Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/10/11/enough/

Through crisis comes opportunity.

Politically, the country appears headed for the brink regardless of the outcome of this election. A Trump presidency presents the most immediate threat, in that his narcissism, boorishness, volatility, and incoherence could produce disaster from day one. (“President Assad, that great leader, said I have big hands, so you know, as I’ve always said -ask anyone- some of those civilians deserved it.”)

But a Clinton presidency will be different than any in my lifetime in that she is unliked and untrusted by many of her own voters and supporters in Congress, which will inevitably limit any kind of traditional honeymoon period.

Moreover, even if Clinton prevails (as it seems she will), the forces backing Trump aren’t going away. The fear of many Trump voters that the country is controlled by a wealthy elite will only be stoked by the latest revelations about Clinton’s closed-door Wall Street speeches. President Obama’s unprecedented expansion of the regulatory state to achieve results explicitly rejected by legislative branch will be cemented, as Clinton will stack the federal judiciary with left-leaning politically oriented judges from the Supreme Court on down. The federal government will continue to pursue policies on immigration, Obamacare subsidies, diversity, and the like that (regardless of their merits) were never voted on by the people’s representatives. The cadre of unsavory hangers-on to the Clintons who will enrich themselves through these executive actions will only feed the partisan cycle of investigation and stonewalling that numbs us all. All of this will stoke the legitimate concerns of Trump voters that the system is rigged – or at least not working as the framers intended.

So where is the opportunity in this crisis?

A new era of bipartisan cooperation seems unlikely. But the crisis that confronts the country may have already begun to show us where opportunities lie. To start with, though steamrolled in the primaries, a non-trivial group of Republicans have set party loyalty aside and refused to support the Republican nominee. Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Jeb Bush; Senators Ben Sasse, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake, and Mike Lee; and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, to name a few, have all refused to endorse Trump. For politicians, for whom access to power and political appointments for supporters is the coin of the realm, the refusal to endorse is not without negative consequences. Yet, these politicians stepped out of the talking points handed out by party leaders, and told the truth.

What if the actions of these Republican politicians were reciprocated? What if a few brave Democrats put down the talking points and acknowledged that the distasteful and corrupt enrichment of the Clintons at the trough of the Clinton Foundation was a legitimate issue worthy of real investigation?

What if President Obama, prior to Clinton’s inauguration or shortly thereafter, acknowledged that setting up a private server put a stain on his presidency? To be sure, these actions would do short term damage to the Democratic “brand” and cause partisan Republicans to gloat. But what would be the long term value of presidents, and presidential candidates, getting the message that their partisans, their allied interest groups, and their party leaders won’t necessarily defend the indefensible simply because they have the right letter after their name?

What if the media, having been confronted with a true misogynist and bigot like Trump, considered refraining from using the term “misogynist” to describe any male politicians with qualms about the taking of unborn life? Or thought twice before comparing to George Wallace anyone who hasn’t adopted social norms birthed in the Yale Law School faculty lounge a mere five years ago?

Political fights still need to happen. Questions concerning whether the United States should become more like a European welfare state remain on the table. Questions about the rights of political and religious dissenters will continue to spark debate. And questions about the role of courts, the executive, and the legislature, and about the place of the United States in the world will still spark strong, even vicious, disagreement.

But maybe, just maybe, after over a year of watching politicians and partisans of both stripes defend the indefensible, the media and voters that make their lives possible will reward those politicians that, even if belatedly, look at their party’s leader and say, “enough!”

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll is a native of the Boston area who currently practices law in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this column are his own and not those of his firm. Nor are they the views of his wife, daughters, or greyhounds. Read his past columns here.