Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Manifesto

When I make general comments, I hope they're more sensible than his!

It’s time for some general comments, a brief timeout from particular posts and blogs to summarize some general principles and observations. A manifesto, if you will.

I welcome viewpoints that vary from those that I espouse. One of the strengths of a forum such as Facebook is the ability to reach a variety of persons. Those who come here may note that I often hold strong opinions, but I try not to delude myself that my opinions are infallible. I hope that they are more than delusions, mere shadows dancing upon the wall, but there is no Archimedean point from which we can lever the absolute truth into view. We have to make do with reasoned discourse, attempting to justify our positions by the use of dialogue that subjects our viewpoints to criticism. We have to use the agora to escape the cave.

Some accuse me of being a sore loser about the recent election. This is certainly an accurate observation. I’ve been a sore loser all my life. It seems to be an ingrained trait. I’ve been a sore loser about elections, trials, and basketball games, among other things. (I was unhappy as a six-year-old that Kennedy defeated Nixon!) The good news, I hope, is that I’ve learned that I can’t mope too long after a loss and that I have to get back in the arena. Immediately after the recent election, I thought that I’d retreat into books, leaving the hurly-burly of news and contention behind, but I deluded myself. The struggle continues, as it must each day, to create our world; our immediate world of family, friends, and our local community, as well as the world of the larger polity. Politics and life are like a pick-up game. You have to keep playing to win, and you have to win to keep playing. And perhaps the only win is playing.

I do not continue to raise the fact of Trump’s loss of the popular vote just to poke Trump and his supporters in the eye. I continue to point it out for two reasons: (1) While there is no question that Donald Trump has lawfully assumed the office of President and that he is current the lawful holder of that office, his legitimacy in the post is subject to question for a number of reasons, including his loss of the popular vote. President Trump and his supporters must understand that they do not have the support of a significant portion of the American people and that radical programs that deny rights, that denigrate, ostracize, or stigmatize minority groups, or that hurt ordinary Americans, are not acceptable and will meet firm resistance. (2) The U.S. considers itself a democracy, and yet for the second time in five elections, we have installed the loser of the popular vote into office. There are certainly arguments for the Electoral College. I have the deepest respect for the work of Hamilton, Madison, et al.; however, it’s not working well. Why worry about a minority leader taking power? Where I’m living now, there’s a remarkably unfavorable precedent in the neighborhood about this kind of outcome. “In 1933 . . .  anyone? Anyone?”

I do not hate Trump supporters. The Trump voters whom I know, I know because they are friends. I believe that they made a terrible choice in their vote, but we are (currently) free to so choose. “Friends don’t let friends vote for Trump” was my motto; now that it’s over, it’s “friends don’t let friends support bad policies and decisions.” But on a more serious note, I have sympathy for those who voted for Trump out of a deep frustration with the political system. Far too many are mired in a system that isn’t working well for them. And our political system is badly in need of repair. Anyone who would review my blog would find me railing against our legalized bribery (campaign finance system), as well as gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts. I agree that our system needs repair. I just didn’t want to take a wrecking ball to it.

President Trump, however, I must admit tries my good will. I find him an odious person. (The best PG word I could muster; but there are so many other choice words that could fit.) I find his character horribly flawed and ill-suited for holding the office of president. I do not foresee the leopard, the she-wolf, and the lion changing their traits, nor do I see him changing his. Character is destiny, and I greatly fear that Trump's character will become our destiny. I can’t change his character—and it doesn’t seem that he can either. But I can influence his policies and decisions.

I've, recently described myself as a Cassandra, a Paul Revere. Perhaps I’m just a Chicken Little, and the sky isn’t falling. If so, good—albeit embarrassing—for me and for all of us. But if Trump is the threat to our constitutional order, to peace, and to the need to act honestly and forthrightly on behalf of all humans and Planet Earth itself, as I believe he is, then I’d be remiss, a deadbeat, if I did not speak up. I can afford to be wrong. I can’t afford to be silent. 

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