In a recent brief conversation with a well-known Democratic senior citizen, we were commiserating about the current state of affairs in DC and wondering what might be done about it when he said, “It is what it is.” He went on to say that there was nothing to do about it except regret that so many Democrats abandoned Clinton.
I have known this man a long time, and I respect him and his political instincts. But I now worry that his current view of the political world is a problem.
So what exactly “is what it is”?
Closing our borders to people and imports; backing out of important trade arrangements; demeaning federal judges; continuing to refuse to release his tax returns; signing executive orders without essential input from experts; announcing baseless disturbances in Sweden; and huffing, puffing and tweeting.
When our nation formed around 1800 the one thing our forebears wanted above all else was to avoid any kind kingdom. They feared the sort of uncontrolled executive that Trump seems to want to be.
The result was that we developed a new tri-partite governmental arrangement that was intended to prevent the formation of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable executive branch. Consequently, we deigned to avoid the well-established parliamentary method of governance.
The leaders of our executive branch can and have often come from the outfield (as opposed to left field). Trump is not the first president without experience in Washington, though, unlike many former presidents, he was well known as a real estate mogul and tv entertainer before he began to campaign for the job.
In the past 100 or so years, we have had some sad examples of the need for candidates who are well enough known in governing circles to have been vetted before they come before “the people” for voting. Those who were not weeded out due to proper vetting often did have effective and seductive voices and got elected despite the sad and important fact that they lacked some important combination of the brains, experience and temperament to be a president.
Perhaps we should rethink the process of how we select our president.
We know now that the Founders had a lot on their minds when they struck the compromises that were essential to creating our Constitution, compromises that today seem absurdly wrong and inapplicable. (For example, for the purpose of counting citizens in states, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person.) It should be clear today that our Constitution is nowhere near perfect, and should be reexamined given the facts of the modern world. Going back to selecting presidential candidates, for example, there are several solutions to the problems we now face. To do that we first need to overcome my friend’s statement that “it is what it is” and address the need for change.
Accordingly, why not have a national referendum to ask the question: is the country interested and supportive of a new Constitutional Convention to address the many course corrections our system needs today?