Weighing personality versus the most important signature in the world
It seems hard to fathom, but one week from today Americans will go to the polls (if they haven’t already dropped by the mailbox) to vote in what is undoubtedly the most important and consequential election of our lifetimes. Undoubtedly many (about half?) will do so motivated by support for their candidate. Others will do it as a civic duty. And the rest will likely make the journey out of personal preference. The airy notion that politics matters eludes a huge segment of the population. These are people who slept through civics class in high school, because it was too much bother to learn how the local, state and federal governments function. The Constitution stops at the end of the preamble, right? If it weren’t true, why wouldn’t School House Rock have written a jingle for the whole thing? The anti-Trump voters will be voting to get rid of President Donald Trump. The few Republicans among them will satisfy themselves with the notion that they’re doing the right thing. Trump is “mean” or “divisive” or “in it for himself” or “racist.” Whatever their justification, the #NeverTrumpers know not what they do. Rhetorically asking, “Is disapproval of a president’s personality sufficient reason to transfer power to the Democrats?” Daniel Henninger summed it up well last week at The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Biden has made a Faustian bargain with his party’s activist left, and should he win, their price will be putting the U.S. on a fast track toward significant income confiscation and ‘distributive justice.’ The Obama presidency got close, and economically, it was not a good experience for lower-middle-class workers or the unemployed. The creation of economic opportunity is why the possibility of support for Mr. Trump among black Americans and Hispanics may be one of the election’s sleeper issues. “At its finish, this presidential election is of a piece with everything else in 2020—the desire that some things just go away. So which is it, Donald Trump or the Democratic Party? “I think the greater national need is for the Democratic Party to go away and rethink what has become its profound alienation from the history, traditions and identity of the United States. If they win, the divisions will get deeper. In our invaluable system of checks and balances, it’s a bigger risk to have one of America’s two major parties this far off the tracks than any single personality.” Well said. As always, Henninger presents a cogent argument and cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Trump’s personality, quirks and mannerisms turn a lot of people off. We know it. A secret, it’s not. Some were alienated long ago by Trump’s regular tabloid presence, braggadocio about his properties and himself and seeming disloyalty to his first two wives. These critics didn’t like the fact he commented on political issues and came out and favored or disavowed something he later adopted. Some conservatives distrusted him, suggesting he wasn’t serious about the Republican Party and furthering its platform, especially on social issues. Some people didn’t like Trump’s TV show, “The Apprentice.” He was brash. Always confident. Sometimes harsh… and seemed to enjoy the “You’re Fired!” ending of the program a little too much for his own good. Trump was in the media so often that he didn’t seem genuine or real. He was like a talking celebrity wax figure in a museum, complete with styled orange hair. When he announced his candidacy for president, many of us, including myself, considered it a grand publicity stunt to market his business ventures. If not, why was he so critical of beloved figures in the party? Many, many conservatives lost faith in the two Bush presidents but practically everyone agreed they were good men who did their best for the country. Why kick them when they’re down? And did Trump really say Marco Rubio was little? Or that Ted Cruz was, gulp, a liar? Or that Carly Fiorina had a less than desirable face? Or Jeb Bush had low energy? How could Americans elect someone like Donald Trump as president? Even if we could get used to the off-putting aspects of his personality, there was a lot more there to get on our nerves. At times, his voice sounded as pleasant as a sixth grader intentionally running his fingernails over a chalkboard. His agenda sounded more like a populist plea for votes rather than something he was serious about implementing. Do something about illegal immigration? The swampy establishment would never allow it. But paired with the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency, the choice became easier… much easier A ton easier. Maybe it was because Hillary’s personality was worse than Trump’s. Her arrogant condescension, her unbelievable denials concerning her private email server, her marriage to big Bubba Bill, who gave philandering an even worse name -- on a bulbous red-nosed face, too. The corruption, the criminal behavior, the aura of sleazy political favors for cash. It all added up. (Lock her up?) It was easy for a lot of folks to conclude Clinton was worse than Trump. He won, she lost. And the Russians had very little, if anything, to do with it. His personality has largely remained the same in his first term. It is part of who he is. His record is good. He’s been through a lot. But without a doubt, the most important thing about Trump isn’t his face, his accent, his odd hand gestures or fondness for Tweeting. It is his signature. Huh? Most people wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it. For those of us familiar with it, it's got a flourish -- like someone with a big ego owns it. So what, correct? Well, Trump’s signature means a lot. It means everything, in fact. To those suburban women or other wayward Republicans, conservatives or America-lovers out there, consider this: the office of the president is much more than just a butt in the seat of the chair at the Oval Office. The fact is, the American legislative process requires the president's signature to make laws. FACT: Joe Biden won't sign ANYTHING the conservatives in Congress manage to pass. Trump will. With the help of the grassroots, we have some hope of actually making progress in the next four years. We won't get ANYTHING done with Biden and a Democrat Congress. Trump has never shown himself to be overly ideological. Therefore, if the conservatives in Congress are able to exert some influence, then we could conceivably get something done to try and fix the leaks in the ship. The captain's somewhat irrelevant here.
Throwing the election because you're mad at the GOP for nominating Trump four years ago or the American people for electing him is counter-productive. I'm not going to concede any chance we have to get things turned around after the devasting year of 2020.
The president signs a lot more than bills from Congress
There’s really no need to go into the growth of executive power in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Everyone who’s paid attention to politics and history realizes the president has become the central focus of American political life. The parties battle at the state and district level for senate and House seats, but these elections are “only” for control of part of the legislative branch. They have power, but it isn’t like the modern president’s authority.
A lot more comes across the president’s desk for his (or her?) signature.
Article II, Section II of the Constitution reads, “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
“He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
“The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”
There you have it. The president’s signature ends up on a lot of documents. Even if you don’t like Trump personally, do you still like his policies? Did his signature make you happy on any legislation or executive order over the past four years? Did his signature please you when he signed the nomination papers for Judges (now Justices) Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett? Was it a sight to see when he signed the new trade bills? Or issued the Born Alive Executive Order?
Do you like the American Flag? Do you support police departments? Do you think historical monuments deserve defenses from vandals and miscreants? Do our cities deserve protection from lawless anarchists? Want to purchase a firearm for your family’s safety? Are you glad you can go to the gas station and buy a gallon of gas for two bucks? Do you enjoy not having to pay the individual mandate penalty under Obamacare?
Do you rest easier at night knowing that the U.S. military is stronger than it was four years ago? Is it more important for the fighting forces to be ready to defend our country’s interests or to further the leftist social agenda? Want to pay for transgender surgeries out of your taxpayer dollars? Do you appreciate that under Trump, there’s a lot less chance that America’s finest won’t be sent into harm’s way because of political reasons? Tired of war? Want our European allies to pay their fair share for their own defense threats from Russia? Do you want local or state control over COVID-19 regulations, closures and mandates?
Are you glad that the terrible Iran Deal was rescinded? How many lives have been saved because the Iranian mullahs are now starved of cash and on the brink of collapse? Were you impressed when peace negotiations resulted in recognition of Israel by Bahrain, the UAE and now Sudan? How about when the U.S. embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem?
What do you think of school choice? Are you a big fan of teachers’ unions and their dominance over education? Everyone liking “virtual” schooling? Would the public schools benefit from more competition and parent input? Have your kids benefited from Common Core? Is it a good thing to have biological males playing on girls’ sports teams? Did you love being labeled a racist by some idiot if you were disgusted by media-massaged “peaceful protests” and violence? Does everyone need to be taught racial sensitivity?
Was it a good idea to move on criminal justice reform? Were you giddy when you discovered that the 2017 tax law saved you a lot of money?
Do you like how yours or your spouse’s (or son’s or daughter’s) job was preserved by Trump’s decision to withdraw from the constricting, China pampering Paris Accord? Or that someone you know is making a great wage because of the protections in the USMCA trade pact with our north American partners? Do you smile when you realize that your religious institution doesn’t have to violate its conscience to provide birth control and abortifacients against policy?
How awesome is that the federal government has become so powerful? Do you desire to transfer more authority to a nameless, face-less bureaucrats thousands of miles away?
All of these things are or were dependent on President Donald J. Trump scribbling his name on pieces of paper with lovely seals and/or official stamps. If the hand guiding the pen had been Hillary Clinton’s, you would not have been happy. And if it’s Joe Biden doing the signing in the next four years, think of all the bad things that will happen. Biden himself talked about it extensively last Thursday evening. If he says he wants to dictate to the nation on practically every subject on God’s green earth, we should believe him.
In our divided nation, opinions diverge widely on whether to give President Trump another four years in the White House. Both sides can’t be right and there won’t be two winners. The president of the United States has a powerful signature. If actions mean more than words, consider that signature when you enter the voting booth next week.
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