OA23: Trump Presidency Legal Q and A, Part 1

In part one of this two-part episode, we tackle every unique listener question posted to the Opening Arguments Facebook page relating to the impending Trump presidency.

So if you’re wondering whether Trump will be impeached, if Obama can recess appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, about the future of the ACA, or what Trump’s Supreme Court might look like — well, this is the show for you.

Part two airs at the regular time next week but patrons will gain access to it early!

Show Notes & Links

  1. Trump’s terrifying list of his 21 potential Supreme Court nominees is here.

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8 Replies to “OA23: Trump Presidency Legal Q and A, Part 1”

  1. Regarding: your vote is not a message. Question: Do you think the electoral system sucks? I do. So, this is what we get every time: one modestly okay candidate, far from ideal from a progressive standpoint, but kind of reasonable and tolerable, OR a candidate who is terrifyingly horrible. Good examples of the latter are George W. Bush and Donald Trump (or ANY of the 16 others who ran for the 2016 Republican nomination). The country oscillates between the two, back and forth. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump. So, if all we ever do is vote for the better of that kind of choice, how will the electoral system — producing that kind of unsatisfactory choice — EVER change? If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. Maybe a vote IS a message. By accepting we get the “lesser of two evils” choice, and therefore one of the D or the R will be elected, you send the message: This is all okay. You’re okay with money saturated campaigns. You’re okay with the insane, inequitable, drawn out primary process. You’re okay with Electoral College winner take all states. You’re okay with the notion that two political parties are sufficient for the political thought of an entire nation. Etc, etc, etc. You may not be really okay with all of that. But aren’t you really sending that message with your voting philosophy that you are? If you hate the choices of your grocery store but you keep buying those choices, the grocery store will keep stocking those choices. Again, how will this EVER change? We suffered through GWB, then had a moderate breather with Obama, then we’ll be suffering through Trump, then perhaps another moderate breather, then probably another horrendously horrible Republican. When and how does this stop? I’m all ears.

    1. Let’s assume Andrew’s right and that your vote cannot be seen as a message in the general Presidential election, at least (I think he is, given the US system; at the least, he makes a compelling case). Let’s also grant that you’re right on a lot of your complaints, like casting a vote carries implicit support for the status quo and so on – which, again, I think you have an argument there.

      The problem is that, if we accept Andrew’s premise, your protest vote – however ethically justified and morally appropriate – carries no weight and achieves no change, whilst also resulting in a lost vote for the more desirable/less horrible candidate (and, in this instance, a lost election and some possibly horrendous outcomes).

      If you believe there’s a problem with the system, wouldn’t making positive steps towards change, rather than relying on feel-good but ineffectual protest votes to send a message, be a far better way to achieve a solution? Campaigning to change the Electoral College system, or fighting for a restructure and leftward-shift of the DNC to result in more progressive candidates being selected in the primaries, for example, could be means to achieve the types of changes you’re talking about – and would be more likely to have an effect than voting third-party.

      1. #1 I am doing those things. #2 The candidate I voted for espoused those things, so there’s a connection. I also live in Kentucky so it wasn’t at all close in my state. #3 I still think everyone’s vote is a message one way or another.

        1. Not to imply you weren’t, Michael – apologies if it came across that way. Certainly many people *do* work towards solving some of those problems (as opposed to those who say they care, but obviously don’t care *enough* to do more than the feel-good gesture of a protest vote).

          The point was simply that, if voting third party has zero influence on what the major parties decide to do; and if doing so can lead to the worst possible (rather than just the least bad) outcome, then you’re actively working against your own best interests.

          Furthermore, even if you’re in a predetermined state, it makes no sense (again assuming Andrew is right) – nobody cares about non-swing states, so long as they motivate enough of their actual base to get out there and vote. There’s no value to them of trying to appeal to swing voters in that state, let alone protest voters! But, at the same time, many of the rusted-on states (I don’t know about Kansas specifically) were reasonably close, and whilst voting Democrat might not have actually flipped the state, threatening the electoral safety of a previously close state by bringing it into question is likely to have a far more significant impact on the policies of the probable winners than would the fact that candidate X got a million votes.

          The reason I like Andrew’s argument, at least in part, is because it seems to hold true in even vastly different situations. In Australia, where I am, we have preferential voting – we rank candidates by our preference, and then when counting it up if my first preference fails to win a majority, my vote is shifted to my second preference, and so on until only two are left and one thereby wins a majority of the preferences. But even in that situation, voting for a minor party has no substantial effect on major party policy, except when the major parties need to appeal to the minor parties in order to pass legislation (as is the current situation, with the relatively moderate right-wing governing party, ironically called the Liberal Party, having to appeal to far-right nationalists and libertarians in order to get anything done), or when a particular seat is a contest between one major and one minor party (e.g. between a moderate right and a far right party). But simply voting for a minor party candidate has very little influence on how the major parties campaign, because they know that in most seats the preferences will eventually filter down to them anyway.

          1. Your points are fine as far as the situation we’re in. But I raised a question that I’m not hearing addressed. How will this unsatisfactory, binary choice ever change to something better? Voting for a watered down progressive instead of a horrible reactionary moron is getting old. Over the long haul we’re not gaining much. How can we change this? Otherwise we keep sending the message that the choices we get are fine.

          2. I agree with your issue – I’m sorry if I overlooked it. The point was that you probably *cannot* reasonably expect that type of change from the system, and making feel-good gestures like a protest vote won’t influence that fact in any way. You’ve said you’re doing things to try and change the system – that’s the only solution so far as I can see.

    1. Which one is the Democrat?

      Hillary Clinton’s stances, while fluid during this election cycle, are historically most in tune with classical Republican ideas, as advocated by Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and others. As a young woman, she volunteered for the conservative Barry Goldwater, and while today she’s become liberal on some social issues, she’s generally at home with moderate conservative ideas, such as a hawkish military, strict immigration laws, reduced welfare, laissez-faire rules for Wall Street, and international business treaties that favor large corporations. One group started a petition this year asking Clinton to run as a Republican, suggesting that while she is “liberal on some issues, on a wide range of important issues she lands squarely as a moderate conservative.”

      As for the Republican candidates still running in the primary this year — Donald Trump, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz — they are all to the right of Goldwater, and they would have been considered unelectable extremists and distant outliers on the spectrum before 1996.


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