Playing By the Rules


In this election, we have an unsavory choice between two skilled and manipulative operators. Thus far, neither candidate has been convicted of any crime, although both candidates have a long trail of legal troubles and armies of attorneys to protect them. If the election were decided on which candidate is more honorable or trustworthy, then the best choice would be to not vote at all. As a practical matter though, one of these two people will be the next president, so we can rely on the only real distinction between them in this regard: Donald Trump bends and stretches the letter of the law to maximize his advantage whereas Hillary Clinton acts like she is above the law. Perhaps it’s not much, but it’s a distinction that matters.

At America’s elite educational institutions, there are a multitude of rules–both written and unwritten–which have entered into wider public discourse. We increasingly hear talk of safe spaces, microagressions, checking one’s privilege, mansplaining, intersectionality, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the list goes on and on. Political campaigns are largely run by young enthusiastic interns and volunteers who hope to secure a position in government where they can put their ideas into practice, and these are the ideas that inform liberal politics today. If Hillary Clinton is elected, we will see many more rules of this nature begin to take on the force of law. If that isn’t a frightening prospect, ask Lois Lerner why it matters.

However, like some deadly serious real-life game of Calvinball, these rules are constantly changing and are, to use a legal term of art, arbitrary and capricious, like a crooked referee who is trying to throw a game. Instead of forming a consistent and predictable system, the only constant seems to be that the rules do not apply to liberals themselves. As an example, at a recent street festival, this writer observed multiple instances of liberals, both of them male, berating a woman wearing a Trump sticker. Was this not a patriarchal microagression? Did her accosters check their white male privilege? Was this not an example of mansplaining? Where was her safe space?

The truth, of course, is that all those fancy terms which are so fashionable on the left are really just a way to shout down and silence opposition and dissent while pretending to be broadminded about it. By contrast, while so many of Donald Trump’s ideas are clearly toxic and repulsive on their face, they are at least honest in their intent. More importantly, there is no sound intellectual underpinning to them, but rather, they are easily refuted and dismantled. Trump can be defeated with patient reason, but the tactics of the left, alternating by turns between childish hissy-fits and violent riots, will not even listen to reason.

As a consequence, the incidents of conservatives being harrassed on college campuses or in public places are too numerous to catalogue here, although a notable example from over the weekend is of a woman being beaten by hoodlums who stole her Trump yard sign. Forget mansplaining, this was assault and battery. Similarly, a pair of news stories about the Old Post Office building, which is now a Trump hotel, provides an apt metaphor for the entire election. From a preservation standpoint, Trump vandalized this historic structure with gaudy gold leaf and plaster. Black Lives Matter vandalized with spray paint. The former was unfortunate and in poor taste, but perfectly legal.  The latter is a crime.

To borrow from Robert Bolt’s Sir Thomas More, it is better to give the Devil the benefit of law than give the country over to the lawlessness of Hillary and her supporters. Just as the layers of plaster in the Hagia Sofia can be brushed away to reveal the priceless mosaics hidden–and protected–over the centuries from Muslim iconoclasts, a bad law can always be amended. Injustice and iniquity can always be righted. The suffering and misery of mankind can always be comforted. Destruction–whether the destruction of some grand edifice of marble or, through violence against the rule of law, destruction of the edifice of civilization itself–destruction is forever.

The transition of the power of the presidency occurs when the newly-elected president takes the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” These are more than just some quaint words from the 18th century, but describe the very idea of our Republic. We are not loyal to any person or dynasty, but to the unchanging law that defines the structure of our government and its relation to the people. Thus, when we say that we are a nation of laws, if we do not really mean it, if this has become merely a cynical platitude, then we are destined to be ruled not by reason and the law, but by violence and the sword.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Joshua Bowman joined in full communion with the Catholic Church in 2010 after many years in the spiritual wilderness. He recently moved back to his beloved native Virginia from Columbus, Ohio with his growing family and writes on religion, politics, history, and geographical curiosities.


  1. Joshua: Your last two articles seem like you’re trying to convince yourself that it’s OK to vote for Trump. The current trendy PC house rules at liberal colleges will eb and flow regardless of the election outcome. Hillary thinks she’s above the law? Trump fails to pay his contractors who can’t afford to fight against his regiments of lawyers. People harassing the other candidates supporters? Trump has advocated violence against protesters at his events. As for unsavory choices, having visited the USSR and later Russia and Ukraine many times, if my choice is between someone who will support the NATO allaince and a President who says he’ll default on it if he can’t nickle and dime our partners to death, I’ll take the former.

    • With your thinking(?), more is the pity for our country. Yours is a classic case of moral relativism. First of all it is built on some untruths, but the essence of it is that no matter what Trump has done in his personal life it does not compare to the dangers Hillary has subjected our country to through lying, violating national security law, selling the office of State to our enemies, ignoring national security and her general distaste for the military, just to name a few. One can only imagine what her “support” of NATO would be like. She, who during her husband’s term in the White House, instructed the military aides there not to salute civilians because she did not believe in that “military stuff.”

      Now, add to that, that she is a strong believer in abortion, an intrinsic evil, and one who has said she will try to force religious organizations to change their beliefs. How? By leveling fines, or taxes, or jail terms as she proposed in her version of health care – Hillary Care. I hope you are pleased about the prospect of persecution of Christians. Then, how would NATO be relevant to a country that denied religious freedom?

      You had better think again…more clearly than before.

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