Friday, November 11, 2016

A House Divided

Trump Trumps All

Well, it's over. After what must surely rank as the strangest, most polarized campaign in history, Donald Trump is now the President-elect.

You have to go back to Abraham Lincoln's election to find an equivalent shake-up to the established order – and we all know where that led us.

Not since Dwight Eisenhower, a war hero with extensive experience of “governing” the most fragile coalition in history, has anyone entered the Oval Office with less governmental experience. This may or may not be a bad thing, but it is certainly unique.

First of all, how did he do it? As more and more information becomes known, it seems that almost anyone except Hillary could have won for the Democrats. In many respects, she lost it more that he won it.

But, it cannot be quite that simple. The fact is she got more votes, but he got them were it mattered. In state after state, he won a majority by simply not being Ms Clinton. Folks were not sure of much, other than that they were fed up with the Establishment and wanted a change. (Remind anyone of Brexit?). Out in the rust-belt where jobs have gone overseas and the blue-collar has not been replaced by the white collar the anger was thick and sloppy enough to cut with a dull butter knife.The more the voters were told about the bullying tactics of Trump, the misogamy, the crazy ideas and the lack of a coherent plan, the less they seemed to care. They wanted change, almost any change, and now they've got it.

I saw a quasi-poll that had Bernie Sanders running The Donald a close race and maybe winning. Why? Bernie was fresh, he was new, he was seen as a outsider and he was saying unpalatable things that upset the Establishment. Ditto The Donald.

Where do we go from here?

First, back to Lincoln who told us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The protestors currently roaming the streets of New York, Chicago, Seattle and other great cities must be heard, but they must not be allowed to spoil the Trump victory with their vitriolic asserton that they will not accept the result. That is not the American way. Donald Trump has said he intends to be a President for all the people. He must get a chance to deliver.

But, deliver what?

The parties all publish their platforms. (In Britain they are called Manifestos.) What was in the Republican platform and can they deliver it? Here's what they said:


The establishment of a pro-growth tax code as a moral imperative. We oppose
retroactive taxation. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes. We oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare. Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering generosity and patriotism, they should not be subject
to taxation and donations to them should remain deductible. To guard against hypertaxation of the American people in any restructuring of the federal tax system, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. (Income Tax – my interjection and explanation) to switch to a territorial system of taxation so that profits earned and axed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home. We believe American companies should be headquartered in America.

Well, they would say that wouldn't they. All parties say they are going to simplify the tax system, and raise more money whist actually cutting rates. It's what parties do. I remember The Donald telling the voters that the national debt had to be cut. How? When? Where?

Freeing financial markets

The Republican vision for American banking calls for establishing transparent, efficient markets where consumers can obtain loans they need at reasonable rates based on market conditions.

Hard to argue with this one – you might as well argue against Mom's apple pie. As usual the devil is in the detail.

Increase transport infastructure

Our country’s investments in transportation and other public construction have traditionally been non-partisan. Everyone agrees on the need for clean water and safe roads, rail, bridges, ports, and airports. President Eisenhower established a tradition of Republican leadership in this regard by championing the creation of the interstate highway system. In recent years, bipartisan cooperation led to major legislation improving the nation’s ports and waterways.

This looks like one of the key points that President Trump is going to be able to move on and move on quickly. Infastructure means improved competitiveness for business and lots of construction jobs for Trump supporters. Dare I mention The New Deal – or will many Republicans faint if I do?

Building the Future: America’s Electric Grid:

Our nation’s interstate electric transmission system has long been a catalyst for developing and delivering low cost energy while spurring economic growth throughout the United States. The grid is aging, vulnerable to cyber and terrorist threats, and unprepared to serve our energy needs of tomorrow.

Ditto the infastucture comments. Add the shale gas and the coal question. Can Trump find common ground with West Virginia miners and new-age, mega-bucks shale gas drillers?

Start-up Century: Small Business and Entrepreneurship

A central reason why the 20th century came to be called the American Century was the ability of individuals to invent and create in a land of free markets. Back then they were called risk-takers, dreamers, and small business owners. Today they are the entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and small business men and women of our new economy. Their innovation drives improvement. . .

Standard Republican fare here extolling the virtues of laissez-faire capitalism. But, when we are competing with countries who do not subscribe to this economic model, chiefly the Chinese, it does seem a bit pie-in-the-sky. Interestingly, it seems that the entrepreneurs of small-town America may have been the source of Trump's votes in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Workplace Freedom for a 21st Century Workforce (Republicans are traditionally anti-union or at least as ambivalent towards organised labor as the Conservative Party in the UK)

The greatest asset of the American economy is the hard-working American. That is why our first priority is getting people back to work by fostering the kind of growth that creates jobs.

Can't argue with this! Just tell us what it means.

A Federal Workforce Serving the People

We urge Congress to bring federal compensation and benefits in line with the standards of most American employees. A Republican administration should streamline personnel procedures to expedite the firing of bad workers, tax cheats, and scammers. The unionization of the federal workforce, first permitted by Democrat presidents in the 1960s, should be reviewed by the appropriate congressional committees to examine its effects on the cost, quality, and performance of the civil service. Union representatives in the federal workforce should not be paid to conduct union business on the public’s time.

Standard Republican ideas.

Reducing the Federal Debt

We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations. A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.

Hard to square this one with the promise of infastructure improvements. In common with all governments, the reduction in debt is really tied to pie-in-the-sky improvements in the overall economy. If this happens debt can be repaid. If not?

We the People

We reaffirm the Constitution’s fundamental principles: limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. We denounce bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. Therefore, we oppose discrimination based on race, sex, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and support statutes to end such discrimination. As the Party of Abraham Lincoln, we must continue to foster solutions to America’s difficult challenges when it comes to race relations today.

Anyone against this one? I should hope not.

The Judiciary

The rule of law is the foundation of our Republic. A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government. Only a Republican President will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to ife and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia. We are facing a national crisis in our judiciary. We understand that only by electing a Republican President in 2016 will America have the opportunity for up to five new constitutionally-minded Supreme Court justices appointed to fill vacancies on the Court. Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the long line of activist decisions — including Roe, Obergefell, and the Obamacare cases — that have usurped Congress’s and states’ lawmaking. . .

This is a tough one. Reading it one way, you could be excused for thinking that the Republican party has lost its sense of the historical, constitutional process. The Constitution makes it clear that the three branches, President, Congress and the Judiciary are co-equal. Any attempt by any party to tamper with this principle is not only bound to fail but will simply garner the opprobrium of the American people. Even FDR found this out when he tried to pack the Supreme Court to get his New Deal legislation passed.

Reading it another way, it is true that the President can nominate Supreme Court judges who he thinks will see things his way. (This doesn't always work) Congress will scrutiize their appointment. The Donald made great pay in the campaign about Hillary appointing Supreme Court judges and how this must be opposed. He may well get some of his own medicine.

Administrative Law

We call on Congress to begin reclaiming its constitutional powers from
the bureaucratic state by requiring that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress before they can take effect, such as through the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

That's the way it's supposed to work. Just need to know what “major” is?

Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.

This echoes Roe v Wade – another part of the circle which is going to be difficult to square as many of Trump'ssupporters will not, I believe, support restictions on either gay marriage or abortion. States rights?

It has always surprised me that either and/or both political parties seem to want to legislate public morality. Did they not learn from the Prohibition debacle?

On a personal level, I oppose on-demand abortion. But, I don't believe I have the right to impose my morality on others. The Republican-led federal government should stay out of the morality game. They can't win.

The First Amendment Religious Liberty

We pledge to defend the religious beliefs rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control.


The First Amendment: - Constitutionally Protected Speech

We believe the forced funding of political candidates through union dues and other mandatory contributions violates the First Amendment. Just as Americans have a First Amendment right to devote resources to favored candidates or views, they have a First Amendment right not to be forced to individually support individuals or ideologies that they oppose. We agree with Thomas Jefferson that “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Fairly typical Republican anti-union stuff here; however I agree – except workers who benefit from “closed-shop” agreements lawfully entered into by unions and employers, Workers can not opt-out simply to become cheap-skates! BTW the sound you may hear is Jefferson spinning rapidly in his grave when he is the subject of praise from a party whose ideas he would certainly oppose if he were alive.

The Second Amendment: Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms

We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle.

Nonsense. I support the Second Amendment. I do not believe the right to bear arms is unqualified. I'm presuming this is in the platform to pander to the NRA. This is a good example of why some people voted for Trump. People supported him for a variety of reasons.

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy

Affirming the Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” we call for strict limitations on the use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil, with the exception of patrolling our national borders for illegal entry and activity.

Typical politicians fudge. No unreasonable searches except when we think it's a good idea.

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life

. . . we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.

As I said, I support this philosophically, but it is a classic example of “Lord make me holy! (But not quite yet, please!)

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Private Property

We call on Congress and state legislatures to enact reforms to protect law-abiding
citizens against abusive asset forfeiture tactics.

Sensible if applied sensibly. Not sensible if large landowners are allowed to milk the public purse.

The Fifth Amendment: Intellectual Property Rights

Today, the worst offenses against intellectual property rights come from abroad, especially in China. We call for strong action by Congress and a new Republican president to enforce intellectual property laws against all infringers, whether foreign or domestic.

Trump has already strongly hinted that the party is over for the Chinese. Good. Easy, quick and poular policy – except for the fact that they might ask for the debt to be repaid, like now.

The Ninth Amendment: The People’s Retained Rights

We welcome to our ranks all citizens who are determined to reclaim the rights of the people that have been ignored or usurped by the federal and intrusive state governments.

I suspect that what they mean is the things that they don't like.

The Tenth Amendment: Federalism as the Foundation of Personal Liberty

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

States rights? Not again, surely! The Congress must not attempt to usurp the powers of the Supreme Court.

Honest Elections and the Electoral College

We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.

I agree, despite the fact that Clinton won the popular vote. Remember Lincoln only won the popular vote in 1860 because he was not on the ballot in many southern states. The electoral college is a guarantee of state's legitimate rights.

Honest Elections and the Right to Vote

In order to preserve the principle of one person, one vote, we urge our elected representatives to ensure that citizenship, rather than mere residency, be made the basis for the apportionment of representatives among the states.


The rest of the platform is really just a list of aims and ideas. Nothing wrong with that but it does occupy more than half of the platform pages with waffle.

When the dust settles what have we got?

A Republican President and a Republican controlled Congress should be able to get things done. People will be waiting, not very patiently, for them to get on with it. All Presidents get 100 days to get moving. President Trump will be no different. He has already hinted that big things are going to happen. Can he turn the rhetoric into action? The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has said he is ready to seize the initiative, work with the adiministration and get things moving. Can he carry the house with him?

In the Senate it's 48 Dems and 52 Repubs. Trump should have support in the Senate, but Senators are notorious for their independence. Could be interesting.

The same can be said for the Supreme Court. Congress should be able to ratify any Trump nominees, but any really overt political ones may have problems.

The Bottom Line

I'm encouraged by most of the noises coming out of the President-elect's camp. Perhaps the reality of his achievement has just sunk in, but he certainly looks and sounds more presidential. He wants to be everyone's President and although all Presidents-elect say that I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Only time will tell if he can bridge the gulf between rhetoric and reality. Perhaps, as a reality TV star he will find it easy. Somehow I've got my doubts.

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