Sunday, May 08, 2016

The voters have spoken!

Mike Huckabee had become a Trump flack. I'll comment on two statements he recently made. 

"The voters have spoken"; "You’re either on the team, or you’re not on the team". 

i) In one sense you can't very well disagree. These are truisms. 

But he's turning indicatives into imperatives. Moreover, the application is off the mark.

ii) Some voters have spoken. And that has consequences–unfortunately. 

If Hillary is nominated, you can say the voters have spoken. If Hillary is elected, you can say the voters have spoken.

But even though we have a winner-take-all system, that has never meant the opposition instantly falls in line behind the winner. Winning the presidency has never meant issuing the winner a blank check. In a two-party system, the opposition continues regardless of which side wins. Likewise, with Federalism and separation of powers, you have a power-sharing arrangement, with rival power centers. 

iii) A President isn't the team. A national party is vastly larger than a President. A national party is composed of elected officials, party activists, registered voters, &c. Likewise, parties outlive presidents. Presidents come and go while parties endure.

To continue with Huckabee's sports analogy, even if a President is the quarterback, even if he happens to be the most powerful player on the team, he can't win games single-handedly. Other teammates must cooperate. 

A president doesn't own the party. It's more like the party owns him. For better or worse–depending on the candidate–the party sponsors him.

iv) Huckabee sure is eager to be a player. Is he jockeying for a position in a Trump administration? Will he settle for being Trump's "spiritual advisor"–like Tony Campolo to Bill Clinton? The new court preacher?

Shows how power-hungry Huckabee is. How desperate to have a piece of the action.

v) Sometimes we have a duty to quit the team–like the Confessing Church did in Germany. Sometimes we have a duty to form a new team if the old team has hopelessly lost its way.  

I'm not saying we're at that point. I'm not predicting that we will be at that point. But there are higher priorities than being on the team. 

vi) Trump is a cross between Tonya Harding and P. T. Barnum. Trump will drag any team players down to his own level.

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