Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, has a blog. Unremarkably it is called Scott Adams' Blog, where he has been writing about this year’s political campaigns and his theories of persuasion. In the piece “The FBI, Credibility, and Government,” he opines that Mr. James Comey, Director of the FBI, is a hero because he chose not to recommend prosecution of Ms. Clinton and throw a monkey wrench into the political system, perhaps tilting the democratic nomination to Mr. Sanders and the election to Mr. Trump. He believes the elective process is necessary to provide credibility, which he says is the principle mission of the government. Sorry, but I have to disagree. Not so much about the need for credibility by the government, but on the potential impact an indictment would have to the elective process as a means of establishing the President-elect’s credibility.
This election, perhaps more so than all other elections, will result in less faith in the political credibility of our government based simply on the polarizing extremes of the two main parties.
But first I’d like to write a single paragraph to explain my difference with Mr. Adam about the principle need of any government. While credibility is nice, credibility is the expectation the government will do what it says it will do. For a government to continue it needs legitimacy. Legitimacy, as the founding fathers point out, can only come from the belief of the people the government serves the purpose for which it was formed. For us that legitimacy is codified in the Constitution. For the government to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority it must “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.” What our government has actively done since 2006 is undermine the citizen's belief that our government cares about justice, works to maintain a balance between personal rights and communal demands (to maintain domestic tranquility), and provide for an effective common defense. The government, under this administration has seemed to work harder than previous administrations to undermine confidence in the political leadership.
My personal belief is that the President has no vision, but reacts to the events of the day as if he were still a community organizer running to be the Senator from Illinois, but he is not the issue on the table. We are talking about the upcoming election and whether or not as Mr. Adam’s believes it will provide credibility to the government.
If Ms. Clinton’s opponent were a visionary, a candidate with a sense of history, an individual who could make people believe in the future of the nation, and could serve as a unifying force then perhaps Mr. Adams would have a point. But the presumptive opponent is Mr. Trump, a man best known for his entrepreneurial deal making; buildings, golf courses, and casinos that bear his name; a failed for-profit university scheme; and a reality game show that highlights the Trump enterprises while allowing him to sit in judgement of contestants. His greatest appeal? He is not one of THEM – a career politician who lives off the power inside the Washington DC beltway. He says what he thinks, or he says what he wants (I’m not convinced thinking is always involved), unfiltered by the political spin doctors that sit on the shoulder (think of Jiminy Cricket) of career politicians like Ms. Clinton.
Allowing Ms. Clinton to run, unencumbered by a pending criminal trial, will not remove the stigma of the FBI investigation. Her followers care little of the findings and I believe they would not be terribly deterred with a pending criminal finding. The Obama administration would have to choose one of two courses of action. To fast-track the trial, and perhaps based on the urgency, seek an emergency hearing by SCOTUS. With the current SCOTUS composition that would seem the ideal scenario, but even if they did do that, how much confidence would the critics have that the political organization the DOJ has become would put their full effort beyond anything but a shame trial they would work to lose. Then again, Ms. Clinton’s law team would have a vote, and I am guessing they would slow-roll the trial until well after the election, hoping once she was President-elect they could kill the indictment all together through a Presidential pardon. In either scenario the people for, and the people against, Ms. Clinton are all pretty much decided. Her success or failure in a general election will not improve this countries divisions or instill an improved belief in the legitimacy of the government.
Those who support her will still argue for the President’s narratives: America is racist, radical Islamic terror is not evil, we are killing each other because we have guns, whites killing blacks are racists, but blacks killing police is too complex an issue to understand, and finally, we need more welfare and higher minimum wages to help those poor Americans and illegal immigrants who can’t find work because of the evil 1% who have all the wealth.
I believe those who support Mr. Trump will still rant and rave about the foolishness of those “Liberal Democrats.” They will fight against any gun legislation, they will seek to limit spending on welfare, they will unsuccessfully challenge most of the Democratic half-truth narratives and we will ultimately run out of money for social security. But if Mr. Trump is elected he will follow the consolidation of power within the executive branch and use those offices in much the same was as President Obama and his cabinet secretaries have. In fact, since the precedent has been set by the current administration he will be able to further open the envelop beyond what Mr. Obama has done, just as President Obama expanded on what President Bush had done during his terms.
At the end of the day we will have just as much debt, fewer individual freedoms, and a more powerful central government that is despised and vilified by a significant segment of the nation.