Politicians’ attitudes help move public opinion. Public policy often follows. Rhetoric, therefore, that isn’t followed by executive action cannot be easily dismissed.

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There’s often a difference between Trump the rhetorician (if one can call the oddly-capitalized mish-mash of sentence fragments the president spews “rhetoric” without making Aristotle weep) and Trump the politician.

Contrary to the president’s bombast, Mexico still hasn’t paid for the border wall, America hasn’t won any of the supposedly easy trade wars the president started and trade deficits with multiple nations are bigger than ever (actually a net positive for consumers). …


An ideological shift, not in the electorate but in Republican party messaging, might explain why the blue wall went red in 2016.

In 2016, President’s electoral win was facilitated by the collapsing of the so-called blue wall. The reliably Democratic states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, along with Rust Belt Ohio, swung right and handed Trump 64 electoral votes, an integral step of his path to electoral victory.

At the time, this seemed to have significance beyond the 2016 election. …


It’s one of many forms of civic participation.

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In a perfect world, voting would be just another form of civic participation, rather than the apex of democratic virtuosity.

Disparate factions seek to interpret what is often incorrectly termed the “national” vote in ways that seek to command victory and augment the strength of their position in their electorate. …


Third-party votes are often aimed at more strategic goals, like gaining state recognition for their party. But third-party voters tend to be more ideologically driven. Can the two be squared?

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A vote is an expression of self-interest. It reflects not only the preferences of the voter — reflecting their personal value-judgments and belief in what policies are most conducive towards their welfare — but the policies they believe will respect the choices they make in working towards their own ends.

This means, despite what certain self-appointed keepers of democratic welfare shriek, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to vote. Parties do not own votes; they attract them. And they do so only to the extent their platform aligns with the values of individual members of the electorate. …


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The point of inalienable rights is that they exist independent of the acknowledgement of formal governing bodies. Governing bodies may choose to acknowledge the people they govern have rights, and to orient their actions around their recognition and preservation, but rights are held by the individuals because individuals are born free and independent.

There are no hive minds or oversouls. No man can look at another and know what the other is thinking or feeling. The individual nature of existence renders it impossible to see the world through anything other than personal experience. As Adam Smith so eloquently observed in the opening paragraphs of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.” …


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Concerns about election integrity are understandably at the forefront of 2020 election discourse.

But for all the quibbling over whether in-person voting is safe or whether universal mail-in voting is so susceptible to fraud its use will invalidate the election (it won’t), one crucial issue is getting overlooked.

Even before ballots are printed and find themselves before the deliberative eyes of the body politic, there’s a chance that election security might be compromised.

Ballot access for third-party candidates is as much an election security issues as are overblown concerns about voter fraud.

The American political system makes elected representatives, whether in the legislature or the executive, intermediaries of citizens and their interests. Elections, really, are an elevated form of lobbying. By showing up to the voting booth and selecting certain individuals and policies, voters tell government what course they most want it to pursue. To the detriment of the American political system, elections are the foremost method by which citizens express their preferences. At the same time, they express trust that elected representatives will respect their wishes and perspective. …


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You could be forgiven if, like me, at the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, you peered around the nearest corner to check if Rod Serling was standing there, surrounded by an elegant curlicue of smoke emanating from his cigarette and a look of knowing wisdom — and perhaps the slightest glint of pity — in his eye.

The 2016 presidential election was one conducted in the twilight zone. And 2020 seems on course to take place in the hinterlands of the twilight zone.

Joe Biden — author of the 1994 crime bill, which ushered in the era of mandatory minimum sentences at the feet of which many advocates of criminal justices reform lay our current mass incarceration crisis — is a particularly poor choice of candidate for the current political climate. …


The president’s populist roots make him incapable of leaving the realm of “better” or “worse” and making a real argument that adapts to new information.

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The president cannot stand to be contradicted. This is made abundantly clear in Trump’s interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

This is, of course, not something unique to Trump: politicians of all partisan stripes routinely “spin” and reframe facts into a light that more favorably reflects their actions and worldviews. It is the reason press secretaries exist.

However, a greater portion of the president’s rhetoric seems to be driven by reflexive naysaying to his adversaries than does any other politicians. Trump rarely speaks in the affirmative: one gets the impression that much of his dogged defense of certain position are not about his personal belief but about refusing to yield an inch to his adversaries, Republican or Democrat, and concede they might have a point. …


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There are roughly one-hundred days between now and the election (ninety-eight as of this writing). But the first votes will be cast much sooner than that. For Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina, early voting begins in September.

These are perennial battleground states; it’s hard to forge a path to electoral college success without carrying at least one of these states. (Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranks Pennsylvania a tossup and Michigan and North Carolina as “lean Democrat,” while the Cook Political Report rates North Carolina a toss up and rates Pennsylvania and Michigan lean Democrat.)

It’s good strategy, then, for candidates to focus their attentions on such states. But early-voting truncates the period in which this can be done. And that can exacerbate some fundamental inequalities of campaigns, which frequently see campaigns focus on areas whose electoral college votes promise big payoffs, while ignoring states who contribute less to the 270-vote total a candidate needs to win. …


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215 years ago, King John signed Magna Carta and laid the groundwork for civil liberties, property rights and justice divorced from the king’s judgment. It’s a document incredibly important to liberality, particularly in this country.

Magna Carta is also a terrific example of why culture shouldn’t immediately discard anything that contains “outdated” ideas.

Magna Carta introduced the idea that justice was objective: that it wasn’t whatever the will of the king happened to be at a particular point in time, or that his anger towards a particular individual should condemn them to exile or death.

It established a council of barons, other officials to whom the king could be held answerable if they determined he had acted unjustly. Coming from a time when the judgment of a monarch was not only the sole determiner of justice, but was underwritten as having divine inspiration, this idea is revolutionary. …

About

Katherine Emily

Founder, The Subversive Scrivener. Writer. Thinker. Intransigent ideologue. Radical individualist. Talent fully developed is the highest moral good.

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