Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two sides of the same coin

For the past couple of weeks about all we've heard from the presidential campaign are attacks on the personality and temperment of the candidates. There have been few mentions of actual policy differences (with the notable exception of immigration). Why is that?

I would posit that it's because there isn't a dime's worth of difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. While they speak in generalities about economic, foreign and social policy, neither of them is going to challenge the basic tenets upon which American capitalism rests. Neither one of them is willing (or able) to acknowledge that we must rethink what passes for an energy policy. Drilling more holes in the ground will only make matters worse when it comes to the climate and our sustainability on this planet.

Neither candidate is going to change our petroleum driven foreign policy. Neither one is going to abandon autocrats and and dictators who either do our bidding or from whom we are dependent upon for resources (be they oil fields, minerals or landing rights).

Both candidates are beholden to the corporate ruling class - Clinton because she is dependent upon their campaign dollars and Trump because he is one of them.

Both candidates will sit and watch as our protections under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are watered down even further in the name of keeping the streets safe.

Oh, wait, you say. Now you're talking about the Supreme Court - there's where a difference exists between the candidates. Clinton will appoint judges who are left of center and Trump will appoint judges who are on the right. Those choices will affect jurisprudence for a long time to come.

Or will they?

The change in the composition of the court has done nothing to stop the constant erosion of the Fourth Amendment. The fact remains that bad facts make bad law. Most of the decisions that helped to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment were on cases in which the defendant had either done something really bad or had a lot of bad stuff in his possession. Lower courts (in which judges face the voters) will bend over backwards not to throw out the conviction. And, by the time the matter gets before the Supreme Court, the justices can find almost any justification for further restricting our rights.

And then there is the nagging little fact that what is constitutional or not is determined by the votes of nine men and women who attended Ivy League law schools and have little (or no) experience working in the trenches. What is a constitutional protection today could be gone tomorrow and put back in place a year from now. Let us also not forget that no one party is going to control 2/3 of the Senate. That means anyone who is nominated is going to go through a grueling process (and, by the way, the same holds true for other federal judicial appointments).

Let's not give in to the fear-mongering from both sides. The republic will not collapse upon the election of either Clinton or Trump. The Constitution will remain a document upon which a group of fallible men and women decide what the government can and cannot do.

Don't settle for the candidates being sold to us by the ideologically and morally bankrupt major parties. Go out on election day and vote your conscience. A vote cast for one candidate in order to prevent the other one from winning is a tacit surrender to a corrupt corporate system.

Don't wave the white flag in November.

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