I Hope Ted “Steals” It From “The People”

When masses of American voters are no longer interested in the “abstractions” and “intricacies” of their Constitution, our last hope may well be working the system beneath all the shouts and threats.

Hoi megaloi kleptai ton mikron apagousi, remarked the cynic Diogenes famously: “The big thieves are arresting the little one.”  When I hear the oh-so-pious-and-pure of a certain political campaign protesting that Ted Cruz is trying to “steal” the nomination, I think of old Diogenes.  Theft… really? Almost a million people voted in Missouri’s Republican primary, and the numbers separating the two leading candidates tallied to below 2,000; yet one man received 37 delegates, and the other 15. Though Cruz garnered two-thirds as many votes as his arch competitor in Tennessee, he again was awarded fewer than half the delegates. In an Arizona primary that was called by the AP at a suspiciously early hour, Cruz amassed more than half as many votes as his rival yet received no delegates at all in this winner-take-all contest. “Lyin’ Ted”, the delegate thief… wow.
Another bit of trompe l’oeil… the massive Beltway media phalanx of sycophants and lapdogs taunts Cruz for not being able to carry a single county during last week’s Bloody Tuesday in what was essentially a head-to-head battle; but the very fact that even John Kasich placed second in four out of five of these states should be construed as proof of how very liberal their Republican voters are.  Had Rubio and Carson not been fragmenting the vote in the Carolinas, Georgia, and other “SEC” states, is it really the obvious conclusion that those states would have foreshadowed the results in New York?  Perhaps the “fair” thing to do would be to give the SEC a second go, now that the options have simplified.  (Carson’s parting exhortation to his troops, by the way, would have stirred more mutinous shouts than cheers in such a re-do: my wife supported Ben until he crumpled before his new champion, and how she hates the sound of his name.)
Speaking of simplification… I’m so weary of reading comments about a high moral compulsion to clear the way for the “people’s choice” and stop suppressing “democratic process” that I no longer waste my time observing a) that a political party is free to define its selection process however it likes, and b) that we are a republic rather than a democracy, in any case.  The reason-resistant chant that the self-declared “presumptive” victor be lifted on everyone’s shoulders convinces me that Polybius was right in his history’s fragmentary sixth book when he identified this stage of a nation’s life, not as democracy, but as cheirocracy: the rule of the fist.

And as long as any survive who have had experience of oligarchical supremacy and domination, they regard their present constitution as a blessing, and hold equality and freedom as of the utmost value. But as soon as a new generation has arisen, and the democracy has descended to their children’s children, long association weakens their value for equality and freedom, and some seek to become more powerful than the ordinary citizens; and the most liable to this temptation are the rich…. [Their ascendancy] degenerates into rule of corruption and violence, only to be stopped by a return to despotism.

Rule by fist-waving mob: how else to describe a situation where those wanting secure national borders follow a man who has funded amnesty-peddlers for years, hired illegals in his own businesses, and promoted a senseless “touchback amnesty” plan—just because he talks tough to crowds about a wall? How else to describe a situation where those who want their old jobs back accept the strongman’s invitation to ignore the rise of mechanization, the unsustainability of union demands, and the astronomical escalation of prices certain to accompany a tariff war—just because the strongman shouts to crowds of putting a gun to the heads of outsourcers? How else to describe a situation where the strongman has soundbites ready supporting Tom Brady and an endorsement handy from a retired basketball coach (who quickly declared, in classic Mugwump fashion, that he didn’t give a crap about politics)—yet said strongman never whispers Curt Schilling’s name and plays rope-a-dope with the “select your bathroom” issue critical to basic civilized values?

Rule of the fist: policy decision by applause. “We’re mad, we’ve had enough, we’re tearing stuff down, and we’re kicking anyone out of the way who doesn’t move.” What a national disgrace….

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Ted Cruz is trying to “steal” the nomination by wooing delegates.  Good for him, I say.  Keep picking those locks and cracking those safes, Senator.  The mob is loose in the streets with torches, and the only way to save the crown jewels may be to snitch them and slither out through the sewer system before the doors of the royal treasury are beaten down. In this case, the crown jewels are the Constitution. I think that prize is worth a ruined pair of pants and some really dirty fingernails.

If my son were about to be strung up by a bunch of drunken hooligans, wouldn’t I set off some diversionary firecrackers to create a chance for me to whisk him from under their noses? Wouldn’t you?

If a mob of hysterical fans at a football game were about to beat up my brother because he was wearing the visiting team’s colors, wouldn’t I pull the lever that kills all the lights and sneak him away? Wouldn’t you?

Should I do less to save my country?  Should Ted Cruz?

Frankly, I’m ready to do a little fist-shaking myself. When I dial through the TV channels at night, the Home & Garden Channel is about all I can find to watch that doesn’t make me lose my supper. On Netflix, I prefer Hong Kong films that thumb their nose at Beijing by fantasizing about ancient swordsmen outfoxing tyrants to our own endlessly demoralized cartel-and-assassination flicks. A book is probably better than all of the above… but contemporary writers often seem to imitate the ADHD style of contemporary culture, leaping over links in the logical chain to make unfunny jokes or to thrust themselves into center-stage. As I grade the final papers of over a hundred undergraduates this weekend, I find that perhaps twenty percent of them succeeded in following basic instructions repeated in class constantly for the last month and posted on Blackboard. Yesterday a girl I hadn’t seen since early March walked into the exam room and proceeded to write three essays about the joys of salvation without any reference to British literature. Another five or six forced me to post the essay questions hurriedly on an overhead screen, though they had all known of the essay prompts for a month and—icing on the cake—were allowed to pick their own three and carry into the test room a index card’s worth of notes. These are all legal voters!

Smartphones, laptops, TIVOs… surfing, texting, tweeting… YouTube, Facebook, Netflix… where’s the real, and where is the image’s artful fraud? Which noise is “background”, and which is telling you how to lower the lifeboat? Isn’t every head just a talking head? If Dennis Haysbert, the current voice and face of All State Insurance, had run for president fresh after playing President Palmer on 24, does anyone doubt that he would have won? Wouldn’t Kiefer Sutherland—a.k.a. Jack Bauer—make a great Secretary of State? Bryan Cranston—a.k.a. Walter White, chemistry whiz and meth cook sans pareil—should be our new drug czar! Of course, none of these people knows anything about the office… but they really do, you know, because they learned so much when acting their part. It was so real… as real as real (whatever reality is). So why shouldn’t a guy who tells people, “You’re fired!” on TV, has manipulated bankruptcy laws to make millions, and uses Eminent Domain the way the Union Pacific used the US cavalry, be a great choice to “get things done”?

Democracy? The will of the masses? The anti-elite fist-shakers (who define “elite” as anybody in their way)? If I could steal the Constitution away from their torches and wait for them to settle into the next casino with strippers, I’d do so as eagerly as a French partisan blowing up Nazi railroad track. To use every means defined and permitted by the law seems an odd definition of “steal”, especially when your adversaries lie, manipulate, and misappropriate funds at every turn (as ALIPAC did with my contributions last winter), but… okay. My opponents are the thick-skinned he-men who’ve had enough of PC. We share that much… so call me a thief. Make my day.

A healthy, sane adult does not have a moral or legal right to take his own life.  A democratic republic that claims to be functional does not have the moral right to vote away its freedoms and responsibilities (though, alas, it may legally do so).

There may not be enough of this nomination process left to “steal”. The Constitution’s last hope may fade away this Tuesday; and if it it does, heels will dance upon it as fists shake in a paroxysm of triumph. In that case, the vengeful side of me wishes the cheirocrats success at carrying their strongman all the way to the top next November. Then they’ll have to live with him. I can’t think of a better, fairer punishment.

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