism and the barely disguised hatred of America being evidenced by the elites and their sycophants… who are DELIBERATELY working to weaken America and offshore it’s productivity in order to diminish it. But… you’ll never get it. So… be that way. You’re your own worst enemy.

  • ctobserver

    “The sophisticated case for optimism about a Trump presidency is that his unconventional political style and force of personality can break the cycle of stagnation and decay.”

    This seems like a very odd argument to make: Trump will build up civil society, and restore confidence in the institutions that he holds in contempt? I guess I’m not very sophisticated, but I sure don’t see any basis to expect this.

    “could pave the way for something much worse: A more personalistic style of politics, in which elites negotiate with one another for power and wealth unconstrained by the rule of law.”

    This seems positively unhinged. Trump was opposed by practically all of the elites, in both parties, in the media, in business, in entertainment, in educational institutions. If anything demonstrates “the elites negotiating with one another for power” it is the conventional politicians Trump defeated.

    I’m not a Trump supporter, and I am concerned that he is grossly unprepared for the office he was elected to. But the vision of Trump in this post is driven only by an overheated imagination.

    • Jim__L

      The only way to build up civil society is for people who are not the President of the United States to step up. The only thing the President can do is get the government the h*** out of the way.

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