Getting off the US Presidential Barbed-Wire Fence

Well aware as I am that what I say below may sound completely opposed to all carefully cultivated “reformational” political instincts, I yet ask:

would there be any value in us discussing how a Trump presidency might be induced to save itself, and with it the “American experiment”, by advocating a reformation of the entire system of electing a President?

Could not the ambiguities of a Trump Whitehouse, along with the institutional and social impacts, continue to mount up to such an extent that DT himself would have to become convinced that the only way of saving face would be to concede the fraudulence of the election result? In doing so, he could then refer to the complete failure of the Republican Party in that his nomination was simply the culmination of its complete vetting failures. And so he would also become the advocate of genuine reform in his own “side” of politics, instead of the multi-billionaire who made a killing on the back of increased and increasing political cynicism. But would he not first have to be convinced that the evidence is telling him of a built-in systemic fraudulence which has got him into his most uncomfortable position? Could the barbed-wire fence of the Trump presidency bring about a positive result?

Consider, could DT save his presidency by becoming the student of a political reform, even if that is something he has never before grasped, let alone considered? Could he, by adopting the humble role of student of political science, become the leader of a new wave of electoral justice reform across the USA? Could he thus induce those who voted for him, as well as those deeply opposed to his election, to keep on talking to each other in order to work for a root and branch reform of the system by which a President of the United States of America is elected?

Reflect on the election result. Think about the remarkable events after Hillary Clinton’s concession of defeat and the winner’s own comments, let alone his modus vivendi with the President whom he charged with all kinds of failures on his way to electoral victory? Is not his election due to a basic failure in the American political system and is not Mr Donald Trump, whatever his complicity in this failure in order to get elected, now best viewed as the victim of it?

So, now will the next incumbent of the US Presidency concede that the only way to save the “American experiment” is for him to become the central advocate of its reform – and in this case to repent of his summary dismissal of this own need for repentance – and simply acknowledge the fraudulence of his election win and the nation’s need for a new system of Presidential election?

I am well aware this might sound like I am making an impossible appeal to an hyper-idealistic un-realpolitik. But I do recall that with the disastrous election of “Dubbya” back in 2001, the US was then served by a White House “faith-based” initiative which, as I read it, would not have taken the form it did without the Centre for Public Public Justice’s Welfare Responsibility project during the first half of the 1990s. This was indeed a positive contribution from “a Christian political option” of justice for all. 

In terms of the responses by the losing candidate as well as the US President, it would seem that these “Democrats” are more sympathetically aware of the “unanticipated consequences” that now confront DT than the President-elect himself. He now appears even more ridiculous with his back-pedalling on campaign promises, threats and other verbal garbage. His political opponents now seem, in their conciliatory tone, much more aware than the Victor of the barb-wire fence on which he is now positioning himself.

Nurturing Justice, in response to this “shock”, and with an anticipation of much turbulence, is simply putting forward the hope that it will bring with it some serious re-thinking about the taken-for-granted ground rules for representative democracy. And after all, in losing, Clinton with Al Gore before her, both outpolled their respective opponents who then each became President-elect.

After this “shock” election, the idea of a Christian political option does not seem so far away. We ask: why shouldn’t we, as Christian advocates of public justice for all, become involved in a movement of citizens who are advocating electoral justice for all? Why should not citizens of all genuine political beliefs demand the re-formation and further formation of genuine political parties? What would be unjust about a movement that promoted just representation of all citizens in the parliaments and councils of modern democracy? In fact, why have the extant political parties failed so miserably to make a clear and decisive political distance from “winner take all” forms of electing political representatives?

With all the post-modern swagger that dominates so-called “progressive” and “enlightened” political discourse these days, where are the political parties and their elected representatives who are daring to make a stand for just political representation particularly for those electors who can not accommodate their political beliefs to the opportunistic, pragmatic, end-justifies-the-means beliefs and programmes of those who in such electoral systems have been “elected” (better “delegated” perhaps) to represent them?


BCW 13.11.16 (edited 15.11.16)


5 thoughts on “Getting off the US Presidential Barbed-Wire Fence

  1. Allan Carter says:

    Of particular interest are those who didn’t vote and their reasons for not doing so. America is full of sub-groups who can be quite irrational in their perspectives. The over-riding doctrines of the “American Dream’ and ‘Manifest Destiny’ have coloured American thinking for a very long time and have resulted in either isolationism or adopting the role of moral avenger. The end product has been a world of unresolved conflict and an expectation of further disasters. The Trump presidency will only exacerbate these negative conditions. The American motto of ‘In God We Trust’ has been distorted and abused. Those who fear the ‘Trumpisation’ of the American body politic and society have justifiable concerns. Already minority groups are running scared. Women are unimpressed. Trump sitting on the barbed-wire fence (presumably on the Mexican border) will probably cause him pain but this will be shared and felt by many Americans. There could be dark days ahead and the ideals of such founders as Thomas Jefferson will be scrunched below the foundations of Trump Tower.

    • Thankyou Allan – glad to have your contribution added to my blog. Recently I watched two American films which reminded me that within this strange sometimes cult-like polity there has long been story-tellers and film-makers capable of exposing in trenchant ways the weaknesses and follies of this nation that claims to be a “light on the hill”, the harbinger of progress: Meet John Doe (Frank Capra 1941) and, even more chillingly reminiscent of what we have confronted with the rise of DT – Robert Rossen’s 1949 film based on Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. I guess our challenge with these films is to move beyond entertainment to a new political wisdom. Thanks again.

    • Further Comment from Allan Carter:
      Thank you for your reply to my reply. Your reference to film reminded me that yes, there are critics in America , as well as people of discernment and intelligence. Some of these, of course, don’t vote and the rump of Trump triumphs. A particularly good film is ‘Wag the Dog’ which is a stunning critique and satire on how the media manipulates the political process. There are others. such as ‘The Candidate’ and ‘All the President’s Men’.It will be interesting to see how America develops.

  2. Roger Henderson (Bill Jennings) says:

    I am not sure what your plan is Bruce. I am a Californian and if the US Electoral College were to be abolished California might soon rule the US — with its forty million citizens–the small states would not amount to a hill of beans. (I’m sure you know all the jokes about how loony we Californians are!) It is an odd system no doubt, just as each state has two senators regardless of size but it has its virtues. Jim S. argued for a time that we might do better to shift to a parliamentary democracy. No doubt our “King-for-a-term” (4 years) is odd but it too has its “charm.” Alright go ahead and put forth your suggestion for improvement(s). I am all ears.

    • Thanks Roger (Bill) – As I said in the email accompanying my post, I am simply oping my post will help readers remain hopeful about their political responsibility to seek public justice locally, regionally, nationally, globally. It is formulated as a suggestion for developing our political thinking about what has happened and why. (Include Brexit here). Here in Australia we are also experiencing the result as a shock. My post is launched in the South West Pacific. We are actually a non-US polity, although our political leaders have forgotten that. But the best critics of the US political system are not Crocodile Dundees but Americans themselves – you might be the worst and most dogmatically closed minded as well. But here is a fellow, Josh Tucker, at NYU, who seems to have a good understanding of the matter you raise. See Consider also the perceptive piece by Perry Huesman on a “Thinknet” discussion. The remarkable “thing” for me is that this constitutional “matter” – basic to the election – only comes into the political discussion after the election rather than during it, or even when the President, the losing candidate and the winning candidate make their initial post-election comments.

      My suggestion for improvement therefore is twofold: 1. political parties must see themselves as necessarily involved in genuine political education of the entire electorate seeking to attract voters who share their political beliefs and giving a comprehensive view of how legislation functions in all areas; 2. political parties should be advocating more political parties so that all (or most and not just 51% of) electors with their political beliefs can be appropriately represented in parliaments and congresses at all levels. My recommendations are firstly recommendations for reform of political parties and for their reformation in order to enhance ongoing electoral “discourse” about the needed reform of parliamentary representation. This would also be about genuine reformation of genuine political parties and not just reformation of elections or “public governance”. If that path is to be followed it would get us out of the “winner take all” mindset that destroys parties and undermines accountability of elected representatives to electors. Thanks for your trenchant contribution to my “marginal” blog.

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