Perhaps it’s just as well the electors stayed ‘faithful’

Benedict Cumbatch as Richard III in "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses."

Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses.”

When I was editorial page editor at The State, I would from time to time go in to work of a morning all fired up to do something really out there, something that, to a less caffeinated person, might seem terribly imprudent, something that would not be good for the newspaper and its credibility in the long run.

And my colleagues — a smart, sober, sensible crew if ever there was one — would talk me down in the morning meeting. They’d grab ‘hold of my coattails and pull, steadily and relentlessly, until they’d dragged me back from the precipice. They were all like, Put the idea down and step back, slowly…

I sort of counted on them to do that. Because ultimately I’m a conservative sort of guy, even though I’d get these wild impulses from time to time.

I don’t have them to do that for me any more. But I have y’all.

If you’ll recall, I came in all charged up on the morning of Dec. 7 (an infamous date for following ill-considered impulses — just ask Admiral Yamamoto), and wrote “Electors, your nation needs you to be ‘unfaithful’.”

Filling the roles of editorial board members, y’all immediately started calmly talking me down. As Phillip wrote in soothing tones, “As much as I fear the coming Trump Presidency, though, this would be a terrible idea,” and went on to explain why. Dave Crockett, saying, “I have to side with Phillip on this one,” poured additional oil on the troubled waters.

And I immediately realized they were right, admitting, “Everything you say makes perfect practical sense.” And I thanked them, in my way.

In any case, off the blog (you’re either on the blog or you’re off the blog), out there in Meat World, the electors met yesterday and were meek and mild, and everything Alexander Hamilton did not intend them to be. In any case, no revolution. And it’s probably just as well, for reasons I’ll go into in a moment.

But to be clear, I wasn’t being a revolutionary. I was being, if anything, reactionary. I wanted to go back to the original spirit (since the original letter is no longer operative) of the Electoral College, in which the electors served as a guarantee that no gross incompetent under the sway of a foreign potentate — ahem — would become our president. I was invoking Hamilton’s sort of conservatism, extolling his mechanism for preventing something imprudent from happening. (I’m so much that way that, as I’ve confessed here in the past, while I fervently embrace the corniest, most cliched sort of patriotism, I often worry that had I been alive in 1775, I might, just might, have been, well… a Tory. I would have had a strong aversion against taking up arms against the duly constituted authority, especially over something as absurd as taxes. Shooting at my lord the King’s soldiers would have seemed to me to be tearing at the fundamental fabric of civilization. I’m talking about before the Declaration. After that, I might have been OK with it — Take that, jolly lobster!)

Anyway, though, y’all were right and I was wrong, and it’s just as well that most of the electors yesterday were too timid to do the right thing — I mean, to cause trouble.

And I’m more certain of that now than when y’all talked me down a couple of weeks ago. That’s because of two things I’ve spent a lot of time on recently — watching TV and working on my family tree.

First, there’s the TV watching… I’ve been enjoying “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses” on PBS. It’s a three-part production of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI,” parts I and II, and “Richard III.” And it’s pretty great so far (still awaiting that third part).

But boy, does it make you glad you didn’t live in those parlous times. Just to give you an idea of the political instability and its murderous consequences, so far:

  • King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster, an unstable weakling (but a gentle soul), is trying in his own feckless way to hang onto the crown that his father — the “Band of Brothers” speech guy (see how all my posts connect up?) — left him when he was only 9 months old. He marries the French noblewoman Margaret, which looks like a good match but isn’t.
  • The Duke of York — father of, among others, Richard III — asserts that he should be king, and a lot of nobles decide he’s right and line up behind him. After all, he is a Plantagenet, and they held the crown much longer than these upstart Lancastrians.
  • There’s a terrible battle in which Somerset’s head is cut off by the York faction, which is just as well because he was fooling around with Margaret behind the King’s back. (He’s played by the guy who played the guy who was fooling around with Princess Margaret in “The Crown,” so I guess he’s typecast.) York and his posse have a great time tossing the head around and cracking jokes.
  • The followers of York rush to Westminster, where the King later arrives to find York literally sitting on his throne. The King is like, “Get off my chair!” and York is like “Make me!”
  • At this moment, Exeter, who’s always been one of the King’s main guys, says You know what? Maybe York does have a greater claim to the throne. And the King’s like, “What?”
  • The King offers a deal: If they’ll let him remain king while he lives, he’ll give up the crown on behalf of his descendants, letting York and his sons succeed him.
  • Some of the nobles tell the King he’s a loser and march off to tell Queen Margaret.
  • Margaret, who has a young son she was counting on being king, essentially reacts like, WTF!
  • She goes out and leads her own army against York, and cuts his head off, and puts it on a pike.
  • Then things swing back the other way, and… well, suffice to say York’s is not the last head to be used as a decoration.

Anyway, that’s Henry VI. The first two parts anyway, and part of the third. (I didn’t finish part 3 until after writing this.)

Then there’s the genealogy thing…

Over the weekend, I learned that I’m possibly descended from Richard “Strongbow” de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke — the guy who pretty much started the Norman conquest of Ireland in the 12th century. (And even if I’m not related to him at all, the moral of this story still stands.)

This caused some Henry-and-Margaret-style tension at my house, for this reason: My wife’s maiden name is Phelan. The original Gaelic name is Ó Fialáin. The Ó Fialáins were the head honchos in County Waterford until a certain Norman lord came along and conquered and trashed their city.

The particular Norman lord who did that was, you guessed it, my great-granddaddy “Strongbow.” If he is my great-granddaddy — and even it he’s not, he’s the guy.

Yeah… awkward.

Strongbow was driven to this by circumstances. He had inherited the Pembroke earldom and lands from his father Gilbert, also called “Strongbow.” But Henry II — one of those Plantagenets — took them away from him because my ancestor had sided with King Stephen of England in a bloody dispute — a war, not to put too fine a point on it — against Henry’s mother, the Empress Matilda, over who would be monarch of England.

Thus dispossessed, Strongbow went over and did a deal with the Irish King of Leinster, who was having problems of his own, to go together and take Waterford. Which they did. Henry II, eager that these new Irish properties become the crown’s, did a deal with Strongbow in which he got his old title and property back. Which was good for him, but not so great for my wife’s folks in Waterford.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

For so much of human history, no one had much of a sense of loyalty to a country, much less to a system of laws. They couldn’t even be relied on to be loyal to a certain lord for long. Everybody was always looking for the main chance, ready to kill to gain advantage even temporarily.

Our 240-year history, our country of laws and not of men, is a blessed hiatus from all that. We may descend into barbarism yet — and yes, the election of a man who shows little respect for the rule of law is not a good omen — but so far the Constitution has held.

So maybe it’s safest not to tear at the fabric, even a little — even if, like Exeter, we can say maybe the law is on our side. Seeing York’s point of view and encouraging him in his claim did no one, including York, any good. Getting all legalistic in invoking Hamilton’s original intent could have wreaked a great deal of havoc as well…

The earldom of Pembroke came with this cool castle, so you can see why Strongbow wanted it back.

The earldom of Pembroke came with this cool castle, so you can see why Strongbow wanted it back.

65 thoughts on “Perhaps it’s just as well the electors stayed ‘faithful’

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    You do see that there are so many distinguishing factors between the Wars of the Roses and modern American politics? Hard to tell from your post.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Seriously, my point is this period in history is VERY different, but the the Wars of the Roses were more the norm.

      It’s essential that everyone — Trump voters included — need to have faith in our practices and institutions. They don’t need to see the Electoral College as being capricious, like Exeter as Henry saw him when he said maybe York had the greater claim.

      We don’t need confidence in our system further shaken. I worry that it may be a more fragile thing than we realize…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Trump voters don’t have confidence, regardless. If he tells them there was massive voter fraud (vs. him), they believe it. They still believe the system is rigged, even though their guy won. It’s irrational.

  2. Burl Burlingame

    Some wonk the other day compared Trump supporters to people faithful to a sports team, and that made sense to me.

  3. Scout

    Is the cider named for your Great Grandfather? Let’s all drink lots of it because I hear Winter is coming (technically tomorrow, but I suspect it will really set in around Jan. 20).

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Winter is indeed coming. I felt its portents in this morning’s fog.

      I don’t know about the cider. I should also point out that while historians know him as “Strongbow,” he was probably not known that way in life. It seems to be a bastardization of one of his titles, a mistake made in later chronicles:

      Richard’s cognomen Strongbow has become the name he is best known by, but it is unlikely that he was called that at the time. Cognomens of other Cambro-Norman and Norman lords were exclusively Norman-French as the nobility spoke French and, with few exceptions, official documents were written in Latin during this period. The confusion seems to have arisen when Richard’s name was being translated into Latin.[1] In the Domesday Exchequer annals between 1300 and 1304 (over 120 years after his death) it was written as “Ricardus cognomento Stranghose Comes Strugulliae (Richard known as Striguil earl of Striguil).” This chronicler erroneously has attributed Stranghose (foreign leggings) as a cognomen, where it is much more likely a variant spelling or mistranscription of Striguil, which is called Strangboge, Stranboue or Stranbohe in other transcriptions. It is in the fourteenth century that we have Richard’s name finally rendered as Strongbow “Earl Richard son of Gilbert Strongbow [earl of Shropshire].”…

      … which kind of spoils the romance of the name…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        However… I am thrilled to discover, just now, that the cider IS named for him:

        Strongbow was launched in England by H.P. Bulmer in 1962.[4] It is named after the Cambro-Norman knight Richard de Clare, later Earl of Pembroke, whose nickname “Strongbow” was believed to be due to his for reliance heavily on Welsh archers during campaigns in Ireland, but it more likely a mistranslation or mistranscription of Striguil, one of his holdings.[5] It was initially marketed as “the strong cider for men”.[6] By 1970, it was the second highest selling cider in the world after its Bulmer’s stablemate Woodpecker.[7] By 2001, Strongbow was among the top ten drinks by sales in English and Welsh pubs and bars.[8] In 2003 Bulmers was purchased by Scottish & Newcastle, who in turn were taken over by Heineken in 2008. In January 2011, Heineken announced their intention to take the Strongbow brand global.[9]…

        1. Claus

          I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re about as related to this guy as the rest of us.

          Simple math or an actual layout of the family tree will show that there are likely thousands off ancestors at this level of the tree. Grandfathers = 2, Great Grandfathers = 4, Great, Great Grandfathers = 8, Great, Great, Great Grandfathers = 16… 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048… You’re talking about someone that lived 800 years ago, with life expectancy between 25-35 years we’re looking at 3-4 generations every 100 years so between 24-32 generations. Using the numbers there would be between 33 million and 8.5 billion male ancestors at that level in your tree. Now calculate back with each geneation’s children, grand children, great, grandchildren… Odds are everyone in this blog could trace these people in their family history.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You’re not bursting my bubble at all.

            In fact, there’s kind of a joke about genealogy, which is that if you are of European extraction (and I definitely am, according to my DNA), you’re almost certainly descended from Charlemagne.

            And I am.

            But the FUN comes in tracing your tree all the way back and seeing HOW you’re descended from Charlemagne. The way I look at it, it’s a game, and if you can get it back that far, you’ve won.

            In fact, I’ve won about eight times, because that’s how many ways I’m descended from Charlemagne. How does that work? Well, as you suggest, look at the math.

            Charlemagne is, at least by the first connection I found, my 38th great-grandfather — meaning he’s 40 generations back. If you do run the numbers — two parents, four grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, and so on — when you get 40 generations back, you have far more ancestors than the number of people who were alive then.

            So some of them are double, triple, quadruple and even more grandparents.

            You’d only be “bursting my bubble” if I were the kind of person who thinks he’s special because he is descended from royalty. I’m not. I neither claim credit for that, nor blame for my ancestors who were pretty awful (and some, apparently, were monstrous). I mean, it’s nice to figure out that Queen Elizabeth II is my 18th cousin, but it’s not like I’m going to show up at the palace unannounced for Christmas dinner. And making such a distant connection underlines the absurdity of attaching importance to it (I mean seriously — 18th cousin?), because you and maybe half the folks here on the blog are likely related to her more closely.

            But it’s FUN to make the connections. And in researching them, I’m learning a lot about history that I didn’t know. Thought of like a game, every time I find an ancestor who has his or her own Wikipedia page, it’s like getting to go straight to GO and collect $200. It’s a win.

            And I’m really enjoying it.

            At all times, though, I have to be mindful that the whole tree is dependent on some weak connections. For instance — ALL of those pathways to Charlemagne depends on Lady Isabel Wyatt being the mother of Col. John Page, one of my 9th great-grandfathers.

            Well, I’ve found two sources — one of them Wikipedia — that say his mother was someone else. But I continue to believe the THREE sources that say Isabel was his mother. The info just seems more solid that way. The people that Wikipedia say were his parents just don’t show up in the historical record (on the Web), except for that one other source that I suspect is where Wikipedia got it. (Also, this site seems address the error made by Wikipedia’s source, and correct it rather convincingly.)

            But how can I ever really KNOW?

            Similarly — the Strongbow connection was one of several exciting ones I discovered over the weekend. But there’s a weak link — one Betty Crowley, who I THINK is my 7th great-grandmother, although I only have one shaky source for that. The connections are solid back TO her, and also BEYOND her. But she is doubtful.

            I’m thinking about writing a separate post about that — it should only interest genealogy freaks — in hopes someone who’s been doing this longer will have some useful advice…

            1. Claus

              True, the numbers exceed the actual number of people alive back then, which can only mean that somewhere in the tree there are branches that “don’t fork” or there were paths that crossed in the night.

              I’ve dabbled in it on and off and with the help of some of the online services one branch can be traced back to the 400’s in England. How accurate that is is another question. Yet in other branches I have trouble getting out of the 1800’s. In another I know a child’s name, can’t find the father’s name, but know the grandfather’s name. I’ve spent several nights staring at the screen and realizing it’s 4:00 a.m. messing around with this stuff. The biggest challenge is when there is a last name change, which was common in Europe when property was purchased. I know for a fact that our last name has changed three times in the last 400 years.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yes! I take your point about name changes. For instance, I THINK I’m descended from folks who were named “Wathen” — without an R — when they came here from England.

                And when you’re dealing with these medieval nobles, it’s confusing sometimes what is their family name and what is their title. But I have to choose one to fit in the Ancestry form.

                My first experience with this name-changing was Wathen. My second was the Chiles family. My father’s mother’s father’s mother was a Chiles — and indeed, that line is the one that leads so often to Charlemagne.

                But if you try to follow just the male line, just the folks named “Chiles,” you see it change. It becomes “Childe.” Then a bit further back, it becomes “le Childe,” reflecting a Norman influence. Then it becomes “Child.” Then, suddenly, “Le Infans” for a couple of generations. Then, weirdly, back to “le Childe” in the 12th century.

                My surmise is that this was a Saxon family trying to put on Norman airs. Or maybe a Norman family that anglicized itself. I don’t know for sure because I can’t QUITE get it back to 1066…

          2. Claus

            Actually those numbers may be on the low side, those are saying there were only 3-4 generations per century. It’s more likely that there were 6-8 generations during some of those centuries with women having babies at 16-20 years old.

            During the period when the Vikings were roaming Europe, the life expectancy for woman was about 20-25 years old, many women dying during child birth or from child birth complications. Men lived an average of 30-35 years. It hasn’t been unit the last 200 years that we’re seeing the majority of people living into their 70’s and older.


          3. Norm Ivey

            I take your point about the math, but since the population of the planet 800 years ago was maybe half a billion, there’s no way Brad or any of us had 8.5 billion male ancestors at that level. I think the error comes in when you consider common ancestors. I’d like to see what odds a mathematician could figure out that any two people on the blog share a common ancestor, especially looking at 25 or so generations. I suspect many of us are kin.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                I love it! That guy is also named Brad. And since it’s a family name for me — my paternal grandmother’s surname — we’re probably related more closely than most.

                I like this part:

                The upshot of all this: If you discover that you share a common ancestor with somebody from the 17th century, or even the 18th, it is completely unremarkable. The only thing remarkable about it is that you happened to know the path…

                And that, as I say, is where the fun of genealogy comes in.

                As when I discovered a few months ago that the woman in the office next to me at ADCO — who also used to work at The State when I did, in marketing — is married to my third cousin. I didn’t KNOW that third cousin. But when I saw that the man who married my great-grandmother’s sister had the same first and last name as my co-worker’s husband, I stepped next door and asked a few questions, and yep…

  4. bud

    Sometimes Brad you put forth the most thoroughly pointless arguments to defend the indefensible. This is one of those. Yes, we’re a nation of laws. We’re also a nation guided by the principles of the constitution. The electoral college really is neither. First of all many states don’t even have laws concerning how the electors can vote. 7 electors took advantage of that and voted their conscience, as they should. As for pledges, they just don’t really mean anything. A person has a moral pledge that supersedes an unnatural pledge based on partisan politics. There is no reason at all, period, to mandate human beings vote on something other than where their conscience dictates. Laws like that violate the one man one vote rule.

    Back to the constitution. Clearly the framers of the constitution never intended for this ridiculous system to become the ritual that it has become with unjust (and probably unconstitutional) laws and forced pledges. I applaud the 7 faithless electors for actually doing the job they were charged with doing. It would be a violation of the constitution to do otherwise. I’m hopeful that this will become a trend and that more faithless electors will bravely come forward in future elections to actually do their job.

    If people want to keep this ghastly scheme that gives artificially drawn plots of land a voice in the election process then just get rid of the human electors. There just is no argument to keep them. There just isn’t. Sorry but this is ridiculous. You can’t compare this system to a banana republic because that would be an insult to banana republics. I just don’t see how anyone with a thinking brain can defend this mess. If that is really what we want as a nation then damn it just adopt a point system based on congressional apportionment and remove the human element entirely. South Carolina would get 9 points that would be apportioned winner take all and that would be the end of it. We could just skip the absurd laws and pledges entirely.

    It is simply unconscionable and frankly immoral that we keep a system that anoints an extremely unstable man to become president even though he received 2,864,974 fewer actual votes (vs points) than someone far more capable. There is a lot of anger right now about this monstrosity. Hopefully that anger can be channeled in a positive direction. The national popular vote compact currently has states with 165 electoral votes on board. Hopefully this movement will pick up steam.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, my point was actually a bit more oblique than merely the fact that we’re a nation of laws. Under the laws, under the Constitution, electors were supposed to exercise judgment.

      But the widespread understanding of that concept has changed drastically since Hamilton’s day — as has the law regarding it, in important ways that are more respectful of democracy.

      The understanding on Election Day was that electors would be assigned according to the vote. I don’t think that’s the way it should be, and it’s not the way Hamilton saw it — he did not envision a popular vote at all — but that was the assumption under which voters went to the polls.

      While I’m quite sure had it gone the other way — Trump winning the popular vote and Hillary the electoral — Trump supporters would be howling at the illegitimacy of the result, I don’t think they would have been in the right, in terms of the way custom has defined the college’s role, which is to treat electors as ciphers, as automatons.

      It’s a mess, and needs to be sorted out in some way for future elections. I’d like to see us move back to Hamilton’s way, but I don’t see that happening.

      In the meantime, while I and others can cite law in urging electors to be “faithless,” at some point the law must have legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and had electors stood on principle and revolted, I believe we’d have had a crisis even more dire than this one.

      Think of it this way — if after trying as hard as many of us did this past year to persuade his supporters that a vote for Trump was unthinkable, and failing to get the rather obvious message across, how well do you think we’d fare in explaining to them that it’s legitimate to snatch their victory away from them?

      Must give us pause, to invoke a whole other play.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        When we discussed this before, Bryan invoked St. Thomas More — the Man for All Seasons version — in arguing that we MUST grant laws, even unto the Devil himself, because were there no laws, the Devil could turn ’round on us.

        Good point, but my point here is more subtle, and not lawyerly at all.

        I’m saying a good case can be made, constitutionally, for electors exercising their judgment. But then there’s the understanding of the law, and the way that understanding contributes to civil society perhaps as much as the law itself — although that may give a lawyer a conniption.

        I don’t think I’ve made an argument like this before. Normally I’m purely in favor of the law as it is written, whatever the popular perception of it may be.

        But I want to prevent our society from descending into even greater madness than we’ve seen in the past year.

        And I keep going back to what Exeter said in Act I, Scene 1 of “Henry VI Part 3,” when he — who had been standing with Henry, suddenly says of York, “My conscience tells me he is lawful king.”

        In that moment of legalism, it seemed that Henry felt all his support falling away from him (“All will revolt from me, and turn to him.”), and that led him to the weak and rash expedient of offering to make the House of York his successors.

        Maybe York DID have a greater claim on the crown. But the peace and security of the nation, it seems to me, would have been better served if the lords had stayed true to the one who currently held the crown, Henry.

        Am I making any sense here? I know I’m presuming on intimate knowledge of the play, and for my part, I was entirely ignorant of it until this week. But I urge y’all to go watch it on PBS (you can probably see the first two episodes of the three-parter on a PBS app), and judge whether I have a point…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          By the way, this is a wonderful production. It’s very accessible. If I read that scene cited above, I get a bit lost in it. But I think some of the more confusing lines are left out, while being true to the ones remaining, and the action makes all plain.

          I had avoided the historical plays in the past, but now I want to see them all, if they’re presented like this…

      2. bud

        Perhaps you have somewhat of a point about this election. But just somewhat of a point. Many voters actually did think they were voting in a democratic process. So your voter “belief” argument is weak. I would suggest we actually fool the voters by putting the party convention winners names on the ballot rather than the electors names.

        But regardless of whether we’d have some sort of revolt if the electors did choose someone else this year we need to get rid of this farce before the next election. Surely no one can argue with that?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes, BUT — it’s arguable whether it’s “changing the rules.” It’s changing the understanding of the rules, which is different.

          Does that make sense?

          Anyway, that’s why it takes me so many words to say it…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Oh, I know, I know. Journalists who write a lot about public policy tend to think along those lines. Some of us are EXTREMELY lawyerly, like my friend Cindi Scoppe. In fact, if the rules would allow it, I’d as soon have her represent me as attorney than a lot of folks who’ve passed the bar. Whatever she didn’t know about the law in the case, she would find out. And she would not make mistakes…

        2. bud

          I guess it comes down to how you interpret the rules. I interpret the rules to allow electors to vote for whoever they want. Any other rules are unconstitutional.

          Besides the GOP is the most flagrant abuser of rules so why don’t people get onto them? Just look at what’s going on in North Carolina. The governor there was elected by the people based on what they regarded his powers. Now the general assembly is changing the rules because they don’t like the outcome. Also, the constitution specifies that supreme court justices are supposed to advise and consent on supreme court nominees. Not according the GOP playbook. That only applies if they like who the president appoints.

          So no the rules are routinely violated so even IF the rules about the electors was real then the abiding by the rules is a ship that has already sailed.

          1. Claus

            “Besides the GOP is the most flagrant abuser of rules”

            Are you saying that they are inappropriately using the laws as written? If so, you’d think there would be a lawyer willing to challenge them. Either that or anyone who doesn’t interpret law by emotion knows that everything they’re doing is legal in every sense of the word.

    2. Claus

      Unless there is a vote by vote count these numbers are irrelevant. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but years ago absentee ballots weren’t even counted unless it was possible that they could change the outcome of that state’s election. If Trump were ahead of Clinton by 2,000,000 votes and there were 100,000 absentee ballots it wouldn’t change the outcome so time wasn’t wasted counting them. It may be different now.

  5. bud

    And by the way, even if nothing changes between now and 2020 the fact that 7 electors voted their concience the voters are now fully informed. In other words Brads argument, however valid, is only valid this time. The voters cannot reasonably argue they were somehow “fooled”.

    1. Claus

      Who are the Democrats going to run in 4 years? Does it even matter at this point because I don’t see anyone who can knock off Trump. They could try to run Ol’ Joe, but he’s got enough taint on him just from being associated with Obama and Hillary to keep people from voting for him.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Claus, this statement is only true of people who voted for Trump: “Does it even matter at this point because I don’t see anyone who can knock off Trump.”

        Frankly, it’s only true for SOME people who voted for Trump. I think there are enough people who DID, not thinking he would win, who probably wouldn’t vote for him if we did the election over tomorrow.

        And after he’s been in office a bit, that number of people regretting their actions is going to grow.

        But you’re right to question whether the Democrats have anyone. It’s not that “people” (a group that includes many more folks than those who did or ever would vote for Trump) don’t like Joe. I’m quite sure he’d have beaten Trump had he run. The problem is that he’ll be too old.

        Where are the young Democrats coming from? I don’t know.

        Not that I care much. I’m happy for a rational Republican (the sort I’d have gladly voted for over Hillary) to challenge him in the 2020 primaries and beat him — assuming he gets that far without being impeached….

        1. Claus

          “And after he’s been in office a bit, that number of people regretting their actions is going to grow.”

          So what you’re saying is Trump is guaranteed to fail or be impeached before he’s even sworn in. That’s quite the crystal ball you have there. It’s a good thing that there are enough people out there who think the opposite of the way you and bud do.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            First, it’s pretty much inevitable that a guy who understands these things so poorly as Trump — and who has contempt for the system the way he does — will fall afoul of the Constitution.

            Second, you’re lumping Bud and me into the same group? I don’t think many here — certainly not Bud himself — would do that.

            Bud’s a guy who you can pretty much rely on to vote for the Democrat. I’m a guy is slightly more likely to vote for Republicans (mainly because where I live, that’s who runs for most offices).

            And I certainly would have voted Republican over Hillary Clinton had the GOP nominated a normal Republican, such as Bush or Kasich.

            Think about it: Can you imagine Bud voting for someone named “Bush” over someone named “Clinton?”…

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            And to my point again…

            Through most of human history, we wouldn’t be arguing about whether Trump might be impeached. In earlier times, Trump would have to stay away from the Capitol on March 15th, lest Sen. Brutus and the rest — all honourable men — undertake a bloodier solution, in the cause of protecting the Republic.

            We are blessed that we don’t live in such times. But this blessing is a fragile thing that runs counter to historical norms, as I was trying to say in this post…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              And laws alone won’t fully protect us.

              Think — the Romans were a legalistic people, too. So are the Germans.

              There needs to be a social contract that runs deeper than laws, an ingrained respect for the laws that in turn gives those laws power…

                1. bud

                  There are 65,844,610 people that have zero respect for laws that require electors to vote in a manner that goes against their conscience. (ok 65,844,609 since Brad bizarrely still supports this mess) Brad had brought up the point that we must respect the point version of the electoral college because it could begin tearing at the fabric of our respect for the law. I say that fabric rips far faster when so many people are disenfranchised from the election process.

              1. Doug Ross

                Perhaps the reason there isn’t respect for the laws is that there are too many, that they give power to people who haven’t earned it, and they are arbitrarily applied.

                1. Doug Ross

                  For example, I have no respect for Blue Laws or the people who may have created them. Same goes for the tax code. Why would anyone respect those laws that were created out of thin air? And laws that make the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes or prevent two adults (regardless of sex) from marrying? Those aren’t laws to respect nor should those that support them be held in any regard.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    You have two categories there — culture war stuff, and the tax code.

                    And no PERSON wrote the tax code. It’s the organic result of thousands of people making changes to law over many generations. There’s no way an individual person would look at it and say, “This makes sense to me!” Not in a republic…

                  2. Bryan Caskey

                    I think you’re defining “respect” a bit differently than I would. I think you mean that the Blue Laws are pointless and marijuana and gay marriage prohibitions run counter to your libertarian leanings/beliefs. I think you mean the tax code is a labyrinth of exceptions, deductions, and arcane rules that could be done in a more efficient way.

                  3. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Also, let’s be clear here regarding the Kulturkampf stuff.

                    Nobody got up one morning and said, “Let’s have Blue Laws” out of a vacuum. Oh, we can probably go back and find when the first one was enacted in this place or that one, but it was probably done in reaction to someone violating a longtime tradition in the community of shutting down on Sunday. In other words, community standard.

                    Ditto with same-sex marriage. None of our forefathers in the dim past passed laws taking away some right to same-sex marriage that had been in place for thousands of years. No such right had ever existed until this generation, when this conversation began. Yes, in the last couple of decades there was back and forth legislation as some jurisdictions introduced the concept, and lawmakers there or in other parts of the country reacted to that by banning it — action and reaction.

                    And it was all done in the way that we have conversations in a representative democracy — back and forth between people who had different values, resulting in this case in a court decision. Which is not the best way — I prefer for the political branches to settle such things — but our political branches were too divided on the matter, and the judiciary stepped in.

                    Are you unhappy with the result?

                    Sometimes, Doug, it seems that you say you don’t respect our processes because someone out there disagrees with you and dares to legislate, or attempt to legislate, according to his values rather than yours. And if that person wins the argument for the moment, for a time you’re obliged to live under a rule you disagree with.

                    (I’m reminded of the liberals who draw up lists of “banned books” here and there across the country, and in most cases books weren’t “banned,” and in others you might have a case of a school library agreeing with parents that a certain book isn’t appropriate for the kids — but the same book is available in the public library and/or in bookstores. What the liberal/libertarians are really objecting to, if you get down to it, is the idea of parents or others who disagree with them DARING to object to a book — when such objections, and such discussions about what a community wants to be available to its children, are perfectly legitimate.)

                    But that’s the way it works. And that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

                    In recent years, I’ve seen national and state governments do things I agree with, and things I disagree with. In the next few years, I expect I’ll see a LOT of things I disagree with. But it’s my duty as a citizen to abide by those laws…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I’m reminded of Prohibition.

                      Libertarians LOVE to cite that one as the ultimate case of oppressive busybodies trying to foist their values on other people and getting their comeuppance because it “didn’t work,” and couldn’t work in a free society.

                      This ignores the fact that there was a serious national problem that the temperance movement rose up in reaction to. Ken Burns summed it up well in the title of the first installment of his series on Prohibition: “A Nation of Drunkards.” The temperance movement was allied with other progressive movements of the time, such as women’s suffrage. It’s no accident we got Prohibition and the vote for women at about the same time. Women were rising up and asserting their voices, and one of the main things they wanted to say was that they were sick of their men hanging out in saloons and spending their pay and causing their children to do without, then coming home drunk and beating the wives and kids.

                      And yeah, there were some ugly motivations, too — the temperance movement probably would have lost a lot of its strength if not for the elements in it that were asserting white Anglo-Saxon native dissenting Protestant values over those of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany and Poland. In fact, Prohibition probably got the last big push it needed from the huge wave of anti-German sentiment rising up during the Great War.

                      But the point is, when the country decided through its deliberative processes that it wanted to try Prohibition, then that was a legitimate thing to have happen. And when, a few years later, the country decided through similar processes that it didn’t want Prohibition any more, THAT was equally legitimate. That’s the way the system’s supposed to work…

                2. Doug Ross

                  Really? So you believe the immigration laws as they exist now should be enforced and those who break them should be dealt with immediately? A person who is in the U.S. illegal has no rights and should not remain. That’s the law. Agreed?

                  And whatever you call “community standards” is neither representative of the community nor is it “standard”.

                  The problem is that there are too many laws, not that I disagree with them. The trouble is that once enacted, people in power can’t stop themselves from expanding the laws. Most laws are simply the result of politicians following the will of connected insiders for either profit or to increase their power. Just look at the percentage of highly ranked politicians in such a small body as the South Carolina legislature who either known to be corrupt or suspected to be corrupt. Why is that? Would you expect to see the same level of corruption in the management of a bank? or in a police force of simiar size? or in your own company?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Doug, we’re talking past each other.

                    A person can respect the immigration laws, and “believe the immigration laws as they exist now should be enforced,” WITHOUT believing that “those who break them should be dealt with immediately.”

                    It’s a matter of priorities. I think crossing the border illegally in order to come here and work is a little bit more serious than a parking violation, and less serious than running a red light, more or less. It’s not something that we need to shove aside every other consideration and every other thing that needs doing in order to deal with IMMEDIATELY.

                    I believe we should obey the parking laws. I respect the parking laws. But I don’t think the police department needs to drop everything and conduct a manhunt to deal IMMEDIATELY with everyone who’s let the meter run over a couple of minutes.

                    It’s the sense of priorities that separates us. That, and the sympathy I feel for a person who has risked his life in order to come here and support his family, even if he’s failed to get the proper paperwork first. I think he should have GOTTEN the paperwork, and that if he’s caught crossing the border he should be sent back. But I don’t think his having crossed the border without that paperwork to be the terrible, awful, unforgivable thing that you think it is.

                    Also, I can’t agree that a “person who is in the U.S. illegal has no rights.” The Founders of this country weren’t INVENTING rights when they enumerated them; nor were they saying people only had these rights under this or that condition. They believed that these rights were natural, and came from God.

                    A person can forfeit this or that particular right by his actions. Under our Constitution, you can lose even your right to life. And I think it makes sense to say that our government exists to some extent to protect citizens’ rights before those of others.

                    But I can’t go so far as a blanket statement that an “illegal has no rights.”

      2. Scout

        I think a lot of people who voted for Trump because they hated Hillary would have been OK with Biden. Who knows what the landscape will be like in 4 years. How many people that voted for Trump now will still like him in 4 years after he has a record and has potentially changed his positions on things they liked him for a few more thousand times. I don’t think we can make any call on 4 years from now yet.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    After we finished watching the last of the second installment (essentially, the third part of Henry VI) last night, my wife remarked on my point here — that politics back then were certainly fouled up.

    Although, she noted, amidst all the bloodshed, none of these lords offered at any time to grab anyone by the p___y.

    And she’s right. That didn’t even happen when Edward IV was hitting on my first cousin 17 times removed, Elizabeth Woodville Grey. He merely said, “To tell thee plain, I aim to lie with thee.” Which I think was classier (especially since he intended to marry her), but that’s me.

    But back to my point…

    I came up having a deep loyalty to a country, and the ideals for which it stands.

    So it’s mindboggling to read, or see a play, about people who (as wealthy men) you would think would have a vested interest in social stability, and yet have NO concept of loyalty to a country (due to living in pre-Westphalian times), and not even any permanent loyalty to a lord — much less to ideals (although Warwick makes much of standing up for his honor).

    Today, we look at the English monarchy and see it as a pretty established thing — Elizabeth II is a direct descendant (as is every English monarch since Henry VIII) of the aforementioned Elizabeth (my cousin) that Edward was hitting on.

    And yet monarchs of that line were still apt to lose their heads suddenly as recently as three and a half centuries ago. Which, when you’re as deep into genealogy as I’ve been recently, is like week before last…

    1. Claus

      “lthough, she noted, amidst all the bloodshed, none of these lords offered at any time to grab anyone by the p___y.”

      They were too busy having their way with their slaves and women they had control of because of the class system of controlling people in their country.

  7. Claus

    Since there’s no News of the Day topic.

    DOD: We need new Air Force One jets.
    Boeing CEO: We can do it for $4 billion per jet.
    Obama: Great news, we’ll take two.
    Trump: Too much, cancel the order.
    Boeing CEO: We can do it for less than the initial quoted price.

    How will the left twist this to make Trump look bad?

    Dec. 22, 2016 Headlines:
    Washington Post: Trump screws Boeing Stockholders out of Millions
    USAToday: Is the Trump Foundation Getting Kickbacks from Boeing?
    National Enquirer: Area 51 Technology Used on New Air Force One Jets

    1. Claus

      Yes I’m aware of that. Are you aware that as President Obama could have questioned the appropriated money? That’s the difference between having a successful businessman in office and having a community organizer in office.

      Speaking of jets and flying, have you read about the liberal lawyer whoconfronts Ivanka while she was flying Jet Blue with her two kids? Yes Jet Blue, where every seat is Coach seating. When was the last time a Clinton flew Coach?

      If you haven’t seen this yet, here’s your people in action:

      1. Doug Ross

        The sad thing is that these idiots on the flight feel they have the right to scream at Trump’s kids in a public place. Many of them are completely unhinged. How about just moving on with your lives instead of being in a constant state of outrage and feeling offended?

        Notice from the story that Ivanka said she didn’t want to make any big deal of it.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          This sort of in-your-face, indignant, obnoxious harassment from leftists is going to be here for four years.

          It’s going to be legitimized by everyone who keep writing/saying that Trump is “literally” Hitler. We’ve already seen it with the death threats to the electors.

          Whatever happened to just sitting down in your seat, and shutting up? This guy felt like he had to “confront” Ivanka? Good grief. Keep it up, morons. You’ll get Trump re-elected.

          What a stupid time to be alive.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Of course, of course, of course I in no way defend these morons. Or the people on that flight, either. 🙂

          But don’t say those of us who have just witnessed the unprecedented degradation of the presidency, and of our country (since the president is the most visible and influential person in our country), have any obligation to do what you call “moving on with your lives instead of being in a constant state of outrage and feeling offended.”

          Unlike you, who find all politicians contemptible, I know that there’s a profound, dramatic, night-and-day difference between Donald Trump and every person who has held the office of president up to now. One category may contain some extremely banal, mediocre people like Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding, but it also includes Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelts — and ALL of those people, even the lackluster ones, share virtues Trump utterly lacks. Trump is alone in his category, all by his lewd, crude, rude, abysmally and aggressively ignorant self.

          This is an unbelievably, previously unimaginably disgusting moment in American history. And the worst thing that anyone who has eyes to see it can do is shrug and turn away — or move on with our lives “instead of being in a constant state of outrage and feeling offended.”

          Those of us who love our country — whether Republicans, Democrats or independents — must uphold the higher standards of our nation, and that involves being “in a constant state of outrage and feeling offended.”

          I’m not taking the degradation of my country lying down. I’m going to speak out against it. That is my duty as an American.

          1. Claus

            I would suggest that you talk to your primary care physician and have him recommend a good cardiologist. This constant stress and bitterness you’ll be facing over next 4/8 years will be bad for your heart. If you don’t let up, I see a heart attack in your future.

            Maybe you can fly to Florida and see if you can book a flight on Ivanka’s return flight and make an ass out of yourself. Think of the publicity your blog would get. You’d up your readership 100,000x what it is now.

            I’ve been reading a couple threads in other forums and it appears that the guy’s information from Hunter College has been removed, the College’s Facebook page is getting ripped apart with negative messages, the “husband” may face disbarment by the NY Bar Association for his actions, the “other husband” is an Assistant Professor which means he doesn’t have tenure at the school which makes you wonder how this negative attention he’s drawn toward the school will play in his tenure review. It’s interesting how you can possibly ruin the career of two people in the matter of an hour or so by spouting off ignorant comments on social media.

            Can you imagine the outrage had this been Chelsea and her two children? But that will never happen because a Clinton wouldn’t be seen dead flying commercial, much less Coach class.

  8. bud

    Doesn’t the behavior of the people on the plane pretty much demonstrate that the fabric of normality that Brad opines over is well underway toward fraying given the huge popular vote win for Hillary? So that defense of the electoral college is without merit.

    1. Claus

      Do you think it’s going to be an even more awkward than usual Christmas dinner at whichever family’s house these two go to this year? “So how was your flight?”

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