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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Democratic Norms, Or Nothing

 Right now, the Republican Party can only win an election when it actively prevents large numbers of eligible people from casting their votes in a free and fair election. They have arrived at a point where they must actively make it more difficult for most citizens to vote easily and quickly. If any election has high turnout, they lose. If any election has high numbers of racial minorities, they lose. If the Democrats are competitive with white men, the GOP loses. Why would I support anything or anyone whose path to power is non-democracy?

It becomes irrelevant, all my vociferous and numerous disagreements with the Democratic Party, because at least they are committed to the basic outline of representative government. That's why I have not hesitated to use the word "fascist" in reference to the Republican Party under Donald Trump: they are no longer engaged in the task of persuading anything close to a majority of the rightness of their policies. It may well be that after this shellacking they are about to take, that wiser heads will prevail, and lead that party back to functioning as a political party in a representative democracy. Right now, it's a grievance club, for a dwindling number of people, chiefly concerned about the loss of their own power and influence. I do not think it was an overstatement to say that this political movement centered around Donald Trump was and is rooted in what I called, "white identity politics". Hopefully, it dies a quick death at the hands of the levers of democracy, as they are pulled in a few short weeks. I do not intend to say that every person who supports this movement is committed to its most dangerous aspects; I do aim to say that its non-democratic elements and instincts outweigh whatever laudable impulses exist in the wreckage of the Republican Party, as it existed not that long ago.

I should have seen it coming, sooner than I did. Mitt Romney, for all the praise he gets now for being sensible, and receptive to the popular will with respect to racial justice, and executive overreach, foolishly and dangerously thought that the populism that crystallized around the alleged issue of immigration in 2012, could be harnessed to defeat Obama, without becoming dangerous to the social fabric itself. Remember, "immigration" was the issue he chose to shore up his own standing with the GOP base in the primary. The aftermath--which includes the meteoric rise of Donald Trump--already indicated that there was no principled and reasoned policy position on immigration which would satisfy those voters, except outright opposition and rejection of immigrants and asylum seekers. Even in an alternate scenario where Romney wins the 2012 election, there is no way he could have initiated a reform of the immigration system, with any bipartisan support whatsoever, without damaging his own standing with the GOP base. The attempt to win the 2012 election was fools' gold in the first place, because anxious whites did not turn out to vote for Romney, and they did not turn out for anyone, until someone who more bluntly articulated their anxieties and hostilities toward outsiders became the GOP nominee.

Granted, it was a stroke of luck for Trump, to end up running against the most unpopular Democrat in American history. But Trump is merely the extension and the reincarnation of Pat Buchanan, and his hostility to outsiders. I find it interesting how easily and quickly some alleged commitment to libertarianism has morphed into economic and racial nationalism. A consistent globalism welcomes outsiders of every color and nationality, because a consistent libertarianism is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of nation states themselves.

I digress. I'd rather lose fighting fair than win fighting dirty. And I'm not afraid of the future. I never have been, and I never will be.

Oddly and somewhat awkwardly, Bernie Sanders tapped into this nationalism, with his anti-trade rhetoric. Sooner or later, the mathematical reality of racial hostility would have come home in the general election, since nearly one out of every five Bernie Sanders supporters would have defected to Donald Trump. The victory of Bill Clinton in 1992 delayed the reckoning against racial and economic nationalism within the GOP, but it is here now. And it will be here, unless and until it is soundly repudiated.

OK, I Was Mad

 I wanted to say, "We've got everything from snake handlers, to people denying the Trinity, and everybody says, "the Bible clearly teaches". So you'll have to forgive me, if I'm not impressed with your na├»ve biblicism, brother."

It might have been better if I said that.

On the other hand still, upon reflection, I'm probably as much the reason why some people aren't where Jesus truly wants them to be.

It's probably still worth asking yourself, "How do I know what I think I know? Do I have the courage to examine the basis for those beliefs?" Most especially those to do with Jesus. He is still asking, "Who do you say that I am?" And getting that answer right is a beginning--a great beginning--but only a beginning.

Monday, October 19, 2020

If Christ Has Not Been Raised

 The Dodgers made the World Series last night. My father loved the Dodgers. The last time they won the whole thing in 1988, my father was still here. The Dodgers are not my favorite team, but nevertheless, I am unable to be objective in any sense about the Dodgers.

I have a recording of Vin Scully leading others in "the prayers" (let the reader understand) and I thought it would be nice to say them myself along with him, and whomever was in that group. As it went along, I had greater and greater difficulty controlling my emotions. The heart of the Christian story is resurrection, and our hope of resurrection with Christ in glory. In my mind, I actually had a brief conversation with Tommy Lasorda. I heard him only half jokingly say once that God was a Dodgers fan, and it's pretty difficult to get into heaven if you're not. And I heard myself say, "Well, they're not my favorite, but they are special to me. And Dad was still here when you won it the last time."

All the judgments of God are just and righteous altogether, and so I leave them to Him. Yet to look my father in the eyes again in the new heavens and the new earth is a powerful desire. As much as I love the game of baseball, the innings and the games fade from my memory almost as quickly as they come. If you meet someone who says they love baseball, they might be trying to tell you much more than their appreciation for the spin of a curveball, or a player's precise baserunning, as he lines a double into one of the gaps. This is a game that serves as a backdrop for conversation, connection, and solidarity. I've had some of the best conversations of my life with people at baseball games, or sitting around a TV as we watched a baseball game. We're talking about love. In the end, all hope of love and connection relies on the resurrection from the dead. Everything good is a little echo of the life we are meant for.

Many Christians waste their time arguing about the nature of hell, but one thing cannot be underestimated: the meaning and the extent of any metaphysical place where no love of any kind is present. Truly, I have no fear of anything except this. This is why hope is so powerful, because hope tends toward everything that is good, and hope desires it for oneself. Whatever you can do to avoid losing hope, you should do it.

If we are honest, sometimes heaven is hard to imagine. Sometimes harder still is to break the power of earthly pleasures, especially in relation to loving God. But at this moment, I fix my mind on the fundamental goodness of so many things in the world, and I realize that the fulfillment of all desire is in God. Everything my father wanted, whether he knew it or not, is in God. Everything that I want, even if in a moment I should be confused, is in God. That's something to get you out of bed each morning.