The results of the 2018 midterm elections are what we try to sort out this week: what it means, what it implies, and how it fits into Jefferson's view of the United States.
Jefferson said it is necessary to give, as well as take, in a government like ours, and we wonder if if we do a good enough job at that. Both parties claimed victory after the November 6th election, and maybe that's true, maybe that isn't, but Jefferson's view is that it was kind of what you would expect for a midterm election, no matter who was president. Jefferson also said that conscience is the only clue which will eternally guide us. He loved the idea that people would participate in self-government. The number of people who voted in the 2018 election was through the roof. Unprecedented. Record setting. Jefferson would be so pleased.
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
— Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, Jun. 18, 1778
“It is necessary to give as well as take in a government like ours.”
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Mason, 1790
“A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion; that things even salutary should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren, especially when they may be put into a form to be willingly swallowed, and that a great deal of indulgence is necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity.”
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Livingston, Apr. 4, 1824
“Nothing is more incumbent on the old, than to know when they should get out of the way, and relinquish to younger successors the honors they can no longer earn, and the duties they can no longer perform.”
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Vaughan, Feb. 5, 1815
“Common sense is the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction.”
— Thomas Jefferson, Batture Case, 1812
“Conscience is the only clue which will eternally guide a man clear of all doubts and inconsistencies.”
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, May 10, 1789
What Would Jefferson Do?
The following is a rush transcript.
David Swenson: 00:00 Good day citizens. Good day podcast listeners, and have you voted? Welcome to this week's Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast.
Clay S. Jenkinson: 00:10 I voted.
DS: 00:11 I did too.
CSJ: 00:14 I voted at 7:04 AM.
DS: 00:14 Yeah. I was about eight, 8:00 and I had my little white optimist club of Bismarck I have voted sticker.
CSJ: 00:21 Did you, So you had to show ID.
DS: 00:24 Of course.
CSJ: 00:25 And then they asked me questions.
DS: 00:26 They did to me too.
CSJ: 00:28 So that's the new North Dakota election law.
DS: 00:30 Yeah. It's funny because North Dakota is the only state in the union where you don't have to preregister. That's my understanding.
CSJ: 00:36 Right. But we have recently moved in the direction of voter ID and more stringent voter identification systems, more questions at the polls and as you know, Native Americans felt that they were being actively disenfranchised by some of the recent changes.
DS: 00:54 I think you'd have to be pretty naive to not think that they were.
CSJ: 00:58 I'm just saying that these, I'll just say it straight out, voter identification laws are inevitably attempts to squelch voter participation,
DS: 01:09 Suppress it.
CSJ: 01:10 And they are suppressive.
DS: 01:12 I don't think it's any stretch to say that they, the legislation passed by the Republican held legislature in North Dakota designed this law to make it more difficult for American Indians to vote. And part of the reason for that is that the Democratic candidate for Senate last election won by less than 3000 votes and
CSJ: 01:32 American Indians played a huge role in that.
DS: 01:33 They did, you know.
CSJ: 01:35 There were also attempts.
DS: 01:36 It's really embarrassing to me that they, that that's done in our little.
CSJ: 01:40 Anywhere that's done bothers me and especially here, but also because of the Dakota access pipeline controversy, there was a fair amount of reprisal legislation proposed and in some cases passed during the 2017 legislative session in our own beloved North Dakota, which again is a chilling and deeply saddening fact, that here's a people who largely ignored, who got deeply concerned about a pipeline. People came from all over the world to show solidarity with that. And one of the results was that the state legislature of North Dakota seriously debated some reprisal legislation that Jefferson would say it was worthy of the ninth century.
DS: 02:34 You call it what it is and it was racist, but that's not what the show is about this week.
CSJ: 02:39 But it is about elections.
DS: 02:41 It is.
CSJ: 02:41 And the good news is that more people voted in this midterm election than ever before in American history. That's all great. The good news is that lots of young people were elected to Congress and to other positions, including an unprecedented number of young, really extraordinary women that are not just,
CSJ: 02:59 It's not like your grandfather's Buick. These are not your Margaret Thatcher, kind of young women. These are really strong, passionate, exciting.
DS: 03:09 I think as you said in the show, they're not like Diane Feinstein.
CSJ: 03:13 Whom I love.
DS: 03:13 You apologized.
CSJ: 03:14 I admire her deeply, but she's another generation. This is, these are young women in their twenties and thirties who are like, we're mad as hell. We're not taking it anymore. And they're willing to express their points of view.
CSJ: 03:25 I mean, to think that a Muslim woman was elected to the US House of representatives from Minnesota is such a delightful fact,
DS: 03:35 And there's that quote
CSJ: 03:35 What she said, too.
DS: 03:37 Oh, yeah.
CSJ: 03:38 Remember what she said?
DS: 03:38 Minnesota welcomes immigrants.
CSJ: 03:40 Not only welcomes.
DS: 03:40 Not only welcomes immigrants, but.
CSJ: 03:43 We send them to Congress.
DS: 03:44 Right.
CSJ: 03:44 She couldn't have said it better. Tweet that.
DS: 03:46 There's a quote somewhere in the show about, from Jefferson, that I found, him saying, you know, you have to recognize when you're too old and get out of the way.
CSJ: 03:56 That it's time to let the younger take over and that's what we're seeing here.
DS: 03:59 And that's good. That's great. That should make us all optimistic.
CSJ: 04:02 You and I are fossils.
DS: 04:04 Before we go to the show, I'm wondering, do you have anything you'd like to inform our listeners about?
CSJ: 04:09 Indeed. So I've been.
DS: 04:10 What a setup.
CSJ: 04:10 It's great though because listen everyone.
CSJ: 04:14 Shakespeare without tears. Water and the West, the two humanities retreats at Lochsa lodge west of Missoula, still a few places in each of them. I want to fill them because I think this is so much fun. This is like the book club you always wanted and it's one of the great places in the world to be in January. I know that might seem counterintuitive, but it's mild and the snow is beautiful, it's like a Currier and Ives print of what a lodge in Montana and Idaho should be like in January. And then, uh, the second through the eighth of March, Steinbeck's California. A second time we've done that. So those are all out there and then we're going to France in the fall of October, 2019. These cultural tours, you can find out more about at Jeffersonhour.com, but do seriously consider coming. I am so excited about them. I've been reading the books, David and I now have four Shakespeare plays to read in the next month and I couldn't be happier.
DS: 05:16 Speaking of books, one we mentioned on the show this week that I really want to promote. This is strictly me because it's a favorite of mine.
CSJ: 05:23 You love this book for some reason.
DS: 05:23 Michael Lewis, the Fifth Risk.
CSJ: 05:27 I have it in my hands, it's a slender book.
DS: 05:28 As I say in the show, it starts out and there's a little Trump bashing.
CSJ: 05:32 It's easy.
DS: 05:32 But really I walked away from that being so optimistic about our country and all the things it quietly does. The millions of bureaucrats that are unrecognized and unrewarded. It's a good book. So I'm lobbying.
CSJ: 05:46 What's the risk?
DS: 05:46 You have to read the book.
CSJ: 05:47 Okay. So Jon Meacham has been all over the media lately and he has a book which you greatly admired too.
DS: 05:52 Have you read that yet? Oh, you know, that's a good one. I would happily borrow that to you.
CSJ: 05:58 The theme I think of the book is, we always get through this.
DS: 05:59 I suspect after you've read this, you'll want to add a copy to your library.
CSJ: 06:02 Well, I suppose you want.
DS: 06:04 I would give it to you except there's like four or five of my friends that I would like to have read this.
CSJ: 06:09 Yeah well good luck getting it back. So. Okay. So the cultural tours are coming January 13th or 18th, which is water in the west, January 19th to 24th, which is Shakespeare. Then two through eight, March, which is Steinbeck's California. France in the fall. This is where you go into your baritone.
DS: 06:25 Well, I don't know, but I, you know, I don't want to lose people.
CSJ: 06:29 If you like the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 06:30 That's pretty good. You could do it.
CSJ: 06:32 And you want to see this program continue, know that we do not take any personal money from it. We do it as a sort of labor of love.
DS: 06:40 I can never say that quite right. You do that really well.
CSJ: 06:43 We believe passionately that the Jeffersonian viewpoint is one that is missing from our national culture.
DS: 06:49 You're way better at this than me.
CSJ: 06:49 And we want people to come here because this is a place where there is humor and civility and good sense and people can hear our friendship as we talk these things through week after week. You as the semipermanent guest host of the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 07:04 You as the creator.
CSJ: 07:05 And we are so pleased with that. And this program does actually depend upon listeners like you.
DS: 07:10 It does.
CSJ: 07:11 So if you can help us, know that we are not using it to play Black Jack at the casino, not using it to go on trips to Vegas, that we, the money that people contribute to this program helps to keep alive what I think is a little of the enlightenment spirit in this country.
CSJ: 07:29 And so thank you and you know how to find us. We couldn't be more appreciative if we tried. When I think of the people who like this program and admire like our friend Crisler of Nashville, Tennessee, it's deeply moving. I know it moves you too, to think that there are people who plan their week so that they can listen to two knuckleheads in North Dakota.
DS: 07:50 I just can't accept and believe that.
CSJ: 07:51 They do though.
DS: 07:52 You're really good at this. You should take over on the pitch
CSJ: 07:54 You told me I should never pitch, but I'm going to do it if you don't, because this matters to me and what I'm thinking about. Look, we're living in a desperate time. You can't turn on Fox or MSNBC without thinking, oh my goodness, this country, whatever your politics, just, oh my goodness, how are we going to claw our way through?
DS: 08:16 We'll be fine.
CSJ: 08:17 You can read all the Jon Meacham books you want. But I know that people are edgy. This country is edgy and now the gun violence is just spiking everywhere. Bomb threats and, it's just nuts.
DS: 08:28 Okay, you're really good at this but wrap. That's enough.
CSJ: 08:30 But people need a harbor of serene discourse with grammar and complete sentences. Not reduced to talking points, not taking our cues from Rachel or from Sean or from Rush or you name it. That's what this program tries to do, but also to keep it in the lens of Thomas Jefferson. So if you like what we're doing, please help us in any way that you can. And most of all keep listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour tell everyone, you know.
DS: 09:03 And with that, I will also say that, you know, the past couple of weeks, during the pitch we said, you know, could go to Jeffersonhour.com. We're really proud of the website.
CSJ: 09:12 I went there the other day. I couldn't believe the stuff that our webmaster puts on it. It's so good.
DS: 09:16 He has let us both know that the traffic at that website has gone up 36 percent.
CSJ: 09:21 He gets the credit.
DS: 09:22 Go to Jeffersonhour.com and find everything you want to know about the cultural tours, how to support the show and a lot of other content as well.
CSJ: 09:29 Indeed. But let's go to it because I thought this was fun. No incident analysis. Eric Sevareid once said, incident analysis is always dicey just two days after the election. We're trying to bring some wisdom to it. I hope it helps, whether people agree or disagree with our analysis. I hope it helps them get the conversation started that they want to have about what does amount to one of the most important elections of our time. So here we go to the Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast edition. Thank you all.
DS: 09:59 Good day citizens. And welcome to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with President Thomas Jefferson and your weekly conversation with the gentleman seated across from me now, the creator of the Thomas Jefferson, our Mr Clay Jenkinson and Clay, I was hoping we could talk elections this week.
CSJ: 10:18 Well, we've just had one. Normally midterm elections are not that spectacular
CSJ: 10:25 and they often don't get much publicity in American life. But in recent years with our 24/7 cable media and so on, and the really profound factionalism and tribalism that has overtaken American life, these midterm elections become particularly important. And this time the president, Donald Trump, has said all across America, I'm on the ballot. Not technically, but this is about me. This is your chance to endorse what I've done or repudiate it, but think of me as being on the ballot. And so that of course lifted the election into a still higher level of national attention,
DS: 11:05 It's kind of a unique thing. And I was hoping that we could talk a bit about that, what happened in the election this week. And you could help us see it through a bit of a Jeffersonian lens.
CSJ: 11:16 Well, let me say this, that nobody ever expected the presidency to become as powerful and as important as it has become. This is something that evolved over the course of American history.
DS: 11:26 And several presidents.
CSJ: 11:27 The great moment for this was actually Theodore Roosevelt, who inherited the country when McKinley was assassinated in September of 1901. And Roosevelt looked at the world, he was a brilliant man, maybe the most intellectually prepared president in our history. And he said, look, this country is now too big, too powerful, too densely populated, too urban, too industrial, to just be Jefferson Jackson system that we had where nothing much has to get done. He said, there's no longer really a place for legislative supremacy, that we need a stronger executive. We need a stronger national government. And he was of course quite willing to fill what he took to be that void.
CSJ: 12:11 And he became really the inventor of the modern presidency. He carried the country sometimes kicking and screaming into the 20th century, the American Century. But his view was the legislative branch is going to have to subordinate itself to the necessary power of the president, the executive branch. And in some regards, Roosevelt was America's first king. I know he wasn't a king, but he began to behave like one. And since World War II, I suppose beginning with FDR, his fifth cousin, the presidency has grown stronger and stronger and stronger and stronger until today, it's almost the whole business of government. And so Donald Trump becomes president in 2016 and 17 and this election, the midterm election in the middle of his first term, it sort of was a chance for the American people to step back and say, how are we doing here? Uh, do we. He had a republican house.
CSJ: 13:12 He had a Republican Senate, what is regarded as a Republican or Conservative court system, and obviously a Republican conservative executive. So all the branches appeared to be lined up to fulfill the will of the conservative Republican platform. And so then Trump invited us, President Trump invited us to look upon this as kind of a vote of confidence or no confidence. And here's what we know. Well, we know two things, number one, huge numbers of people voted.
DS: 13:45 We should point out that we're recording this program on November eighth
CSJ: 13:48 So we don't know the outcome of some key Senate and house challenges and governorships also, but gigantic turnout. So on both sides, it wasn't just a blue wave or the liberal progressives or the people that call themselves the resistance. It was a massive turnout all around. That's number one. And number two, if you look at this, try to look at this
CSJ: 14:13 objectively, the party in power usually loses a fair number of seats during a midterm election. That's more often the case than not. And as we go to broadcast about 30 pickups were done by the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, might be 24 or five, but somewhere in that zone. That is not a dramatic shift.
DS: 14:40 It's about average.
CSJ: 14:40 That's a fairly normal shift for a midterm election. So you know, so many people that I know, David and I think you too, thought of this election as quote unquote, the most important in our lifetime. And this is the moment and so on. It turns out it was a fairly typical midterm election.
DS: 14:56 One thing that I took away from it is that both parties called Tuesday's midterm elections a victory and they're both right and they're both wrong. Democrats, they want to use their newly gained control of the house to push what they call positive legislative moves, their agenda.
CSJ: 15:15 On infrastructure, on tax policy, on healthcare.
DS: 15:17 And obviously to use it as a check upon the executive.
CSJ: 15:20 At least, supervision, oversight committees looking at the work of the cabinet, looking at corruption in the government.
CSJ: 15:29 Looking at Trump's own behavior. The Democrats were pretty careful not to say impeachment, but there will be definitely an attempt at greater oversight of the executive branch.
DS: 15:40 Which really is what the you know.
CSJ: 15:43 Which was what intended.
DS: 15:43 if you're independent, Republican, Democrat, I mean, that's what the congress' job is supposed to be.
CSJ: 15:50 The whole point of. So going back to the principles of the founders, the idea was what Adams said once, checks and balances my dear Jefferson, checks and balances, and that's exactly what it's supposed to do. You don't want unified government very often. Maybe during war or a time of international emergency, but typically you want there to be counter balancing forces in your country that question, is that a good foreign policy? Is that good tax policy? Should we, in fact, close the borders. Should we throw the doors open at the borders?
CSJ: 16:25 There should be another entity, either another branch of government or another party of individuals that challenges the orthodoxy of the party in power. This is central to the American idea of good government and so whenever you have one party rule where the dominant party is overwhelmingly capable of sort of doing whatever it wants, that's not good for the country, whether it's a leftist Democratic Party or a rightist Conservative Party.
DS: 16:55 From what I hear you saying is democracy is awkward, it's ugly, it's messy, but.
CSJ: 17:01 Slow, frustrating.
DS: 17:01 This is part of it. So the Republicans regarded the result of, a victory for them. They called their increased Senate majority a huge success and they're right.
CSJ: 17:11 I'll tell you one thing that, you know, if you think of the last year, especially, where you've had these pretty serious controversies over justices and judges. Senate does that. The House plays no role in this and confirmation. It was difficult for the Trump senate to get judges approved, because their majority was so narrow, and everyone recalls the Kavanaugh hearings where we looked to one or two senators, wondering if they would break with the majority and hold up that nomination. Now with the gains that the Republican Party has had in the election of 2018, it will be much easier for the Republican party to install in judgeships and in the Supreme Court the people of its choice. It'll be much, much harder to contemplate that there will be breaks from the majority.
DS: 18:11 We should expect that they will reshape the federal judiciary.
CSJ: 18:15 They've already done it to a large degree. Now it'll be without challenge.
DS: 18:19 But this will be for generations to come. It'll affect.
CSJ: 18:20 And you know what?
DS: 18:21 From arbitration to.
CSJ: 18:23 Reproductive health, to money in politics, money in elections, to same sex marriages and so on. But you know the answer to that. The Jeffersonian answer to that is, elections matter, you know, here's what I was thinking about it. You had 435 house seats contested, every one of them. You had 35 Senate seats. It's usually less than that. Thirty four or 33, but 35 this time, governorships. In many states, state legislatures all across this country, mayors, school boards, county commissions, sheriffs, you name it. So if you add it up, David, all of the elections that happened on November 6th, 2018 in America, it would come to hundreds, many hundreds. You have a population of 330 million. This is a way that the whole system is designed to distill their will. You let the people give their will, voice, in elections, and therefore elections matter, and the results of this one were not a blue wave, they were not a profound repudiation of Trump and Trumpism.
CSJ: 19:33 It was kind of a typical midterm election, but my point is elections matter and the American people solidified the Senate for Donald Trump and the Republicans, which means that they're going to have a chance to do what the Republicans have been wanting to do for a very, very long time, which is to install a great number of originalists, strict constructionists and more conservative justices and judges in the American federal court system. That's how it works. And the left and the Democrats can cry foul or this does not meet the expectations of the American people have, blah, blah, blah. The fact is elections matter and now the Senate has a solid, almost undefeatable majority with respect to appointments to the courts.
DS: 20:22 We go back to the. That's what I would hope to talk about a bit this week is, you know, as you say, elections matter. Well, what's it going to do in the house and what's it going to do in the Senate a bit more specifically and looking from a Jeffersonianion eye on this as well.
CSJ: 20:39 You know, can I ask, can I raise a kind of a little troubling note from a Jeffersonian point of view.
DS: 20:44 Please.
CSJ: 20:44 In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won quite decisively in the electoral college, but he lost the popular vote. Mrs Clinton had I think 3 million more votes than he did in this election where you have it just localized all over the country. I believe the Democrats got 6 million more votes nationally than the Republicans, and so we're moving into this moment where people are going to begin to question the indirect nature of our democracy.
DS: 21:17 You think so? Really?
CSJ: 21:18 Yes. Because I think that, what if Mrs Clinton had won the popular vote by 9 million votes and still lost in the electoral college. At some point, this becomes a real
CSJ: 21:29 problem, that the will of the people, if it means anything is majority rule. If you find a mechanism, and I'm not saying the Republicans have done that, this is built into our constitution, but if you find a mechanism that can thwart majority rule, when it's that pronounced, 6 million is a lot of votes in this country. At some point people are going to say, this system is not distilling the will of the people very well. If there are 6 million more people on the Democrat side and yet the Republicans are winning, that's probably something worth at least debating about how we distill the will of a third of a billion people, is my point.
DS: 22:08 Well, once you open that discussion, there's, it can go on a long, long time. Right now we need to take a short break and we'll return to this conversation about the 2018 midterm elections in just a moment. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 22:29 Welcome back to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with President Thomas Jefferson or the gentleman seated across from me now, the man who portrays President Jefferson when he's here.
CSJ: 22:40 I voted. Did you?
DS: 22:42 I did too, got my sticker.
CSJ: 22:42 I wanted to put a little purple on my thumb. Just like, felt, remember when Iraq did that? Their first election after all the chaos. It felt like, you know, if you're serious that
CSJ: 22:55 you want the country to be your country, you want the country to express your values, then boy, if you don't vote, even in a place like North Dakota where we know how it's going to come out with this, a very red state. Massachusetts is a blue state. California is a blue state. You can go through them. You sort of know a lot because of gerrymandering and the tribalism and the sectionalism of this country before you go in, and yet it's so important that in times of chaos like this, that you make your will known because it's not just who wins. It's about engagement. It's about taking seriously the crisis of American life that I think. I don't think there's a single person who doesn't get it, that we're in a crisis and that comes from the right and the left.
DS: 23:44 As you often and keep saying it, elections matter.
CSJ: 23:48 I do think that's the most important thing to keep in mind. I'm really disappointed when I hear the losers question the system. Everyone knows the rules. It's amazing.
DS: 24:00 We ended our last part of the conversation with you sort of questioning the system.
CSJ: 24:03 We need to have a dialogue about how the rules are made up. I think we do need that dialogue and we need to rethink the electoral college. There are a whole bunch of things we need to start to rethink. Gerrymandering. I'm for computer gerrymandering.
CSJ: 24:19 Well, can we go back to Jefferson and make it just squares? We could about where you, but it's easy today to set up a computer program that would, that would create the most competitive congressional districts possible given the circumstances and yet either side when it's in power, tries to tweak the system to make a political advantage for itself or both sides agree to create as many safe seats as possible to limit the number of contestants.
DS: 24:45 I just think that's so un-American. It's wrong.
CSJ: 24:46 And we know that this can be solved. In 1787 this was hard.
DS: 24:50 Both parties do it.
CSJ: 24:51 But today, thanks to artificial intelligence, computing, demographics, census, we now can do it. We could create competitive districts in this country if we chose to. I want a constitutional amendment saying that's how it's going to be done.
DS: 25:04 And Jefferson would be all over this. He'd look at the technology and say, well, of course you should do this.
CSJ: 25:10 In his time, how do you measure it? But in our time you can measure it and you could do it right. So there's, I do believe that these changes need to be examined, but what I don't like is sour grapes. The fact is that Donald Trump won the election of 2016. He's entitled to try to create Donald Trump's America. It was sort of a plebiscite in 2018. It was not a disaster for him, but it wasn't a great triumph for him either. But no, the country did not repudiate him.
CSJ: 25:41 The country did not say we're gonna line both houses of Congress with enough Democrats to stop whatever Donald Trump is trying to do. Not at all. You cannot read the election results in that way and so you have to go back to Jefferson's fundamental faith. That majority rule is majority rule. You may not like that there are people that are really upset about what happened, but that would be the case if the election results had been reversed in some way. The system is what it is. Elections matter, and I think of these candidates, David getting up at dawn, flying around the country or going on buses or RVs, knocking on doors, 17 media events per day, three speeches, a late night rally, getting back on that RV, going to some other town, exhaustion, making calls for fundraising, putting out controversies and fires, clarifying their statements, trying to maintain some semblance of a life.
CSJ: 26:42 It's like a marathon after a marathon, after a marathon, after a marathon. This is not just like, I'll throw my hat in the ring and see what happens. I mean, people work themselves into deep exhaustion, getting out and facing the people. And then on a certain day, in this case, it was this Tuesday, November sixth, we say, all right, everyone in America knows the candidates, thanks to our media and social media, nobody can claim they don't know what candidate A stands for, or candidate B. At some point we say enough already, you've got to decide and the people go to the polls and after all of that, maybe billions of dollars of activity, television ads, you name it, appearance after appearance after appearance. These, I do a lot of dawn taxis in my life, David, it is no fun and these people are doing worse than that every single day for a year.
CSJ: 27:37 Then the moment comes and the people go into these moves and they push x and that's the result and you have to bow to it. You have to say.
DS: 27:44 Right or wrong.
CSJ: 27:46 It's majestic how this works. The people decide it. You can't say it's some sort of rigged thing because I knew exactly. There was a Senate race here in North Dakota. I knew exactly who candidate A was and what she stood for. I knew exactly who candidate B was and what he stood for. I can't say, Huh, as I sometimes do, like in a county commission thing or a local judge, huh, who's who, you know exactly what they stand for. You get to vote. They tally it up. There's no voter fraud. The machines and the people are outstanding at measuring these things and they say candidate x got 280,000 votes and candidate y got 112,000 votes. It's that simple.
DS: 28:26 Well, I need to interject. You just painted this picture of how hard they work. Representatives, our senators or congressmen, people in government, how hard they work and you know.
CSJ: 28:37 It's exhausting.
DS: 28:37 Doesn't really matter if they're Republican or Democrat. They're working for what they think is right. They're working for the betterment of the nation as they understand it. You know, it's so easy for us as citizens and voters to just bash them and, you know, go to the worst possible scenarios. And I would stand up for, we need to appreciate these people. There's a book that I just gave my copy of to you today.
CSJ: 29:01 Holding it in my hand. Michael Lewis. The fifth risk. He's also written books that people will probably know,
DS: 29:08 The big short, moneyball.
CSJ: 29:11 The blind side and so on. So this is his newest book.
DS: 29:15 I gave it to you as a sort of a lobbying effort to get you to say, yeah, let's do this as a Jefferson Hour book.
CSJ: 29:22 See if we can get him on the air.
DS: 29:22 But you know, it's a short read, but the reason I'm going on about it is that it starts out a little dark and there's these stories, but what I was left with was just an amazement of how hard people in the government work.
CSJ: 29:38 You just, elected officials, bureaucrats.
DS: 29:42 It's a little frightening because the Department of Energy, I think there's 3000 open seats and you know, these are the people that make sure that dirty bombs don't get into the country. They don't just worry about petroleum.
CSJ: 29:52 Or that oil is in safe tanker cars when it goes to market.
DS: 29:55 And then you get into the department of Agriculture and the weather bureau. And I'm walking away from this book going, wow, I'm proud of my country. Look at the stuff it does for us.
CSJ: 30:07 So there's so much that's right with America.
DS: 30:08 My voice is going up, I'm excited.
CSJ: 30:09 I hear it.
DS: 30:10 It's a great book. Anyway.
CSJ: 30:12 So there's a woman in my neighborhood who was running for office, she lost. It was a state legislative office. She came to see me one evening and she said, I've been to every door. I've been to every house in the district. There is no voter in my district of this community in the state of North Dakota that I haven't walked down the sidewalk up the steps, rung the doorbell, either their home or they're not, but she had gone to every single domicile in the district, often with some unpleasant results, but she did it. That's how it works. That's called retail politics. She didn't have to make call day after day to giant corporations or the Koch Brothers or to George Soros to try to beg for money. That fortunately is not so prevalent in small states and legislatures of the kind that North Dakota has. But imagine this. Imagine if you are Beto O'Rourke, the Texas senate candidate who lost by.
DS: 31:16 Going to every county in his state.
CSJ: 31:18 253 counties I think there are in Texas. He went to every one. Imagine the sheer exhaustion in the first four days of November when you've lived, you've been gobbling down hotdogs and cheeseburgers. You're going through Taco John's at two in the morning because you're on your way to some other place in the middle of the middle of the middle of nowhere. You're going to be at the optimist club in the morning or the, you know, they are going to be at a factory meeting people as they go in. By November first ,these people are just like wired from pure exhaustion and they've worked as hard as they can possibly work to get the word out of who they are and what they stand for. And then people go to the polls and you either win or you lose, the winner celebrates and the loser thinks, What could I have done?
CSJ: 32:10 Is there something I said about meat? Is it that thing I said about Mars?
DS: 32:15 It'd be fun to talk to a few candidates that have gone through that fire and come out on either side and just, I don't know if have a winner would be willing to be that candidate or not. But a loser might.
CSJ: 32:28 It's not like going back in eighth grade.
DS: 32:30 We need to respect these people for that effort.
CSJ: 32:30 Or when you're running for council member. I'm running for student council. And then you either win or you don't. That's all you do, nothing. You put up three posters.
DS: 32:39 Actually I did that.
CSJ: 32:39 Yeah, I did that.
DS: 32:40 Were you, what was your outcome?
CSJ: 32:42 I won.
DS: 32:43 Me too.
CSJ: 32:44 But you know how hard you worked at it. Meaning, not. One poster with magic markers which were just invented back then. That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about if you're a presidential candidate.
DS: 32:58 Retail politics.
CSJ: 32:58 You're flying across this country. You wake up in Boston, you don't even know what city you're in. You fly to Newark, you give a talk.
DS: 33:06 So maybe that's not so retail.
CSJ: 33:09 Four media events. Then you fly to San Diego and give a major speech, three media events and a dinner. Meanwhile you're calling your pollsters, you're calling your advisors. People are saying you shouldn't have said that. What you said there in Sacramento.
DS: 33:24 We can say without hesitation that Jefferson never did that.
CSJ: 33:27 He never did squat.
DS: 33:29 Yeah.
CSJ: 33:29 You know, he never got up and he never asked for a vote. He never asked for a dollar. He never. He never made a campaign appearance of any sort to.
DS: 33:37 Did he provide refreshments at the ballot box? That that might count.
CSJ: 33:40 At the county fair where the on the election day he would, maybe there'd be a tub of Apple Jack or of whiskey or something. That's it. And so my point is you can't say these are lazy people or they take the system for granted. I think the whole system is nuts. I don't think there's any point in your flying from Newark to San Diego to Seattle and back to Tampa on the same day. That just seems insane to me, but that's where we are and then the vote comes and you think of, well let's say you're Beto O'Rourke, the crestfallenness after all that hope, I lost.
DS: 34:20 I can't imagine what that would be like. And again, it would be very interesting to talk to somebody like that. Can I pull us back to a Jefferson quote?
CSJ: 34:29 Yes of course.
DS: 34:29 We talked about earlier some of his more optimistic views, but later in life, and I'm sure you're familiar with this letter, it was to Edward Livingston in April of 1824. He wrote, 'a government held together by the bands of reason only requires much compromise of opinion that things even salutory should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren.'
CSJ: 34:55 Amen.
DS: 34:56 Especially when they may be put into the form to be willingly swallowed.
CSJ: 35:01 In other words, you could do this more sweetly. There's a more general way to do this.
DS: 35:05 And that a great deal of indulgence is necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity. In other words, taking the high road is a lot harder.
CSJ: 35:13 And let me just say this, I'm trying to be as objective nonpartisan as possible. If the day after the election, the first thing you do is fire your attorney general. That defeats the purpose of a democracy because why didn't this happen three weeks ago? Well, because you want to wait until all the results are in, you have to, either side. The people are entitled to know what they're getting.
DS: 35:43 You and I grew up, in our formative years, watching.
CSJ: 35:47 Magic marker years.
DS: 35:48 Watching television and listening to presidents of both parties come out and say, we essentially, we are all Americans. You know, we were all federalists. We're all, we're all republicans.
CSJ: 36:04 McCain after his loss.
DS: 36:04 We're all Americans. And I think that, you know, part of the shock of what's going on right now is that we don't have people in government that come out and say we're all federalists were all republicans.
CSJ: 36:13 The purpose for Jefferson, you're exactly right. To bring it back to Jefferson, the day after the election, the winners need to say everyone counts, I'm the president or the governor or the senator of everyone. I know there's been a lot of vituperation, and animadversion during this election, but that's over now.
DS: 36:33 Some people will do that. Some.
CSJ: 36:35 Harmony, and then the loser needs to say what McCain said when he lost to Obama, which was, let's celebrate Barack Obama. I'm going to do everything in my power to help you succeed. Call on me. This is important. You have won. I am here to honor and respect you. He was booed by the people in Phoenix because they wanted the usual blood and guts. I hate this guy.
DS: 36:59 Somehow that that whole thing has to shift from. It's not important to win. It's important for the nation, you know, and and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
CSJ: 37:09 Graciousness is the heart of it.
DS: 37:11 That's the word.
CSJ: 37:11 Jefferson wanted graciousness on both sides and we are not in a period where there's a lot of graciousness. I think Nancy Pelosi was gracious in her victory speech on the night when the Democrats modestly took control.
DS: 37:24 And honestly it sounds like Trump was very gracious to her in their private phone call.
CSJ: 37:28 Then the next day things kind of go back to normal.
DS: 37:30 Yeah.
CSJ: 37:31 My point is that, you know, if you go back to the Jefferson letter to Edward Livingston, Jefferson is saying this only works if there's a high level of graciousness. You have to seek consensus, you have to forgive each other. You have to agree to compromise, to work together and respect each other.
DS: 37:48 A government held together by the bands of reason only requires much compromise of opinion.
CSJ: 37:56 Boy that's perfect, right?
DS: 37:57 It is.
CSJ: 37:57 For Jefferson is perfect and the, I was thinking about this because there's so many reasons to be disenchanted with Thomas Jefferson these days, but his vision of how majority rule works is spot on, David, nobody in our history has ever said it better than Jefferson, which is the will of the people matters. How do you distill the will of the people? You do it by elections. When elections are over, you accept their results.
DS: 38:21 And he was consistent throughout his life. We'd go back to the George Mason letter of 1790. It is necessary to give as well as take in a government like ours.
CSJ: 38:32 He believed that the difference between a Federalist in a Republican was not that great, and even if it is that great, whoever's elected represents everyone in his constituency, everyone in his state, everyone in this country that you have to reach out to the other with a capital O and say, tell me what you need. I'm not sure I can deliver it, but I will at least listen and try to take seriously whatever your point of view is, whatever your needs are, whatever your frustrations are, and we're just not getting a lot of that now.
CSJ: 39:06 And it's not just the Republicans, it's both parties. We need to lower the temperature. I say that all the time. We need to lower the temperature.
DS: 39:15 The Washington Post published an opinion from their editorial board the day after the election, they said the Democrats 'return to control over the House of Representatives is much more than a victory for one party. It's a sign of Health for American democracy. The Democratic victory is also a sign of political health. To the extent it is a form of pushback against excesses, rhetorical and in terms of policy committed by the trump administration.'
CSJ: 39:44 I'm not sure I think that's true. I start by saying.
DS: 39:48 I think it is a sign of health.
CSJ: 39:49 That in every midterm there is a kind of reaction against the party in power. I don't think if, if you were Donald Trump, I don't think you need to believe, oh, they've slapped me a little here. I don't feel that at all. I think he's right when he says, you know what, this was not a bad election for me at all.
DS: 40:09 I took it to mean, if you look at the turnout, the amount of women that are going to be in congress.
CSJ: 40:14 Hundred.
DS: 40:14 So I didn't think so much when I read it, you know, it's a sign of health. That's what I was.
CSJ: 40:19 I do think the coming of young, new diverse, two American Indian women, Muslim, a Muslim representative from Minnesota.
DS: 40:28 The woman from Minnesota. It was great. She was giving her victory speech. Said Minnesota not only welcomes immigrants, we send them to congress.
CSJ: 40:35 I love her.
DS: 40:36 I like that too.
CSJ: 40:37 These young women.
DS: 40:39 They're gonna help us all.
CSJ: 40:42 They're not, and I mean no disrespect, but they are not Diane Feinstein. This is a different type of young woman with a different level of confidence and a desire to shake this country into greater gender equality.
DS: 40:55 There's a great quote from Jefferson about that. We'll end this segment with saying, nothing is more incumbent on the old than to know when they should get out of the way and relinquish to younger successors the honors they can no longer earn and the duties they can no longer perform. He wrote that in 1815 to John Falon. We need to take a short break. We'll continue this conversation in just a moment. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
CSJ: 41:28 Hello everyone. It's Clay Jenkinson. Just sneaking in a little announcement between segments of the Jefferson Hour. I want you to join me this winter at Lochsa Lodge west of Missoula for two humanities cultural retreats: the first one, water and the west, January 13th through 18th, and the second, Shakespeare without tears, January 19th through 24th. For more information, go to our website, Jeffersonhour.com/tours. We'll see you in the mountains.
DS: 41:58 Welcome back to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with President Thomas Jefferson. We're talking about the elections and we're recording this program on November eighth.
CSJ: 42:09 Two days after the fact.
DS: 42:12 You know, it made me think, one advantage that Jefferson had that politicians do not have now is that it took so much time for things, you know, they, they'd make a decision or a proposal would be made or legislation would be written and presented and they all had time. They all had time to think about it and discuss it. And now we're two days past the election and already there's a raft of things that have happened that you know, you don't even have time to react to them. They just. So by the time this program broadcasts, who knows what will have happened.
CSJ: 42:49 It's a three mile per hour world in Jefferson's time and our time is absolutely instantaneous. And you hear these people on Fox and CNN and Msnbc saying, when something happened, and boy that seems like a year ago but it was only yesterday, they all say this now because so much happens so fast that people can't keep up with the sheer chaos.
DS: 43:11 Or react to it with any thought.
CSJ: 43:13 There's no reflection time. People aren't able to read books.
DS: 43:16 Thank you. That was the word I was looking for.
CSJ: 43:19 Reflection. The other thing is, you know, so that in Jefferson's time, congressmen and in Washington DC would be staying in these bad boarding houses. They'd be in the Senate chamber or the House of Representatives Chamber, and then at the end of the day they'd go back to the boarding house and all have supper together and they'd drink a little grog or take a little walk.
CSJ: 43:40 They couldn't go back to their homes constituencies in Delaware or South Carolina. It's just impossible. So they'd be there for the whole session. They knew each other, they saw each other. They knew each other's strengths and weaknesses. They liked or disliked each other, but they had to deal with each other with a very tiny town. And Jefferson, who is another great political genius would have them over for supper, serve them exquisite French wines, fine French cuisine, show them the world's largest cheese, maybe show them a live prairie dog from Lewis and Clark or a badger or you know, water from the Missouri River or whatever. And they had to kind of know each other. But today, this is not an exaggeration. I get on the airport on a Monday morning to go somewhere. I see my senators went back to Washington, D, C, so they're leaving at 7:00 AM.
CSJ: 44:29 We're going to go to Washington DC around three in the afternoon. If things go well, Tuesday, they're in their offices and maybe on the floor of the house or the Senate. Wednesday maybe. On Thursday afternoon they're starting to split to go back to their constituencies in Tampa or San Diego or North Dakota. They're in session a couple of days per week. They're almost never actually on the floor they're really in their offices facing the coal trust or the timber trust or whatever it might be. The four H club of Seattle, and then they fly home and so there's no chance for them to actually develop community because they are almost literally never together and the factionalism is able to feed off of that. And so you know, you're absolutely right, David. In Jefferson's time, there was a sort of reflective leisure and I suppose you'd say there was an enforced togetherness because there was nowhere to go. There were no planes to whisk them away to their home constituencies and so there was a different way, you know, on a night you can imagine John Quincy Adams or John Adams or Henry Clay or Andrew Jackson reading a book, smoking or chewing tobacco sitting in the lobby.
DS: 45:45 What you're saying is that they really didn't listen to their constituents.
CSJ: 45:50 They couldn't.
DS: 45:50 Yeah.
CSJ: 45:51 They had letters. They would write letters back and forth and they would go home.
DS: 45:56 Are there instances of average farmers coming to Jefferson with problems that he would react to or not?
CSJ: 46:02 A tiny handful, but basically not. And when Jefferson would open up the White House on the fourth of July and January first, people would roll in who were not his people. He'd greet them and someone might say, Mr President, I'm really worried about the tariff. Or Mr. President. 'I think we should. We should declare war on France.' He would canvas a little, but he was reading local newspapers. If he could get them. There were circular letters. People wrote circular letters, which would be like a listserv, but basically these politicians were hunching it. They were intuiting the will of the people.
DS: 46:36 We know that Jefferson was, as a rule, pretty reserved. That's a fair statement, right?
CSJ: 46:41 He's not out there drinking.
DS: 46:43 And the other hand guy was pretty passionate, even if it didn't, if he did his, correct me. But um, my impression is that he's, he's pretty passionate. Even if he didn't allow the public to see that passion. I mean, you know, I think about.
CSJ: 46:59 Even his closest friends.
DS: 47:00 He, his beliefs ran pretty deep. I mean, if you think about his run ins with Hamilton over the bank when he was secretary of state with George Washington, he had passions.
CSJ: 47:12 By the way, I got a wonderful, typewritten letter from a woman in Colorado Springs who said, stop beating up on Hamilton so much. We get it. You didn't like Hamilton, but that's.
DS: 47:21 It's just an obvious example. Forgive me.
CSJ: 47:23 But, uh, but yes, absolutely. What I think is so amazing about Jefferson, David, I keep, you know Jefferson, you take him for granted, you lock him into his faults, you kind of get complacent. And then so one day you wake up, you realize. Here's what I realized this week, this is the most radical political figure who has ever been a major force in American life.
DS: 47:50 Wait a minute. Repeat that.
CSJ: 47:50 He is a radical political figure. He defends the reign of terror in France. He believes in tearing up the consitution.
DS: 47:59 From his day to ours, you would place him there?
CSJ: 48:00 Who is more radical than Thomas Jefferson, as a major.
DS: 48:04 Perhaps our current president.
CSJ: 48:05 Yeah, and radical in a different sense, but there's a nihilist radicalism in this president, he's a destroyer and not a builder, when you really examine Jefferson, this is a radical man and the fact that we entrusted him as one of the deep state people, one of the biggest abolishment people of his time, it's pretty interesting.
CSJ: 48:26 A typical person would be more like George Washington, who, he wanted a republic. He trusted the people up to a point, but he wasn't a fool about these things. He was like, no. Uh, there are people who know how to do this and most people don't.
DS: 48:42 As long as you brought up Washington, I have another Jefferson quote.
CSJ: 48:46 You've done some homework.
DS: 48:47 'Conscience is the only clue which will eternally guide a man clear of all doubts and inconsistencies,' he wrote that to him in May of 1789, to George Washington.
CSJ: 48:58 Jefferson did?
DS: 48:58 Yes.
CSJ: 48:59 Why? Read it again.
DS: 49:00 'Which will eternally guide man clear of all doubts and inconsistencies.'
CSJ: 49:05 I always wind up hating myself when I don't follow the dictates of my conscience.
DS: 49:10 You know, we were just talking about how radical he was and I was bringing up how passionate he was in different, you know, so.
CSJ: 49:17 So here's the other question.
DS: 49:18 He was driven by conscience, don't you think?
CSJ: 49:20 To a very large degree. Of course there were areas where he shut that switch.
DS: 49:23 Well, of course, yeah.
CSJ: 49:25 But the other thing about Jefferson is, that I just come back to again and again, is he believed that we're up to it.
CSJ: 49:31 He believed we can do this.
DS: 49:32 It's about time for your essay this week, but I'm gonna. Before we we go to that. My takeaways this week, first and foremost elections matter, and second is this, this quote of Jefferson's, that conscience is the only clue which will eternally guide us.
CSJ: 49:55 I'll tell you my essay this week is a pretty sharp one and it's based on conscience.
DS: 50:01 Good, I look forward to that. Um, and then also his quote that it's necessary to give and take in a government like ours. And then finally I just want to, you know, I am so proud of the American public that they voted in record numbers that they did. It really, it uplifts me.
CSJ: 50:17 I went to my precinct at 7:00 AM and there was a line out the door.
DS: 50:21 Same thing. And also, you know, congratulations to all the new members of Congress.
DS: 50:25 I just think it's fabulous that as of the day before, it was like 98 new women that were going to serve in Congress. And I think that's great. And I think it's gonna leave a mark and a good one.
CSJ: 50:37 Let me say as North Dakotan.
DS: 50:38 Yeah.
CSJ: 50:38 Congratulations to Kevin Cramer, United States senator. And thank you Heidi Heitkamp for your six years of service to this country and North Dakota in the US Senate.
DS: 50:46 Yeah. I know her.
CSJ: 50:47 You do.
CSJ: 50:48 She's been in this room.
DS: 50:50 She really was somebody who wanted to serve like you were talking about earlier, people who win and lose and you know their motivations and stuff and you know, it's easy to demonize the other side. We all do it and she doesn't deserve that. I really respect her and I thank her for her service.
CSJ: 51:05 Me too.
DS: 51:06 So with that sir, it is now time for this week's Jefferson Watch.
CSJ: 51:12 Thank you, David.
CSJ: 51:13 So what did the midterm election of 2018 tell us? I’m going to try to make sense of it from a purely analytical point of view. If, as President Trump said repeatedly, he was on the ballot in 2018, the results are mixed. The election was certainly not a ringing endorsement of his character, behavior, policies, and the first two years of his Presidency. But it was not a severe vote of no confidence either. A serious repudiation would have required something like a 50-75 vote swing in the House of Representatives, and a gain of a Democrat or two in the Senate. And endorsement would have required a gain of 10-20 Republicans in the House, and a filibuster-proof Senate, that is, 61-39 or better for the Republicans. Frankly, I don’t think you can conclude much from the 2018 election except that anti-Trump feeling brought about significant Democratic gains in the House of Representatives.
CSJ: 52:10 I think Trump is right when he declares things went pretty well, considering. Many people, and I am one of them, saw this election as “the most important of my lifetime,” America’s chance to “take back the country” from Trump and Trumpism before it was too late. If that was the goal, in my analysis, it failed. As soon as the election ended, Trump fired his Attorney General, appointed a Trump protector as acting Attorney General, lashed out at everyone he perceived to be his enemy, including career Republican Congressmen who lost to Democratic challengers, had a journalist banned from the White House press corps for asking an unwanted question, and that was just Day One of the post-2018 “repudiation.” Elections matter. The country has not been taken back. If you were looking at this from Mars or Jupiter you would have to say America seems, on the whole, taking the entire national, state, and local vote into account, to be mostly OK with Trump and his behavior.
CSJ: 53:11 A little depressing, isn’t it, unless you are one of the tens of millions who think Trump can do no wrong, those who believe the liberals, progressives, feminists, professors, foundation heads, establishment, and deep state types had and have it coming. In some ways Trump is a political genius. He found a way in 2016 to neutralize 17 other Republican candidates for the Presidency, some of them very heavily subsidized by the Establishment, and get the nomination. He did this by ridicule, innuendo, character assassination, bullying, and making wild pronouncements that were as entertaining as they were irresponsible. He won the nomination not by appealing to the “better angels of our nature,” as Lincoln put it, but by appealing to our darkest fears and aggressive impulses. It worked. And he has continued to encourage some of the least enlightened energies in American life for the first two years of his Presidency.
CSJ: 54:09 This has driven the Left and the Establishment to the brink of madness, which of course was part of his plan all along. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States, our first Revenge President. His tribe—an angry army of 45 million people—is taking great glee in giving it to the liberals and the deep state types. Every time Trump uses the word “nationalist,” or calls CNN reporters “the enemy of the people,” he is throwing kerosene on the rage of the Trumpites. Trump’s “forgotten Americans” are so tired of being put down by the liberals, so sick of being dismissed by those who say they are rubes out in the heartland clinging to their guns and the Bible, that they are having the time of their life watching the Great Leader break one Presidential taboo after the next. In the 2018 election Trump knew he was likely to lose the House of Representatives. And he did, though not by some sort of overwhelming repudiation. He lost the number of seats that virtually any sitting president would lose in his first midterm election.
CSJ: 55:07 My point is that he knew this was likely to happen, so he concentrated his vast demagogic energies on the United States Senate, and gave his time, in the weeks before the election, to Senate candidates in red states like Texas, North Dakota, and Montana. On the whole the strategy worked. The Senate is now more firmly in control of the Trumpites than it was a week ago. There won’t be any more cliffhanger confirmation votes for life-tenured judges and justices. Trump is no fool. He knows that no President has ever been impeached by the House of Representatives AND convicted by the Senate, not Andrew Johnson, not Bill Clinton, and it is quite possible that Richard Nixon would have found 34 Senators to vote against such an extreme Constitutional maneuver in 1974. Trump knows that the new, moderately-Democratic House of Representatives could impeach him once a week for the next two years and the Senate would protect him. Can any of you think of any scenario under which the current United States Senate voted two to one to remove Trump from the Presidency?
CSJ: 56:13 We know that it cannot happen, even if Trump did shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue, and Trump certainly knows that. So he is almost daring the House to impeach him—a pointless and important move that would not accomplish its goal and would meanwhile stir up the enraged Trump tribe to carry their AR-15s into the streets of America. I am not trying to be dramatic. I believe that if the House impeached President Trump, we would see widespread militia violence in America. The bombs sent to a dozen Trump critics just before the election were a warning sign. So what if Trump fires Robert Mueller? He gets away with it no matter how loudly every responsible person in the United States howls. What if he closes the US-Mexican border by executive order? What if he arrests 50 journalists? What if he lobs a few cruise missiles into Iran just to show them we can topple their regime any time we might wish to?
CSJ: 57:11 It’s hard to know just what Trump wants for America. He seems to want us to disengage from our alliances throughout the world, to become fortress America, to become a mean-ass monolithic nation state that tells the rest of the world to go jump in the lake. He seems to want to punish all the sophisticates and the liberals who have belittled and shunned him throughout the course of his lifetime. If you want to watch the exact moment when he determined to become President, no matter what the cost, and to use his power to be The Anti-Obama, to repudiate everything Barack Obama did and represented, just watch the clip of President Obama ridiculing Trump (in his presence) at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. If Mr. Obama had kept his mouth shut that night, I do not think Donald Trump would be President of the United States. The Trump coalition has a whiff of fascism about it.
CSJ: 58:06 Trump is very careful to make pronouncements that could be construed as fascist, and then to pull back just enough to make the anti-Trump alarmists look ridiculous for trying to convince the nation that the sky is falling, the sky is falling. Donald Trump’s greatest talent is for ridicule, and nothing satisfies him, and his angry mob of “forgotten Americans,” more than making Elizabeth Warren go apoplectic. So let me be very stark in my conclusions. First, it would be a terrible mistake ever to underestimate Donald Trump. Is there a line he would not cross? He has ridiculed the disabled, Gold Star families, a US Senator who spent years in a Hanoi prison camp, a woman who came forward to inform the country that it was about to put onto the Supreme Court a man capable of sexual assault, the people of Puerto Rico. And on and on and on. Second, the midterm election may not be the sign of hope, the triumph of checks and balances, that the left and the mainstream media have posited. Third, I believe Donald Trump has now consolidated his personal power and he intends to use it, not to do good things for America, though he is not necessarily averse to that, but to damage everyone and every entity, institution, ethnic group, or nation state that has dismissed him as a clown and a dangerous buffoon.
CSJ: 59:23 I'm Clay Jenkinson.
CSJ: 59:26 We'll see you next week for another exciting edition of the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 59:34 The Thomas Jefferson Hour is brought to you each week by Dakota Sky Education. The program is distributed nationally by Prairie Public Radio. President Thomas Jefferson lived from 1743 to 1826, and this program presents his views. President Jefferson is portrayed by the award-winning humanities scholar and author Clay S. Jenkinson. To obtain a copy of this or any show for $12 donation, please call (888) 828-2853. This program is also available online at jeffersonhour.org and on iTunes. If you'd like to correspond with President Jefferson, or submit a question for him to answer on the program, please visit the website at jeffersonhour.org. The Thomas Jefferson Hour is produced at Makoché Recording Studios in Bismarck, North Dakota. Music by Steven Swinford. Thank you for listening. Please tune in again next week for another thought-provoking, historically-accurate program through the eyes of Thomas Jefferson.