The Messed-Up Factor

chester arthur

Know who this is? Of course you don’t. I wouldn’t if I hadn’t searched it out and posted it here. This is Chester Arthur, obscure President of the United States from the early 1880s. He is Exhibit A is what I’m calling my Messed-Up Factor.

Part of the problem we’re grappling with in the 2016 presidential election is the Messed-Up Factor.

You see, we’re to blame not because we’re active or not, involved or not, attentive or not. We’re to blame because on both sides of the party and ideological and philosophical aisle, we’ve been complicit in allowing the presidency and its executive branch to grow, expand, and bloat up into a size of almost gargantuan proportions. And when you couple that fact with the tendency of folks who seek the presidency to be rather “messed-up” in one important way or another, we come out with an enormous problem and dangerous implications.

Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative, we’ve all been at work to make it this way. The Right/Republican/Conservative circle supports an aggressive presidency (and by default, executive branch so big it’s really a government redwood all by itself, with kudzu thrown in for good measure) to defend the nation and its national security. Result: big, over-big, and growing bigger. The Left/Democrat/Liberal circle supports an aggressive presidency to promote the general welfare and any conceivable domestic form it might take, real or not. Result: big, over-big, and growing bigger.

Now, add to this dual-bigness coming from both political directions one more element and you get the Messed-Up Factor. I’m referring to the threatening weirdness of the likely presidential winners in 2016. Trump–you know what I mean. Clinton–you know what I mean. Back when the man-nobody-knows was president–Chester Arthur and a dozen others just like him–and the presidency was small and, compared to today, practically powerless, with the stakes were so low few people noticed or felt the effects of the oddball quirk of this one, the weirdo habit of that one, and the potentially frightening capacity of the either freak to damage huge swaths of American life. But we no longer have that luxury. Because of the Messed-Up Factor, when you combine massive personal flaws of presidency-seekers with the massive power inherent in the presidency itself, you end up with dark prospects for the nation. Either way you turn, lots of people lose, lots of good citizens lose.

It is, boiled down, Messed-Up.