Alexander Hamilton on Civil Discourse

“…nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.”

Federalist № 1, Alexander Hamilton “Publius”, 27 October 1787

SCOTUS: Monetary Penalties without Conviction Violate Due Process, Presumption of Innocence

[The State] may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary exactions.

—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nelson v. Colorado, 2017

While this case deal with exonerees’ rights, I hope we’ll see this cited soon in the fight against civil asset forfeiture.

 

#NeverTrump. What Next?

Friends, not long ago it would have been inconceivable for me to think I would go through the entire campaign season without once writing at length about the GOP candidate.  It was not due to a lack of material, to be sure—quite the opposite: the volume and gravity of the reasons to oppose Donald Trump have made it difficult to know where to begin.  I started to write several times, but often my reaction to his latest nonsense was so visceral that I had to put my pen aside to come back to later.  And, at times, I had difficulty taking his campaign seriously; indeed, after his playing at the hinting game for years in an apparent effort to do nothing other than to bask in free publicity, I remain unconvinced that he ever intended to take things this far.  Nevertheless, barring a William Henry Harrison-esque occurrence or other divine intervention, Donald Trump will tomorrow take the oath of office and become the next President of the United States.

So what’s next if you’re #NeverTrump?

Why #NeverTrump?

Your course of action surely depends on why you opposed Trump.  Was #NeverTrump just a better hashtag than #iPreferSomeoneOtherThanTrump?  Then, by all means, enjoy the inauguration.  Make America great again.

Or were you #NeverTrump because you meant it literally?  Did something about his campaign impel you to speak out in such clear, unconditional terms?

Was it his moral failings?

He consistently has acted with unrestrained disrespect and dishonesty.  He has derided the disabled, denigrated women, and disparaged entire ethnic groups repeatedly.  This is unacceptable.  Each individual has inherent value and dignity.  We each are made in the image of God and every life is a precious gift—the foundational assumption of our political order is that “all men are created equal”.  Throughout his campaign and his business career, Trump’s actions indicate that he places no value on and affords no dignity to his fellows.  This is entirely at odds with America’s shared values.  And when confronted with his misdeeds, he has remained dismissive, unapologetic, and dishonest.  “I never said that,” has already become a familiar refrain when he is presented with damning, documented, nearly direct quotations.

Was it his more practical deficiencies?

On important policy issues, including critically important matters such as constitutionally protected individual rights or the appropriate application of military force, Trump often appears dangerously uninformed. Far worse—shrugging off advice, criticism, and briefings, he seems to have no interest in improving his knowledge.  It was not until late in his campaign—after the convention and in some cases after the general election—that we began to see his staff putting out anything resembling a coherent position paper on any issue of moment; And still on those positions, which should have been well established in his own mind before he even began his campaign, his unenviable habit of tweeting or speaking whatever pops into his head seemingly without critical thought or filter frequently leaves his public comments at odds with his own staff’s statement of his positions.

His sole redeeming quality, ostensibly, is his business career.  And while he has avoided personal financial ruin through artful application of bankruptcy law in a manner it is not really intended to function, his business dealings have been marred by multiple failures, leaving investors who trusted the personality cult/brand façade he has built up around his name often holding the bag.  And on that major selling point for his campaign—his level of financial success and supposedly correlative business acumen—he has steadfastly refused to be forthright, and we remain with more questions than answers—and those few answers we have dug up do not support his claims.

So what’s next?

Many of you have suggested that we should now embrace Trump’s presidency and hope for his success, even going so far as to say that if we do not support Trump, then we must therefore be hoping for ill to befall all of us.  Let me be blunt: if Trump is what success looks like, America should want no part of it.  

Indeed, Trump’s inadequacies are so thoroughly disqualifying in an individual seeking high office, and that sentiment is so entirely unmitigated by his inauguration, that moral consistency requires us to continue to oppose Donald Trump.  In short, one might describe Trump’s deportment as “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object.”  The object being, in his case, the subjugation of an entire nation’s political system to further his own personal interests.  But thankfully, the success of Trump and the welfare of America are not one and the same. 

So while I pray that Mr. Trump as a person will find forgiveness, repentance, and growth as an individual before God; I do not pray that he will find success as President.  Not out of spite towards him as a person, but in the collective interest of my fellow Americans, I hope that his time in office is brief, and that it goes down in the books as a spectacular failure, so that those who might learn from history do not repeat the horrific national mistake upon which we are about to embark by placing a wholly unready person at our head.

America can succeed in the coming years; but it will not be because of Trump.  If we are to succeed, it will be because our people are paying closer attention to our leaders than we have in generations.  Our duty is principled, lawful opposition to the moral and extra-legal excesses that Trump’s rhetoric gives us cause to fear.  We must ensure that Congress leads us in a manner consistent with morality and constitutional order—for if we do not demand so of them, then will their failures become our own. 

We cannot stick our heads in the sand four years at a time and hope the country will be in better shape when we come up for air.  Our republic can only be healthy when our citizens remain engaged in the political process.  Is it any wonder that our politicians seem out of touch when the people themselves ignore civic activity until the next general election rolls around?  Is it any wonder that those elections are fatiguing when we’re trying to solve four years worth of problems in eighteen months of campaigning?

So if you’ve been taking time off from politics since November—I get it.  But the break is over.  We the People need to go back to work tomorrow.

AZ Prop 205: Recreational Marijuana

Proposition 205 is an initiative which would legalize personal possession and cultivation of marijuana for recreational use.  It would also create a new state agency to license, tax, and regulate the commercial sale of marijuana.

I believe that we must respect the autonomy of individuals to make their own choices about how to live.  While I do not encourage anyone to use mind-altering substances, and there are seemingly valid concerns about the long-term health effects of regular marijuana use, I cannot conceive of a topic more firmly within the purview of personal choice than what you choose to put into your own body.  Furthermore, our criminalization of drug use has been counterproductive.  However, I cannot support Prop. 205 as written. Continue reading AZ Prop 205: Recreational Marijuana

Theologian, hubs/dad, politico, hiker, insurance nerd, coffee imbiber, nerf herder, purveyor of snark—TIME ’06 Man of the Year.