Editor’s note: James Williamson is a native and former resident of Ohio who currently lives in Nevada. He is also one of the brothers of yours truly, Daniel Jack Williamson, the owner of this blog. He has written many other guest blog articles for Buckeye RINO, including a series of posts with the phrase “Imminent Rebellion” in the title (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). –DJW
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a political blog post. You may ask, why so silent while the world seems to be falling apart around us? Well, in my past posts, I was warning what could happen if we continued our current trajectory. Now we are so far along, the idea of civil war and revolution are almost considered mainstream. Why repeat what others are already saying?
So now I suppose my task is to say something that no one else is saying. Or at least not many people are saying. Or perhaps what is being said but not heard….
It seems we have plunged the country into chaos. I say “we” because ultimately the nation’s behavior is an aggregate of the individual decisions of the 300+ million inhabitants of what we call the United States of America. I can’t think of any period in American history where the rule of law has been so threatened since the Civil War. Many critics of the president accuse him of undermining the law intentionally. While there may be specific instances where this is true, we could also find examples of presidents trying to skirt or even defying the law going all the way back to George Washington. (Remember Andrew Jackson’s response to the Supreme Court regarding the Cherokee decision?) These behaviors are always concerning. Left unchecked, they can certainly lead to tyranny, which is why we oppose them. On the other hand any elected official is ultimately merely a human being and therefore flawed in their thinking and behavior. There will always be abuses. If we can’t accept that, then we will have a hard time accepting self-governance. Fortunately, our founding fathers anticipated this and included a mechanism to limit the amount of abuse an individual could inflict by separating governmental power into three equal branches.
“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.
Thomas Jefferson, in a rhetorical way, points out that we have no choice but to accept imperfect leaders. It may be this pursuit of the “perfect” president or form of government that has lead us to this point. Ideology trumps practicality and, it seems, words now trump actions. No one will argue against the observation that our President is flawed. I can also say that almost no one would say they didn’t know what they were getting into before the election. We knew Donald Trump was a billionaire real estate magnate who loved to spend time in front of cameras. We knew he loved salesman’s puffery and engaged in it daily. We knew he could be unpredictable and volatile. We knew he liked to spend money…. You get the idea. So why did we think any of this would change when he became President?
By now you are probably asking, “what’s your point?” (Maybe I am too…) We are living in chaotic times with a chaotic President, or so it seems. Notwithstanding the apparent chaos and the intensity of the rhetoric, we continue as a nation. As long as we can maintain rule of law we will be able to continue as a nation. The breakdown of the rule of law leads down two paths: anarchy (think French revolution) or war (US civil war). Either way the results are usually unpalatable to the general public long term and some form of government emerges. So how do we avoid anarchy and war? The first step is to calm down and think. Rational thought will lead to more deliberate actions that generally produce better results. Emotional thought generally leads to actions that bring a lot of unintended consequences. For example, if you eliminate (abolish, defund) the police how will government respond to violent crime? The emotional thinker doesn’t have an answer but wants to forge ahead anyway. A rational thinker may not have an immediate answer and so would be reluctant to move ahead without a solid plan in place.
Slow down. Think before you act. The main difference between machines and people is the ability to reason and to think critically. If we act out of emotion without rational, critical thought, we are worse than a robot. A robot doesn’t have the ability to think critically but it also doesn’t make mistakes. An emotionalized human has set aside what makes them unique in the animal world. There may be times where that is appropriate (i.e. when our life is in danger) but if emotions like fear, rage, and resentment drive all our decision making the results of our actions will be no better than the negative emotions that drove them.
It is often said that actions speak louder than words. Anyone listening to media may come to the opposite conclusion. Perhaps in a business that thrives on rhetoric and argument words are more important than actions to the likes of CNN, Fox, Facebook, and Twitter. Heated rhetoric sells. Ironically the very same organizations that claim to be against Trump are the very keys to his electoral victory. Why did Donald Trump beat Hilary Clinton while spending a small fraction of his competitor on the campaign? Because the news media couldn’t keep their cameras off of him. They acted out of emotion and didn’t stop to think. They were so convinced that what he was saying would sink his own ship that they forgot one of the maxims of the marketing industry: all press is good press. Trump was the political equivalent of the Kardashians. (Maybe that’s why they get along?) Doesn’t matter if people make fun of you, doesn’t matter if people think you are ridiculous, doesn’t matter if you have substance…. Just keep the cameras pointed at you!!!! And the media fell for it……
Now to the subject of actions. I still operate in a world where actions do speak louder than words so here’s a few (just a few) actions by the president that reassure me:
1. Judicial appointments – The President has taken this responsibility seriously and has appointed more judges than any other president in history. Yes, there were extra vacancies because Mitch McConnell drug his feet and outright blocked Obama appointments, however, Trump has wasted no time in filling these positions, which indicates that he understands how important the judiciary is in maintaining rule of law.
2. Criminal justice reform – There are a lot of critics of the bill and I myself have not studied it, however just the fact that it passed indicates that the President recognizes there is a problem and took measures to correct it.
3. Trade renegotiation – Trump, as a businessman, understands the fundamental cost vs. benefit analysis and has come to the conclusion that we are paying too much for what we are getting. This includes NATO and the UN. People may not like his style (foreign countries sure don’t) but he is advocating for the country, which is what a President is supposed to do.
4. Firing incompetent or partisan government employees (especially Bolton) – I know this one causes a lot of alarm for some but Trump needs to say, “You’re fired!” about 10,000 more times. I spent time working at a federal facility and it is way too difficult to get rid of bad employees there. They know it’s near impossible to get fired and they abuse it. Bolton was an especially important target. He’s the equivalent of Conrad Von Hotzendorf, one of the high ranking officials of the Austro-Hungarian empire. His constant war-hawking nearly plunged the country into a massive conflict many times before WWI. One of the reasons it didn’t happen sooner was because Franz Ferdinand was the counter-balancing voice of reason that prevented the empire from making rash moves. Once Franz Ferdinand was killed that voice fell silent. Trump knows that a war with Russia would not end well for the US. Agree with him or not, firing a reckless war-hawk demonstrates that there is more to Trump than just rhetoric.
And now for the list of things that concern me:
1. Rhetoric – this goes without saying. It is said that our strengths can be exploited and turned against us. The rhetoric continues because it’s what got him elected. It may get him elected again this fall. What it won’t do is help anyone following him. It provided cover for his actions. Most people can’t even tell you what he has or hasn’t done because they can’t get past what he is saying. That’s a two edged sword and could come back to bite him just as hard as it bit the media that (supposedly) opposed him.
2. Spending – I just read that our federal budget is now higher than WWII levels relative to GDP. That is a problem. Honestly this was probably my biggest concern while he was a candidate and continues to be a concern. Trump is not alone on this. Congress, and the federal reserve seem to be very compliant. I don’t think Hilary Clinton with a democratic congress would have spent any more than we are spending now. Maybe if AOC was president…. Unfortunately this has been a problem for so long we may be past the point of no return. This probably warrants a separate entry.
In conclusion, while it seems that we are marching inevitably toward separation we continue as a nation. As long as we continue to uphold our elected leaders and the rule of law we will continue as a nation, even if it seems the sky is falling. When we, speaking collectively, stop upholding the rule of law and not only seek to overturn, but succeed in overturning election results (think assassination, frivolous impeachment, etc.) our existence as a nation will be in grave danger.