The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Return to the Monarchy?

Jeff Cumberbatch - Columnist, Barbados Advocate

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Barbados Advocate

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter…”Winston Churchill.

“Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”Winston Churchill

The story is that the deliberations of the US Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, curious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. Their answer was soon provided. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin on his exit, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

As did most of my friends by their own admission, I spent last Wednesday morning in a funk of astonishment and disbelief at the events that had transpired in the US a few hours before. We were trying, as Maureen Dowd put it in her opinion piece in the New York Times last Wednesday, to “absorb the impossible”. Despite the geographical inexactitude and patent vagueness of his campaign slogan to “Make America Great Again”; despite his petulance and clear unease at articulating clearly any policy position; despite his clear contempt for those of a race or culture different from his own; despite his abandonment by the Republican establishment after flagrant displays of an offensive misogyny and mimicry of the disabled; and despite the unanimous certainty of the pre-election polls to the contrary, Donald J Trump had secured the mandate of the people (via the Electoral College) to become the next President of the United States of America.

And yet, on further reflection, it is not that difficult to explain this alarming event, although no single factor will suffice. For one, there is the vagary of democracy itself. Churchill’s dictum in the epigraph might seem uncharitable and perhaps even out of sync with our current constitutional ethos, but it may serve eloquently to explain in part some surprising results in recent democratic decisions such as the BREXIT referendum in the UK, the rejection of the peace accord in Colombia, the Trump victory and perhaps some others besides. And polls are mostly unable to predict these types of results because the actuality is that very few responders want to be perceived as being out of step with the prevailing view. I can count, on fewer than four fingers, the number of individuals who, to my knowledge, contemplated that Trump would have won this contest and even so, this was mostly because they hated Mrs. Hillary Clinton more.

This point as to the unthinking nature of voters should not be understated. In an interesting column published online in Foreign Policy, Jason Brennan first posits inarguably that “democracy is supposed to enact the will of the people” and then queries “but what if the people have no clue what they’re doing?” His thesis is that most voters are ignorant or misinformed because the costs to them of acquiring political information greatly exceed the potential benefits. He likens the democratic exercise to a professor telling her hypothetical class of 210 million that in their final exam no individual will receive his or her personal grade but that everyone will get the same grade. In that case, he argues, no one would bother to study and the common grade would be an “F”. He concludes therefore, “…voting is more like doing the wave at a sports game than it is like choosing policy.”

For some, it might have been precisely this Brennanesque stance of belittling the native intelligence of the ordinary voter that led ineluctably to the Trump triumph. One writer has argued persuasively that the choice made on Tuesday last might have been less of a instinctual default option and more of an “intelligent” choice. For him, anger and uncertainty at the inexorable march of globalization and technology had reached such a pitch that many voters were ready for disruption [of the status quo] at any cost.

“Enough of elites; enough of experts; enough of the status quo; enough of the politically correct; enough of the liberal intelligentsia and cultural overlords with their predominant place in the media; enough of the financial wizards who brought the 2008 meltdown and stagnant incomes and jobs disappearing offshore” is how Roger Cohen expresses their collective frustration in the New York Times, a worldview that could find some commonality in Trump’s sloganeering and would be antithetical rather to the Clinton campaign where the candidate herself was perceived as the epitome of this perverse state of affairs.

Indeed, more than a few commentators in recent days have focused their readership’s attention on the unsuitability of Mrs. Clinton as the worthiest Democratic opponent for Mr. Trump. Not-so- easily-dismissed suspicions about the moral authenticity of the process that brought her the nomination as the candidate of the Democratic Party; her coziness with “them” (the financial and social establishment) and a regrettable sense of entitlement that, perhaps unfairly, suggested that she should be free from popular and legal scrutiny –what Maureen Dowd calls a “miasma of financial and ethical cheesiness”; would scarcely have endeared Mrs. Clinton to the alienated rural voter in the counties and states of Middle America.

Nor should we discount lightly the bigotry that might have induced apoplexy should a female be allowed to follow a blackish individual into the White House and that would have felt itself threatened by the inexorable “browning” of a formerly whitish USA.

Today’s headline to this column poses a question for further debate. It is part of a broader inquiry as to what type of President is Trump likely to be. Given his flip-flopping with the truth during his campaign, it would be mere conjecture to base this conclusion purely on his utterances then. Will he be the candidate who claims that he knows more about ISIS than even the generals on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and thus be the individual defender of the “Free World” or will the demands and stresses of the office, so clearly evident in the frosting of the crowns of both Presidents Clinton and Obama during their respective tenures, humble him sufficiently to tone down his inflammatory exclusionist rhetoric?

The defining characteristic of the republican system of government as distinct from that of the monarchical that the US would have successfully rebelled against in 1776, is its checks and balances inherent in the constitutional construct of the separation of powers to ensure that no one branch impinges on the exclusive preserve of the other. Trump’s campaign discourse made a mockery of this principle with his frequent references as to what “I” would do. There was no correspondingly frequent mention of “my administration”.

Now, with the Republicans controlling both the Senate and Congress, and with a President Trump, emboldened by his electoral mandate, entitled to reject the Republican establishment as a consequence of their earlier treatment causing him to do it “all by himself”, the circumstances are ideal for a return to a quasi-monarchical system of “Trumpism”.

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396 Comments on “The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Return to the Monarchy?”

  1. NorthernObserver November 19, 2016 at 3:30 PM #

    I assume you will have noted that without any movement by the Fed or the BoC, certain banks here have led the way with minimal increases in interest rates, at least initially at the loaning end. what is your read?


  2. Money Brain November 19, 2016 at 3:39 PM #

    Banks are desperate to increase their spreads. Cnd banks are very worried about Mortgages and RE prices. The problem is that the Governments are the biggest borrowers and want to keep rates low. Note that rates stayed in a low range from 1932 -53= 21 yrs (and for most of the 1800s). The situation is unprecedented and the only sure thing is uncertainty going forward. Massive quantities of excrement could intersect with the oscillating device!


  3. Well Well & Consequences November 19, 2016 at 4:01 PM #

    “Money Brain November 19, 2016 at 3:25 PM #
    LOCK all a Washington DC up the lobbyists etc just build the Prison around Washington DC.”

    It was Trump said he was going to “Drain the Swamp”…in Washington, that was not me.

    Right around the same time you and Chad had Trump walking on water….no need to worry about the US economy, Trump can fix that, no matter how bad, that is according to you and Chad.

    So what recession


  4. NorthernObserver November 19, 2016 at 4:54 PM #

    MB…spread is x-y? Even if BoC rate is 10%, they will still have a spread. You are accurate that low interest rates primary product is debt, and today due to Gov’t debt they are particularly sensitive.
    The Banks/lenders concern about mortgages (their exposure) is their problem? Nobody begged or forced them to lend? In my first business back in the late 80’s my largest customers were banks where mortgagees had dropped off the keys and said “Good luck”. Now they had to fix up those assets and offload them.

    But here you have DT, who apart from “helping” certain public officials to get what he wanted, he even has a party who rejected him, is following the same yard fowl mentality of those party folks who came before him. He can select whomever he wants? I hope we begin to see persons of other allegiances or he is going to fall into the same trap of those who preceded him. The same narrow one-sided opinions.

    This becomes the largest failure of all our so called democratic systems. Once elected they go and support and choose from largely only those who supported them and “share their opinions”. A failure of all these essentially two party systems.


  5. Well Well & Consequences November 19, 2016 at 5:07 PM #

    That’s it Nprthern, the world needs an upgrade, from the 2 party systems which are becoming more and mire destructive, from the degrading school systems likewise, they have all this time to fight among themselves,about who has the best and greatest philosophies, but no time for progressive uogrades….so therefore, we are getting degradation between political, educational and religious systems.

    A total systems failure.


  6. Well Well & Consequences November 20, 2016 at 5:16 AM #

    Now everyone sees the ultimate fates of political pimps.

    Rudy and Christies…”has been humans”….lol


  7. Well Well & Consequences November 20, 2016 at 9:51 AM #

    Can’t touch freedom of expression.


  8. Well Well & Consequences November 20, 2016 at 11:38 AM #

    Blair is a follower, he just wants to be part of the scum party with Donald Trump now gathering themselves together in the UK and elsewhere for their next coordinated financial assault on the world’s people….using whatever means at their disposal.

    Don’t for one minute think this is not being well coordinated.


  9. Well Well & Consequences November 20, 2016 at 11:44 AM #

    Everyone is now on their guard.

    Highly debatable since Clinton would nit need to use the same people to achieve thecsame slimy results, besides, she and Trump are friends, same lowlife.


  10. de pedantic Dribbler November 20, 2016 at 11:45 AM #

    @Money Brain November 19, 2016 at 3:29 PM re “Fact: US grew 1.5% for the year ended 30th Sep 2016. This has been the most anemic Recovery on record.”

    Statistics can be used as a cudgel or of course as like carrot to be a leading indicator of good. So let’s take your cudgel and make it a carrot.

    That anemic growth you bash came after a few years of basically slowing growth. Coming from 4.2% in the mid 60’s period to just under 3% at the time of the ’08 crash. Then there were quarters in 2008 – 2009 where there was NEGATIVE growth rates: -0.3 and -3.1% being highlights. That had NOTHING to do with Obama.

    Chad45 often makes the illogical remark that Obama was not an economist and thus had no idea what he was doing so I lump your broadside of poor GDP growth in that bowl of deplorable illogic.

    The US economy cannot be reshaped so drastically in four or even eight short years to forestall years of operational issues. And certainly based on the abyss from which Obama climbed it is economic pyrotechnics to use the stats as you are doing.

    It seems that many people forget that Bush 43 oversaw Y’uuge expenditures (stimulus) to the economy with the military spending of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That was massive inflows to the economy. Yet on average growth continued to slow as compared to ten years segments going back to that 60’s period mentioned. And of course we still had that small matter of the financial crash.

    Just saying…without too long a palaver.

    Oh, I’m sure you will jump all over my comment that ‘The US economy cannot be reshaped so drastically…’. So let me add now: unless like Trump you will offer supply-side tax cuts and stimulus that will EXPLODE the deficit to Mars.

    Yes the economy has grown comparatively quite slowly, but so too the world economy been undergoing shocks not seen previously.

    Blame Obama if that makes perfect sense to you. Otherwise if you are serious and rational really explore the underlying issues. He takes some blame surely but his team did a really great job to get the economy trending upwards as it is. That’s my carrot!


  11. Money Brain November 20, 2016 at 12:30 PM #

    Where did I blame Barry?

    It is a fact that never has so much money been created (double what came before in History $9 TR) for so little result.

    I would suggest that you are correct that it takes a long while for an aircraft carrier to turn around. I would not blame or praise Barry on this as Presidents rely on advice from the Fed, Treasury, Commerce etc and are subject to the Global situation.

    The US economy, trade relationships etc has been mismanaged for a very long time.


  12. Money Brain November 20, 2016 at 12:36 PM #

    I blame Slick Willie for repealing the Financial Laws and Regs in 1998 which caused the 2008 Collapse. Additionally, I blame him for the changes made by the Bureau of Labour Statistics–BLS which I refer to as just BS! All the Stats coming out of Govt are crooked as hell. If dem swallow a nail dem excrete a screw!


  13. 555dubstreet November 20, 2016 at 1:50 PM #

    Signing off


  14. Well Well & Consequences November 20, 2016 at 4:40 PM #

    Smart guy.

    Realy, realy good theatre, so much more better than TV….lol


  15. Gabriel November 21, 2016 at 8:48 AM #

    You can blame slick willie all you like,the fact remains the man left a hefty surplus in the Budget and the elephants trampled all over it giving the top 1% every conceivable tax break they could dream up.Who in his right mind would have Dick Cheney as a VP,a hardliner just slightly worse than the maniac Bolton.You will see wars and more wars in the next 4 years.
    Meanwhile what democracy is there that of 2 candidates one got nearly 2 million votes than the other and still lost the election.


  16. Money Brain November 21, 2016 at 9:39 AM #

    He left a surplus BUT totally left an atomic financial bomb with his repealing of Financial Laws/ Regs!!! Who PAY he fah dat???????????????

    U and many innocent people have paid the price for that act and U have not seen the worst yet!

    Crying about a system the DEMonics supported when they win–the Electoral College? If the ShilLIARy had won all a wunna would not say a ting bout dat.


  17. Money Brain November 21, 2016 at 9:58 AM #

    Wars???? Who scaled up Afghanistan? Who left Iraq prematurely saying,”we left because of Bush’s planned departure” HINT HRC!
    Who destroyed Libya, Egypt, encouraged Iran?

    Who makes the armaments, munitions etc, who therefore has BIG$$$$$$$$$$$$ to pay US Pols? Which US party has ever slammed these war mongers? JFK did not want to escalate Vietnam and what happened to him? JFK also wanted to reform/ remove the Federal Reserve Bank and that is not so good for longevity.


  18. are-we-there-yet November 24, 2016 at 9:58 AM #

    It seems that there is a move afoot by Clinton sympathizers to ask for recounts in some key battleground states citing statistical irregularities. I had hinted of such a possibility in posts around the election time. Now it is looking as if the Donald Trump election will take the US into dangerously uncharted territory.

    See the below article.


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