Author Topic: Objective review of Republican candidates for President  (Read 41098 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #920 on: May 15, 2012, 11:52:38 PM »
Frankly, the Constitutional idolatry that many Americans seems possessed of strikes me as a peculiar form of paganism. The whole thing about checks and balances, limited power and making abrupt changes as difficult as it gets is marvelous at theoretical level but let's have a look at the facts.

The size and scope of the US government has been increasing ever since its establishment, slowly at the beginning and rapidly in the 20-th century. The US government today (and during the whole last century) is/was bigger and has/had more power and influence over the lives of the American citizens than poor King George III and his government ever dreamed of. The same checks and balances that were in force during Washington, Adams and Jefferson operate during Obama (or Bush or Clinton or you name it) - yet the difference in the scope and size of the power of these presidents is obvious. So, there you have on one hand a Constitution whose explicit aim is to limit the power of the government and on the other hand a government operating under the selfsame Constitution and whose power has increased at an exponential rate in the last 100 years. Can someone please explain me (a) this paradox and (b) why such a Constitution should be regarded as a nec plus ultra in matters political?
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eyeresist

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #921 on: May 16, 2012, 02:39:46 AM »
Frankly, the Constitutional idolatry that many Americans seems possessed of strikes me as a peculiar form of paganism.

It's certainly odd, though hardly the only odd thing about the US (or any country, really). Considering how well the creation of an entire political system out of wholecloth usually works out, I'd say the results were pretty good.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 02:59:26 AM by eyeresist »

Offline chasmaniac

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #922 on: May 16, 2012, 02:55:44 AM »
Any formal constitution is written in words. Words count for nothing until people start putting them into effect. What people do with the hallowed constitution varies over time, sometimes greatly. Was Jim Crow constitutional? I guess it was, until it wasn't, unless it still is. Slavery? The income tax?

Obviously the words matter, but they don't by themselves determine anything.
If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: "This is simply what I do."  --Wittgenstein, PI §217

Offline Todd

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #923 on: May 16, 2012, 06:05:27 AM »
Frankly, the Constitutional idolatry that many Americans seems possessed of strikes me as a peculiar form of paganism.


I guess it can be looked at that way, but the Constitution has created a political environment that has allowed the US to become the richest nation on earth, and one which achieved, in 1989, and still holds, however tenuously, a degree of global hegemony, all while never descending into a totalitarian nightmare, even in the worst economic conditions.  Even our most tyrannical presidents - Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR - were constrained.  That the original founders didn’t envision such reach and scope for the federal government is both irrelevant and incorrect.  It’s irrelevant precisely because the Constitution is structured to allow for change and it is short and somewhat vague – no document hundreds of pages long that addresses specific policy questions like the monstrosity for the EU – which allows for different interpretations at different times, as happened no later than the Whiskey Rebellion.  It’s incorrect because Hamilton and his followers very clearly wanted a powerful central government from the start, and even a figure as august as Jefferson spoke of an Empire of Liberty.  Do you think he actually thought such an idea, even if just figurative, would come to fruition just because?  He certainly didn’t think the Barbary pirates would stand down without a use of force undertaken without a declaration of war.  Of course the founders, Hamilton and his ilk possibly aside, could never envision the current state of affairs.  So what?



(like me)


A peculiarly banal argument - only you and those who think like you understand the Constitution.  Got it Ms Bachmann.



The income tax?


A perfect example where the Constitution was amended.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 09:20:01 AM by Todd »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #924 on: May 16, 2012, 06:41:43 AM »
even a figure as august as Jefferson spoke of an Empire of Liberty. 

Fine, except that the two don't mix too well. ;D

Quote
Of course the founders, Hamilton and his ilk possibly aside, could never envision the current state of affairs.  So what?

So nothing just that the Constitution could not prevent the current state of affairs.

Look, I don't want to offend you or other Americans but the almost  mystical trust you put in a piece of paper is rather odd. Yes, it worked well until now but nothing warrants it will forever.

As for the American democratic exceptionalism I think it is overplayed. Switzerland is even older a democracy than US. Also, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway (except the brief interlude of German occupation where appropriate) never knew any dictatorship.




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Offline Todd

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #925 on: May 16, 2012, 06:53:00 AM »
Yes, it worked well until now but nothing warrants it will forever.


Of course it won't.



As for the American democratic exceptionalism I think it is overplayed.



Of course it is.
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #926 on: May 16, 2012, 06:59:21 AM »
Frankly, the Constitutional idolatry that many Americans seems possessed of strikes me as a peculiar form of paganism. The whole thing about checks and balances, limited power and making abrupt changes as difficult as it gets is marvelous at theoretical level but let's have a look at the facts.

The size and scope of the US government has been increasing ever since its establishment, slowly at the beginning and rapidly in the 20-th century. The US government today (and during the whole last century) is/was bigger and has/had more power and influence over the lives of the American citizens than poor King George III and his government ever dreamed of. The same checks and balances that were in force during Washington, Adams and Jefferson operate during Obama (or Bush or Clinton or you name it) - yet the difference in the scope and size of the power of these presidents is obvious. So, there you have on one hand a Constitution whose explicit aim is to limit the power of the government and on the other hand a government operating under the selfsame Constitution and whose power has increased at an exponential rate in the last 100 years. Can someone please explain me (a) this paradox and (b) why such a Constitution should be regarded as a nec plus ultra in matters political?

You have to understand--the Constitution they are idolizing is one that hasn't been in operation since at least the 1850s, and probably never was in operation to begin with. The document represents an idea to them, and the fact that the idea never operated in the real world, or at least crumbled into uselessness when it met the real world (that's what the Civil War was about, in a way) does not register with them.
Nor do they seem to understand that using the US political system of c. 1800 as an ideal suggests to others that they think it's fine to deny basic rights to anyone who isn't a non White and a male

For these people, the current US system of government doesn't really operate under "their" Constitution, so all the grand centralization that's been going on since the Civil War is illegitimate.  They want a government which only acts when it's really necessary, and lets the rich loot the poor at will, because that's only fair and lets people alone to live their lives and make money as they see fit, because that's the only fair way to do it.

And they also usually want a US military that's strong enough to make everyone else in the world do whatever they want or think is good for the rest of the world.  The fact that this goal makes reaching the other goal is also one of those things that fails to register with them.  And very strangely, these same people have by and large reached the conclusion that it's fine for the state and local governments to act tyrannically.  It's only the Federal government that they worry about.

That said,  the Constitution does have a semi divine status in American Culture,  as an expression of American uniqueness--it's one of those things that most Americans think of as evidence that we're better than others.  Other countries have constitutions, but ours was the first and often enough the model for many of them. (I'm pretty sure Switzerland did not have one in 1789, and it actually differs in some important ways from the US version.) Nor did all those constitutions last (for instance, just how many constitutions have the French gone through since the Bastille fell?),  or actually work the way they should have on paper (for instance, the Soviet Union's enumeration of basic rights in its Constitution versus the actual practice).  We've managed to make it through two centuries with (officially at least) the same basic document, and only one great spasm of violence that couldn't be handled under that document (the Civil War). 

But the real basis of American prosperity has nothing directly to do with the Constitution.  It's the fact of our geographical location--isolated enough from other countries that we could develop the resources of of most of one vast continent without intereference from outside.  The Constitution and the system it set up allowed us the stability to do that.
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Offline karlhenning

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #928 on: May 31, 2012, 09:20:52 AM »
Is Donald Trump secretly supporting President Obama?
 
Quote from: Peter Grier
But according to Trump, the press is protecting Obama, just like it protected Nixon from the Watergate allegations. Or something like that.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Objective review of Republican candidates for President
« Reply #929 on: May 31, 2012, 09:25:23 AM »
Quote from: Noah Glynn
“At this point, I suspect that Trump no longer believes in the Birther nonsense himself, and the only reason he keeps talking about it is to increase his publicity”



I think this is probably the best interpretation of The Donald's crusade.  I would amend it to state that Trump probably never believed the Birther nonsense, or even really cared. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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