Unique and Unprecedented Threat

Andrew Sullivan writes that Donald Trump is a “unique and unprecedented threat . . . to liberal democracy and constitutional order.”

Sullivan has been live-blogging both the RNC and DNC conventions.  Sullivan, who produced the blogs The Dish and The Daily Dish from 2000 until 2015 when he retired from full-time blogging, considers himself a traditional conservative.   He does not at all  support American conservatism as embodied in the Republican party and adamantly opposes Donald Trump.  I think Andrew has been spot on about the importance of defeating Trump.  He says it better than anyone else.  This is some of what he wrote on day one of the DNC convention:

[Trump,] a candidate who openly called for mass deportation, war crimes, disbanding NATO and a trade war is now ahead in Nate Silver’s “now-cast” of polling results. The great unknowable about America is what would happen if fascism were actually on the ballot. It’s never happened before. But if you thought fascism would be taboo, the American people are proving you wrong.

So the Clintons have a real task ahead this week. They have to keep the focus on the unique and unprecedented threat that Donald Trump poses to liberal democracy and constitutional order.

On day four of the Republican convention, Andrew Sullivan wrote that

This [Trump’s speech] is a very new departure for politics in a liberal democracy. We’ve never heard an appeal from a major party platform to junk traditional democratic norms, and cede power to a new tyrant, whose magical powers will somehow cause almost every problem in the country to disappear. In this election, the very basis of liberal democracy is on the ballot.  . . .  fears . . .  about the popularity of tyranny in a late-democracy have, I’m afraid, only been fanned by events since.

The speech is entirely about fear, to be somehow vanquished by a single man’s will to power. Its core message is what America was founded to resist. Its success would be an abolition of the core promise of this country for two centuries – that self-government is incompatible with the rule by the whims and prejudices and impulses of a man on a white horse.

It can happen here. It is happening here. No election has been more important in my lifetime.

Nor in mine, which goes back to seeing I Like Ike buttons while riding the bus to grade school in the 1050s.  Ike and Ronald Reagan are both probably turning in their graves because of what their party has become.

This is from day three of the DNC convention.

I’ve never felt this way about a president, so I might as well admit it. Against hideously graceless opposition, in the face of extraordinary odds, facing immense crises, he [Obama] stayed the course and changed this country. This election is, at its core, about not letting a bigot and a madman take that away from all of us.

It is an election to keep the America that Obama has helped bring into being, and the core democratic values that have defined this experiment from the very beginning: self-government, not rule by a strongman; pluralism and compassion rather than nativism and fear; an open embrace of the world, and not a terrified flight from it.

There you have it.  Remember to vote for Hillary come November!

Obama’s Intelligence Speech

Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect. History has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.

I found the above lines of Obama’s speech of yesterday compelling because I feel that there is already too much “trust me” in government today, even in the Obama administration.  There was a lot of “trust me” in Obama’s speech, although if  the initiatives he suggests are implemented our privacy will be greater than it is presently.  Our Founding Fathers were not trusting people.  They thought that no one individual should be entrusted with unrestrained power.  That remains the one of the key foundations of a society that abides by the rule of law.  Stalin’s solution to the trusting of individuals was to execute, deport, or imprison anyone who he thought threatened his power.  He did his best to concentrate all power in himself.  In our system, power is dispersed widely and I think it has always been seen as a threat to our way of life when one sector grabs too much power, whether government or business.

. . .the challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes; that’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.

Again, I am glad to see this stated by Obama.  But at the same time I read of the idea of allowing private organizations like Google to store metadata about our phone conversations instead of the NSA or other government organizations.  I would much rather trust the government not to misuse such metadata than I would trust a large corporation.

I listened to the speech with mixed feelings.  Still too much “trust us”, but moving towards a better situation than exists today.