“Conservatives” Have Zero Standards

Who is missing?

Strange times are these. It used to be that conservatives were the great defenders of standards, accusing liberals and radicals of leveling, of refusing to recognize the important, manifest distinctions among ranks of men. One of the more obviously liberal features of the United States Constitution is its prohibition of titles of nobility. The aristocracy of Europe were the great bastions of conservatism. Our liberal republic forbids them.

Now, however, the Republican Party, notionally the more “conservative” of the two major political Parties in the United States, has inflicted on the rest of us their own complete lack of standards, absent their overweening zeal to win elections at any cost.

The poster boy for the Republicans complete lack of standards, of course, is Donald Trump, who occupies the office of president, but has never done the job very well and increasingly refuses even to put up the level of pretense he once did. Famously, Trump flew to Paris recently, from where he was supposed to travel to a World War I battlefield to lay a wreath to commemorate the centennial of the end of what they used to call the Great War. He chose instead to stay in Paris, foregoing the historic occasion, as the President of France and the Prime Minister of Germany, two of the leading enemies in that War, carried on with the ceremony.

The next day, various heads of state walked side by side down the Champs Elysees in Paris in a show of unity. Trump also missed that event.

The original excuse for missing the event at the cemetery was rain, which produced an outpouring of derision from people who posted photos of President Obama speaking at an event in the rain as well as soldiers standing guard in the pouring rain. Former military helicopter pilots wrote about how they were certain Marine One could easily have made the trip.

For the president of France and the prime minister of Germany to cooperate in a ceremony marking the centennial of the War’s end was a big fucking deal, and Trump was a fool to miss it, but of course he has no standards beyond his own immediate physical and psychological comfort, which is a very small zone indeed.

Back in the United States, Trump picked up where he had left off, trying inappropriately to intrude himself into elections in Georgia, Florida, and Arizona, where the need to count all the votes was causing delays in deciding who won.

In Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, won the seat of retiring Senator Jeff Flake the flake, who has criticized Trump in several speeches, but still voted with him 84% of the time — what you do when you have no standards.

Both Georgia and Florida have their own, unique issues going on. In both cases, African American Democrats are running against old white guy Republicans. The president has essentially zero role to play in election administration. The Constitution, Article I, Section 4, leaves elections largely to the states, with the proviso that Congress may make rules if it wishes, which it mostly has not, except for the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Whoops. Republicans in Alabama pursued a case to the Supreme Court to eviscerate the VRA, reducing its utility as a vehicle for the president to have any impact via the Department of Justice.

Having no standards or understanding of the Constitution and how it defines the appropriate role of the president in our system of limited government, Trump continues to hurl unsubstantiated allegations of fraud on the part of election administrators in all three states. Happily, insofar as disputes arise, they end up in federal courts, where the usual standards of federal law and the federal rules of evidence apply.

The remaining, undecided elections are important, especially to the people who live in those states. At the national level, however, the total lack of standards that Trump and his fellow Republicans have tried to visit upon the republic failed entirely to prevent the Democrats from regaining control of the House of Representatives, from which they can begin to impose respect for the rule of law and ethical standards that governed the presidency until Trump showed up, whether Trump likes it or not.

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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