Biggest Thing At Stake in Election 2020: The Constitution
I'm a conservative because, like the founders of the US Constitution, I believe in limited government. I used to vote Republican. Not anymore.
Republicanism no longer represents constitutional values. It now represents cronyism, perpetuation of privilege, untempered nationalism and keeping the liberals out of office.
The US Constitution wasn't based on such puny considerations. It was grounded in grand ideas about rule of law and the equality of all. Those are the sort of ideas people were willing to lay down their fortunes and their lives to protect. We need to believe in them still.
So, what is rule of law? That's best explained by comparing it with its opposite: rule of will. Rule of will is represented by that infamous distortion of the Golden Rule: he who has the gold, rules. It's where people in power use their position and the law to accomplish their own, frequently selfish, agendas. They themselves are above the law and it is a weapon or a shield in their hands, to forward and protect their interests. This is tyranny. It's what the founding fathers summarily rejected when they rebelled against King George III.
Rule of law is when the law is sovereign and political officials are its servants. The law has no favourites: it applies equally to everyone, whatever their race, creed or political position.
Here's the shocker -- democracy is in nowise a guarantee of rule of law. This was one of the big concerns of the founding fathers. The democracies of ancient Greece had a bloody history. They devolved into tyrannies of the majority, intent on destroying unpopular minorities. It was a democratic vote that condemned Socrates to death for his views.
That was why the founding fathers took great care to fashion a constitution that restrained the power of government, implemented checks and balances, separated legislative, judicial and executive powers. They wanted to prevent our democracy from becoming monstrous, to preserve a land of liberty where the law was nobody's sword and everybody's level playing field.
It's been a long time, now, since that was how the law functioned in America.
The law has become a sword. Our elections have become a knock-down drag-out war over who is going to wield that sword, and in whose behalf. Donald Trump came to power because a great number of people who were privately appalled by his rhetoric nonetheless determined that they'd rather have the sword in his hands than in Hilary Clinton's. He has remained in power, despite impeachment, because many of those same people still believe things would be worse if the sword got handed over to the Democrats.
But wouldn't it be better to put the sword down? To reinstitute rule of law? To bask in the liberty of a level playing field?
That's what Justin Amash is all about. His meta message is that the "partisan death spiral" is threatening our very form of government. In other words, if the Big Two keep grappling over the law as a sword, something precious is going to get skewered. Something priceless: our Constitution.