Rule of Law

I watched Mrs Clinton’s concession speech yesterday morning. On the drive into work I was listening to NPR commentators on her mention of “rule of law,” about 21:02 on this clip. One person was convinced this was about Mr Trump, his supporters, and the inclination behind “lock her up.” I didn’t get that at all.

This speech, the very first I’ve listened to in this campaign from anyone, was addressed to her supporters. And I do not think it falls far from hitting a mark. Liberals, progressives, Democrats, and others inclined to support this woman are well-advised to consider this remark being directed at them.

In a democracy, we might not get the result we want. But we work and act within the bounds of the law to announce our opposition to the way things are. And nudge others to the way we think things ought to be.

If we are prepared to break the law to make a statement, this is a very serious undertaking. Civil disobedience involves a grave responsibility for one’s own discernment as well a care for the safety of others. It is not about taking our frustrations out on bystanders, peace officers, or things that seem to be in our way. It is also incumbent on us to accept the consequences for civil disobedience.

Let’s not be fooled: the continuing nonsense of smashing and trashing was going to happen regardless of how this election went down. Cheers and jeers are out of place, and unseemly for a civilized society (something to which I trust we aspire). It’s a good time to tell people to chill and for that message to be given by allies. Opponents, hold your tongues; you can do no good in this.

My friends who read my occasional political post here know I have little love for the two major parties of the United States. I wish they would each go away and other new parties fill the breach. If we must have parties at all.

I observe my Democratic friends have blundered an election badly. For the second time in sixteen years, they have let winning states slip away because of arrogance, negligence, or of aiming too high or too low. For all the complaining about the electoral college, the reality is that we have a check in this country against large states taking a larger-sized influence in presidential elections. This is the reason why the 2016 candidates spent less or no time in California, New York, Texas, and some large cities around the nation. Clearly, a little more blue attention for Wisconsin might have blunted the Jesse Ventura effect. As it is, Mrs Clinton should be glad she didn’t lose Minnesota.

I also observe my Republican friends have blundered badly after their successful elections of the recent past. They seem set up to do so again. As George Washington’s character reminds his upstart Treasury Secretary in the musical, winning is easy; governing is harder.

My sense is that there are a lot of governing ideas floating around these days. Some good. Many bad. Pick too many bad ones and a determined and active movement might well knock politicians out of office next time around. That may be an unwritten law, but it seems to be the rule regardless of one’s political system.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Rule of Law

  1. Lovely, sensible commentary.

  2. FrMichael says:

    “Let’s not be fooled: the continuing nonsense of smashing and trashing was going to happen regardless of how this election went down.” Really? Were upset Trump supporters going to smash and burn things if Clinton had won the election? Or did you mean something else?

    I spent three weeks ill and I come back to health finding a political earthquake has struck.

    • Todd says:

      Um, yes. They were going to complain the election was rigged. They were going to take their guns to the streets. I saw and read a lot of this on facebook. So yes, there are a lot of sore losers in America. Some of them are even Republicans, Libertarians, and *gasp!* faithful Catholics. So, no: I didn’t mean anybody else.

      And to be sure, this is far from an earthquake. This is one federal office that didn’t have an incumbent. Most of Congress comes back. C’mon FrM: are you serious or just pulling our leg?

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