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Post "Always Right" Political Values: How Does Trump Measure Up vis-a-vis FDR?
Created by John Eipper on 05/09/20 4:53 AM

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"Always Right" Political Values: How Does Trump Measure Up vis-a-vis FDR? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 05/09/20 4:53 am)

"Answering Adversity with Intellect":  I like the proposed WAIS motto very much. Good job, my friends.

I would like to participate by using my limited intellect to address a very simple question: What should we the American people do to save our nation from going the way of the Roman Empire or taking the whole world the way of the Dodo bird? I write this on a Friday (TGIF), but the situation is increasingly dire.  The Universe seems to be conspiring against us for the last few decades, as this great pessimist has been discussing here over the years.

Some months ago I discussed a set of "always right" values for the American people to save ourselves. Some of these are implicitly or explicitly in the American Constitution, which from time to time our leaders swear to follow and protect when it is in their interest. Just for fun I decided to compare who I think are two major pivots for our beloved nation: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Donald Trump along these eight values. Here is the comparison in the form of a table:

Why are these values right?  Because they will enable a strong/wealthy middle class, ultimately the basis for strong individuals, family, nation, scientific community and education, healthy business and economy, and the military for self-defense.

I look forward to hear what pro-Trumpers have to say about this, because they can get very creative intellectually while fighting adversity.

JE comments:  Let's kick off the weekend with strong food for thought!  I don't know as much as I'd like to about the New Deal era, but wasn't FDR often accused of playing fast and loose with the Constitution?  Among other measures, he tried (and failed) to dilute the Supreme Court with his supporters.  To be fair, our greatest president, Lincoln, was also known to bend the constitutional rules, even if the reasons were altruistic:  to save the nation.

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  • It Would be Constitutional to Change the Number of Supreme Court Justices (Patrick Mears, -Germany 05/09/20 1:48 PM)
    A real quick response on FDR's gambit, which he held back on because of the "switch in time saves nine."  The move would not have violated the Constitution.

    Congress merely had to pass a law expanding the number of US Supreme Court justices, and FDR's expansion plans could have been realized.


    JE comments:  Thanks, Pat.  I'll definitely take the word of a distinguished lawyer and historian!  The "traditional" number of nine justices has only been in place since 1869, which was in the lifetime of many by the time FDR contemplated packing the court in the 1930s.

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    • The US Supreme Court is Not as Partisan as Many Believe (Alan Levine, USA 05/11/20 4:55 AM)
      Pat Mears (May 9th) is correct: the number of justices on the Supreme Court is determined by Congress.

      FDR floated the idea of adding two more justices, but the country--despite favoring his policies--overwhelmingly decried such a naked manipulation of the judicial system. FDR heard the complaints and backtracked on the idea.

      Some people are calling for that manipulation again now, and I think it should be rejected for the same reason. Add two justices the next time Democrats are in power and you'll get two more the next time Republicans are. Where will it end? Such a politicization would ruin the Court, maybe forever.

      I know some people don't like the Court today, but that's partly because the close decisions get the most press. And that's partly the fault of the media and the hyper politicized who have an interest in playing up the politics.

      Do WAISers know that by far the most likely outcome of a Supreme Court case is a unanimous one? Yes, 9-0 is the most frequent result. And the percentage of 9-0 cases in the Roberts Court is higher than it's been for a long time. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but when you add up the 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, and 6-3 (all of which means the voting is not simply partisan), you get a huge preponderance of cases.

      Different people dislike different particular outcomes, but overall the Court is not nearly as partisan as partisans would have you believe.

      JE comments:  The Supreme Court and baseball (designated hitters notwithstanding) will forever be enshrined at nine.  Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg floated a plan to expand the Court to 15, to include five Democrats, five Republicans, and five "apolitical" justices appointed by the first 10.  The proposal has merit--but WAISers know I am a fan of Pete Buttigieg.  One advantage would be to take away the nasty politicization of the confirmation process.  It would simply be a matter of saying, "OK, the Republicans get to choose this one."

      Nice to hear from Alan Levine.  Alan, how did your virtual semester go at American U in Washington?  I am finally enjoying my "first" week of "summer" vacation--and it's 34 degrees F outside.  Lots of quotation marks here...

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      • Thoughts on Packing the US Supreme Court: Don't Do It (Cameron Sawyer, USA 05/12/20 4:09 AM)
        I agree with Alan Levine's analysis of the Supreme Court's partisanship. The distorted, partisan view of the Court which is prevalent in the popular mind today is hugely destructive.

        Packing the Court would be the road to hell, destroying forever the Court's independence. There should be a constitutional amendment to prevent this.

        JE comments: Perhaps Cameron Sawyer could elaborate.  How is the Court not partisan?  Let's put aside the confirmation shenanigans (Merrick Garland, anyone?), litmus tests and the like.  Here's how I see it:  anyone with even a casual grasp of politically significant issues can predict how each justice will vote.  When was the last time the Court actually surprised anyone?  I would go with National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius (2012), in which Chief Justice Roberts sided with the "liberal" justices to uphold the insurance mandate of Obamacare.

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  • How does Trump Measure Up to FDR? (Henry Levin, USA 05/10/20 4:52 AM)

    I am in great admiration of Tor Guimaraes (May 9th) and his "always right" political values and explications of each. I am in strong agreement.

    JE comments:  WAIS doesn't typically publish "attaboys," but I make exceptions from time to time.  There's nothing like the arbitrary privilege of editorial power! 

    Henry Levin is riding out the pandemic in its epicenter, New York City.  Hank, I trust you and Pilar are doing well in these unique and scary times.  Please send an update when time permits.

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