Elephant Graveyard

by Charles J. Reid, Jr.

Charles J. Reid, Jr. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he majored in Latin, Classics, and History, and also did substantial coursework in classical Greek and modern European languages. It was during his undergraduate days that he developed an interest in canon law, doing a year of directed research in Roman and canon law under the supervision of James Brundage. Reid then attended the Catholic University of America, where he earned J.D. and J.C.L. (license in canon law) degrees. During his time at Catholic University, he organized a series of symposia on the bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear arms. The proceedings of these symposia were published under Reid's editorship as "Peace in a Nuclear Age: The Bishops' Pastoral Letter in Perspective" (Catholic University of America Press, 1986). This book was called by the New York Times "among the most scholarly and unsettling of responses" to the pastoral letter (December 28, 1986).Reid then attended Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of medieval law under the supervision of Brian Tierney. His thesis at Cornell was on the Christian, medieval origins of the western concept of individual rights. Over the last ten years, he has published a number of articles on the history of western rights thought, and is currently completing work on a book manuscript addressing this question.In 1991, Reid was appointed research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law, where he has worked closely with Harold Berman on the history of western law. He collaborated with Professor Berman on articles on the Lutheran legal science of the sixteenth century, the English legal science of the seventeenth century, and the flawed premises of Max Weber's legal historiography.While at Emory, Reid has also pursued a research agenda involving scholarship on the history of western notions of individual rights; the history of liberty of conscience in America; and the natural-law foundations of the jurisprudence of Judge John Noonan. He has also published articles on various aspects of the history of the English common law. He has had the chance to apply legal history in a forensic setting, serving as an expert witness in litigation involving the religious significance of Christian burial. Additionally, Reid has taught a seminar on the contribution of medieval canon law to the shaping of western constitutionalism.  Recently, Reid has become a featured blogger at the Huffington Post on current issues where religion, law and politics intersect.

The story is circulating this weekend that high-level operatives in the Republican Party are preparing a third-party candidacy to challenge Donald Trump and the winner of the Democratic nomination in the general elections this fall. Such a candidacy would be a mistake for two major reasons: First, the political figures leading this effort are simply wrong for America. And, second, given the Republican Party’s evident fragility, a third-party candidacy at this particular moment will quite possibly leave it irretrievably broken.

Before I go further, however, I want to stipulate to certain facts: Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to serve as President of the United States. His racist pandering, his xenophobic calls for the deportation of undocumented aliens, and his proposals to exclude all members of a great world religion from entry into the United States are among the worst positions taken by a major presidential contender, ever.

The two men most often mentioned in connection with a nascent third-party candidacy are Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol. They are not the answers the United States is looking for. Their public careers suggest that they should not be elevated to positions of authority and influence.

Let’s take Mitt Romney first. Read the following words and dwell on them. This is Mitt Romney’s denunciation of the “47 percent” of vulnerable Americans who require some form of federal assistance to lead a decent life: “There are 47 percent . . . who are dependent on the government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Who are the “47 percent” Mitt Romney so callously dismissed? They are Social Security recipients who worked hard all their lives and now subsist on a fixed income and depend on Medicare for their health care. They are the working poor who labor and sweat long hours and require government subsidized health insurance. They are the parents of special-needs children. They are the disabled, many of them veterans, who cannot work.

Do you detect a sneer in Romney’s voice? Contempt perhaps? I certainly do. In November, 2015, Donald Trump horrifically mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski for his disability. Trump has rightfully been taken to task for his inappropriate conduct.

But how is Romney’s condescension to the less fortunate any different from Trump’s cruel pantomime? It is cooler perhaps, more abstract and cerebral. The targets of the attack go unnamed. Romney doesn’t seem to know anyone in the 47 percent, but he stereotypes them as, what exactly? Lazy? Indifferent? Tell me again, who is worse? There is no one who better bears the title “Mr. One Percent” more fittingly than Mitt Romney.

We live in an America that, since the New Deal, has made a commitment to provide for the vulnerable. The New Deal was a promise binding government and citizens that the State would serve as final guarantor of the common good. It is about time that men like Mitt Romney make peace with that social contract.

Nor is this all. Mitt Romney introduced a term into the American political lexicon that should rightly haunt him for the rest of his public life — “self-deportation.” In January, 2012, he explained that this was his solution to undocumented immigrants in the United States. He promised that he would introduce a tracking system that would prevent the undocumented from working in the United States and so force them “to self-deport to a place where they can get work.”

Mitt Romney will always be remembered for two things: his condescending attack on the 47 percent and his popularization of the term “self-deportation.”

What about Bill Kristol? In 2002 and 2003, there was probably no more enthusiastic cheerleader for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq than Kristol. On September 18, 2002, he predicted that Bush’s impending invasion “could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East.” On November 21, 2002, he wrote that the prospective invasion “would start a chain reaction in the Arab world that would be very healthy.”

Kristol, as events proved, was horrifically, tragically wrong in his predictions. Over 4,000 Americans died in the invasion and occupation, and many thousands more were wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Has Kristol ever apologized? Does he feel any remorse? I can find no record of it.

And while it is not on the same level as the Iraq fiasco, we must also remember Bill Kristol as the individual responsible for introducing Sarah Palin to the American public. She was an obscure Alaska governor, not quite half-way through her first term when Kristol recommended to John McCain that he select her as his running mate. The rest, as they say, is history.

These are the two men who are said to be most deeply involved in planning for a possible third-party candidacy. They should not do it. Romney is an unsuitable candidate radically out of step with America, and Bill Kristol is a deeply flawed strategist. Just as importantly, however, a third-party candidacy at this moment in time might deal an irreparable blow to the Republican Party.

One would have to look to nineteenth-century examples to find a political party as fragile as today’s Republican Party. One can identify three or four distinct sub-groupings within the Party that really have little in common with each other. There is the business roundtable wing, which was most closely associated with Jeb Bush in the just-concluded GOP primary. Mitt Romney is closely associated with this wing of the Party. They have money, they occupy positions of power and prestige, but they command little in the way of voter affection or allegiance.

Then there are the ethno-nationalists, who are most closely associated with Donald Trump. They are hostile to immigration and suspicious of foreign interventions. They are, many of them, the heirs and descendants of the Reagan Democrats of the 1980’s, men and women who transitioned from the Democratic to the Republican Parties for cultural and racial reasons. In this election cycle, at least, they have the most energy, even if that energy is funneled into support for the odious Donald Trump.

Third, there are the true-believing religious conservatives. These are men and women who entered politics as an outgrowth of their high religious principles. These were the voters who remained with Ted Cruz to the bitter end and see compromise on moral issues as something akin to surrender or betrayal.

Finally, one might (or might not) see as a separate group the military interventionists. This grouping consists of Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and the many defense contractors who depend on an active military. If the primary vote for Lindsey Graham means anything, it suggests that this group has little support outside the Beltway.

A third-party candidacy at this point could explode this brittle amalgamation into its various component parts. It is anyone’s guess whether it can ever be put back together.

The better course to follow is that taken by Nelson Rockefeller in 1964. Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee that year, had voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and openly courted southern segregationists like Strom Thurmond. Like Donald Trump today, Goldwater made himself unacceptable to large segments of the voting public. Rockefeller refused to endorse Goldwater and abstained.

That is the course of action I would recommend today. Do nothing to show your support. Repeatedly and publicly explain why Donald Trump is unacceptable. Quietly vote for the Democratic nominee or just abstain from voting. And stand ready to pick up the pieces after November.

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Added 12.06.2018
Extract: “Nothing is beautiful except what is true,” Cézanne once said, “and only true things should be loved.” As the philosopher Jacques Derrida put it: “The truth in painting is signed Cézanne.” Perhaps it is this above all else that makes him the indispensible painter for our times, this era of so-called ‘post-truth.’ For Cézanne “painting was truth telling or it was nothing.” That is what it meant to paint from nature, to be primitive, to be free from all affectation, to be like those “first men who engraved their dreams of the hunt on the vaults of caves…” This is why we need to look and look again at Cézanne. And it is perhaps best that he has come to the National Gallery, to D.C., but a stone’s throw away from where truth is daily made a mockery of, and lies are proffered with breathtaking ease.
Added 06.06.2018
Extracts from the article: "Johnson and Johnson recently announced that it was halting a clinical trial for a new Alzheimer’s drug after safety issues emerged. This latest failure adds to the dozens of large, costly clinical trials that have shown no effect in treating this devastating disease. The growing list of failures should give us pause for thought – have we got the causes of Alzheimer’s all wrong?".............."Another option is to look at the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. One of these is type 2 diabetes." ............"Testing these [diabetes] drugs in animal models of another neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s disease, also showed impressive effects, ............These new theories bring a fresh view on how these diseases develop and increase the likelihood of developing a drug treatment that makes a difference. To see any protective effect in the brain in a clinical trial is completely new, and it supports the new theory that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are caused, at least in part, by a lack of growth factor activity in the brain. These new theories bring a fresh view on how these diseases develop and increase the likelihood of developing a drug treatment that makes a difference."
Added 01.06.2018
Extract from the article: "The most common defense of truth is the pragmatic one – namely, that truth works; that true beliefs are more likely to get the job done than those that are not true. The pragmatic account of the value of truth is not wrong, but at the same time it is not enough. Truth is not valuable for solely instrumental or extrinsic reasons. Truth has intrinsic value as well. When we reduce the value of truth to instrumentality, it is a very short step to saying that we just want beliefs that work for us, regardless of whether they are true or not."
Added 14.05.2018
During the first century of modern art, Paris was a magnet for ambitious artists from all over Europe. Remarkably, the current exhibition at Paris’ Petit Palais tells us that “Between 1789 and 1914, over a thousand Dutch artists traveled to France.” Prominent among these were Ary Scheffer, Johan Jongkind, Jacob Maris, Kees van Dongen. But of course most prominent were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondrian.
Added 10.05.2018
The Jewish Museum in New York City is currently presenting the work of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), featuring just over thirty paintings by one of the most distinctive and significant artists of the early twentieth century. Focusing on still life paintings, of which he was a master, "Chaim Soutine: Flesh" includes his vigorous depictions of various slaughtered animals - of beef carcasses, hanging fowl, and game. These are dynamic works of great boldness and intensity, and taken together they constitute a sustained and profoundly sensuous interrogation of the flesh, of carnality - of blood, skin and sinew.
Added 08.05.2018
The impact of air pollution on human health is well-documented. We know that exposure to high levels of air pollutants raises the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But there is growing evidence to suggest that air pollution does not just affect our health – it affects our behaviour too.
Added 05.05.2018
 

The May bank holiday is intimately linked to labour history and to struggles over time spent at work. In the US, May Day has its origins in the fight for an eight-hour work day at the end of the 19th century.

Added 01.05.2018
Quote from the article: "Who is talking about how globalized the world was between 1880 and 1914 -- until war broke out and fascists subsequently determined the course of history -- and the parallels between then and now? Globalization always had a down side, and was never meant to last forever -- but the gurus chose not to talk about it. It is always just a question of time until economic nationalism reappears, but the gurus have done a poor job of addressing the nexus between economics and politics, and its impact on business, which is the real story."
Added 29.04.2018
"......if we did manage to stop the kind of ageing caused by senescent cells using telomerase activation, we could start devoting all our efforts into tackling these additional ageing processes. There’s every reason to be optimistic that we may soon live much longer, healthier lives than we do today."
Added 29.04.2018
Many countries have introduced a sugar tax in order to improve the health of their citizens. As a result, food and drink companies are changing their products to include low and zero-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar. However, there is growing evidence that sweeteners may have health consequences of their own. New research from the US, presented at the annual Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, found a link with consuming artificial sweeteners and changes in blood markers linked with an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in rats. Does this mean we need to ditch sweeteners as well as sugar?
Added 25.04.2018
Female doctors show more empathy than male doctors. They ask their patients more questions, including questions about emotions and feelings, and they spend more time talking to patients than their male colleagues do. Some have suggested that this might make women better doctors. It may also take a terrible toll on their mental health.
Added 25.04.2018
The English-born Thomas Cole (1801-1848) is arguably America's first great landscape painter - the founder of the Hudson River School, the painter who brought a romantic sensibility to the American landscape, and sought to preserve the rapidly disappearing scenery with panoramas that invoke the divinity in nature. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Thomas Cole: Atlantic Crossings" is an astounding exhibition featuring a painter of extraordinary power and vision, underscoring his environmentalism and the deep sense of loss that pervades many works as he reflects on deforestation, the intrusion of the railroad, and the vanishing beauty of the untrammeled wilderness.
Added 23.04.2018
Quantitative evidence from three independent sources — auction prices, textbook illustrations, and counts of paintings included in retrospective exhibitions — all pointed to the fact that some important modern artists made their greatest work late in their careers — Cézanne, for example, in his 60s, and Kandinsky and Rothko in their 50s. But the same evidence indicated that other important artists produced their greatest work very early — Picasso, Johns, and Stella, for example, all in their 20s. Why was this was the case: why did great artists do their best work at such different stages of their careers? I couldn’t answer this question until I understood what makes an artist’s work his or her best.
Added 19.04.2018

People of all ages are at risk from diseases brought on by loneliness, new data has revealed.

Added 09.04.2018

I was a senior university student in Baghdad, Iraq. It was March 2003, and over the past few months, my classmates had whispered to each other about the possibility of a US-led invasion and the likelihood that 35 years of dictatorship and tyranny could be brought to an end.

Added 26.03.2018
In 1815, 69-year old Francisco de Goya painted a small self-portrait. Today it hangs in Madrid’s majestic Prado Museum. Next to it are the two enormous paintings of the uprising of May, 1808, in which Madrid’s citizens had been slaughtered by Napoleon’s troops, that Goya had painted in 1814 for King Ferdinand VII, to be hung in Madrid’s Royal Palace. One of these, of the execution of Spanish civilians by a French firing squad, is now among the most famous images in the history of Western art.
Added 15.03.2018

Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke with great difficulty. This was Stephen Hawking.

Added 03.03.2018

A lack of essential nutrients is known to contribute to the onset of poor mental health in people suffering from anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and

Added 27.02.2018

Mindfulness is big business, worth in excess of US$1.0 billion in the US alone and linked – somewhat paradoxically – to an expanding range of must have products.