“Elections have consequences.”
These are the words of Barack Obama that I referenced in my last piece. I find this quote to ring true, which is why I agree with you when it comes to your statement on the minority’s inability to push their agenda. If I thought the losers of an election should or could be able to govern the country from beneath the heel of the victor, I wouldn’t have had cause to dread the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. If the minority were just as powerful or influential as the majority, why would anyone bother getting riled up and voting every four years? They wouldn’t if that were the case. Votes – popular and electoral – are ammunition in the war to secure political power, and, right now, all that power lies in the hands of the Republican Party.
A powerful minority was, and is, not my concern. My concern was of a tyrannical majority. Remember the second half of the quote from Washington’s farewell address: “…unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” An unchecked majority has within its power the ability to bring about the permanence of dominance that Madison discouraged. If one group holds power in every domain of government, and they can freely discard safeguards hindering their absolute rule, who is there to stop them? The public may even support such a usurpation of liberty under certain circumstances.
Our country is anything but united in these turbulent times. There are riots in the streets. We are fighting a war against an enemy that liberals and conservatives can’t agree upon. Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on whether Russia violated our sovereignty. We can’t even agree on what is reality, as neither side listens to or trusts the other. Our situation seems dire, indeed. However, with some hindsight, one would realize that it could be much worse. Things could be as volatile and dangerous as the 1970s.
Over the course of the 1970s, hundreds of bombings were carried out in Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major American cities. These weren’t the actions of jihadi terrorists, but of U.S based groups, such as the Weather Underground. Our situation now isn’t nearly as bad as it was then, but people are still afraid – probably more afraid than ever. Imagine if you were to combine our current political makeup with the chaos of the 1970s. Americans of today wouldn’t stand for it. They would call for an end to the violence, no matter the sacrifice.Studies, and history, have shown that people are willing to give up liberty for safety, even if it’s just the illusion of safety. So, if Americans were to suddenly feel gravely threatened, they would have no qualms about further empowering the federal government to protect their own lives. Not only do humans usually choose safety over liberty, but they crave saviors, protectors, and heroes. If this scenario were to play out in today’s political arena, the Republican Party could fully ensure that the savior of the American people would come in the form of President Trump, who even said during the election that “[he] alone can fix [our problems].” It seems that Trump already sees himself as a messiah, so why would he refuse the call to be appointed as one?
The Framers knew that the majority was just as dangerous as the minority when allowed too much power. If they didn’t, then we would actually be living in a democracy, instead of just pretending to live in one. After all, it was the majority of Athens – one of the world’s few real democracies – that sentenced Socrates to death for allegedly corrupting the minds of the city’s youth. So, while we agree on who the power should belong to in the post-2016 United States, I seem to harbor graver concerns about what they may be allowed to do with that power and if they’ll ever give that power back.
Instead of synthetically inflating this entry with the discussion of further topics, I think I’ll leave my thoughts there for now. Making a compact point often feels so much better than trying to squeeze everything into a single piece of writing. However, before I go, I’d like to quickly raise an issue and ask a question that I’ve been pondering for quite some time. I haven’t really found a good place to interject this issue into our econversation, but I suppose now is as good a time as any.
I don’t trust Trump very much. Even when he and I seem to agree, I’m hesitant to shackle myself to the Trump train by outright supporting him. Then there’s my feelings about Bernie Sanders, who I disagree with on several issues. However, I trust in what he says, what his motives are, and – most importantly – I trust that he wouldn’t leave the country a smoldering car wreck if he were elected president.
In a previous post, you asked me to elaborate on why I trusted Sanders like I do, even though I may not fully agree with his policies. I answered that question as best as I could, which I hope was satisfactory. So, now, I’d like to pose the same question to you about Trump. You’ve previously expressed the fact that you voted for him because of his policies, which is a bit more cut and dry than my case. Although you’ve also alluded to some distrust of Ronald Reagan in your past. To me, it would seem that Trump is trying his hardest to be a Reaganesque figure. So, how do you reconcile these two points, and, seeing as I’m someone who’s often unable to believe anything Trump says, what makes you trust that Trump will stick to his campaign agenda?