Thoughts in the Era of Trump

Robert George here is right– click through because this is a great storm by . Before I comment: remember I voted against and worked against Trump. And no “but TRUMP!” thinking while reading it, either. Practice some open mindedness and imagine this all from another POV.


I see this now because I saw it before the election. I even argued about it with friends. There is a portion of traditional, conservative America that felt their government was no longer going to even preserve their right to have their own beliefs and values. Every time someone was forced from a job because they gave to the wrong candidate or cause, every time someone was forced to choose between making a cake for a wedding when they didn’t want to or having their business squashed by the government, and every time they were told they couldn’t engage in legal activities without the possibility of being forced into hiding by the Mob, they wondered why isn’t my government protecting me?

Instead, courts and government and popular will told them otherwise: agree or pay the cost.

So they pushed back. And they were called “a basket of deplorables,” all of them were seen to be bigots and racists and idiots. But they pushed back by voting. Not only did they push back, not only did they make a statement, but they WON. Somehow.

And what happened? Their opponents, who told them that they just absolutely had to deal with the results even if they didn’t like them, did everything they could to de-legitimize the election. They lashed out violently. They sulked.

Note: I’m not talking about peaceful demonstrations. I appreciate (and support) the right of the people to assemble and speak out.

But the Trump supporters won a legitimate election.

Set down the craziness, people, and let’s deal with that fact. Let’s deal with it with wisdom and intelligence and an understanding that (and this is the important part): WE DON’T ALWAYS GET OUR WAY. But we’ll survive. The country will survive. Our opportunity to vote again will survive. The only way it doesn’t is if we, the People, break the system by refusing to let it to work the way it was designed. So, let’s take a moment to re-assess ourselves and our systems.

Seriously: we don’t have to stop pushing back against the worst of Trump, but this might be the chance we need to fix some of what is broken.

Lessons in the Age of Trump: The Sick Kite

Image provided by FreeImages.com

Image provided by FreeImages.com

Trump, being a symptom of a larger sickness in our land, proves to me that if there were a public wisdom, that light has been exhausted. We’ve forgotten those lessons of the past and are eager to fail in brave old ways once again. Which is to say, Trump is hardly Trump’s fault. He’s the fault of those who voted for him and for all of us who have passively let our culture slip to such a state that he seems like a reasonable answer to a very serious question: how do we set right the many problems facing modern America?

I don’t pretend to know that answer, but I do know one thing: it wouldn’t hurt to start teaching some of the old things that worked so well to impart a kind of baseline cultural wisdom for so many generations. Things like Aesop’s Fables.

Most of you will remember Aesop’s Fables; they are very short stories told with the goal of imparting some moral, life less, or political understanding to the listener. Indeed, television shows like Leave it to Beaver and the Andy Griffith Show were similar: short, simple stories that could make you laugh and think, but that always had a moral to impart. What I’m going to do is work to find a series of things, like those fables, that can help us understand the world around us and make better decisions.

Fables, of course, won’t save us from the rise of Trumps now or in the future, but maybe they’ll help us understand that rise.

First up is one of Aesop’s Fables (and my apologies for the small changes I’ve made in the language– they don’t change the lessons to be learned). This one is, in particular, for the Trump voters (and Trump) who took so much pleasure in abusing opponents during his rise and now complain that those voters aren’t supporting him in the general election.

The Sick Kite

A kite, sick and dying, said to his mother: “Mother, don’t mourn me, but pray to the gods that my life might be saved!”

She replied, “Alas, my son, which of the gods do you think will pity you? Is there one who you haven’t angered by stealing offerings from their altars?”

Make friends in prosperity if you would have friends in adversity.

We Tell Jokes (But We Can’t Find it In Us to Laugh)

Here’s the joke:

This year, we will elect a candidate to be President of the United States of America either from the Republican or Democrat parties. The presumptive nominees from both parties (according to the most recent, published favorables) is disliked by the majority of Americans. While Trump’s numbers are a bit worse than Clinton’s, neither of them breaks 40% on the favorable side and both of them break 50% on the unfavorable side.

America simply doesn’t like these candidates and feel increasingly abused by their own parties.

Now, this is the good bit. Here’s the punchline:

America will still vote for one of those candidates. America is convinced that the President has to have an R or a D next to their name and would rather despise the person in the White House than to look around for a better, more trustworthy, more qualified option outside of the orthodoxy.

Hah hah hah.

That’s a good one.

Yuuuge Loser

“Donald Trump Fails and Fails Often.”

Enjoy.

Jeb Doesn’t Get It

Jeb addresses his Bush issue and, of course, gets it all wrong.

Jeb Bush said on Saturday that people who have a problem voting for him because of his last name “need to get therapy.”

The former Florida governor has struggled to gain traction in the Republican presidential race in part because many voters are leery of electing three presidents from the same family.

“The Bush thing, people are just going to have to get over it, alright?” a defiant Bush said at a townhall gathering at the McKelvie Intermediate School gym here ahead of tonight’s GOP debate.

“Everybody knows I’m in the Establishment, because my brother was a president and my dad was a president,” Bush said, raising his fingers to make air quotes as he said the word “Establishment” mockingly.

Anyone who knows and understands the history of the United States of America will understand our citizens’ discomfort with dynastic politics. Sure, serial governors and senators and representatives aren’t so surprising, the idea that one family should own the highest office in the country for 3 of the last 5 presidencies makes folks queasy. And it should: most folks don’t consider politics to be a legitimate family business. Sure, a handful of families have made it their business– and made a whole hell of a lot of money in the business– this was just too much. And Jeb’s seeming sense of entitlement just makes it worse.

But it doesn’t stop there, the idea that “people are just going to have to get over it” is arrogant in the extreme. No, Jeb, I don’t have to get over it; no, Jeb, you aren’t the only option on this menu. Indeed, your insistence that people should get over it is part of the problem: your job was to convince us to get around your name issue, not to merely insist on our compliance.

And he simply hasn’t convinced people that he’s the best option in the field.

As I said in a series of Tweets earlier this week:

That Jeb remains in the race is a testimony to something nasty in his personality (vindictiveness? a sense of entitlement?). Realizing this, if Jeb truly wanted to advocate for policies or ideas, he should do so by supporting others not further splintering the GOP. Jeb doesn’t seem to get that Americans don’t want such a bluntly dynastic flavor at the presidential level. He can’t win.

I happily stand by that. The more most of us see of Jeb, the less we want to see of him. The more he insists that we fall in line, the more I know I’ll fight to see someone else in that office.

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Dark Days for Conservatives

This National Review piece paints as bleak a picture as you’re likely to find about the future of conservatives and the Republican party.

There’s no shortage of reasons for the fact that the Right is at war over whether or not to take a flier on Trump. All of the various establishments and the counter-establishments overpromised and underdelivered in recent years. Congressional leaders talked a big game while campaigning but played small ball once reelected. Cruz and his supporters accused his fellow politicians of being corrupt sellouts, and so many people believed him, they’d now rather take a gamble on Trump than back Cruz, a mere politician.

What it doesn’t mention is that the distrust has been leveraged by a bunch of white nationalists who hope to burn down the GOP and rebuild the party in their image. This isn’t simply conservative vs. conservative, this is a free fire zone where many of the participants have no desire to save the Republican party.

I don’t doubt Limbaugh’s good will, for example, or many of the people who I know who have ended up supporting Trump. I know that they want to save the country and they believe that an old fashioned strong man is the type to do the job. I don’t question their motives, but I do question their judgement.

That doesn’t leave me blind to this stuff, though:

Question their motives? Why, yes, I do.

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