Saturday, January 21, 2017

LOYAL OPPOSITION


I have often thought that there is a relationship between politics and the binary code. Binary code; that’s the seemingly endless string of  0’s and 1’s that computers use to store and communicate information.

All human decision making; perhaps all human knowledge, comes down to the 0’s and the 1’s. Yes or No. Aye or Nay. Up or Down. True or false. It is or it ain’t.

Which is why the so called “two party system” came into being. It wasn’t invented or decreed. It wasn’t adopted like the the Constitution. It just happened when Vice President Thomas Jefferson ran against President John Adams in 1800.

The legacy of that election, often called the ‘revolution of 1800’ has been a national Congress in which both Houses are divided by an aisle down the approximate center, separating the majority from the minority.

Procedural rules in both houses protect the right of the minority to participate in the legislative process. Any truly deliberative body needs to hear both sides.

The Catholic Church never confers sainthood until it has heard from a “Devil’s Advocate” in opposition. Vigorous debate is the best insurance against bad decisions.

In the United Kingdom, it is customary for the party which is not in power to organize a “shadow government” consisting of unofficial department heads corresponding to the members of the ruling Party’s cabinet. Their function is to critique the work of cabinet officers.

The bottom line is that in civilized nations there is such a thing as ‘loyal opposition’ which is both honorable and useful. Members of the minority party take the same oath of office, and are bound to support the same Constitution as members of the majority.

We commonly talk about, and approve of, efforts by Representatives and Senators to “reach across the aisle” to assemble bi-partisan support for legislation. That involves nothing more nor less than listening to objections, debating alternatives and arriving a better conclusion because the loyal opposition has concurred in the final product.

The whole process is civilized, intelligent and proven by human experience.

All of which brings me to the misguided comments of Congressman John Lewis of Georgia: 

“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people,” Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a segment for “Meet the Press.” “It’s going to be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Lewis argued that the efforts of hackers suspected to be Russians, to discredit Hillary Clinton, tilted the election in Trump’s favor.

“That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open, Democratic process.” Sorry, Congressman, it was exactly what happens in free elections. Your side reveled in disclosing a statement by Mitt Romney at a private meeting;
the infamous 47% remark. You really can’t complain when Wiki Leaks reveals that the DNC was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders.

All of which wouldn’t matter much if it were not for Lewis’s background as a civil rights protester and his call to organize protest against the 45th President of the United States.

There is a place for loyal opposition in American politics. It’s a good thing; a useful component of our democracy.

But the attempt to marshal civil disobedience against the duly elected Chief Executive of the country is not only irresponsible, it is downright treasonous.

The thugs who rioted during the President’s inauguration broke the law, destroyed property and endangered lives. That 217 were arrested attests to the fact that there was serious mischief being done.

The thousands of women who marched today were peaceful. Despite their lack of any agenda, they had the right to march and express their unhappiness.  But I sure hope they don’t listen to Representative Lewis’s call for civil disobedience. 

4 comments:

  1. Gotta love how this past election and this presidency have triggered a new energy in the US public discourse, from every corner of the grid. Lewis does us a favor be speaking to a position and exposing its flaws. He shows us why it's truly time to "move on."

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  2. Well said, Judge. As always, you say it like it is.

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  3. " But the attempt to marshal civil disobedience against the duly elected Chief Executive of the country is not only irresponsible, it is downright treasonous."

    Judge,

    I don't know if it's correct to say that Rep. Lewis attempted to marshal civil disobedience against Trump, but I do find it hard to see any justification in calling Lewis a traitor. That's a serious charge. Treason can be a capital offense, depending on the time and place and political circumstances.

    Just out of curiosity, I Googled "John Lewis traitor treason" to see if there is a lot of this talk on the web. There is some, it turns out, in the extreme-ish right wing media.

    Then I used the same terms for "Trump," and found similar range of results from the left.

    Then I substituted "Hillary," and there was a torrent of hate, much of which called for her execution!

    Judge, do you really mean to suggest (at least to the rabid right) that Rep. Lewis deserves to be killed simply because, in a couple of publicly spoken sentences, he characterized Trump's election as illegitimate? Shouldn't curious minds want to know more about what Lewis meant by that, and exactly why he said it that way?

    You began your essay with a reference to binary code, and things that are true or false, yes or no, black or white. I'd say that the question of treason generally would be an essay question, wouldn't you? But you conceivably might have readers who see your characterization, from The Old Judge, as license to take immediate punitive action.

    Changing the subject, your mention of 1800, the Catholic Church, the UK, and ruler legitimacy, triggered in my head the thought of Regnans In Excelcis, a papal bull that was Pope Pius V's way of dealing with his judgement on the legitimacy of the monarchy of Queen Elizabeth I. That was back in 1570. The pope, in the opinion of many, called for a sort of Catholic jihad against the Protestant queen. Look it up. It's interesting stuff. The anniversary is coming up on Feb. 25th.

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