|Yes, I too am fed up with this Primary - it's been, to say the least, aggravating. It's deprived us of the benefits that a worthwhile primary should have brought us, it's turned friend against friend, and brought smart people to condemn themselves with the stupidity of calling those they don't agree with, stupid.
This primary has brought out the worst in the entire electorate, but the one most blamed for it, Trump, he hasn't caused it - he's revealed it. He's an effect, not a cause, and if he goes away, 'it' remains. Donald Trump, when held up to our problematic electorate, is, however, a startlingly useful prism of political optics, and as you turn him this way and that, he reveals the full hued spectrum of where it is that We The People, think that everyone else is standing, and is exposing the problems we'd all thought it'd be so much easier... to just ignore.
Worst of all, for me... it, the politics of it, are of no interest.
And yet, it's been living rent free in my noggin for a couple months now, and with the exception of a couple rants, has dragged all of my other blogging interests to a standstill. I've been wanting to get this damn post out of my head, but it keeps trying to sprout more pages, and as I try to chop it down to size, from out of the scratch of a single comma, out it bleeds another 2,000 words. Well this time it's going down and staying down.
Chop. Chop. Chop! If you're seeing this, I finally succeeded in cutting it down as close to the bone as I can (yay!).
"The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.”
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 1 - By Hannah Arendt
So let's get down to it. The first issue that just has to be gotten out of the way, is the stupid 'Stupid!' charge (other equally 'legit' terms being tossed at each other, such as 'cultist!', 'liar!', apply as well, but let's keep it simple and stick with 'stupid'). Taking Webster's simple definition,
Stupid: not intelligent; having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things; not sensible or logicalHopefully I don't shock you, but even though most people who hold their fellows up to the Trump Prism, see any signs of disagreement as proof of 'Stupid!', I've yet to see a single person (and I'm even including those in the video at the end of this post) who could truly, justifiably, be called stupid. BTW, that should be far more disturbing and scarier for us all, than if they actually were stupid. So, let's get to banishing the "Stupid!" with, appropriately enough, a thought experiment.
Stupid Test Part 1: The question of the stupider stupid
What do you suppose these supposedly stupid people would do, if we were to make these propositions to them:
The person who would go along with the first, or not want to be bothered with the second, could justifiably be called stupid. I'm willing to say that neither Trump, Cruz, Sanders, nor 99.9999% of their supporters would make those decisions (I'll leave it to you to decide about Kaisch).
- Will you allow me to put a lethal dose of cyanide in your drink, which you'll then drink, if I add enough sweetener, or if I promise to provide you with a secure job, and a fabulous increase on your investments, after you've died?
- If it were proved that the nations water supply were suddenly poisoned, would you want to know how to test and purify the water before drinking it, or would you rather not be bothered?
IOW they grasp the operations and importance to their lives of 'If this, then that' logic. They also implicitly understand what many would prefer to deny: that they grasp the reality of Reality; they grasp the meaning and importance of Identity, and they attach a reasonably high value to their own conscious self awareness and its active application to their lives - none of which a stupid person would, or could, do.
Note: I do not mean to excuse those, on any side, whose words and actions are vile - there is no excuse. This also doesn't mean that I think that their positions and actions are intelligent, only that they aren't arriving at unintelligent positions because they are stupid or otherwise incapable of doing so (that too should alarm you). There is most definitely a point of disconnect, where their ideas, and
their perceptions of reality, part company - what I am saying is only that the issue involved isn't one of stupidity, and I'm cautioning that if you mis-define the problem, as most people that I've observed on both sides are enthusiastically doing, then a solution that solves the actual problem, is not what your efforts are going to provide you.
Or in other, other words, if you willfully fail to identify either their disconnect, or the basis of their decision, then you are effectively disconnecting from reality as well. Get it?
Of course any of us might let fly with a Stupid! charge in the heat of the moment, but that's less an evaluation than an exasperated four letter word in drag, and is of no real consequence - an expletive is but an expletive and easily deleted, and is not our concern here. But an expletive that's used as an explanation, or as an excuse to avoid an explanation... that's something entirely different, and should
be deeply disturbing, especially as it becomes the rallying cry for your actions.
And seriously, consider some of the people that you're attempting to slur with your 'stupid!' ('ignorant', 'cultist', etc.) charge, and from either side of the Trump aisle, with Thomas Sowell(!) on one side, or Phyllis Schlafly on the other?! Seriously? These are the people that you InTrumpreters, pro or con, are trying (explicitly or implicitly) to see as being stupid, uninformed, ignorant of the Constitution and unconcerned with the Supreme Court? Are you kidding me? Of course you can disagree with them - vehemently so - but to include them in that type of name calling, sorry, but it's simply bouncing off of them and sticking to you. Get a grip.
So tell me, you inTrumpeters (pro or con) who are throwing out the Stupid! charge, are you doing that to excuse yourself from having to do the work of figuring out exactly what your disagreement is about?
Sorry, rhetorical question - the answer is yes, you are throwing out the 'Stupid!' charge in order to spare yourself the effort of understanding their position, and of having to make your own argument more understandable and persuasive... to those you're trying to persuade. (?!).
Who Benefits? Do you suppose that makes your argument more capable of getting through to more people, or does it leave it weaker?
Again, rhetorical question - the evasive Stupid! charge leaves Your argument weaker, and just as deliberately disconnected from reality as you claim that theirs is. And if you really do want to persuade the maximum number of people to your point of view as possible, then your Stupid! charge is in fact stupefying to your own argument. Which is... sorta... stupid... isn't it?
And how do you suppose your 'argument' looks to the person you're calling 'Stupid!', and to their
undecided friends, who know that they're not stupid? Yeah... it makes you, and your candidate, look 'Stupid!', or dishonest, unhinged, etc. IOW - News Flash! - calling someone names is unpersuasive, turns no one to your candidate, nor does it cause them to question theirs. What it succeeds most at, is intensifying the animosity between those who, up until this point, thought they were on the 'same side'.
Which... of course... looks very 'Stupid!'.
Cases in point
Let's take one example of this sort of thing, and see how it looks through the prism of Trump. Recall the first NRO Trump issue? A Facebook friend posted a short, angst provoking, reference to it, and surprise surprise, it drew fire. Without context, she just threw out there that "Dana Loesh is from the St. Louis area, has a comment in here - does that sway anyone?" Now, this was well before Dana had officially come out for Cruz, and her comment was respectful of Trump, stating that she knew and liked Trump, just not as her preferred candidate, and she then gave her reasons why:
"I love conversion stories. I have my own, from when I became a conservative 15 years ago. But I’m not running for president. Donald Trump is. And his “conversion” raises serious questions. Trump wrote in his book The America We Deserve that he supported a ban on “assault weapons.” Not until last year did he apparently reverse his position. As recently as a couple of years ago, Trump favored the liberal use of eminent-domain laws. He said that the ability of the government to wrest private property from citizens served “the greater good.” Is that suddenly a conservative principle?"Notice this contains no name calling, and raises very legitimate points regarding the 2nd Amdt and Eminent Domain; fair questions to be asked of anyone running for the GOP nomination.
Did they want to discuss the merits? Not at all. The bile spewed. No references to any argument, just pure ad hominem attacks on Dana herself. Why? Again, I'm not interested in excusing their behavior - there is no excuse. But I'm also not seeking, in this post, to evaluate the positions for or against Trump, but to ask the question:
"Why does input A (pro or con), produce output B.S.(pro or con)?Clue: What's the primary purpose of a Primary?"
But past the ad hominems, some interesting clues began to pop up, mis-identified terms, working at cross purposes, as one fellow, KH, spoke of the primary process and how he envied how the Democrats didn't attack their own candidates, even using Hillary vs Obama as an example of candidates not eating their own in the primaries, and that the Right MUST do the same. Now, the Hillary vs. Obama primary battle was an example of one of the dirtiest and most virulent primaries in recent history, with charges going back and forth of voter fraud and election rigging aplenty, not to mention the fact that it was Hillary's campaign, that first introduced the birther charge against Obama! And of course the Primary system, was supposedly conceived of (an issue for an upcoming post) as a means to holding the candidates, their ideas, and their grasp of them, up to adversarial testing and debate before the voters, an ideational trial by combat before the nation, so that the electorate could select the candidate with the best ideas, and best able to defend them - which the entire party would then rally behind and put forward in contest with the other party's champion for the general election.
IOW, the Primary is where candidates are supposed to do battle with each other!
So there seemed to be a large enough gap here, between reality and this fellow's perceptions of it, that I thought I could find some clues in, so I pointed those primary details out, and questioned him:
'What is it you think primaries are for?'My question, QUESTION, mind you, was about the purpose of a primary - I said nothing supporting or attacking Trump - I didn't even mention Dana, even so, I was immediately attacked as being anti-Trump, an establishment shill, fool, etc. After an extended series of sniping, he offered up this sage bit of advice for 'people like me',
"...this isn't a pissing contest about how conservative you can be[,] if you screw things up so bad we get another democrat in office 4-8 years, especially with 3-4 Supreme Court Justices on the line. Way to want to throw the baby out with the bathwater...."Now, I'll just say, that 'Stupid!' was most definitely itching to jump out of my fingertips... but I'd much rather find the key, than throw it away, and the key, it seems to me, is found by looking closely at the clue that is right in front of our faces: What type of situations make someone who isn't stupid, appear to be stupid? For one thing, when you assume they're doing what you have in mind, when in actuality they're doing something very different. Right?
Think about it - if you enter into an argument in support of your candidate in the Primary, thinking that the battle is going to be over which candidate it seems is best aligned with, and able to explain, and argue for, your ideas, but unknown to you, the other person is focused entirely on who seems most able to beat the other party's candidate in the general election - not the primary, but the main event - how well do you suppose that discussion is going to go? Especially with you asking and testing to find who knows what, and knows it best; then you appear to them to be exposing weaknesses turning the primary into something that'll make 'their candidate' less 'able to win!' the general election!
As you make a case for your candidate being more knowledgeable and effective at communicating 'conservative' ideas, the other is complaining that your candidate remaining in the race is ensuring a guaranteed defeat for 'your side' in the general election, - your arguments can only turn out as well as they have been turning out: loud and chaotic and fruitless.
But wait, there's more!
The Weaponization of 'Who's on 1st?'
Have you ever noticed that some of your most exasperating arguments, are ones you have with friends, over misunderstandings about what you only thought you were arguing about? Abbot & Costello's "Who's on first?" is a classic example of this. Lou is using the word 'Who' to ask the name of the person on 1st, but Bud is assuming that he's using the word 'Who' as the nickname of the particular player he already knows is on 1st, and a profound miscommunication follows from a slight variation in expectations of common words and names, and hilarity ensues.
And that's about where we find ourselves with the situation of Trump, and which the media and the Left are gleefully exploiting. The failure to check each other's premises, foolishly assuming that you have a shared purpose and understanding of the words you are both using when in fact you do not, ensures not only disagreement, but a certain violent temperament to those disagreements. After all, you can disagree with someone over something you know, such as whether or not coffee is a satisfying drink - you both know the beverage you're talking about, you've both tried it, and you both perceive and evaluate it differently, no harm no foul. The same can be said for differing tastes in music, books, people, and even for political systems - if you share an understanding of what's being discussed, reasonable differences in perceptions, evaluations and disagreement can be understood and tolerated. It is in fact, your shared understanding of the foundational premises, and distinctions between them, which makes reasonable disagreement and toleration possible (see Locke's essay "Toleration").
But what if you are inadvertently using the same words, but with entirely different meanings? Clearly, neither of you is going to understand the conclusions the other reaches, when starting from premises you mistakenly think you share with them, such as the purpose of a Primary election. And when even a discussion of 'Who's on 1st?' can end in animosity and violence when two people are misusing the same name, how much greater is the reaction going to be, when we increase the number of people involved, and the number and importance of the words and terms being misunderstood in multiple ways?
Churchill's quip about America and England being two peoples separated by a common language comes to mind, but today we on 'The Right' are carrying this to dizzying new heights.
How high? You can see for yourself, by grabbing a friend from the other side of the InTrumpetation divide (if you are still speaking with them, that is), and ask each other what it is you mean by just a few 'common' terms:
Ask these questions of someone on 'your side' and you may start to see how deep the divide goes, for if while you're each using these same words, each is using them with different meanings, then there is already an abyss between you, and it will yawn open under the pressure of the 'How could you be so Stupid! to...'s, and as you do that, remember, as "... you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you".
- Constitutional - Do you mean the 'text' of it? Or those interpretations and rulings that are called constitutional? Or what is compatible with the ideas that went into writing the Constitution?
- Conservative - What do you wish to conserve? The ideas of limited government under the Constitution? Or traditional American social norms? Jobs or the liberty to start businesses and create jobs? Both? The ethnic appearance of your neighbors, or the shared principles and ideals that you and they believe and live by?
- Individual Rights - As understood from Locke, the Declaration of Independence & The Bill of Rights (actions you shouldn't be prevented from taking), or FDR's 'Four Freedoms' (things society shouldn't allow you to be without)?
- Rule of Law - Does this mean that if it's signed into law, it's legitimate law? Or that no law is legitimately law if it violates reason and our individual rights? How are disputes about the Law handled under the law? Can unjust, unconstitutional means be ok if they do good things, or can only evil follow from perverting the law into a rule of rules? Ok to force a necessary solution?
- Primary Elections - To find the best champion for your views? Or to advance who you think can win the General? Which is more important - what they believe or that they win?
Because both sides are evading the fundamental requirement of a rational argument - agreement upon the premises involved (see Aristotle's pre-requisites for Logic) - we've gone well beyond attacking other people's arguments, to attacking our ability to even make a rational argument, to anyone, about anything, in the realm of politics, culture and more.
How does this apply to the arguments about Trump? How does it not?! People aren't merely spiritedly arguing the relative merits of important issues, but are instead leaping into spittle flying, punch throwing bouts of maniacal proportions, over points that they lazily assume they agree upon. Some of us on the sidelines can see that they're using the same terms, but with radically different meanings, but those on the field aren't listening, and both sides are blind to their common differences. Look at this ridiculous snippet of a 500+ exchange of commenter's 'points', made by people, to people, who used to march together on the same side:
AV Once again GP it's not stealing if the delegates have not committed to Trump. Trump needs to up his ground game...trump wants to play with the big boys he should have had a better plan.How's your stomach holding up?
HH He will never play crooked like the big boys. Obviously, your standards are not very high.
AV HH you must be a trumpster because you can't help yourself with the verbal attack on a person you don't know. There are rules and regulations in politics that need to be followed to gain delegates. If u don't have a ground game, it's over, s...See More
TG I believe you have that backwards AV, Trump is THE BIG BOY, the other wimps are just spit on the ground. Get your shit right!!!
AV TG aww, Tina another vile trump supporter, lovely to see you here.
We're now dealing with far more than simply having different words for Who's on first, we're now in the situation where we're using the central terms of our political process, their definitions, and their purposes, with little or no shared understanding between us of what we mean by them, which is the primary playground of conmen and comedians - and the result is, to update Churchill's quip, that we're more like a single people splintered by a common terminology... a weaponized version of Abbot & Costello's 'Who's on first?'.
But wait, there's more!
It depends upon what the meaning of 'Is Conservative' is"
How about we take a look at that single word 'Conservative', that everyone is so busy accusing everyone else of not being? If you think that that's an agreed upon term that we can all unite behind, no offense, but you're at least ignorant and possibly even delusional. But don't take my word for it - take the words of your own candidates, from one of the debates, as the candidates directly or indirectly tried to the question of "What is Conservatism?":
Kaisch - He rambled out a very establishmentish stream of consciousness reply, with chop hands flying, saying in part:
"...But, here's the beauty of it, it's not just balancing a budget, it's about jobs. You know, when I was kid growing up in a neighborhood where Dad went home at night and said, "I lost my job today", it just killed the family.TRUMP - Disturbingly, and not too surprisingly, he gave the reply that I most often hear today, which is one I've been battling against for years:
It just was a devastating effect. We have to have economic growth, but once we have economic growth I believe we have to reach out to people who live in the shadows. I believe we need to help the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor. We need to help the developmentally disabled to rise, and we need to help our friends in the minority community develop entrepreneurship. In other words, in American, conservatism should mean not only that some rise with conservative principles, but everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are so they can live their God given purpose. That's what conservatism should be."
"Well, I think I am, and to me, I view the word conservative as a derivative I -- of -- of the word conserve. We want to converse our money. We want to conserve our wealth. We want to conserve. We want to be smart. We want to be smart where we go, where we spend, how we spend. We want to conserve our country. We want to save our country. And we have people that have no idea how to do that and they are not doing it, and it's a very important word and it's something I believe in very, very strongly."RUBIO - He touched on some vital points, but with no central core, and then quickly glanced off into the confusosphere:
"Well, I think conservatism is about three things and Donald touched on one of them, but it's about three things. The first is conservatism is about limited government, especially at the federal level. The federal government is a limited government, limited by the Constitution, which delineates its powers. If it's not in the Constitution, it does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to states, local communities and the private sector.CARSON - Perhaps for the lack of being attacked, he didn't get the question, but he tacked that way in his closing statement, and at least went to the source document, but he still failed to express the purpose or ideas behind it, or any other answer to what is Conservatism:
It's about free enterprise, which is an economic model that allows everyone to rise without pulling anyone down. The reason why free enterprise is the greatest economic model in the history of the world is because it's the only economic model where you can make poor people richer without making rich people poor.
And it's about a strong national defense. It's about believing, unlike Barack Obama, that the world is a safer and a better place when America is the strongest military and the strongest nation on this planet. That's conservatism."
"I want to thank the people of Iowa for being so welcoming to me. Please think of our founding fathers as you listen. We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the benefits of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America. Folks, it's not too late. Enough said."CRUZ - Being that Cruz is who I've voted for, his was the most disappointing of all. He never once summed it all up. He spoke on and on about where his parents came from, and the importance of a conservative (which is...?) selecting the next SCOTUS, and he talked about the dangers of runaway govt, and the need to have a strong military - but not once, in the debate, did he simply state what he thought Conservatism was!.He closed out with this:
"Do you want another Washington deal maker who will do business as usual, cut deals with the democrats, grow government, grow debt and give up our fundamental liberties? Or do you want a conservative, a proven conservative that will stand and fight with you each and every day?"Every time I hear a candidate say "I'll fight for you!", I want to fight them myself, right then and there on the spot! WTH do you mean by 'fight'? How? What argument will that win? How do I even know what you'll 'fight' for when you haven't defined what you are supposedly for? For me, the 'conservatism' I'm looking for, is someone seeking to strengthen our liberty by preserving our Constitution as the document which defines a limited government of enumerated powers, dedicated to upholding and defending our individual rights under the Rule of Law, as the political culmination of Western Civilization.
But whatever you or I believe, the point is that the candidates have failed to clearly say what they think conservatism is, let alone agree or argue with each other upon it - even though the entire electorate is using this supposedly "common" term to accuse everyone else that "You're not really a Conservative!", while virtually no one agrees what 'conservative' actually means!!!
And the Republican Party is doing little or nothing to establish that common ground. Go to their site and you won't find, at least not quickly, what it is that even they define Conservatism as meaning! Think about that! We're in the midst of a presidential primary, hyper focused upon who is, and who isn't, conservative - with at least five varying and unchallenged understandings of what it is that conservatism means and entails!
This is Abbot and Costello's 'Who's on first?' on steroids, and weaponized to boot - but who's laughing?
Someone is, I guarantee you that. But it sure as hell isn't me.
When they shout 'Play Ball!', which ballgame are you playing?
There's even more going on here than a simple confusion of terms, it's as if we've gathered two 'football' teams to play a game, secured 'football' referees, and 'football' fans have filed into the stadium, yet somehow everyone is missing the fact that some came to play NFL Football, and others to play pansified Euro Soccer Football, and now everyone involved is freaking out over what follows after the umpire (yeah, umpire) yells 'Play Ball!'.
Again, I'm not asking why it is that one side or the other are being jerks, or about which side has the jerkier jerks or which has more of them - I'll leave that for Miss Manners, Rhetoric 101 and the bean counters - what I'm asking you to consider, is WHY is Input A, producing Output BS?
Unless you want the Tower of Babel all over again, I suggest that before you start calling your friends of many years, unhinged, a liar, stupid!, or that they must be 'on the take' for the other side - perhaps you could be bothered to sit down a moment and discuss those questions above, with them? And when you get through those, here are a couple others:
If you won't do that first, you'd be better off throwing actual mud and dirt at each other, rather than something so god damn uselessly destructive as flinging about words that neither of you understand to have the same meaning!
- Do you have the same understanding of how the three branches of government, and the new 4th branch - administrative agencies - relate to the Constitution under the executive being elected to head it up?
- Does the President need to abide by the Constitution, or can he use Executive Orders to get around it as necessary?
Is it any wonder that we find ourselves where we are today?
If there is a silver lining in the entire Trump saga, it is that he's finally exposed just how unaware we all are of what we don't know about ourselves! His presence in a discussion acts upon it like an ideological Prism, each person fervently believing themselves to be shining out the purest white light of conservatism, but as it passes through the Trump-Prism, it refracts into a multi hued spectrum of positive and negative InTrumpretations of fascist, racist, Pro-American!, statist, misogynist, genius, successful, can-do-spirit, idiot, and any hope of reasonable discussions built upon your imaginary 'shared understanding' of the issues on 'your side', suddenly flies out the window.
In the larger sense, what this means, is that without clarifying our terms and purposes, especially in regards to our understanding of Individual Rights - that's what a Primary should do, but what no candidate has led in doing in this race - if Trump or any other candidate left the race tomorrow, nothing at all would change.
WTH? But wait, there's more!
Pilate's politics: Who do you trust to test what is true? The Stupid Test Part 2
But it's not only confusion and misunderstandings that we're all falling victim to here, or even of playing different games on the same field, or of having difficulty being understood by 'low information voters', there's much more involved here, which is far more insidious and dangerous than mere misunderstandings and ignorance.
Let's return to the people who passed our Stupid Test at the top of the post, if someone told them that people were poisoning the watter, they would not simply say,
"Oh you people who want food and drink that won't kill you, you're such obnoxious, hateful fools! Idiots! I've always despised you! Bring on the poisoned yum-yums!"So if the person who inTrumpets today's candidates differently from you, is also someone that we've already established is not clinically stupid, and even agrees with you on what a conservative is, and on the constitution, and on the purpose of primaries, and yet they still disagree with the InTrumpretaton which you think the oh-so glaringly obvious, and only honest answer, must be... what gives?
Before arguing Effects, identify Causes. If the person doesn't listen to the Expert telling them that the water is poisoned... but is not clinically stupid... shouldn't we begin questioning our assumptions of what is going on?
Picture this if you will:
Well, then, those same non-stupid people would either have to conclude that the expert advising them didn't have all his marbles, or that the expert didn't really believe that the tests he is so loudly calling for, are really necessary - or maybe even that he was getting his water from somewhere else.
- Imagine that some of those highly credentialed experts who've been warning us about the cyanide in the water supply, who're loudly calling for the testing of every drink, are repeatedly seen to be not testing their own water - what then?
What frame of mind would that leave the observer in? Calm or agitated? Open to discussion, or suspicious and hostile? THEY aren't stupid, they're just clever enough to realize that the testing process and the Expert Testers that so many are deferring to, are, at best, unreliable, that the means they have of testing is ineffectual, and that seeing as the poison they are warning about is clearly not killing them, something is seriously wrong with the system they'd thought was keeping their waters safe. And on top of that, the only people they've got to go to for an explanation... are the Expert Testers themselves!
The Truth of the Stupid Test, is that the waters being tested are our ideas, and the poisons that are being tested for... are our ideas. And manipulating them without ever defining their terms, has become a game to produce reactions and ratings, at the expense of those same ideas, to our detriment, and to their benefit. Is it really any wonder that Trump, with 20 yrs experience in Reality T.V., is raking in the top ratings in this Primary Season?
Welcome to The Marketplace of Political McIdeas
IOW, We The People, no matter how one some might InTrumpet the other side's positions as being stupid, are simply perceiving that those who've been selling them on 'Principle!' and 'Constitution!' and 'Conservative!' for decades, have been dealing them false. Some not so subtle nudges along the way have been:
All of which has left a large segment of the electorate feeling furious, disgusted, betrayed and thoroughly disillusioned about even the possibility of the system working. Decades of such behavior by 'respected' names such as Counterfeit Conservative George Will, John McCain, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, etc., etc., etc., who have peddled the need to 'Test the leftist waters! (but seemingly only when leftists were behind the bill, and even then only if it was an election year), are seen to be showing no fear of being poisoned by those same policies which they promoted and benefited from. And as if that's not enough, they then turn around and denounce and ridicule those who listened to, supported, and believed what they had to say, as soon as it becomes a political benefit them to do otherwise.
- Campaigning on 'Read my lips, no new taxes!', leads to governing with 'Here's my plan for new taxes.'
- "ObamaCare is unconstitutional! Elect us and we'll repeal it!" - which on being elected transforms into "Let's not be hasty, there's no need to go to extremes."
- "We need solid Conservatives to nominate constitutionally minded justices to the Supreme Court!" - who after being presented with a constitutional case - "Justice Roberts finds ObamaCare will work just fine as a tax."
- "Fiscal Conservatives are needed to put Washington D.C. on a budget!" - which after electing fiscal conservatives, they say "No budget, no problem, we'll just go on making deal after deal, to enable continuing resolutions that draw endless funds from the military budget."
- "We need Constitutional Conservatives who'll stand up and filibuster the Democrats!" - and when a Constitutional Conservative filibusters the Democrats "How dare he filibuster! How rude! Doesn't he know how Washington works?!"
But worse than that, this also means, that these 'thought leaders' who're making such a big fuss about who is, and who isn't, a conservative, seem less interested in the meaning of the term to unite people through, than as a useful tool of division and control. Meaning that when 'experts' say "Oh, he's not conservative, because X", they know full well that they are saying that to a mixed population of people who understand 'conservative' to mean X, Y and/or Z, to say nothing of A, B, C and D, which not only keeps people divided, but has them thinking that the 'experts', and everyone else around them, are, you guessed it, 'Stupid!'.
Peddling the hot buttons of 'Principle!' and 'Constitution!' and 'Conservative!', 'Republican Party!', 'Left!', 'Right!', has been the means of gaining popular ratings and support from We The People, who never seem to realize that the little boy crying wolf this year, is the same one who laughed in our faces two years earlier, and will again, two years later.
People seem to be done with it. They're all about 'transparency'... except in the clarity of the terms they are all using. The 'Establishment', which thanks to all of their unceasing efforts, has become a wonderfully elastic term, that is easily stretched to mean anyone that speaks of principles and ideas, as belonging to that group that has sold the nation a bill of goods so many times, and that the customer, the electorate, has no patience left for promises of quality conservatism anymore. Simply speaking up for ideas and principles today, puts the bulk of people against you, because they associate you, with them, for using the same terms that they've run into the ground.
It's not only in economics that bad money drives out good.
In effect, the establishment has made a commodity of the ideas of the conservative market, and have turned the market place of ideas into a shady roadside Five & Dime, peddling indistinguishable talking point commodities of questionable origin, to be sold at rock bottom pricing, whose market share depends upon the flashiest most attention getting packaging. Why wouldn't The Donald, on seeing that the market was ripe for selling on price and a flashy paint job - aka: Bluster, aka: his style - jump in with both feet?
The disturbing results to the Questions posed above, that so few are asking, is that people, even those people who do understand their terms and purposes, no longer feel confident that even if a good candidate were to be elected, that they'd be able to prevail against the degraded state of our system of government. They no longer have confidence that the Constitution, revered as it may still be to them, will be able to prevail, even if wonder-candidate-X were to be elected and faithfully apply it. Depressing as it may be, many of the best people feel that for all intents and purposes, our Constitutional Government is Done. Gone. Buried and replaced by the Progressive Administrative State, and they've concluded that what we need instead, is a savvy person to game the system in 'our' favor for once.
And who can blame them? Not me. I don't agree with their conclusions, but I can certainly see how they came to them. But if your response to those who thought that they were your friends, who've long been aligned with 'Constitutional Conservative' positions, if your reply to their concerns was to call them stupid and dishonest, to question their beliefs, their patriotism and their honesty, then you are swelling the ranks of that which you oppose!
Is it really surprising that they've gravitated to someone who has, for decades, supported and been a part of pop-culture which they enjoy, who has demonstrated a positive regard for 'success' and what might best be described as all things 'Americana!'? Who has shown an ability to not only get things done, but an ability to game the system while doing it? Are you really surprised that Trump is getting the support he has, especially with all the 'help' that your opposition has given him?
Once again, I'm not condoning their thinking or their conclusions, I'm simply seeking an answer for why it is that Input A, is producing Output BS?
And one sure answer is, that you belay no fears by insulting them. You win no arguments by ignoring them or by insulting those who are making them. Doing so only reinforces their fears, and urges them to double down on the first solution they've found to them. And given their fears, no doubt some of them are thinking that maybe someday, if the current dragon's nest of government agencies were to be pared down, then maybe we could re-establish the Republic that they fear is already gone. But for now? They ain't feeling anything but revulsion and betrayal when they hear the same old cry of 'Principle!' and 'Constitution!' and 'Conservative!', and right now they are looking for that dragon slayer, and whoever steps up (hello Donald) is going to become their guy - and whoever seems to working to prevent someone from stepping up, becomes the 'Establishment'.
And to them and their fine ideas? The electorate happily turns, and with all the Reality TV effect they can muster, they turn to them and shout: 'You're Fired!', and intends to brush all such elitist ideas aside so that they can 'makes some deals and do what works'.
I suspect that those living in the time of Cicero and Augustus, would recognize our world today, as the underlying similarities, would far outweigh the fashionable differences between togas and T-shirts.
Does doing what works, work? Pragmatic Pro-Regress
So where does that leave us? Is doing just as President Obama recommended in a recent speech, that we forget about the meaning, truth and ethics of our policies, and simply do what works. And he's hardly the first to say this. Like The Donald, if he were to vanish from the political scene today, the people who 'agree' with him, would remain - and they aren't all on the left side of the I'll! either.
Ronald Reagan said that Americans are a Pragmatic people, and in so saying, he innocently conceded the second American Revolution to the counter revolutionaries who deliberately launched the 'Progressive Era' against the principles our nation was founded upon. Of course what Reagan meant by 'Pragmatic', was being Practical, which is an innocent and too generous misunderstanding of the term, an error which 'Progressives' favor, encourage, and appreciate, so very, very much. But Pragmatism doesn't mean 'practical' in any sense other than excusing what you understand should not be done, in order to gain a 'desirable' (to them) set of immediate results, unhindered by thoughts of right and wrong, serving only the thoughtless NOW. President Obama's recent comments in Argentina put the pragmatic counter-revolutionary theme in a clear nut-shall:
“So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” Obama said during a visit to Argentina Thursday. “Oh, you know, you’re a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you’re some crazy communist that’s going to take away everybody’s property.”Translation: Ideas don't matter, your attempts to understand what is true are futile and foolish, action is its own reward - the ends justify the means! For the moment. Meaning to take actions without regard to any thoughts, ideas or principles beyond that of the current moment in time and task at hand to be dealt with - 'choose what works'. How? Obviously not by thinking, only by following the lead of the herd, and if those results today (like a 'minimum wage'), mean losses tomorrow (as busted budgets require layoffs), that's a matter for the future to worry about; if violating an individuals rights through theft, lying, swindling or whatever else, works, boom, do it! IOW the ends ('it works!') justifies the means, no matter what 'theories', like Ethics, might say.
“Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works,” he added. “And I said this to President Castro in Cuba.”
NOTE: There is no Progress in such an 'ism, it pursues our collective regress to that ancient time before mankind learned that the isolated facts you're aware of can become reliable knowledge, only when they integrate with the rest of what you know, and with what others do, or will come to know; a time before men discovered the concept of Principles as reliable rules of thought derived from their knowledge extending beyond the range of the moment; a time before understanding that only by valuing what is Good, True and Beautiful, were men able to rise above the level of ravening beasts, and into Civilization. From the time of Rousseau on, what they call 'Progress', has amounted to the pursuit of Regress, and so, IMHO, the more accurate term for the pursuit of such a dis-integrated state of mind, is that of Pro-Regress, making them not 'Progressives', but Pro-Regressives.
If you'd like a 'Pragmatic' view of conservatism, attempting to take political actions, as if issues of Liberty, Economics and Justice were unrelated factors, well... which of today's candidates do you not see acting in that way? And if you care to openly express your concern over such treatment and the neglect of timeless truths, prepare to hear that you're being unpragmatic, impractical, a dreamer, and you'll be charged with concerning yourself with phantoms of unknown, and unknowable, futures, of which 'we can know nothing about for certain'. Such manipulation of the media, for the moment , is how the pragmatic folks 'choose what works' and eliminate respect and knowledge of what is true, not only now, but yesterday, today, tomorrow and for all the tomorrows to come.
But it gets worse. Tiresome as it is to hear again...But wait, there's more!
"If you like your Conservatism, you can keep your Conservatism!"
And here's what I meant way back up at the top of this post, about dishonesty not really applying. You can report views, factoids, and events, but if you care not for what is true beyond the moment, you cannot care in any meaningful way, about what is true beyond what functions for the moment. Unlike the nature of a Rule of Law culture, Honesty, and dishonesty, have little or no meaning in the Doppelgangers Rule of Rules culture - Morality and Virtue are not merely opposed in our culture, they've been sidelined, and they really have no meaning in it, at all. Such a people can manage to be candid, they can tally up and report isolated facts, but Truthfulness and Honesty, for the most part, are beyond them and do not even apply.
Let me state that more clearly: A Pragmatic People cannot be honest. And they cannot argue anything, from, or on, Principle - their focus which is pragmatically restricted to the immediate moment, prevents it. In the case that they should attempt to do so, they will seek to use 'principle' as a static 'thing' (rather than a dynamic process driven by both the reality of what is, and the prudent long range purposes which drive them), to achieve pragmatic ends. Both #NeverTrump and #NeverCruz, to the extent that they are focused on their candidate or party, rather than on how the nation will likely fare under the policies that the Chief Executive likely to be elected, will execute upon it, then such short range 'principled!' positions, are little more than pragmatism in drag to flatter their own vanity (more on that in a later post).
Honesty requires adherence to Truth, and Truth extends beyond the moment and into what is timeless. Pragmatism is forever pushing to truncate the eternal down to the instant. If what is true, is defined as being what works, now, then you don't actually care about what is True, only that it - candidly - works, for the moment. Skepticism and cynicism combine to narrow your references to the range of the moment, transforming the word 'true', into a deceptively useful label for 'what works' - now. For the moment. Which ultimately isthe ends being used to justify the means that are currently preferred.
Those who're pushing such forms of 'conservatism' to 'the base', is what Pro-Regressive Republicans have been foisting on us since the time of Teddy Roosevelt, on up to John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell, and tragically the base seems to have finally taken it to heart. But the fact remains, that what people intuitively refer to as the 'establishment', is simply a more conservative form of the radicalism as that put forth by people like Alinsky and Ayers, each of which is saying, in effect,
"If you like your Conservatism, you can keep your Conservatism!"... and meanwhile... get used to ObamaCare.
Please, no protestations, as even worse than that, it is no longer a Left or Right issue, but a national malaise. When Obama said you can keep your healthcare, and Gruber admitted that it was an intentional lie, and hardly anyone cared... that lack of caring can only come from a people who have a lack of interest in what is true, that lack of caring is the expression of a people who are no longer capable of caring about what is True, or operating under the Rule of Law or adhering to a Constitution which gives structural expression to ideas of Liberty. They just aren't. It'd be nice to elect folks who will try and go through the motions for a few years more - who knows, maybe it'll be long enough to start a real fire in people again - but they will do so pragmatically, and nothing good will come of it. Which is perhaps less bad... but that's hardly the same thing.
Do you seriously think that eliminating a candidate, whether that be Trump or some other, from the ticket will change things in any meaningful way? How very pragmatic of you! So eliminating an unprincipled candidate, without doing anything about that portion of the electorate supporting them, will somehow fix the problem... will 'make it work!'? That is SO cute. But seriously, look to your Left, look to your Right, the people who supported that candidate, will remain long after that candidate is gone. Who and what do you suppose that they are going to support next? Your principled candidate?! And why would that be... because you so persuasively insulted them into changing their minds?! Give yourself a break, you can't really be that stupid. Ahem.
Here's another example from a post on my Facebook page, with my friend DC expressing the type of support you can expect from a sizable portion of the electorate today:
"As long as no law being broken so be it. Tired of hearing about right and wrong and "tradition", its led to 15 million ilegal immigrants and a lot more. Whatever can be done to stop Obama should be done at all legal costs."Or IOW: 'We seek answers that are of the moment, by the moment, and for the moment!'. Our educational system (public and private) has taught them to see a pragmatic solution to a pragmatic situation, they've been taught to forget about 'pointless' things like ideas of truth, principle, the Rule of Law, and instead seek 'what works!'. At the moment. For the duration of the moment. And not to think too long about the moments to follow that. They are the issues that you've got to confront first, not Trump, Cruz, Rubio or anyone else, but those who support them.
The point of disconnect between our Ideas and the Reality we share, is that we don't really believe that our ideas and ideals are True, only that they are schemes that we personally prefer. The result of which, is a situation where reasonable, rational, discussion, for the purposes of convincing the person to abandon their own preferences, are as fruitless as a person arguing about the wonderful taste of Brussels Sprouts, to a normal person who understands that they taste like slime scrapped from a back alley drain. And that disconnect, between our differing ideas about our shared reality, is the necessary grounds for the Rule of Rules, that is the Doppelganger fleshed out, with all of the passionate intensity of a disintegrated moment can respire. And I think, in one form or another, the InTrumpeters, for or against Trump, it has become the predominant mode of thinking in America today.
And what are you going to argue back to them with, that it isn't True?! Seriously? As P.T. Barnum noted:
"You can't cheat an honest man.", and when there are no honest men to be found, there's no need to cheat, simply offer them what they want, and laugh all the way to the bank.
Liberty and Extinction and Rebirth
Reagan had another line as well, a prophetic one, that
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."Unfortunately, we've given at least four generations of Americans to an educational system that was founded upon explicitly pragmatic 'principles', by one of the founders of Pragmatism, John Dewey (who also had more than a little influence on the design of the USSR's educational system), and explicitly against Principles as such, let alone American ones, and we are now experiencing the effects of those generations having been educated in anti-American policies, which despise America and the ideas it was founded upon.
This video spends a moment interviewing college students, on campus, about identifying what is, and is not, perceptually true - and whether or not they can do that. He opened the video by stating his intention was to see just how far he would have to go, in order for someone to tell him that he was wrong. It opens with him asking if they were aware of the current transgender bathroom access issue, and then he asks them a series of obvious questions, which, for the most part, these students find themselves unable to honestly question his questions. And I'll submit that part of the reason why they find it difficult to do that, is that do so would require respecting what actually is true, and that is implicitly opposed to the fundamentals they are being taught in virtually every subject, as well as the reasons for taking them. And so they simply default to restating a political viewpoint, one which even though they clearly would rather not answer as they do, they squirm a moment and do it anyway, almost as Winston might, on his way to believing that 2+2=5.
|I'll direct your attention back to he two quotes from Hannah Arendt at the opening of this post, and see if they seem to bring a little more light onto the subject.
Why are we educating ourselves to resist acknowledging what we know to be true? Why are we being taught that our ideas enable us to separate from what is real, and to consider it to be acceptable to claim that you can remake reality in your own preferred image?
"The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.”
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 1 - By Hannah Arendt
Do any of you parents who are spending thousands of dollars to send your children to 'get an education', care what it is which that 'education' is teaching them?
Do any of these students understand or care about what the meaning of IS, actually is? Or are they being taught more about how it can be spun?
Who benefits? When you are either unable, or disinclined, to, as a matter of routine, to make distinctions, or identifications let alone integrating them with the rest of what you know, or showing alarm over any contradictions they involve - when you are educating your people, especially your 'best and brightest' to be comfortable with such intellectual horrors as that - who possibly benefits? Or IOW, who is not going to be alarmed by the presence of such minds at leadership levels in society?
My point is, that the colleges which those students are attending, as part of institutions that were, once, designed to provide students with important knowledge, with an understanding of how to relate and contextualize that knowledge with various issues, to seek to identify what is, and is not true, in order for them to be able to continuously gain new knowledge and assimilate it, and just in general to teach them how to think so as to become self governing individuals, in society with their fellows, and capable of living lives worth living. These institution are not only not doing that, they are instead doing what makes that very nearly impossible to even conceive of.
That is a problem. That is the vital problem that is lurking behind the entire InTrumpretation problem, that is the problem behind our having no common understanding of what Conservatism is, what Liberty is, what Individual Rights are, what the Rule of Law means and requires. That is the real issue involved in this presidential primary, and it is one that goes far beyond any issues of left-wing or right-wing, and bi-partisan bad things can and will follow from it.
The good news is, that what with ideas being ideas, and thoroughly written about by those who first defined, refined and fought for them, they can be learned again. But they cannot be learned as 'informational text', and they cannot be supported after the fashion of promoting a Preferred Brand, or in the manner of supporting a favorite sports team, to be cheered on in contest with other equally popular teams. If the ideas and ideals of Liberty, the Constitution, the Rule of Law, Individual Rights and America are to make us 'great again', they can only do so through We The People coming to understand them, again, because it is only through that understanding, that there can be any hope that our people will refuse to live without them, again.
No person or party can do that for us, we have to do it ourselves.
The hopeful flip side of Reagan's warning on freedom, is that,
'Freedom is never more than one generation away from being rediscovered'But how?
It begins with caring about what is true, and it begins with seeking to truly communicate with another, and not by just taking a free ride upon the unexamined labels that hide your disagreements from immediate view. You cannot claim that you actually care about understanding what is True, while at the same time bailing out of the work of understanding the other side by calling them 'Stupid!'.
Stop using 'Stupid!' as your virtual Safe Space!
Aristotle laid down one of the first rules of Logic as being that your premises must first be True. If that fundamental is not met, you aren't engaging in logic, but only semantical word games masking power plays. Power lives, thrives and grows in those gaps between our misunderstandings, where identifications are evaded and correct decisions are unclear, those are invitations for those who are so inclined, to step up and force them in their favor. The lack of clarity in our IRS Tax Codes are famous, but those are not flaws, their lack of clarity is the means to nearly unlimited power over us. If you permit those in power to be unclear in their rules over you, or even if you permit unclarity in discussions with your neighbors, at some point the masks are going to come off, usually when the more powerful has tired of the game and feels that you've given them enough slack to strangle you with. Thucydides recounted just such an unmasking, when the Melian's attempted to hide behind the mask of a Justice that neither believed in, and the more powerful Athenians, tired of playing, dropped the mask and simply said,
"the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must"Those seeking power are happy to play the game of ambiguity, up until they're assured of their superior power, and then, they will do what they can, and you will submit to doing what you must. When your ability to act on your own judgment is narrowed, or even eliminated, you abridge the thoughts used to act in that area, they become vague, indistinct, labels that refer to no particular thing, and the thoughts that follow from those have the distinct appearance of appearing to be, you guessed it, 'Stupid!'.
I suggest that another rule needs to be laid down, or at least that the existing ones expand their application, that is that simply stating the premises you agree to be true ISN'T enough, because unbeknownst to either side, the key words that both are using, have become deceptive labels that mask entirely different understandings of what both had mistakenly assumed was agreed upon.
At the moment, our supposedly shared premises, have little or nothing to do with the meaning contained in the next person's premises, even though their words label them the same. For an argument to have any chance of gaining traction and moving understanding forward, the premises must not only be true, but their meaning must be agreed upon, in this current climate, that is no longer the case. It is no longer enough to use words as if you mean the same thing by them, you've got to discuss what is meant by them before you even begin making your point. The argument you are proposing to make, cannot be successfully made, until the meaning of the premises you are arguing upon, have been made clear and argued through, if necessary, themselves.
You have to truly want to understand, before you can expect to be understood. And if that sounds too pie-in-the-sky for you, ask yourself this: Do you want to spread your ideas, or bury them?!
If we don't do this, if we don't take care to understand what each other mean and why, then there will be no 'more' to wait for; we'll dissolve into 'Multiple peoples separated by a common terminology', a banana republic of people jabbering 'Who's on first?!' at each other, and as the laughter fades, the powerful will do what they want, and the weak will suffer what they must.
It's not as difficult to change things as it may seem. Take an interest in Truth and try to show it - refrain from them the easy "Stupid!" and instead try questioning to understand them, rather than to score a point on them. This isn't about being 'polite', this is about spreading, deepening understanding, and persuading others - and perhaps yourself as well - to what is good, and right, and True.
Then, and only then, will America be great again - not because we've chosen an amazing leader, but because Americans themselves will have chosen to be good, again.