Donald Trump Demonstrating How Much Of Our Political System Is Based On Tradition & Custom, Not Rules

from the is-that-good-or-bad? dept

Perhaps one of the most common phrases I've seen in reference to various actions by Donald Trump and his transition team since the election in November is "this is not normal" or "this is not how things are done." Those phrases keep popping up over and over again -- often in somewhat horrified tones. Politico recently had a pretty good article demonstrating how the Trump transition team seems to not care one bit about the traditional way things are done:

President-elect Donald Trump has said he might do away with regular press briefings and daily intelligence reports. He wants to retain private security while receiving secret service protection, even after the inauguration. He is encouraging members of his family to take on formal roles in his administration, testing the limits of anti-nepotism statutes. And he is pushing the limits of ethics laws in trying to keep a stake in his business.

In a series of decisions and comments since his election last month -- from small and stylistic preferences to large and looming conflicts -- Trump has signaled that he intends to run his White House much like he ran his campaign: with little regard for tradition. And in the process of writing his own rules, he is shining a light on how much of the American political system is encoded in custom, and how little is based in the law.

And... that's really quite interesting, because of how little many people -- especially policy experts -- have really stopped to consider how much of the way we do things is based on custom, and not actual rules. There are two ways of looking at this. First, there absolutely are serious problems with "the way things have always been done." So there's potential value in having someone who doesn't feel hamstrung by traditions and customs that might not make sense. But, the flip side of that is that there are often really good reasons for the way many of these things are done. And, so far, the customs and traditions that Trump has been indicating he'll ignore, are ones that do seem to be based on solid reasoning, rather than just silly legacy reasons. Intelligence reports, secret service protection, and anti-nepotism rules make sense.

It's one thing to blow stuff up because they're outdated and unnecessary -- and another thing altogether to just blow them up for the sake of blowing them up, or even just out of convenience. But as a way of highlighting just how much of our system is held together based on legacy reasons, rather than actual rules, it's fascinating.

Filed Under: customs, donald trump, politics, rules


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  1. identicon
    David, 7 Jan 2017 @ 1:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Well, it is a republic with elections.

    Eisenhower was damn well invested in the republic. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in the South was unconstitutional but the South was not going to change it.

    So he sent the army down to desegregate the schools.

    Obama never would have done anything as uncompromising as that, and Obama is black (or whatever political correct term is supposed to be there).

    Reagan was a clown and a puppet but he was seriously invested in his job, and I'll grant the same for the elder Bush.

    At some level, incompetency becomes indistinguishable from malice, and the Republican line degraded in that manner. Bill Clinton was competent in doing his job while catering for side interests of his own.

    The last few presidents of either nomination have almost exclusively be serving side interests, and depending on their intelligence, usually a lot more side interests of other people rather than themselves.

    And Trump has campaigned very clearly pointing out that he'll serve only his own interests and that anybody else may pray for enough trickle-down from that to survive.

    So there is quite a variety. I think Carter and Eisenhower might have been of somewhat similar calibre, but Carter did not even have his own party behind him, so he became a lot more effective after leaving the office.

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