Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Is This Still A Discussion?

Even if every single person in the GOP leadership is a craven, unprincipled, lying hack, (I don't believe this, but stay with me) who rolls over to get their belly-rubs from Obama, the answer is not Trump. Do your best to convince me that this is not the stupidest campaign in the history of the country; you won't. I kept waiting for some sense of normal, some personal thought of, "This is a real campaign, that I could see myself supporting." It never came, because there is nothing there. Nothing.  We have reached the point where winking and nodding at fringe theories and websites becomes dangerous, not because they are wrong, though they are, but that the people who consume them are so consumed by rage that they can't reason. At all. The lesson for the much-maligned establishment is this: you cannot control mindless rage. The lesson for the rest of the alleged conservative movement is that anger is not always morally appropriate, and the people are not always right. I have no obligation to listen to unreasoned rage, no obligation to pretend that there is some noble popular wisdom I'm missing out on. That's always the sentimental error of populism.

I stopped reading "conservative" news a couple of years ago. I realized it had taken leave of reality, and wasn't returning. If you can't craft workable solutions and arguments for them from the mainstream media, you don't have a philosophy, you have an opinion, and one that doesn't need facts behind it. Don't misunderstand me: I don't think the mainstream media is bias-free, or will give a person a correct view of the world. But here's the thing: most ordinary people read and watch the mainstream media.

Contrarianism is a feature of conservatism if anything is. But the failure in the conservative movement has been essentially to believe that any sentiment, no matter how silly, dangerous, or crazy, is worth entertaining, as long as it was against Obama and the Democrats. That's not conservatism, that's demagoguery.

Maybe I'm not the best messenger for this; my ideological purity is in question for certain, depending on the person you ask. But that may be a great example of the problem: you can't defend an ideology you can't define. And what help are you to the rest of us, if you don't even bother to try?

In the moment, I am hoping I'm wrong about Ted Cruz. I really hope that if and when he becomes our last hope to be taken seriously as a party, he sees not enemies to be defeated, but fellow citizens to be persuaded. I hope he apologizes for saying he'd make the Middle East glow. I hope he just spoke thoughtlessly in talking about carpet-bombing. I hope he actually believes many things he does say. Most of all, I hope he can make a humane, inspiring case for his philosophy, that reasonable people who don't already agree may find compelling.

Those were fortunate days not long ago, when we had the luxury of calling Ted Cruz extreme. Now, he's the establishment, in the best sense of that word. This is the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan, who not only represented us, but governed so well as to become American icons. That's what's needed. Right now, we are staring at a human mirror, showing us the worst parts of ourselves.

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