Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Rule Book

The 2016 US presidential elections is like no other in recent history, with the Republican party being challenged by an internal divide – between the so-called Establishment and the anti-Establishment.

The party's 2 leading contenders are aligned with the anti-establishment: neophyte politico & business magnate Donald Trump, who looks headed to clinching the nomination, and Sen. Ted Cruz following close behind. Yet, between these two is a clear demarcation of character.

Whoever gets to be nominated faces the rest of the presidential fight against the Democrat's own nominee, who at this point, looks like Hillary Clinton, though Sen. Bernie Sanders is still in the thick of contesting her.

But the biggest stake in this election is the rule of law. The Rule of Law implies a government of law, not of men. It's a legal principle that a nation is governed by the Law, and not by the arbitrary decisions of individual government leaders, in contrast to a governance by rulers who consider themselves above the law: dictators, oligarchs and autocrats.(Wikipedia)

The United Nations defines the Rule of Law as “...a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.”

In politics – as in any activities of an organized, civil society – following the Rule Book is a necessary dictum.

The Rule Book: How the Political Game is Played
To aspire for the country's highest post requires a candidate to comport him/herself in a civilized, respectable manner, in speech and actions; in short, in a presidential manner. To be guided by the Rule Book of politics likewise implies playing it fair and square, no cheating and backroom dealings.

But what happens if the Rule Book isn't followed? If at this point, a presidential candidate already has the audacity to make his own rules while campaigning, and if that candidate does indeed win  the election, then the integrity of the US Constitution being trampled upon is not a remote possibility.

A trip back to the corridors of history might help recall what the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution envisioned when they worked to construct the framework for the young nation and its governance.

Brief History of the U.S. Constitution
The U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, to replace the Articles of Confederation (1777) because it lacked the strength and power to govern a loosely held confederation of thirteen states, wherein Congress was the only organ of government. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the document on September 17, 1787, and came into force in 1789. It
 provides for increased federal authority while still protecting the basic rights of its citizens.

Integrated into the Constitution is the clear delineation between the 3 branches of government: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – setting in place a formidable Check-and-Balance system necessary to prevent each of the branches from having too much power.

Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, once saidThe basic premise of the Constitution was a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances because man was perceived as a fallen creature and would always yearn for more power.”

The Founding Fathers envisioned a nation of liberty, equality and justice; this is the legacy they have bequeathed to this nation and to the world, and which has shaped The American Dream.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, said:
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Today's America has greatly evolved into a diverse nation; thus, it is incumbent on its leaders to preserve that heritage, and to add to it, a legacy of diversity and equal opportunity for all.

The Game According to the Leading Players
Between Trump and Ted Cruz, who do you think will follow the political Rule Book?

Ted Cruz, as described in a previous article of, 5 Reasons a Hispanic Nerd Is Best for America and Diversity, is a nerd famous for making himself disliked even by his own partymates. That is so, for he's not afraid to stay pat on his convictions, and to go against what's popular among his fellow Republicans. Yet, a lawyer by profession, he is a staunch advocate of the Rule of Law.

He plays by the rules. He may have traded harsh words with his rivals yet he has maintained a respectable decorum, consistency of stance, and calmness.

As President, despite campaign promises he would overturn the executive orders and the landmark ruling on healthcare of his predecessor, Ted Cruz would most likely submit to due process and abide by the Constitution.

Donald Trump
At this point, the frontrunner of the opposing party is already perceived by many to be a man without scrupples, who'd openly buy politicians in order to gain power, perhaps due to his reputation of wealth and shrewd business acumen.

Not only that – Trump resorts to igniting hatred against minorities (blacks, Mexican Americans, Muslims, Jews); inciting his supporters to violence; and mouthing vitrolic rhetorics especially against Muslims, giving rise to Islamaphopia, and fueling fears and resentments among Muslim Americans.
A recent news says they are now making a strong stand.

Trump's campaign behavior is not presidential at all. Some say it's all “ braggadocio” yet he continues to dominate, sending panic to the Establishment faction of the Republican Party, with reports saying they are ready to throw their support behind Ted Cruz, albeit grudgingly.

Thus, in the event of Trump getting nominated, it will be the Grand Party no longer. It will be the death of the Rule Book – the death of fairness.

In a face-to-face with the Democrat nominee, whoever that may be, Trump, now emboldened by the stamp of his party's nomination, may resort more and more to his own rules. There'll be more mud-slinging in the last stages of the political campaign, and more divisive statements. Anti-Trump protest rallies will be held, as is happening now. (See this.)

Hence, some political scientists said a Trump presidency may herald an era of Authoritarian politics in America. The rise of American Authoritarianism can be alluded not only to Donald Trump alone, but to his growing legion of supporters.
“...the GOP, by positioning itself as the party of traditional values and law and order, had unknowingly attracted what would turn out to be a vast and previously bipartisan population of Americans with authoritarian tendencies.
This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which "activated" authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.
” (Vox)

And Donald Trump is that perceived strongman leader who embodies the classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive.

Just recently, it was reported that a  The Simpsons episode way back in 2010 is proving to be a presage of what is happening now. That episode featured a Trump candidate who finally became the U.S. President.
It was intended, according to its creator, as a “warning to America”, a horrifying and fantastical vision of the future in which the US – ludicrously – had elected as its president Donald Trump.

Is this what the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution envisioned America to be?

The Moral Choice
To be president of any nation is a noble calling – as such the person upon whom this honor and privilege is bestowed is expected to uphold the Law with utmost respect, wisdom, fairness, righteousness, without bias, and tempered by compassion and love for the country and its people.

A candidate who can uphold the Constitution and the Laws of the land; who can carry out the Founding Fathers' legacy of liberty, equality, and justice; and who can unify the people, not divide, is the moral choice than one who will bypass the law, or beat the political conventions, in order to attain power and victory.

Between Trump and Cruz, who will most likely carry on the great American Dream?

Whoever becomes the next U.S. President, may he/she be able to utter these words from Abraham Lincoln during his Inaugural in 1861:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature
." Abraham Lincoln --- 1861 Inaugural

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