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It's one thing to blow stuff up because they're outdated and unnecessary -- and another thing altogether to just blow them up for the sake of blowing them up, or even just out of convenience.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
    Anon, 6 Jan 2017 @ 1:14pm


    Amazing that people classify Obama or Ms. Clinton as "bozo", "moron". Neither of them are stupid, they were both outstanding scholars when young and remarkably successful in what they set out to do. (Plus it takes remarkable almost to the point of crazy self-confidence to think you can run and win the highest office in the land.

    The O's point is that for everyone else, politics is a career. If they burn too many bridges, offend too many people, their career is over. If a Cruz or Rubio or Perry pissed off most of the Republican party, then where do they get the support in 2020 or 2024? That's why they were relatively nice to each other, and why Hillary and Bernie were relatively nice to each other.

    For Trump, it was a diversion. He could lie, cheat, and whine, say offensive things, call a war hero "not a war hero". (Hint, Don - it's not being captured that made him a hero - it was putting himself in the position where he could be killed to do his duty that made him the hero - oh, and not giving in to torture and deprivation to break.)

    So Trump can mock his Republican opponents, do whatever he feels like, ignore protocol, be rude and offensive, ignore basic conflict of interest principles. Absolute worst case, he does something so egregious that he's fired! (impeached). Unlike Nixon, he won't go quietly to a small estate on the other side of the country, he'll carry on what he did before 2015 - and probably get a boost from his diversion into politics.

    (I also wonder whether the Democrats would block any attempt to impeach, simply to ensure that Donald keeps screwing up and Pence doesn't get a chance to clean up the doggy-doo before 2020.)

    As for tradition vs. rules - remember that when Washington set the precedent of 2 terms, as soon as someone instead held on to the job like a pope, congress fixed the problem.

    So Trumptard has nothing to lose, he can do whatever he wants and worst case, he's already made a mark on history, he takes his baseball in his tiny hand and goes home. the only question is how deep a gouge it will be.

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