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Our Culture Inchoate: Exceptionalism #29

Updated: Oct 16, 2019


JOSH TANNER (JT): Welcome viewers, tonight I will interview the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honoria Torres, a democrat from New Jersey’s 16th congressional district. This is her first interview since taking, some would say hijacking, the speaker’s gavel. Thanks for being here, Madame Speaker.

HONORIA TORRES (T): Thank for having me, Josh. No, I am not taking the bait on that one, haha.

JT: I should note here that the Speaker said there are no restrictions, no subjects off-limits, and also that the interview be one camera only, with us seated as you see here tonight. Live. Like sitting in a booth, right?

T: And no editing, no exceptions, no clips to comment on, that sort of thing. Substance. I know you cannot help what others do with the footage, but yours will be definitive and the single authority of the validity of our exchange.

JT: Trust issues?

T: No. Accuracy issues. Thanks for being gracious in complying. I believe it is crucial that the American people see me and our plans through glass, not shadows.

JT: How did you pull this off? The speakership.

T: It was collaborative. I believe that the democratic leadership was too combative, too focused on attacking Trump, and too unwilling to compromise on anything. I also believe that the lurch hard left, from infanticide, to Russia, to Mueller, to socialism is taking us all into a cesspool.

There are only three other pro-life democrats, at least openly. I saw that I had more in common with republicans, but I am not ready to abandon my party. I am ready to actually lead, and not whine. The republican leadership approached me and asked if I would switch parties. I said no, but gave them an alternative.

JT: When?

T: A month before the vote.

JT: How did you keep this from leaking? No one keeps a secret in Washington.

T: That was tactical. Most members of congress came to work for their constituents, not to grab a microphone and ham it up. Several key republican members were tasked with bringing in a manageable group…the social and policy network thrives here. About 20 republicans were tasked to make it happen. House whip Kevin McCarthy saw the benefit and managed the process.

JT: The democrats?

T: Completely my responsibility. I needed at least 21 members, and with a couple allies, we exceeded that number.

JT: And those allies? Who helped give you democratic votes?

T: You’ll have to do your own homework on that, Josh. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out. They will have to come public before I do. I'll give you a hint... many many members were marginalized or passed over for assignments so Mrs. Pelosi could curry favor with certain camps.

JT: So you won’t tell us who?

T: Asked and answered.

JT: Everyone says that McCarthy is now the de facto speaker.

T: No, but he is the whip. We collaborate on what comes to the floor. The final decision is mine, based up my public stated priorities. Immigration, fiscal policy, and three pillars of our national health: healthcare itself, infrastructure, and climate issues.

JT: Well, enough of palace intrigue for the moment. I’d like to give the American people a chance to know your thinking on general and specific issues.

T: Great!

JT: Do you believe that American exceptionalism should carry the day? That we, as a nation, are better than other governments? Other societies?

T: Yes, I do. We aren’t exceptional because of a high standard of living and winning wars. We’re exceptional because of the rule of law, adherence to contracts, respect for property rights, holding those in authority to the same laws as everyone in our nation, and our magnificent Constitution which limits government, not people.

But all these things are held in place by a natural civility and tolerance on one hand, and a government monopoly on violence on the other. It’s why the 2nd amendment is so important.

I am not condoning violence by the government, the police, or by an armed citizenry. There is a near-absolute requirement that our legal system does not permit vigilante-ism or reprisal or vendetta settling. I am not stating that police powers are absolute or inviolate – probably a quarter of homes in the US are armed—but even an armed citizenry cannot take the law into in its own hands unless under imminent threat. Imminent and potentially lethal. That is a huge responsibility of us citizens. It should make us more polite and civil, yet TV and movies make too much of justice always being at the point of a gun, and there you have it.

I'll repeat: American exceptionalism is about the rule of law, adherence to contracts, respect for property rights, holding those in authority to the same standards of conduct, and our magnificent Constitution. It is simple, unique in all recorded history, and deliberately limits the authority of government. It does not limit people.

And that is why people risk their lives to come to our country. And we should hold allies accountable to contractual agreements, too, but sound diplomacy dictates that we avoid unnecessary public humiliation.

JT: What is your stance on term limits?

T: Generally against them, except for the presidency. Once the term limit issue is considered, age may become a criteria. I am against that in most instances.

Term limits would hamper my ability to vote for the person I want, in effect, limiting my speech. It would also require a change to the Constitution.

This issue begs a larger question: a Constitutional convention is long overdue. Throw everything at it. No limits to debate. From term limits to guns to flags to language to campaign finance to anything else in our glorious experiment of a republic. I believe it’s called an Article 5 convention. Why not? Our current document is pretty darn good, but after 230 plus years and 27 amendments we could at discuss an overhaul. And putting states first in the process would enliven the debate. It would be refreshing and informative for all of us.

JT: The president has been active on trade, and after immigration he sees this as a cornerstone issue. Is he doing it right? Or wrong?

T: Getting the best trade deals for Americans in commerce, jobs, and lifestyle should be our goal. But it’s always about compromise. The multi-lateral arrangements tend to dilute benefits under a “hurts and helps everybody” umbrella. Unilateral agreements are more pointed, but always have a loser: whoever is not included.

Thomas Friedman wrote a book over ten years ago… The World Is Flat. Fascinating stuff. He doesn’t advocate for open free trade, but he makes a good argument for leaning that way.

The issue is complicated and I could not do justice in a sound bite. But I can state that if the US Trade Representative and the teams’ negotiators always keep the American middle class and our lesser brothers and sisters in mind then the outcome will always be satisfactory.

Mexico’s role is important. It has internal problems… it sometimes is the antithesis of American exceptionalism… and until those elements of our exceptionalism are part of the fabric of our southern neighbor, it will struggle as a nation. I disagree with the administration that taxing imports from Mexico will solve anything. That tax just gets passed on to American consumers.

Larger picture: we should always export our economy at our expense until any nation can hold onto those values we hold dear: rule of law, adherence to contracts, and respect for property rights, to name a few. What is clear, and both sad and sickening, is that the state of Mexico does not have a monopoly on violence… cartels and criminals wantonly kill or intimidate those who stand for law and order. This is systemic, this is wrong, and until the people of Mexico embrace our values they will continue to be a nation in poverty and lawlessness.

JT: Goodness! I am getting a message during the interview… Donald Trump has just announced that he is pardoning Hillary Clinton for any and all criminal activity.

T: What? Is that corroborated?

JT: Wow. Yes, our producers are telling us it is solid. We will pause here, Madame Speaker, and go live to the CNF desk for a report on this explosive news!

T: (still on live mic) Didn’t see that coming.

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