It Doesn’t Matter If It’s Hillary Clinton Or Donald Trump: We All Lose

The American People Are Losing This Election Cycle

There’s been lots of talk about who won the last of the three presidential debates, and there are reasonable arguments to be made on behalf of both Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

When she wasn’t pivoting away from unpleasant questions she didn’t want to answer, Hillary Clinton certainly knew her stuff. And when he wasn’t denying easily demonstrated facts about himself, Donald Trump was energetic and, mostly, focused.

So maybe the winner was Clinton. Maybe it was Trump.

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But I can tell you straight up who the loser was. It was, and will be, us. The American people. It’s not hard to see why.

The nation has endured three presidential debates now. Three debates covering nearly five hours of yammering ahead of what, once again, is ballyhooed as the most important election of our lifetimes (this time the hoopla might be correct), and there was almost no mention of the fundamental values that underpin the American experience: the Constitution, freedom, liberty.

There were, by my inspection of the transcripts from the three debates, precisely two mentions of freedom, one mention of liberty, and only a handful of mentions of the Constitution.

For someone who hopes, come noon January 20, to swear before the assembled federal government, a deeply invested citizenry and the Creator of unalienable rights to uphold the latter in pursuit of both formers, this rhetorical paucity is worse and more alarming than anybody’s politically calculated reluctance to utter “radical Islamic extremism.”

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But there it is. We have become so wrapped up in what we want the government to give us — whether it’s debt-free college and doctors pressed into service on civil service wages or taxes cut to the bone and the regulatory state eviscerated — we no longer much care about the nation’s unique founding principles.

Donald Trump seems at least vaguely aware of America’s role as the global beacon of freedom. His list of potential Supreme Court appointments and praise for the Constitution as written have provided comfort for those otherwise reluctant to see themselves voting for the billionaire celebrity developer, marketing machine and potty-mouthed philanderer.

On the other hand, there is a reason Hillary Clinton doesn’t talk much about individual liberty, a reason made abundantly clear in her response to Fox host and instant hall-of-fame debate moderator Chris Wallace about what sort of justices she would nominate to the Supreme Court.

Nowhere in her rambling, touchy-feely answer did the phrase “respect for the Constitution” or “Bill of Rights” emerge. Instead, she described the Supreme Court — and, by extension, the entire federal court system — as a super-legislature that, henceforth and ideally, would decide outcomes based not on law, but based on who a majority of jurists thought had gotten the short end of the stick, legalities and the plain language of the Constitution be damned.

No, seriously. This is what she said: “The Supreme Court should represent all of us. That’s how I see the Court. And the people I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans.”

At least she got the “rights as Americans” part correctly. But the rest is reckless gobbledygook. No court, let alone the Supreme Court, is supposed to represent anybody. That’s the job of the elected classes: legislatures and executives. Courts are supposed to represent the law, paying no attention to the station of those who bring their complaints.

It only got worse when she talked about recent high-profile cases involving the First and Second amendments.

Clinton provided lip service to the notion of gun ownership as an individual right, but then — rejecting the historic decision in Heller v. District of Columbia undergirding what she’d just acknowledged — she (a) lied about the facts of the case (the district’s law had nothing to do with protecting toddlers) and (b) endorsed every manner of local or state restriction on the right she’d just endorsed.

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In short, in Hillary’s America, individual gun ownership would be a right that could be legislated into oblivion. Swap, say, 68-year-old Clarence Thomas with a 50-something True Believer, and no law-abiding American’s right to keep and bear arms would be secure.

As for the First Amendment, Clinton wants jurists who would “stand up and say ‘no’ to Citizens United,” the historic 5-4 decision that unearthed a startling fact contained within the language of the amendment itself: Americans have the right to assemble to petition the government. Among the clearly constitutional methods of assembling and petitioning is by forming political interest groups in which Americans pool money to support effective messaging.

Clinton disapproves, because “dark money,” especially when it, in the episode that launched the lawsuit in the first place, it targets her. Remember, this all began when the Federal Elections Commission blocked distribution of a movie critical of Herself in 2008. That’s the kind of dark money she doesn’t like. Then there’s the kind she does, as the Wall Street Journal notes in its lead editorial Friday:

“Does money get any darker than undisclosed Clinton Foundation donations from foreign business magnates tied to uranium concessions in Kazakhstan?”

The only right Clinton seems to endorse wholeheartedly, as she made plain under Wallace’s precise scrutiny and Trump’s surprisingly focused pressing of the case, is unfettered abortion, right up to the moment the fetus becomes a baby by clearing the birth canal.

Yeah. No wonder she doesn’t talk much about liberty or freedom or the enduring language of the Constitution. None of it fits her brave new world view.

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Veteran journalist and center-right blogger Tom Jackson has worked for newspapers in Washington D.C., Sacramento, Calif., and Tampa, Fla., racking up state and national awards for writing, editing and design along the way. Tom also has been published in assorted sports magazines, and his work has been included in several annual “Best Sports Stories” collections. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife, two children and a couple of yappy dogs.