This isnít about the 2016 presidential campaign. Itís not about the candidates or the conventions; itís not about about political ideology or the political process.
Itís all about We The People.
But that requires talking about -- at least briefly -- the candidates Iíd rather not talk about.
Some of us had dared to hope that Donald Trump, after securing the Republican nomination, would disclose that it had all indeed been an act and that he was ready to start acting like an adult. After all, heís a super-successful billionaire real estate mogul. And he has such great kids. Surely, heís capable of acting presidential.
Ah, hope springs eternal.
Then the ghost of Ted Cruz reappeared. To be fair, Mr. Trump has a legitimate grievance against Mr. Cruz, who should have either endorsed his former rival or declined the invitation to speak from the convention pulpit. As a career politician, the Senator Cruz must understand that the purpose of a national convention is to inspire party solidarity, not to posture for the next election cycle. Mustnít he?
ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN
Well, maybe not. Instead, Mr. Cruz embraced the new normal, demanding to have it both ways, applying one standard to himself and an entirely different standard to everyone else. By doing so, Mr. Cruz may indeed have ďhung himself,Ē as Rudy Giuliani has predicted.
Or maybe not.
Itís just as likely that Mr. Cruz will suffer no political fallout, any more than those whose not-so-distinguished company he chose to join:
• Lois Lerner, who declared herself innocent and then pleaded the Fifth.
• Kim Davis, who expected to keep her job while refusing on principle to do it.
• James Comey, who counted off the many reasons for indicting Hillary Clinton and then declined to do so.
• Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who abandoned judicial impartiality by wading into the political muck with her comments about Donald Trump; even the New York Times cried foul on that one.
These are only the most public examples. And what they all have in common is the inability to understand that principle comes at a price; and if you wonít pay the price, you donít have real principles.
LET IT GO
But if Donald Trump were gracious (which heís not), or at least smart (which is debatable), he would have ignored the Texas senator altogether. After all, why should he care? Mr. Trump has the nomination, Ted Cruz was nearly booed off the convention stage, and there is absolutely no benefit to rehashing the petty, schoolyard taunts and rants exchanged during the primary campaign.
But apparently, Mr. Trump really is incapable of acting presidential -- even in his own best interest -- when his paper-thin ego is ruffled. Just as Mr. Cruz seems incapable of passing up the spotlight, if he can get in a parting shot before taking his marbles and slinking off to wait for the next game, four years down the road.
Of course, life isnít any better in Philadelphia, where DNC head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz finally agreed to disappear into the night in exchange for one last grandstand, after she was caught exploiting her position to skew the supposedly even-handed primary process in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Not than anyone was surprised. Whatever your political bent, principles have largely become a thing of the past.
That may be because too many Americans have no notion of the values on which this country was founded: Equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal protection under the law. These do not ensure equal wealth or power. But they are part of a culture that once recognized a moral, as opposed to a legal, commitment to place the lowest rung of the ladder of fortune within reach of its most downtrodden citizens, to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, and to shape a society bound together by commitment to higher values and national destiny.
This is why our Constitution begins not with a statement of legal axioms but with a declaration of visionary purpose:
We the people of the United States -- we are one nation and one people, sharing a common language, common culture, and common ideals.
In order to form a more perfect union -- we canít make the world perfect, but we can create a society that will allow for us to pursue perfection in every way humanly possible.
Establish justice -- through a system of laws blind to wealth, race, religion, reputation, and influence.
Ensure domestic tranquility -- by protecting the innocent and holding the guilty accountable.
Provide for the common defense -- by cultivating a national philosophy of individual sacrifice on behalf of the collective.
Promote the general welfare -- through a culture of private charity and institutional support.
And secure the blessings of liberty for us and our posterity -- by balancing individual rights against personal responsibility and civil activism against bureaucratic self-restraint.
But first we need to find leaders who themselves remember who we are and what our country stands for, who care more about the people than they do about their own egos. And until we do, we should be quick about throwing the old guard out and rejecting those who promise more of the same.