Moving from political warfare to political theory, a central fixture of Republican Party philsophy is small federal government and states rights. In the “dump Trump” or “hide and not seek” game being played out in real time, we find this political dog is biting its master. The time worn push for states’ rights has made many a Republican stand up on his canoe, survey the scene and remark, “I have seen the enemy–and he is us!”
First let’s understand that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, registered Republicans who are not Republicans but looney-toons that are trying to draft on the wave of the party the way a motorcycle or small car drafts behind an 18 wheeler doing 70 on the highway. These people, David Duke, various Klansmen, the Christian Identity Movement, the Posse Comitatus believe to one degree or another that government legitimacy ends some where between the county and state government. Fortunately for us and too bad for them, most are unwanted by the party and this year’s draft is more like a backwash.
If we begin with the Tea Party and move center we will scoop up the vast majority of real Republicans like a fisherman’s net pulls in tuna. These are the people linked to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the Grand Old Party. The irony starts here because the Civil War, amongst its many causes, was a state’s right issue. The right of course was to be a slave state. Lincoln, the icon of today’s party, still ahead of Ronald Reagan, used the power of the Federal Government and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution to fight a war to save the nation. He basically trampled the much trumpeted (no pun intended) 10th amendment in the Bill of Rights that gives all powers to the states,or people, not expressly given to the Federal Government.
Take for instance education. We hear all kinds of whoopin’ and hollerin’ about Federal encroachment on education. The fact of the matter is that education, to the detriment of this nation, is a state right, divided in most states amongst its counties. Every county has an elected board of education. The “to our detriment” comment is that while all the nations that top the charts on education results control it from the top, we not only have 50 state boards of education or things with the same powers and different names, who have to battle with local boards at the county, and even city level. Think 20 mule team with each mule choosing what it thinks its the best direction in which to go. Or one mule and twenty drivers each trying to persuade that one well meaning beast to choose its direction over others. Bad for the mule, worse for education policy.
Another for instance is energy policy. Any oil or gas or coal found within a state’s borders belong to the state. In theory they can do whatever they wish with it. The reason we have an EPA is because the choices many have made have created health hazards so pervasive that they extend beyond the states’ borders and therefore become a federal matter. So that is a right so poorly exercised it had to be limited for the greater good.
At this juncture it will be no surprise to you that the nuts and bolts of election machinery and how that machinery is run is the province of the states and their counties. So some states might use chads, and others connect the lines ballots or have electronic voting. Some have early voting, not necessarily at the same times and dates as the other, and some don’t. Some require an ID of a prescribed manner, others don’t. There are whole courses in political science taught on election law, so I’m but scratching the surface here.
We should note too that political parties are no where in the constitution to be found. They are in academic parlance extra-legal. They are regulated by the states and by themselves. It is only in matters that touch the nation as a whole–a specified election date, overseas ballots, matters of potential discrimination against a class of citizens that the Feds can step in.
Nor have we even mentioned the Electoral College. That will come in a later column when we see who survives this circus and is actually to be voted for.
“So” to quote my favorite bear, “we come to the end of it” (Winnie the Pooh), the effort to get Donald Trump off the ballot by a growing number of Republicans. The rip currents of both Federal and State law will pull apart any such effort. Ballots are already printed for overseas voters and absentee voters. Can they be changed? The laws of each state would have to be reviewed to see if they touch upon this unprecedented possibility. Then will come the law suits. Think Bush-Gore/Florida times 20, or 25, or 30 states. It’s a thought strong enough to make one reach for the Alka-Seltzer–or something a lot stronger.
Then we have Article 9 of the Republican National Committee rules. It makes no provision for de-candidating itself. Either the candidate resigns (or dies) or the party is stuck with him or her ’til death or the election do them part.
I suspect that we are seeing the tip of the iceberg in this fight and what is below it is so big, so unwieldy that nothing will change its course unless resignation or death intervenes. And frankly, I think that would be the worst for our system. It is the elasticity of democracy that preserves it. We play our democracy on a field. The games has rules. We may bitch and moan about a call here or a dumb play there, but in the end we accept the result.
America, to continue to be America, must play out this game and then find a way to get over it, be that getting over a Clinton victory or a Trump victory.