If I'm going to make a political post before Election Day, I'd better move quickly.  This won't have as much as I want to say, nor as much careful crafting as I want to put into it, but it will still be too long and take too much time.  It will be in three parts, reflecting my three conflicting and complementing moods as I contemplate the next four years.

Part I — Why This Election Is So Threatening

It is far too tempting to begin this section with a slight alteration of Mark 13:14.

When you see 'the Obomanation that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

I don't actually think that an Obama presidency would be the end of the world, but this was too good to pass up.  And I do believe my friend—a calm, rational, wise friend, not given to radical statements—who said the other day, "The world as we know it is about to change drastically."  She did not mean for the good.  Those whose rallying cry is "Change!" would do well to remember that derivatives can be negative as well as positive.

Why am I so worried about an Obama presidency?  First, let me state that if there were a solid Republican majority in both the House and the Senate, with every prospect for a super majority of Republicans in the Senate, I would probably support the Democratic candidate for president:  no party should have that kind of control over both the Executive and the Legislative branches.  We all—Democrats, Republicans, and Others—are fallen human beings and without effective checks and balances (especially checks) on our actions, we are likely to make bad decisions.  Add conditions of confusion, fear, and anger, and we can expect very bad decisions.  Thus I find the perfect storm of financial and political chaos with a Democratic President, House, and Senate frightening indeed.  If you think the panic after the September 11 attacks caused us to accept significant compromises to our freedoms, just wait till you see what the combination of an activist government and financial insecurity will do.

For several elections now, one of the primary determiners of my choice has been the possibility of openings on the Supreme Court.  I'd love to be able to believe that the Supreme Court Justices are above politics and look at the Constitution objectively, without regard to their own social, political, and religious beliefs, but I know better.  Leery as I am about having both the Presidency and the Legislature strongly on the Left side of the political spectrum, when I think about a Leftist Judiciary completing the triumvirate I see Category 5 damage coming that may never be undone.  I suspect there are several Liberal judges who have been hanging on by their fingernails just waiting for the Democrats to be able to control the nomination and confirmation of their replacements.  Skewing the Supreme Court in the direction of further judicial activism and greater regard for social engineering than for the Constitution they are interpreting will do more damage to America than anything else our president and legislators can do.  Elected officials and parties can be voted out; Supreme Court justices and their decisions are out of our hands.

On the other issues of concern I can barely touch, for each is worth a post (or several) in itself.  Foreign policy?  Whoever wins this election is in for a rough ride.  Obama may find himself in what appears to be a honeymoon for a while, but he's neither experienced nor stalwart enough to avoid being at a substantial disadvantage in the diplomacy game and weakening our country significantly.  Believe me, I'm not saying Bush is doing well—anyone who can "look into Putin's soul" and not see the KGB ought to leave the negotiations to someone with better eyesight—but I fear we are about to go from bad to worse.  Domestically?  Whether it's economics, education, health care, or any other issue in which freedom of choice is our best hope, we are looking at disastrous policies ahead.  Our country is experiencing a strong slide towards socialism and I'm afraid a McCain presidency can't stop it, but he might slow it enough for us to get our bearings again, while with Obama I see wild careering in that direction.  The Democrats claim to be the party for "choice," but just as with "change," we must look beyond the mantra.  Although many homeschoolers and home birthing families are Democrats and vote accordingly, the party itself appears committed to creating, supporting, and enforcing educational and medical near-monopolies.  While I believe that there are some functions that governments do best, making life decisions for individuals and families is not one of them. I mention these topics specifically because they are close to my heart and I know more than most about them, but the general principles, policies, and attitudes apply widely.

It is now Election Day itself, and I'm splitting off Part II and Part III so I can get this posted.  I'll close Part I with an observation.  I've said before (for example here, and here) that one thing that frightens me about Barack Obama is that he is so charismatic he might actually accomplish some of his goals.  Lately I've come to realize that the danger goes beyond that.  What I'm hearing from so many of Obama's followers has gone far beyond what they like about his ideas to an open adulation of the man himself.  Adolf Hitler was before my time, and I don't know enough about Chinese and Islamic cultures to understand the attractions of Chairman Mao or the Ayatollah Khomeini, but I'm old enough to remember the adoration inspired by John F. Kennedy and later Robert Kennedy.  No, I'm not saying that Obama is another Hitler!  But we would do well to remember that we are in no way morally superior to the Germans of Hitler's day who responded to political humiliation and a severe economic crisis by embracing a charismatic leader who made them feel better about themselves.  If Barack Obama is elected today, as I believe he will be, we would all do well to keep our eyes wide open and consider well the probable effects of his policies and proposed actions rather than being swept away by rhetoric.  Come to think of it, that's a wise idea no matter who wins the election.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 9:50 am | Edit
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Well said.

Did you see Peter's link to "The End of America"?

Posted by Jon Daley on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 11:30 am

Thanks, Jon. I saw the link, but have not so far found 75 minutes (plus commercials) I want to spend watching it without more information than a link. (I didn't see your comments until now.) If you say it's worthwhile, I'll try to set aside some time.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Please don't let my prediction that Obama will win discourage any McCain voters from going to the polls! Yes, I'll say it—I voted for McCain. For a while I considered making a third-party protest vote, then decided that was foolish. If Obama wins by one vote, it's not going to be mine.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 3:22 pm

As I was explaining your (and my) blog posts to Heather who wasn't on a computer in the morning, I realized that I should amend my "well said" statement to not include the Obamanation part - I did laugh when I read it, but as my mother used to say, "just because I'm laughing doesn't mean [fill in the blank depending on the circumstance]".

As for the time of the video - yeah, if I had seen it was going to be 75 minutes before I started, I might not have watched it. After I watched for 10 minutes, or maybe the first commercial, I noticed the time left. You can't skip the commercials (I think there were three or four - mostly duplicates of each other) but you can mute it and go back to reading other blogs while waiting for the 30 seconds to get past it.

If it is all true, then it is definitely worth the time, ie. probably any amount of time would be worth it. I guess I remain a little skeptical, and I'm surprised Porter wouldn't have picked up on the German/Black Water connection, so I was wondering on that point.

Posted by Jon Daley on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 9:18 pm

I'd have to agree with Jon about the "Obamanation" intro. I don't think it is ever wise to paint people who disagree with you as lining up behind the antichrist, even if it is marked as in jest.

I'm also not that sure about choice being that failsafe a policy. Maybe I don't understand fully what got us into the economic mess we're in, but from what I understand freedom of choice had something to do with it.

The longer I think about it, the more I like the Swiss system of multiple parties represented in the executive. It makes no sense to me to not punish the Republicans for their poor performance at the helm by electing their guy just so the Democrats don't get too much say. But that said, skillets and frying pans come to mind...

Finally, them's the lumps we take for espousing democracy. If we disagree with the majority, we lose and we agree to suffer. And, yes, democracy runs the risk of self-destruction, as shown with Hitler's rise, but I don't think the US population would agree to that. There'd be a civil war first - think a scale-up of Montana Freemen.

Posted by Stephan on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 9:56 pm

I had a quick look at the current standings. It made me realize once again how much I dislike the electoral college winner-takes-all system. McCain is a lot, lot closer to Obama in the popular vote than in the electoral college vote. Shouldn't the fact that all elections in the last few years have been close in the popular vote clue us in that a structural change might be overdue? Instead of steadily chugging away through the middle, we careen from left to right, getting badly banged up in the process.

Also, I feel it might have been unfair for me to comment on your first entry without waiting for the third. Its title sounds most promising.

Posted by Stephan on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Jon and Stephan will both be disappointed to know that my hesitation in making the "Obamanation" comment was because I dislike mocking humor and believe that our leaders, like everyone else, should be treated with respect (see Part III). It's part of our baptismal vows: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? But one who runs as a messiah and is elected as a messiah is asking to be evaluated as a messiah. I wish I had as much faith as Stephan in the resistance of Americans to self-destruction. I do think our system has more safeguards built in, but that we have more moral courage than the Germans I'd be hard pressed to say.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 6:50 am

Not more moral courage - just a larger and less easily controlled territory, and a persistent stubborn streak.

You're right, they're running - they ran - for messiah, McCain less so than Obama, but still - and that brings me back to my like of the Swiss system - and dashes - which has seven executive officers and thus far less of a fixation on one single person. It also allows political preferences to be mapped a little more accurately, instead of converting 52-47 into 1-0.

And the demicrats had better keep in mind the 52-47 behind their victory, because if they think that now's the time to go crazy with hard-core liberal agenda, they'll get a walloping in 2010 just like the republicants did in 2006.

Finally, I feel that if Kerry had won 2004, McCain might have won 2008. The 2004 victory may have been one of the shallowest ever for the republicans.

Posted by Stephan on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 7:31 am

Hey, Stephan! I agree 100% with your latest comment—especially about the dashes. :)

I definitely like the Swiss version of the executive. And I do consider both the 2004 and the 2000 elections Pyrrhic victories for the GOP. The September 11 attacks of 2001 brought down George W. Bush, and hence the Republicans, just as surely as they brought down the Twin Towers. The situation Obama will find himself in cannot be the one he would have chosen, and he may very well pay the price in four years—if the Republicans can keep their noses clean. That's not to say he won't do an awful lot of damage, some of it irreparable, in the meantime—just as Bush did.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 9:09 am

Can anyone explain where the checks and balances come for the Supreme Court? I assume we will see a bunch of resignations, and young, activist appointments, which will create new laws for the rest of my life.

Posted by Jon Daley on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 9:53 am

Exactly, Jon! As I said elsewhere (in a private letter), I'm not interested in "balance" on the Supreme Court. I want justices who are committed to the Constitution itself and not ones intent on judicial activism (liberal or conservative) and willing to bend the Constitution out of shape to accomplish their own social goals. No matter how good the social goals might be, that's not the Court's job—when it takes over the purview of the Legislature, the checks and balances of our three-part government are thrown out of whack.

This appears to be a flaw in the original system. As I understand it, the Legislature is responsible for making laws; the Executive for enforcing them, and the Supreme Court for making sure they don't violate the Constitution. The President can veto legislation, and the Legislature can override his veto, but once the Supreme Court rules we are stuck with the results. They have overstepped their proper bounds by creating, rather than merely reviewing, law, and treating the Constitution as a malleable document. Instead of responding to the changing needs of the country through the arduous (but safer) process of amending the Constitution, the Court has in many cases taken it upon itself to make the alterations it believes necessary. Short of appointing judges who will take a less activist view of their roles, which seems highly unlikely given the current political situation, I don't know what can be done.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:28 am

Is there a judge on the supreme court that isn't activist one way or the other? I think someone started using the court to push an agenda, and it must have escalated from there. Every side accuses the other of being activist and crows over the chance to appoint their own judges to mend things / be activist back at the others. I see no sign of that changing anytime soon, unless something comes about that explicitly limits their scope of action.

I agree with Linda on wanting judges that perform a humbler function of checking constitutionality, but now that we have an armada of activists with profile neuroses, balance just might mitigate the situation.

Posted by Stephan on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I think the terms are perhaps badly picked - there are more connotations than just the simple word, and I debated about which word I wanted to use.

As far as I understand it, and I haven't looked at the documents recently - the supreme court justices are there to decide solely on issues that the constitution speaks to (and the supreme court currently throws out somewhere around 97% of cases that are brought before it, on the grounds that they don't have a ruling based on the constitution).

If there are additional things that should be added to the constitution, the legislative branch needs to do that.

All other issues are left to the states - our federal system has grown much more than it should have. I think the "flaw" in the constitution that we referred to earlier is that it was assumed the judges would only rule according to the constitution.

An "activist" judge, by my definition, at least, doesn't believe that, or else is willing to stretch what the constitution says so far as to be able to "create" any law that he thinks is a good law.

I guess I haven't heard anyone calling the "conservative" or "constructionist" judges, "activist".

As far as the first hot topic is concerned, "Row vs. Wade", I'd simply like to see it be removed from the federal level - that the supreme court shouldn't have ruled on it in the first place. I don't particularly support the decision being reversed - I think that simply goes in the direction of activism on the other side. I gather than many states expected that decision to be removed at some point, and so have "trigger laws" already written (on both sides of the issue) for when that happens. I think that shows that lots of people think the supreme court shouldn't have ruled on it - unless it is a routine thing to make trigger laws, in which case, that would be another argument for reducing the size and expense of legislature, if they are taking lots of time to create laws that don't have any effect at the time.

Posted by Jon Daley on Thursday, November 06, 2008 at 6:40 am

It looks like I need a civics lesson. If the supreme court only handles cases that the constitution speaks to, then where does the buck stop in other cases? I've just always thought that the supreme court was the top court and everything ended up there, if you had stubborn appealants.

I ask out of a desire to learn, but also out of curiosity as to how important laws can be held more or less uniform across the states. If Roe vs. Wade is thrown out, won't there be significant differences in how states handle abortion? Is that the point?

Posted by Stephan on Thursday, November 06, 2008 at 6:11 pm

I am hardly the person to give a civics lesson, but since I started it, I'll continue.

First off, yes, laws can vary widely between states, and that is how it has always been. Both the democrats and republicans have forgotten that in recent history (perhaps I am too young to know much more than recent history).

I made up the number about only 3% of cases being accepted, but it is something like that. It costs quite a bit to appeal to the supreme court, so I'd guess that discourages some, and if I understand it properly, if the supreme court doesn't think a constitutional ruling needs to be made, then the lower court's (presumably a state supreme court, though there might be some other choices) ruling would stand. I suppose there can always be governmental and presidential pardons, but I've be unclear on why that would ever happen.

Prior to Roe v. Wade, the states did have different laws regarding abortion.

You may have heard about various talk about making a constitutional amendment regarding the definition of marriage, rather than letting each state decide. The idea is the same as Roe v. Wade - if it can be declared a constitutional right or definition on either side, than any prior state law can be declared invalid.

The United *States* was supposed to be a gathering of more or less independent states, though never entirely autonomous.

Posted by Jon Daley on Thursday, November 06, 2008 at 11:40 pm
(Why This Election Is So Threatening), (Some Mitigating Factors), and How We Can Sing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land
Excerpt: Like it or not, our country has placed itself under the threats I mentioned in Part I, and I can only hope that the mitigating factors of Part II will enable me to say, at the end of four years, "That wasn't so bad."  Regardless, althoug...
Weblog: Lift Up Your Hearts!
Date: November 5, 2008, 12:36 pm
(Why This Election Is So Threatening), Some Mitigating Factors, (and How We Can Sing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land)
Excerpt: Part II — Some Mitigating Factors As I said in Part I, the prospect of the next four years under Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress disturbs me greatly.  The following are some of the reasons why the outcome of the election m...
Weblog: Lift Up Your Hearts!
Date: November 4, 2008, 8:52 pm