We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Checks and balances

So if the choice in 2016 is between one bad candidate and another (and it is) the question is, which one will do the least harm. And, judging by the civil service’s behavior, that’s got to be Trump. If Trump tries to target his enemies with the IRS, you can bet that he’ll get a lot of pushback — and the press, instead of explaining it away, will make a huge stink. If Trump engages in influence-peddling, or abuses secrecy laws, you can bet that, even if Trump’s appointees sit atop the DOJ or FBI, the civil service will ensure that things don’t get swept under the rug. And if Trump wants to go to war, he’ll get far more scrutiny than Hillary will get — or, in cases like her disastrous Libya invasion, has gotten. So the message is clear. If you want good government, vote for Trump — he’s the only one who will make this whole checks-and-balances thing work.

Glenn Reynolds

As an aside, one thing that might change the minds of a lot of sceptics about Trump is whether he gets to choose any decent people on the US Supreme Court, which is an aspect of presidential power that a lot of those in the conventional media ignore. As for Reynolds’ point about pushing back against the bias and corruption of organisations such as the Internal Revenue Service, I am not so sure.

Tim Sandefur, a legal scholar and commentator, is unlikely to be swayed by the checks and balances argument for Trump:

An anti-establishment candidate is a good thing only if he or she knows what he or she is doing. Otherwise, the chances of going wrong are just too great. That’s why revolutions devour their young—and that’s why we built an establishment in the first place. It should not be changed without reason to believe a better alternative is possible. This Trump does not offer. His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say, honoring our legal duties and treaty obligations; and it is all done in the name of hatred, envy, and fear, with nothing but the strength of his individual will to replace our hard-won institutions. No, it’s not that he is terribly dangerous himself. He’s probably too unintelligent to do much harm personally. But he will surround himself with a volatile collection of stooges and Pashas, of Rasputins and Grand Viziers, of roaches and rats hiding under his throne, who will wreak true havoc in his name—all with the future of our nation and the world at stake.

I think this is probably over-wrought, but not by a lot. Essentially, what I read from serious libertarians/conservatives/Objectivists who have said they will vote for Trump (yes, I know several Objectivists who are pro-Trump) is a version of “it’s a big gamble, he’s horrible, vulgar and corrupt but less horrible than Hillary and anyway he upsets the right sort of people and we can always impeach him”. That’s quite a big gamble to make when choosing someone with access to the nuclear codes.

I agree with Reynolds, by the way, that Gary Johnson and Bill Weld aren’t that impressive, although in my view they are still the best out of a lousy field. Weld sounds like a US-style liberal on the 2nd Amendment and Johnson did not impress me over support for use of executive orders on immigration (this is regardless of what one thinks of immigration as such). Obama’s use of executive decrees has been one of the worst, if not the worst, parts of his presidency, and surely any serious libertarian should make this point constantly.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

103 comments to Checks and balances

  • Deep Lurker

    This Trump does not offer. His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say, honoring our legal duties and treaty obligations; and it is all done in the name of hatred, envy, and fear, with nothing but the strength of his individual will to replace our hard-won institutions.

    To which I have to say: And this is different from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton how?

  • I agree with Glenn (as I’ve already detailed in my arguments in the “Why the NeverTrumpers … Thread). As for the rival quote …

    “His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say,…”

    surely this describes modern political correctness, and should be being applied to Hillary (one could say, as well, but ‘who started it’ suggests the ‘as well’ should be the other way round).

  • John Galt III

    Jonathan,

    Assuming you are not American, let me clear this up for you.

    Trump is a mix of Farage and Thatcher – that is good for Americans

    Clinton is a mix of Obama, Tony Blair and Hugo Chavez – that is good for Marxists and Muslims.

    For me, I don’t want my country to end up like Europe where the stupid “establishment” is in cahoots to bring in millions of Muslims who have a 1,400 year history of contributing nothing but stealing, rape and murder. How can the UK have Rotherham and dozens of other areas and do absolutely nothing about it. Rotherham was/is Muslims doing to women what they have always done and they know it is sanctioned by Hadith, Koran, Sira and Shariah. The establishment in the UK either allowed this to happen or looked the other way for one cowardly PC reason or another.

    You do realize that from here it appears as if you are committing cultural suicide, right? Maybe you just don’t give a shit. The pushback from Farage, Wilders, AfD, Tommy Robinson and PEGIDA in Europe is your only hope. Trump is in that ilk. Americans, who are not low information idiots, instinctively know something is wrong and Trump speaks to them.

    Well, I don’t want Rotherham for my country and Trump does not either.

    Lastly, Johnson has come out for Black Lives Matter (George Soros funded by the way) thus making him no different than Clinton. He is in no way a Libertarian except he’s a pothead, but those are a dime a dozen in the Democrat Party so he should switch parties and stop lying.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    JG3, allow me to clear something up for you too: the late Margaret Thatcher was a free trader who wanted to constrain government. She partially succeeded. She also didn’t make the kind of comments about NATO that Trump makes.

    It is true that Farage has voiced admiration of sorts for Putin, although he’s been careful not to endorse the murder of annoying journalists.

  • CaptDMO

    “…between one bad candidate and another (and it is)”
    Correct. There is one bad candidate, and there is another candidate.

  • JGIII, assuming you are an American, let me clear this up for you: Trump has only a small similarity to Farage (who shares Trump’s penchant for insulting his enemies, but Farage does so in a vastly more artful manner)… and there is no similarity whatsoever between oportunist protectionist Trump and the ideologically driven pro-market Thatcher.

    (Johnson) is in no way a Libertarian except he’s a pothead, but those are a dime a dozen in the Democrat Party so he should switch parties and stop lying.

    I agree with that bit at least.

  • Cesare

    Perhaps it was true that Oscar Wilde could not so much as imagine the death of little Nell without near paralytic bouts of mirth. But that is only because he never got to read Sandefur’s impassioned crocodile tears over the ‘assault on political mores’. What absolute nonsense, nobody is louder more draconian or censorious than this seemingly inescapable blight of our self titled and self appointed elites.

  • Watchman

    JG III,

    Unusually I’m going to to disagree with Perry (finally, proof I am not his evil shadow) – since Thatcher was not all good (she believed the state was a force for good, was stupid enough to believe a poll tax was a good idea, and (urban legend perhaps) was involved in the creation of Mr Whippy icecream (you may need to look that up)), and Farage was hardly a libertarian dream (oposing gay marriage for what seems to have been the chance of political gain anyone?) then you might be right about Trump being a combination of them. Just not the bits that people normally would hold up as useful about them.

    That said, Trump might well be the better candidate on the simple test of ‘which candidate is most likely to let me do what I want?’ But being the best candidate through being the least-negative option is not really encouraging.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Cesare, “crocodile tears”? Sandefur is genuinely alarmed and the evidence (his article is stacked with links) is pretty strong. Sandefur, by the way, is a leading authority on the abuse in the US of eminent domain law, and as we know, Trump in the past tried to use ED to kick people out of property so as to line his own pockets. Hardly the behaviour of a person concerned about the rights of private property. Sandefur is right to be alarmed by this (needless to say, Clinton is no better).

    And it is also worth reminding people that Trump is not quite the anti-elitist he claims to be. It is not the sign of an anti-elitist to hang out with the Clintons, as Trump has done in recent times (funny how so many Trump fans allow this to vanish down the memory hole).

  • Brad

    There’s Trump and Beyond-Trump. The die has been cast. The disintegration has begun. I’m brushing on my 1780’s/1790’s French History for details of what comes next.

    In other words, Trump is a mile marker on the road to hell – no more, no less.

  • Watchman

    Brad – I think you’re due for someone trying to change all the names of the months for some undecipherable reason. I’d go with ‘in the name of equality’…

  • John Galt III (September 9, 2016 at 12:50 pm): “Trump is a mix of Farage and Thatcher”

    If I agreed with that, I (and Glenn) would not need to contrast Hillary’s provable criminal act and “Here’s your double-headed coin” party with Trump’s more checked and balanced circumstances to make a ‘lesser evil’ case for him. Those who agree with you will vote for him. The outcome will depend on those who are strongly disinclined to vote for either. I am one such (or would be were I not happily unable to vote for either) so share my ideas in these threads, vainly in case it helps others and humbly in case others’ critiques can help me.

  • RRS

    If we think through the 2 sets of comments provided by JP we may note that they each are concerned with power over the management of the mechanisms of government.

    A treatise (perhaps several) could be devoted to how and why those mechanisms of government in practically all cases of public delegation of authority (a.k.a. “Representative Government”) have become, and are popularly accepted as, means to ends; Oakeshott’s “Purposive Government.” This is arguably the case in both the U S and the UK.

    Once purposes, particular objectives or ends are determined for the use of the mechanisms of government, means must be established for the pursuit of those ends.

    That is how and why we have come to have the “Establishment” (the managements, bureaucracies and “institutional” structures)referred to in the quoted parts; not as Sandefur implies:

    An anti-establishment candidate is a good thing only if he or she knows what he or she is doing. Otherwise, the chances of going wrong are just too great. That’s why revolutions devour their young—and that’s why we built an establishment in the first place. It should not be changed without reason to believe a better alternative is possible.

    [emphasis added]

    We can observe uses of power to select, determine and delineate ends for the uses of the mechanisms of government. We can observe uses of power to select, determine and delineate the means for the quests of those ends.

    The uses of the powers for the determinations of means and ends may be distinct. However, power over the determination of means can delineate the ends attained, and often offset or defeat the uses of the powers for the determinations of ends.

    In the US, we have just experienced 7 years in which “how” power over means has effectively determined ends.

    Much of the public in the US (and it is possibly true in the UK) are totally oblivious to the effects of the mechanisms of government being used as means to ends. They are, however, sensitive to the impacts of the determinations of means, regardless of acceptance of the desirability of particular ends.

    It is probably that sensitivity which is raising concern over the uses that would be made of power to determine means. One candidate substantially purports to continue, refine, and possibly expand the means so far established and the manner of their management. The other candidate proposes disruptions of the uses of the means, which appeals to a large sector of the public that has been impacted by the uses that have been made of those means, regardless of the effects on, and delineation of popularly accepted ends.

  • If we get Clinton, we get four more years of Obama-type policy (to wit, lies, evasions, incompetence, political correctness, and America-scorn). I haven’t liked the eight years we have had. More would not be good. Third parties almost never win — even Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party didn’t put Teddy back in the White house. The only thing left is Trump. At least he’s not afraid of political correctness.

  • QET

    I second Deep Lurker’s comment. Obama was described throughout Campaign 2008 as the most intelligent, most moral, most enlightened political figure the US had ever produced, and the lines excerpted by Deep Lurker are an entirely truthful and accurate summary of his actual presidency. All of the fear-mongering over Trump is just as speculative as was all of the Saviour-mongering over Obama. It is a far sounder inference that Hillary will continue Obama’s political and philosophical destruction than that Trump will establish the Fourth Reich.

  • Kevin B

    I’m sure I read somewhere that one of Trump’s advisors was asked how Trump could possibly balance the budget in his first term and the advisor reeled of a list of agencies they would be closing down for starters. The one that jumped out at me was the EPA.

    Has anyone else noticed this or did I dream it?

  • [The establishment] should not be changed without reason to believe a better alternative is possible. This Trump does not offer.

    He doesn’t offer a better alternative, but it takes a lot more than “His revolution will probably devour itself” to conclude that his alternative will be worse.

    His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say, honoring our legal duties and treaty obligations;

    There’s a bit of explaining you need to do before you can assert that the listed qualities are “the mores of our political culture”.
    Exactly how do you “respect the rights and dignity of opponents” while referring to your opponents as “bitter clingers” or “whacko birds”, and giving their tax dollars to subsidize protests against their positions?
    When complaints of H1B visa abuse aren’t met with “That’s a possible issue resulting in loss of freedom for foreigners and protection from competition for international companies” but instead “HA! I knew you really hated legal immigration too, and not just illegal immigration like you claimed”, do we have a sign that our political culture listens to what fellow citizens have to say?
    How long has it been since our political culture has honored our legal duties by, say, passing a budget or complying with congressional investigation?
    What exactly are our treaty obligations when the treaty was pre-ratified by dubious machinations by both parties?

    The worst part is, I don’t support Trump. He’s going to ruin the credibility of any future attempts by right-leaning activists to restrain government growth for decades to come, just like Herbert Hoover ruined the credibility of politicians who advocated limited government in the face of economic crises. I estimate that both he and Hillary will result in the US collapsing into kleptocracy; Hillary will just be faster, and if I don’t support Trump, I can at least advocate limited government without having to explain away his authoritarianism. However, pro-establishment commentators mean that any time I try to point out how toxic Trump is, I have to waste paragraphs pointing out that I also oppose a Republican Party that fights Democrats to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

  • rfichoke

    My thinking on this has gone in the opposite direction. Hillary Clinton is inherently unlikeable and unliked–even by those on the Left. Trump is charismatic and draws people in. His actions will be excused and even appreciated by the majority of Americans. The news media would condemn him but only the people who live in that bubble care what they think anyway. And they’re all statists.

    My fear is that Trump will make authoritarian instincts acceptable to middle America. Association with Clinton would make it abhorrent. That’s my opinion, anyway. I could be completely wrong. I often am.

  • Alisa

    What CayleyGraph said – I am unimpressed with Sandefur’s quote at all.

    Also, good point from rfichoke.

  • Mr Ecks

    There is only the choice of two.

    Anyone saying Killery is a better choice than Trump needs their head examined. The Clinton bitch will be Bush and Obama on steroids and every other drug in the pharmacy. The 2nd Amendment will only be the first casualty.

    As for Thatcher Sean Gabb calls it right:

    https://thelibertarianalliance.com/2016/09/02/the-greatness-of-margaret-thatcher-an-alternative-view/

  • I’d think Trump isn’t a cross between Farage and Thatcher, but Farage and Berlusconi.

  • Runcie Balspune

    was stupid enough to believe a poll tax was a good idea

    It was a good idea, for the Conservative Party. Linking the right to vote with paying local tax was a genius move, as those who wanted to avoid local taxes were more likely to be voting for the other side. Labour got the gerrymandering advantage back with mass immigration.

    was involved in the creation of Mr Whippy icecream

    Sounds banal, but making her one of the few Prime Ministers who actually had scientific (and rational) learning.

    Thatcher’s demise was because she surrounded herself with an inner circle of “yes men”, perhaps the same could be said of Trump, but those who lost favour and got pushed out the cabal eventually plotted her downfall.

  • Although Cesare, (September 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm) might seem to be echoing me (September 9, 2016 at 12:50 pm), I think Sandefur is not exactly shedding ‘crocodile tears’. Reading the quote in context in the article, the key word is “open assault”. Sandefur is aware of what Hillary and Obama are, but he claims Trump is explicit in his rejection of mores that Hillary, Obama et al already break but implicitly, denying that they do so.

    Sandefur is therefore treating overt rhetoric as more serious than nominally covert action, but my word ‘nominally’ deserves as much emphasis as his word ‘open’. Some of these ‘covert’ deeds were meant to remain covert, but carelessly so: Hillary did not intend her email arrangements to become known, yet was insolent in her lack of care to that end. Some were meant to be simultaneously known and denied: Obama publicly joked about auditing his enemies, so that lower-level IRS staff would know to do what they were told, but relied on mainstream media never being so rude as to ask if he were serious. Some were wholly overt: sanctuary cities are not secret, nor is the deal with Iran that ignored the senate.

    This is where Sandefur’s argument engages with Glenn’s – to Glenn’s advantage, in my opinion. To be as overt as Barack and Hillary in fact are, yet get away with pretending to be covert, needs the advantages Glenn lists: a civil service that will roll over for you; a media that will cover for you; a party that will pander to you. Hillary has these advantages (and needs them; she has to get elected to avoid prosecution). Trump doesn’t have these advantages (and has to function without them; he’d be in jail if he could be put there wth equal ease). As Glenn sensibly points out, this lack makes him less dangerous than his rival. Without a protective media, Trump cannot play the say-and-deny game. Sandefur mistakes this for a major difference.

  • Laird

    That Sandeful essay isn’t merely “over-wrought”, it’s unhinged. (And he can salt it with as many links as he likes; that doesn’t make it any more rational.) Start with the assertion that Trump is a “fascist.” This is another illustration of the unfortunate reality that the term “fascist” is now utterly devoid of meaning, and merely serves to signal that the personal levelling the charge doesn’t like the recipient of it. (And the fact that he links to someone else’s irrational pseudo-definition of the word doesn’t change that.) Inherent in the true meaning of “fascism” (which is, at heart, an economic system) is that the ownership of productive assets is nominally private but actually under state control. Somehow that detail is omitted from the barely-comprehensible mélange of words purporting to be a “definition”. Trump has called for many things, some wholly unacceptable, but never that. (Indeed, the true fascist in our time is Obama.)

    I think Glenn Reynolds has it about right. For the last 8 years Obama has cowed Republicans in Congress into bowing to nearly his every demand, in large measure because to do otherwise would have exposed them to (spurious) charges of racism which absolutely terrifies those leaders of the supposed “opposition”. The same would be true in a Hillary presidency, and for the same reason (sexism). Not, however, with Trump, whose own (nominal) party would not hesitate to oppose him. (I’ve made this argument before.) Reynolds bolsters that argument by adding in the embedded (and thoroughly statist) civil service and the Fourth Estate. A Trump presidency would likely be characterized largely by gridlock, with a slight drift to the right. Not a bad outcome overall.

    rfichoke offers an interesting take on this, but I don’t find it convincing. I don’t believe that we have descended quite so far that “authoritarian instincts” would become “acceptable to middle America”, even in a Trump presidency. To some portion of it, yes, but that has always been the case. I don’t see the general public (even the conservative element of it) hankering for an authoritarian leader (indeed, that’s precisely what we have now, and we’re chafing at the bit), merely someone strong enough to oppose the entrenched statist political class. There is always the risk that the pendulum will swing too far in the other direction, but I very much doubt that a single Trump presidency (even if two terms) could accomplish that. Not even Reagan managed that, and Trump is certainly no Reagan.

  • As for Thatcher Sean Gabb calls it right

    Gabb is pretty much the worst judge of almost everything and Thatcher is no exception. David McDonagh’s retort destroys his article rather well I think.

  • Start with the assertion that Trump is a “fascist.”

    Give how much the state interferes in the nominally private economy, I think the majority of modern politicians are economic fascists.

    A Trump presidency would likely be characterized largely by gridlock, with a slight drift to the right.

    Indeed but I am unclear what a “drift to the right” even means in the modern context.

  • It was a good idea, for the Conservative Party. Linking the right to vote with paying local tax was a genius move

    I agree, but her move of transcendent genius, the one which actually changed the UK, was Right To Buy.

  • Alisa

    Only two choices you say? Why, here’s an independent candidate, with an executive-office experience to boot.

  • HokiePundit

    I’d disagree that the choice is between the two – the right to vote doesn’t include the responsibility to pick between the nominees of the two parties who have won all modern elections. Put another way, there’s no obligation to vote for someone who isn’t qualified (being dishonest, inexperienced, or indecent are all disqualifiers).

    An American voter has control over something like 1/100,000,000th of the outcome (yes, Electoral College, blah blah blah), but 100% control over whether they give support to evil and/or incompetence. There is just too much attenuation to blame a voter who doesn’t vote for Clinton or Trump for the outcome, but they have to live with themselves (and as a Christian, I’d say they have to answer to God, too) and their choice.

  • Alisa

    I am now reading Reynolds’ piece, and as he is describing the hypothetical Trump presidency, isn’t he sorta kinda describing Nixon’s?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird, you don’t like the word fascist when used about Trump. How does Peronist sound, then?

  • Alisa

    I have now read Sandefur’s article, and I think it is excellent (except for the quote that Jonathan chose to quote, of all things).

    Fascism properly (and very narrowly) describes an economic system – but Trump is not an economic system, he is a person with certain tendencies. And the tendencies correctly attributed by Sandefur to Trump are what we usually refer to as fascist.

    Furthemore and Trump aside, and as Perry correctly points out, the economic systems in which all of us here happen to live are fairly – if not completely and overtly – fascist to begin with, as per aforementioned proper narrow definition. Is there a reason to believe that Trump will change that in the US? Please.

  • Eric Tavenner

    But he will surround himself with a volatile collection of stooges and Pashas, of Rasputins and Grand Viziers, of roaches and rats hiding under his throne, who will wreak true havoc in his name—all with the future of our nation and the world at stake.

    That sounds to me like Killery’s current coterie.

    In general my opinion is that the republic has already been lost, there is no hope of recovery, so just burn the carcass
    and start over.

  • Rich Rostrom

    “[Trump]’s candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture…”

    In some ways true, for the traditional mores. Clinton’s candidacy – her very presence in public life – is a barely veiled expression of utter contempt for those traditional mores by the left political establishment, including its media and academic wings.

    Clinton’s public career was entirely based on her husband, himself a disgrace. When he was exposed, he should have retired forever, and she with him. There would have been no substantive effect: Gore would have become President, and policy would have been unchanged. But it would have been a victory for traditional mores, and for conservatives. So the left establishment, after a brief hiccup, embraced and championed the Clintons. (That included Trump, at the time and until about 2014.)

    They ignored the trail of personal corruption the Clintons left in Arkansas, and the obvious fraud of their “marriage”. They ignored the Clintons’ continual blatant lying, except to make jokes about it.

    They have ignored the flagrant corruption of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department – the payoffs to the Clinton Foundation and even directly to Bill. They have ignored the long record of Mrs. Clinton’s personal incompetence (the “health-care reform” fiasco of 1993-1994, her utterly undistinguished Senate service, the many screw-ups at State). They explicitly dismiss the e-mail scandal.

    In the face of all this, the Left Establishment has embraced and supported Mrs. Clinton – has particularly embraced and supported her over any other Democrat.

    For her to become President would mark the effective public nullification of integrity as a political asset in the U.S. Analogy: Dési Bouterse was military dictator of Suriname from 1980 to 1987. In 1986, he presided over the mock trial and summary execution of 15 dissidents. In 2000, he was convicted in the Netherlands of trafficking 500 kilos of cocaine; Europal has a warrant out for his arrest. In 2010, he was elected President.

    OTOH, for Trump to become President would mark the effective nullification of dignity and civility as political virtues. Incidentally, one thing I greatly fear in Trump is that he will discredit many of the causes he now professes.

    Either would be a calamity. IMO, Clinton would be worse.

    There is one final point. There is no evidence whatever that Clinton possesses any managerial ability. Trump has shown at least some.

  • Chester Draws

    Berlusconi is indeed the closest recent politician to Trump. Only interested in power for what it can do to him and prepared to destroy whatever it takes along the way. Silvio came to power on a wave of support for a “strong man” who would take on vested interests and wasn’t interested in PC or social justice. Turns out, that isn’t really a platform from which to run a country.

    The real danger of a Trump presidency is that it will destroy the Republicans as a party. Corbyn is doing the same to the British Labour Party. And while you dingbats insist on having First Past the Post, the loss of valid alternatives is a major concern, even though I would vote neither Republican or Labour.

  • The real danger of a Trump presidency is that it will destroy the Republicans as a party.

    Danger? It is the only thing I like about Trump! The GOP is not fit for purpose and needs to burn to the ground so something else can emerge (even if it calls itself the GOP).

  • Eric

    Trump has only a small similarity to Farage (who shares Trump’s penchant for insulting his enemies, but Farage does so in a vastly more artful manner)

    This is something that’s always had me envious. Why do your politicians have so much better facility with language? We’ve never had a Churchill who has people giggling for generations over a particularly good putdown.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    I will likely leave the top of the ticket blank, and concentrate on making wise choices in the down-ballot races.

  • Thailover

    “and that’s why we built an establishment in the first place. It should not be changed without reason to believe a better alternative is possible. This Trump does not offer. His candidacy is an open assault on the mores of our political culture, such as respecting the rights and dignity of opponents, listening to what fellow citizens have to say, honoring our legal duties and treaty obligations; and it is all done in the name of hatred, envy, and fear, with nothing but the strength of his individual will to replace our hard-won institutions.”

    What an unadulterated crock of utter shit.
    Trump will be elected because everyone is SICK up to their back teeth with this “built establishment”, which is nothing more than a unilateral power grab by psychopaths who walk on the faces of the common man and woman.

    And BTW, Hillary HAS NO dignity.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, thanks for the link to the story on the higher-class talent that some towns are finding to lead their government. Sounds like a very good idea to me. I know my Lucy would have had the entire lot sorted out in no time, had anyone thought to draft her for the job.

    I’m positive she would not have been on the ticket of any party presently existing, however.

    🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thailover: Agreed.

  • Alisa

    I will likely leave the top of the ticket blank, and concentrate on making wise choices in the down-ballot races.

    Yep, me too.

  • Alisa

    So Julie, shall we put a dog in that fight?

  • Alisa

    (…with apologies to any cat people here who may feel left out…)

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Thailover, you need to calm down. By “establishment”, it’s clear that Sandefur means the federal structure of government and the interlocking institutions (State, local authorities, Supreme Court, executive, Congress) that form the whole patchwork. He sees Trump as a menace and provides numerous examples. I suggest you address those points rather than explode in rage.

    But then rage and fear appear to be the animating emotions of the Trump cult.

  • Alisa

    JP, that is not what is usually meant when people rage against the establishment, or when they describe others (such as Trump’s supporters or even the man himself) as such. Your interpretation of that term is correct in particular as used by Sandefur, and can even be used more generally in a suitable context. But what Sandefur does there is conflate the two meanings, and that is not helpful.

    Another problem with that particular passage is that when the word is taken as you describe, it causes most conservatives and Constitutionalists roll their eyes, muttering ‘Well duh, where have you been for the past century or so?’ – and quite rightly, as has been pointed out by others here.

    That said, the rest of the article is still excellent.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, no I don’t think Sandefur is conflating meanings. If Trump really was determined to roll back Big Government then the criticism you make of Sandefur would stick. The worry is that Trump is just as enthusiastic about executive orders as Obama has been or Clinton will be and he’s not exactly renowned for dining the praises of limited government. And when people attack “the Establishment” or “enemy class” it is incumbent on such people to set the terms clearly. Otherwise it’s little more than demagoguery. And that’s a part of Trump that worries me (he’s hardly unique, however. William Jennings Bryan and George Wallace were quite similar).

  • Alisa

    If Trump really was determined to roll back Big Government then the criticism you make of Sandefur would stick.

    I don’t think Trump ever claimed that, wishful thinking on the part of some small-government types notwithstanding – so in this narrow context it is a red herring.

    And when people attack “the Establishment” or “enemy class” it is incumbent on such people to set the terms clearly.

    No, it is not. It is a common term with a well-understood meaning – not a clear-cut one by any means, but the same applies to other perfectly legitimate terms such as culture, elites, politics – in the sense that they are all challenging to define precisely, but are nonetheless well understood by most people, in a given context.

    Sure, it happens to all of us that we do not quite get what people mean by this or that word in a particular context, and we then ask for explanation – so I’ll give it a shot, the particular context being describing Trump as anti-establishment: what is meant by establishment here is the status quo, and the people who maintain it. It is the way things are ran and done, and the people who de facto (even when not de jure) run things. So then you have political establishment, cultural establishment, educational, medical, and so on. Note that the political establishment these days is the “mother ship” for all the rest, for obvious reasons.

    Now, what Sandefur is referring to in that quote are institutions (in this particular case, the political ones, in the US), and is what he should have said. The distinction is an important one, at least to me – as in my book, and in the context of current US politics, anti-establishment is good, anti-institutions is bad. Sandefur conflates these two very different things, and that is not helpful, as I said earlier.

    What I would have hoped he wrote is something along the lines of: ‘Trump is perceived by many of his supporters as an anti-establishment candidate. It would have been a very good thing if he really was that – only he is not. To the contrary, he is very much part of that same establishment he is railing against. What is even worse, is that he may even be part of the forces who aim to finally destroy our long-established political institutions – he would not be the first to begin this, by far, but he will certainly put yet another nail in that coffin’.

    Sorry for the long rant.

  • RRS

    Alisa,

    Perhaps I have been over influenced by Carroll Quigley’s & Michael Oakeshott’s careful explanation of the uses of terms (which Sandefur, a litigator, could not do without losing the thrust of polemic), still it seems we may really be trying to discuss impacts on the facilities that comprise “government.”

    Those facilities are comprised of relationships of motivated humans whose actions (and failures to act) now dominate the uses of the mechanisms of government.

    Concerns are raised (from various motives) as to the what relationships may be disrupted, with what results: replacements, voids, destruction of viable facilities, etc. Similar concerns (other motives) are raised as to extending some existing relationships and further entrenching those relationships whose observed effects appear deleterious.

    When we observe the multiplicity of facilities (many of which have become the “institutionalized” hierarchies noted by Quigley) that have been “established” in the US (and in the UK) over the past 65+ years, with a burst in the mid to late ’60s, seen coupled with the public disquiet with their impacts, perhaps we can understand a willingness to accept, if not desire, disruption, regardless of resultant uncertainties.

  • Shadeburst

    Hmmnnn, a couple of clichés floating around here. 1. Too unintelligent. Two citations needed here, one that Trump has a subnormal IQ, two that term achievement depends on high IQ. 2. Nuclear codes. Debunked so often that it has acquired a zombie life of its own. Why Trump would be the lesser of two weevils: he would face a hostile Congress, the Rep-majority HoR no less than the Senate. He would get none of his whackhead legislation passed, and they would challenge each and every executive order. Hillary OTOH would have no problems in extending the USA’s 8-year economic standstill into 12 or even 16 years, eclipsing even the great destroyer of prosperity, FDR. Republicans in Congress are a supine spineless lot and would present no obstacles to whatever Hillary wanted.

  • Alisa

    RRS: indeed, desire.

  • Republicans in Congress are a supine spineless lot and would present no obstacles to whatever Hillary wanted.

    Agreed, which leads me to the only good thing I can think to about Trump –>> He will hopefully destroy the GOP as it currently exists.

    At the moment it is utterly pointless: it poses no serious impediment to the Democrats passing legislation even when in a majority, so what possible reason does the GOP have to exist at all?

  • Laird

    The current Republican Party establishment is indeed “spineless” (Sladeburst’s term) and “not fit for purpose” (Perry’s). And, in my opinion, that is precisely what the Republican primary voters were rebelling against. But the calculus is a little different now that we are into the general election. Trump’s supporters, and they are many (approximately half the electorate, if you believe the latest polls) are a mixed lot, and not all are Tea Party Republicans or alt-right cultural conservatives. He also attracts some libertarians (deluded ones, but still), disaffected Sanders supporters, and a panoply of others. It’s quite a mixed bag. But what unites them is a common belief that something is fundamentally wrong with our institutions of government (in all senses of that term). Trump may not be the best answer, indeed not even a good one, but there’s a palpable sense of desperation and the yearning for a major reset. Should he win they may not be happy with the result (clearly not all of them will be, whatever he does), any more than you Brits will all be happy with Brexit. But Trump is not merely a candidate; he is both a symbol and a product of the zeitgeist. Our political establishment, our institutions of government (writ large), created him. They are getting just what they deserve.

    If I may return to the “fascist” comment (yes, it’s a bugaboo of mine), Alisa’s defense of Sandefur is misplaced. To my knowledge (I could have missed something, of course) Trump has advocated nothing which can legitimately be classified as “fascist”. He is a classic mercantilist, which is a far different thing. Not a better thing, to be sure, but a substantively different one nonetheless. This distinction is important, and Sandefur and his ilk do no good to pretend otherwise, or to foster yet more common misunderstanding of the term.

    “Peronist” instead?, Johnathan asks. I think not. But I do suspect that the comparison to Berlusconi may be closer to the mark (although I confess that I don’t have a full understanding of Berlusconi’s policies).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thus Mussolini, in THE DOCTRINE OF FASCISM – BENITO MUSSOLINI (1932):

    http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Germany/mussolini.htm


    8. Conception of a corporative state

    (15) We have created the united state of Italy remember that since the Empire Italy had not been a united state. Here I wish to reaffirm solemnly our doctrine of the State. Here I wish to reaffirm with no weaker energy, the formula I expounded at the scala in Milan everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state. (speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 26, 1927, Discorsi del 1927, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 157).

    .

    [snip]

    .

    We have constituted a Corporative and Fascist state, the state of national society, a State which concentrates, controls, harmonizes and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure. Whereas, during the years of demo-liberal regime, labour looked with diffidence upon the state, was, in fact, outside the State and against the state, and considered the state an enemy of every day and every hour, there is not one working Italian today who does not seek a place in his Corporation or federation, who does not wish to be a living atom of that great, immense, living organization which is the national Corporate State of Fascism. (On the Fourth Anniversary of the March on Rome, October 28, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 340).

    . . .

    And from the long article on Fascism by the Foot of All Knowledge, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism#cite_ref-varldenshistoria.se_48-0 :

    Etymology:

    The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.[20] Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements; for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.[21]

    .

    Definitions:

    Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.[22] Each interpretation of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.[23][24]
    .

    [SNIP]

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Each interpretation of fascism is distinct.”

    So one must decide for oneself the definition of ‘fascism’ most congruent with the rest of what he thinks he knows, and go from there; but he ought to be quite clear to state in discourse just what his definition is. (Not to mention being clear in his own mind what he means by the term — which can be excruciatingly difficult, and perhaps never entirely resolved.)

    But as far as I can tell, the idea of “fascism” in its more serious meaning (not the street-smear, similar to Raaaaaacissssst! and such) does have its more recent roots in Mussolini’s statement on the essence of “a Corporative and Fascist State” as in the last paragraph quoted above.

    So I agree with Laird. I don’t see Hair as particularly wedded to “everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state”; actually I think he’s all for the State as long as it plays nicely with him, and if he’s not happy with its behaviour in a given case he’s not inclined to roll over belly-up. Unless there’s some other, even more important deal on the horizon that it’s worth taking the hit on this one for, if that will help the other one to succeed.

  • RRS

    PdeH,

    As to the “destruction” of a party:

    What (IYO) are NOW the functions of (US) “political” parties?

  • Abyssus Invocat

    This cannot be over-stated. The available choices are Trump and Clinton. There is no third option. Even the worst predictions of a Trump administration are better than the best case scenario under Clinton. I hope Americans vote accordingly.

  • Alisa

    So I agree with Laird. I don’t see Hair as particularly wedded to “everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state”

    Like I said, when I apply the term fascist to a person, I mean to describe his personality as it comes across to me, not the system of government he may or may not implement once he is elected, and not any clear political doctrine he officially presents. To the extent that Trump is particularly wedded to anything, that would be himself becoming the embodiment of the State. Whether that particular State is likely to be properly fascist as per any of the definitions above, I cannot tell right now – but I do clearly see Trump as someone who would naturally gravitate towards that state of affairs given the chances. That is also howe I read Sandefur’s use of the term in the context of the article – YMMV.

    I do think that Laird nails it in the first half of his last comment about Trump. I’d expand and add that Trump is a mere symptom, not the actual problem – but then it may be said about most our political “leaders”. Interesting times.

  • Expatnik

    This cannot be over-stated. The available choices are Trump and Clinton. There is no third option … I hope Americans vote accordingly.

    Costa Rica, or whatever your bolt hole of choice is. That’s the third option. I stuck my US passport in a shredder & voted with my feet. And as the years go by, my choice looks better and better.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I have to say again that Trump’s supporters aren’t supporting him so much as they’re opposing ‘establishment’ government, which is why attacks on Trump have so little effect. In fact, the unhinged tone of attacks like Sandefur’s probably adds to sensible Americans’ skepticism about the fitness of the establishment to govern.

    If Trump proves unsatisfactory, his supporters will find someone else; he does not have blanket permission from them to do as he wants. Either he governs according to the more traditional American values his supporters treasure, or he goes. This election, more than most, is about popular sovereignty versus governing-class sovereignty, and the chorus of personal criticism aimed at Trump by the governing class shows how little they understand this.

  • Alisa

    Sandefur is part of the governing class?

  • RRS

    PfP:

    ” . . . sensible Americans’ skepticism about the fitness of the establishment to govern.”

    What has not yet entered the “sensibilities” of a sufficient portion of the US public (electorate or not) is the recognition that (1)the mechanisms of government can not be used as means to ends (“purposive” government) without the creation of facilities for effecting those means; (2) the operations of those facilities require organizations of relationships of motivated humans; and, (3) the nature of those relationships have by historic experience inevitably led to “institutionalization” [Quigley] in which the internal objectives of those within the “institutions” ultimately determine the means AND the actual ends.

    Perhaps we should stop and consider that it may not be a question of fitness to govern, but rather why, and to what ends, we have accepted, or sought, being governed.

  • Laird

    Well said, PfP.

    Alisa, Sandefur is not part of the “governing class”, but he is a member of the larger cultural and political elite, and hence is a part of the problem (from the perspective of Trump’s supporters). And frankly, I agree with them. I would categorize him as yet another “useful idiot”.

  • Laird

    RRS, I suspect that is far too deep a question for widespread public debate, or indeed understanding. Which is why I am greatly pessimistic about the nation’s future; IMO we are far past the point where those institutions can be meaningfully constrained. At best we can impede them at the margins. Which is the best we can hope for even with a Trump victory.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    Although the “widespread public” may not be currently oriented to consider the suggested question, there does appear significant momentum to move beyond “constraint” (which might be a kind of “management” their component internal relationships) of the institutions to absolute disruptions arising from dissatisfactions with either their internally chosen means or the resulting ends – and for which dissatisfactions those sectors of the “public” can find no other recourse on offer.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, that’s interesting. What exactly to you mean by a “fascist personality”? I suppose you’ve hinted at it in your thought that Trump would “gravitate toward a fascist form of government.? If so, would you explain a little further what you mean by a “fascist form of government”? And why you think he would tend to move in that direction?

    I get more and more of a picture of a dictator in the style of some of the Latin ones, Pinochet, Franco, some others, only with less bloodshed — Mussolini himself for the most part as he actually ruled (going by what I read); not really totalitarians, so it’s said, as long as you don’t interfere with their rule and keep out of politics.

    Or do you have your mind more on what Mussolini above calls “the Corporative State”? (As an aside, I wonder if he meant “Corporatist” state as we use the term.)

    Elucidation please, if it suits you?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, I agree that a lot depends on what one means by “establishment” but I think that Sandefur isn’t being disingenuous here. He thinks – and he surely has some grounds for this – in thinking that Trump isn’t merely “anti-establishment” because he seems to dislike the mainstream of the Republican or other parties (hardly a very original position to be in, really), or that he eschews some of the mainstream media, conventional wisdom in Wall Street and academia, etc (that surely applies to many other people).

    Rather, because Sandefur thinks that Trump lacks any ideology or political principle other than a sort of “put me in charge and I’ll fix stuff”, Trump appears to be a man who is disdainful of any of the established checks and balances that the US political system has. He’s not necessarily drastically worse than, say Obama (who in my view has been a dreadful president on a range of levels).

    But consider this: Trump has, for example, made the point that he’d like to crack down on media critics and called for a widening of libel laws, surely something that puts him in direct conflict with the First Amendment. He’s not necessarily worse in this regard than Clinton, but even so, this is bad. Reason magazine, the libertarian journal, has given a list of other ways in which Trump represents a threat to freedoms. He has defended the use of torture and has argued for its wider use. (I accept this is not a simple issue when it comes to harsh interrogation techniques in desperate situations, but if you are assessing a politician by reference to fidelity to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, this seems off-limits.)

    As for other claims that Trump is anti-establishment and his critics such as Sandefur being “elitist”, as Laird argues on this thread, that is a stretch. (Sandefur is a legal scholar and expert on issues such as eminent domain. If if it “elitist” to take a high-minded view of things such as laws and constitutional restraint, then I am an elist too.)

    And the core issue also for me is that Trump certainly hasn’t made a big, serious challenge to the fundamental problem that the US and West faces in terms of the massive size of the State. (Who knows, maybe he will!) Sure, hardly any politician has done this on either side of the Atlantic recently, but it is worth noting that one of the few GOP candidates in this race who did mark out a clear agenda to scrap certain government agencies and roll back the state, Ted Cruz, was treated very roughly by Trump. When Paul Ryan, now Speaker, brought out a an attempted reform package for Social Security and other entitlement programmes a few years ago, he was not only treated shoddily by Obama, but he was hardly given full-throated support by the likes of Trump. Why did not Trump promise to revive Ryan’s plan? It would have been s shrewd move.

    If Trump had wanted to really be a genuine radical against an “establishment”, then where are his tough proposals on entitlement reform? Alas, his approach of pitching to the white working class means he is leaving that sort of issue alone, as far as I can tell. He’s pledged to overturn Obamacare, which is good, but he could and should have gone far further.

    Also, what sort of “anti-establishment” guy lauds the likes of Putin, given Putin’s record, mocks John McCain for being captured by the North Vietnamese, etc? He may be “anti-establishment” and appeal to a certain mindset because of his brazen rudeness and so on, but that is to conflate crassness and meanness with radicalism.

    Glenn Reynolds’ explanation of why Trump may be the least-worst of the options is quite convincing but only because of how shit the alternative is, and even then, the gamble is a big one. It is a crying shame that such mental contortions are needed at this time in Western history.

    Meanwhile, Hillary looks to have a major health issue: her own.

  • Alisa

    JP, to be perfectly honest, I was debating whether Sandefur was being disingenuous while making that conflation of terms, or was it an honest moment of less-than-clear thinking on his part (happens to the best and the brightest among us). I am not all that familiar with his writings, so if I did give the impression of being less-than-charitable towards the man, I’ll gladly take it back and give him the benefit of the doubt. I still maintain though that the quoted passage does not rise to the level of the rest of that excellent piece. And, I very much agree with the rest of your comment here.

  • Alisa

    Julie, I’ll begin by recommending at least skimming through this Wikipedia article, which shows how widely the meaning of the term fascism has been debated among some very serious people (in its ideological and even “spiritual” sense, as opposed to an actual system of government and economy at certain times and places* – which is where, IMO, the original narrow pre-WWII Italian definition, favored by Laird, more or less ends). It covers numerous characteristics that in various opinions cited there comprise the term – some less consistent than others, some even contradictory. That said, I see several there that very much describe Donald Trump. I am not going to make a list of those here (unless someone’s life depends on it) – feel free to see for yourself, and agree that there are several such characteristic indeed, or disagree and deduce that there are too few or even none. After all, we are talking about a person whom neither of us knows, er, personally, and who has never held a political office before – which is to say we are all speculating at this point.

    Instead, I will attempt to summarize a description of a fascist as a person in the political context (as opposed to an actual system or even a coherent ideology): a fascist is a political bully. Note again that I see this as a personal tendency, or a personality trait if you will, with actual direct or even indirect violence not necessarily present. However and as we know, the actual appearance of violence (first indirect and then direct) is only a matter of time, given the chance.

    *This also brings me back to my point of discussing the person, not the actual system he may or may not establish or seek to establish during his term as President – if only because what people seek to do is often not what they achieve, and that is provided they even know what it is that they seek. This is especially true in politics, and I’m quite certain that Trump does not have a clear idea as to what is it exactly that he seeks to achieve, other than to become President.

    Which leads me to your last question regarding the system of government towards which Trump is likely to gravitate: I think both of your suggestions are likely, and as far as I can tell are not mutually exclusive.

  • RRS

    Suggestion:

    In political terms, “Fascism” is a form of politics by intimidation displacing, often by violence, and as often by chicanery, politics by persuasion.

  • Alisa

    Yes, RRS – note that the use of intimidation is one of the main characteristics of bullying.

  • Paul Marks

    Whoever is elected President of the United States will get the blame for a Credit Bubble financial system and unsustainable entitlement programs.

    It is fitting that the person to get the blame should be Hillary Clinton – after all, as J. Goldberg explained in “Liberal Fascism”, Mrs Clinton is the mainstream of the Progressive movement. For Mrs Clinton to get the blame will, rightly, discredit that movement.

    If Mr Trump is President then “the free market” and “conservatives” will get the blame.

  • John Galt III

    Jonathan,

    How about a little “rage and fear” you accuse Trump supporters of having and have a little rage over your English white women being systematically raped and abused by your Muslim immigrants that Tony Blair has dumped on you along with the acquiescence of virtually everyone in your country save Tommy Robinson, Paul Weston and a few others.

    Clinton would have no problem with this state of affairs happening in the US. Trump does as do his supporters.

    So, short version: you and Perry won’t respond to the substance of what I was saying, but dance around it. Keep dancing until you are beheaded, dude. All I see in your country and Western Europe is cultural suicide followed by real suicide. Fine, if that’s the way you want it. I will continue to RAGE against the Democrats and their RINO friends and FEAR Islam as people have wisely done fro 1,400 years.

    I also say a prayer of thanks every day that we defeated your German King (who like his father and grandfather took German brides) and his 35,000 hired German Mercenaries he sent to murder us. Oh, and thank you for sending us John Washington, a wise man who left your shores and had a Great Grandson, George. The good George.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course Mrs Clinton is being physically propped up by Secret Service guards (I have just watched the latest film of her at the 9/11 memorial – being basically carried out).

    I suspect that, like Jack Kennedy, Mrs Clinton is being kept going by various chemical stimulants. In crude language that like the late President Kennedy, Mrs Clinton is “on drugs”.

    Which means that the former Governor of Virginia is likely to be President – which is, I admit, a worry. As this man plays the “moderate” well – he is anything but moderate, but he plays the role with cunning.

  • Laird

    Johnathan, your post at 6:59 is a far better critique of Trump than was Sandefur’s, and I mostly agree with it. Trump does indeed lack any coherent ideology (or, as far as I can see, any consistent set of moral principles). On economic matters he is basically a mercantilist, but outside of that I would call him a “populist”. To me, that is a term of derision; I view populists as having no core principles and being thus unpredictable. He certainly evinces no desire to shrink government. But neither do I see in him any overt desire to increase it, which distinguishes him from Hillary. And many (most) of the more offensive ideas he espouses could not be accomplished without legislation, which he surely knows, so I view that more as posturing and pandering to his base than actual policy proposals.

    Incidentally, I never said that Sandefur is an “elitist”; I said that he is “a member of the larger cultural and political elite.” Big difference.

    Alisa, your explanation of “fascism” makes precisely the point I have long argued (and not merely on this thread): the term has been so abused, and given such widely different meanings (even by those allegedly “very serious people” you cite) as to have lost all meaning. It is a catch-all term used to signal disagreement with and disapproval of the target, intended primarily to stifle debate. Much like “racist”, as Julie has already noted. You yourself are reduced to defending the application of that epithet to Trump by claiming you are using it to describe, not any specific policies, but merely his person. You call him “a political bully”, which description I can accept (if not necessarily agree with). But to assert that such a personality equates to “fascism” is, I submit, simply wrong. Channeling Humpty Dumpty, you are using the term in a highly idiosyncratic manner, which unfortunately permits (even requires) the reader to apply whatever meaning to that ill-defined term he chooses. And indeed that is true for almost everyone who invokes this word. Far from elucidating, you are obfuscating. Making ad hominem attacks and throwing around epithets does not advance the discussion.

    [Fair warning to all: If you persist in using “fascist” in this undisciplined manner I will continue challenging you.]

  • Alisa

    [Fair warning to all: If you persist in using “fascist” in this undisciplined manner I will continue challenging you.]

    LOL

  • Alisa

    Making ad hominem attacks and throwing around epithets does not advance the discussion.

    I don’t see how my attacks on Trump can be ad hominem, when I explicitly stressed several times that I am discussing the man himself. If you find that particular discussion of no interest, feel free to ignore my comments on the subject.

  • Dale Amon

    Johnson and Weld are not impressive? Compared to the two total arses being foisted upon us? Trump is impressive in his lack of knowledge of what limited government is all about. He’d be great if he were running for the position of Il Duche, but as for President? Be real. And Hillary? The only thing going for her is that she isn’t as complete and total loss as Trump. Which is not saying much. It’s like picking sides in the Spanish Civil War.

    At least my party has decent, honorable and EXPERIENCED people running. That is more than one can say for the obsolete Civil War era parties.

  • Laird

    Fair enough, Alisa, it was an inappropriate use of ad hominem. But you’re still wrong!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, as to the general definition of “fascism,” yes: the link you give is of course cited at the link I gave, directly under the heading “definitions.”

    I wondered what is specifically your definition in speaking of fascism. I hoped that your idea could be stated in fewer than 36 large volumes. :>(

    It is precisely because there are several variations on the main idea that I am interested to know what each party to our discussion here means by the term.

    I have to say I agree altogether that Hair seems not to have any particular overall agenda other than to be elected, and perhaps to “do something” about the aliens here illegaly and to install more protectionist measures. To be without a Grand Project of Reform, or for a New American Century, or to Fundamentally Transform America, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. I would settle for a President who’s committed to playing by The Rules (so, Constitutionalist in the Conservative or Libertarian sense) and doing what he can to motivate the other branches to do likewise, while being in that state known as “relaxed but alert,” would be devoutly to be wished.

    I don’t think Trump quite meets this job description, but I remain of the opinion that at least he doesn’t want to destroy the country.

    Anyhow, thanks for the explanation of your viewpoint. :>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul isn’t the only one who argues that if Shrill gets in and things finish falling apart, at least the Republicans or conservatives won’t get the blame.

    Oh yes they will, unless they find a really good PR person. Under the Sith, everything that’s happened has been Bush’s fault, remember?

    The Dims/Libruls/Lefties/Proggies will blame it all on the Responsible “Right,” regardless of who’s running things at the time. This has become one of their stylistic trademarks.

    (Not to say that the opposition hasn’t done the same. But I really don’t think the Heffalumps et cie. have harped on it so.)

    Better to have as little conflagration as possible.

    #NeverHillary

  • Johnathan Pearce

    John Galt III, there has been plenty written here (by me, Perry, Natalie Solent, others) about issues such as the Rotherham cover-up and not to mention all the other issues around Muslim immigration; and rather more people than you claim are angry about what happened. The broad line we have taken is that a large majority of Muslims are not, as far as we can tell, raping and murdering, and indeed quite a lot, much to the rage and fear of their co-religionists, are becoming Westernised; birthrates are falling, etc. So that is not an excuse for complacency on immigration, but neither is it an excuse for the sort of nonsense that you are coming out with, “dude”. We haven’t “danced around” this subject (go and look at the archives of this blog since its beginning) but obviously what bothers a person such as yourself is that we reach rather different conclusions, such as not calling for blanket bans on the movement of Muslims, as Trump has done.

    You’re welcome to our German king. Come to that, if we are going to engage in historical mud-throwing, it surely must induce a bit of fear and rage that the US hadn’t managed to rid itself of slavery until around the time that Charles Darwin issued Origin of Species and had the Jim Crow laws after the first American had gotten into space. Motes and beams.

    Laird: OK, there is a difference, but to say that Sandefur is allegedly a member of an “elite”, in this context, still implies that he is somehow cut off from ordinary people in some sort of regrettable way. And I don’t think that is the case.

  • Yes, RRS – note that the use of intimidation is one of the main characteristics of bullying.

    The state is the biggest bully of them all.

  • Alisa

    The state is the biggest bully of them all.

    Well, as long as we are going on about definitions, define the state? 😀

    The state is comprised of individuals (and yes, even Obama, Hilary and Trump are individuals). And of course the problem is that the very mechanism we refer to as the state attracts individuals who are prone to bullying to begin with.

  • Alisa

    Under the Sith, everything that’s happened has been Bush’s fault, remember?

    Not really Julie, not for the past couple of years. Your experience may be different, but I have been seeing a fair amount of criticism of Obama coming from former fellow travelers and outright supporters. And if Hillary does get elected, she will be following Obama, not Bush – so Paul does have a point there.

  • Alisa

    Regarding the definition of the F word, I thought that I double-checked and found that you only linked to the main Wiki entry, not to the specific one on Definitions – sorry about missing that.

    More to the point, of course the term is vague and imprecise – but so are many other terms we use for lack of more precise ones (socialism and capitalism come to mind regarding economic systems, not to mention many terms used to describe various personality types – especially those attracted to politics). We are not in the court of law here, and I am not testifying under oath – merely making very imperfect attempts to describe my impressions of this or that individual.

  • RRS

    Suggested “definition” of State for use in political and social contexts:

    A State is an embodiment of authority over a grouping of peoples, usually, but not necessarily, having territorial parameters.

    Historically that embodiment of authority has been formed by physical or ideological force, or a combination of the two.

    In more recent times, particularly in the development of Western Civilization, and conditions of assertive individuality, that embodiment of authority has resulted from the active consent or passive acceptance of those subject to that authority.

    Embodiments of authority require means of exercise of that authority. The principal means are mechanisms of government, which, in turn, require operative forms of “administration” for implementation of the authority through the mechanism.

  • Jacob

    “a fascist is a political bully”

    That is correct, but “bully” here refers to actual violence, not the verbal violence.
    Fascists were bullies, i.e. goons, beating up and murdering people for political reasons (i.e. for grabbing power). Leaders of fascist parties (in Italy, Germany or Spain) were organizers and leaders of bands of paramilitary goons and murderers. Physical violence is an essential feature in any definition of fascism.

    Verbal insults are not “violence”.

    I think that accusing Trump of fascism is false, and a smear – despite the vagueness of the term “fascism”.

  • Jacob

    About Trump:
    “The Donald has begun to openly blame the Federal Reserve for its role in setting up a “false economy” based on quantitative easing, near zero interest rates, and once unheard of levels of the national debt.”

    Not all of Trump’s policies are bad.

  • Alisa

    “a fascist is a political bully”

    That is correct, but “bully” here refers to actual violence, not the verbal violence.

    No, it does not – as the person whom you actually quoted, I’ll turn your attention towards what I was actually referring to (quoting myself):

    note that the use of intimidation is one of the main characteristics of bullying.

    And I am not accusing Trump of anything of the sort – show me where have I, or anyone else here, attributed to him actual violence. Bullying is mainly about implied or indirect violence, AKA intimidation (what you call ‘verbal violence’ is part of that). Many bullies are actually cowards, and as such they often stop short of actual direct violence when push comes to shove.

    Not all of Trump’s policies are bad.

    There is no such thing as Trump policies, there is only Trump talk.

  • Alisa

    Of course, the latter is true to varying extents when said of any politician, and is technically true of any first-time candidate for a political office. However, that is especially true when said of Trump – because of his egregious inconsistencies, self-contradictions, and just plain old passing of wind through the opposite end of the digestive track.

  • Jacob

    “There is no such thing as Trump policies, there is only Trump talk.”

    Of course… of course. Everything about Trump, at this stage is just talk. But if you decry his “intimidation” and proposals about deporting illegal immigrants, and raising trade barriers – well – it’s all just talk, too.

    Also intimidation – if it’s not backed by actual instances of violence – is also only just talk.

    “And I am not accusing Trump of anything of the sort”… no. It’s just implication, insinuation, association… that is what I don’t like about it.

  • Russ in TX

    The advantage of Johnson/Weld is not that they’re particularly impressive (neither are Clinton or Trump), nor that they’re ideologically coherent (neither are Clinton or Trump). The advantage of Johnson/Weld is that neither are Clinton or Trump.

  • Jacob

    To quote Ed Driscoll:

    “To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you fight back against the left’s war on American values with the candidates you have.”

  • Alisa

    No Jacob, intimidation (AKA bullying) is very much part of Trump’s record as a real-estate developer – that is exactly why I don’t like him (among other things).

  • Jacob

    Has he, or his hired goons, beat up anybody?

    Not liking him is ok, you’re not alone in this…

    But insinuating that he “might” be somehow more fascist or more dangerous or more irresponsible than Hillary is just Dem. propaganda.

  • Alisa

    What part of intimidation not being actual violence do you not understand? It’s OK to disagree with my comments – but then you must actually read them.

  • Jacob

    Alisa,
    Could you please provide some link or pointer about Trump’s “intimidation”? What caused you to think so? It’s not that I can’t believe Trump has done any wrong, he sure did. It’s just that I have not read everything written about him (it’s impossible), so I might be wrong on this topic.

    By the way: here is an article about the sordid history of liberals calling conservatives “racists”.

  • Alisa

    Look up trump + eminent domain

  • Jacob

    Eminent domain is the law of the US. Trump didn’t invent it or pass it.
    He disagrees with you and many libertarians on this point.
    He said:
    “Trump replied, “Eminent domain is an absolute necessity for a country, for our country. Without it, you wouldn’t have roads, you wouldn’t have hospitals, you wouldn’t have anything. You wouldn’t have schools, you wouldn’t have bridges. And what a lot of people don’t know because they were all saying, oh, you’re going to take their property. When somebody – when eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune. They at least get fair market value, and if they’re smart, they’ll get two or three times the value of their property.”

    I tend to agree with him.

    Even if you disagree – and that’s the “official” libertarian position – you can add that to the many disagreements we have with Trump – for example his proposal for trade barriers. These are philosophical or ideological differences. Trump is, in these matters, closer to the mainstream-liberal position than to the libertarian one. That is evident, no one claimed Trump was a pure libertarian.

    But that is a far cry from claiming that Trump is a fascist or a more dangerous person than any other candidate – republican or democrat.

    I thing that this claim is a smear and a democratic propaganda tactic.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh for heaven’s sake, Jacob. There were lots of schools before the Gov started taking the responsibility for them. And even when one of the States required schools by law, they mostly didn’t have to steal people’s land to get them. Even today, it’s the property owners and the Feds who pay most of a school district’s expenses.

    There certainly were private roads before, again, the Gov decided it would have to commandeer people’s property — their land. As to whether the FORMER property-owner got a great price, the Constitution requires “just compensation.” Perhaps a relative few people (well-placed, I daresay) do come out ahead financially, but I doubt that many are lucky enough to come out ahead; or at least, not by much. (As Trump himself half-acknowledges, in your quote.)

    Furthermore, the property-owner stands to lose a LOT more than just his “just” (financial) compensation. Even aside from the fact that he may already have a much better deal in the works, there are reasons for valuing your property for reasons much more important to you than their financial value. It’s been the family homestead for generations. It has a unique and much-treasured view. It’s not worth much now, but the smart money is that in 10 years, or 20, it will be worth a fortune. And there’s this:

    Nobody takes my stuff, including my land, without my say-so!

    .

    A good deal of the reasoning behind the idea that Trump is dangerous if he wins the presidency is that what he’s mostly given voice to a lot of belligerent, belittling, insulting talk about his political opposition. People are afraid he’ll get into a p***ing contest with some Brave World Leader like what’s-‘is-name in Iran, or ditto in China, or even his beloved Putin, and nuclear war will promptly follow. (Personally I don’t think he’s that dumb, but some do.)

    Some people think that every step we take in the direction of further empowering of the Gov is another step toward the Heart of Darkness, and with this I thoroughly agree.

    (Shrillary is as bad or far worse this way, of course.)

    Also, whether a person thinks he’s “dangerous” or not, there seems to be a consensus that he’s a liar, a bully, a sleaze, and that Making a Deal that’s good for oneself is the best thing life has to offer.

  • Jacob

    I’m not arguing about the issue of eminent domain.

    But, I say, that on this issue, Trump is mostly main-stream. He is not different from all other Republican and Democrat politicians.
    To say that because of his eminent domain record he is somewhat more fascist or more dangerous than any other candidate, Hillary included, is false, is a smear.

    It is that in his line of business, as a developer, he just happened to be actually more involved that Hillary, for example. There is no doubt she would have done the same. And it was not Trump himself who did it, but some government development commission (probably Democrats).

    I say that portraying Trump as some dangerous, fascist hot head is standard democratic smear, applied to all Rep candidates. We must to parrot these smears.

    Yes, Trump is no libertarian, and not much an conservative either, but he is no more a fascist or incompetent than Hillary or Obama (his accusers).