- The Metro
- Why Natural Law doesn’t persuade
- Condensed symbols
- Sundry quotes about Trump
- My take on Trump – for now
In due course, I’ll turn to the irresistible topic du jour, The Donald. But first, pleasanter things.
I visited D.C. for professional conferences, pleasure, and once for pro-life protest, fairly often until about twenty years ago. I marveled at the Metro — the cleanliness, timeliness and overall pleasantness of getting around D.C. on it and shoe leather, with no rental car.
I probably could turn its deterioration into a metaphor for something-or-other (you can do that, if unconvincingly, with just about anything), but instead I’ll just say “darned shame.” If they don’t fix it, the pleasure of D.C. for me will be diminished.
[T]he truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful.
(Pope Pius XII via Thomas Storck) Storck continues:
In a well-disposed and intelligent person reason can go far towards discovering truths about God and about human morality—but how many are well-disposed, and among the intelligent and educated, how many have been corrupted by a false system of philosophy? It is a mistake to rely too much on such natural knowledge.
Darn! Storck continues with instances of people’s unwillingness to honor natural law and then observes that the solution is evangelization. The whole thing was written before the 2012 election, by the way.
Gay marriage isis not the catalyst, but rather a condensed symbol of the collapse of the Christian moral order.
(Rod Dreher, responding to friendly criticism of the Benedict Option from James K.A. Smith) I do love this idea of “condensed symbol,” which was invented by sociologist Mary Douglas before Dreher was out of diapers, but which may be unsurpassed for explaining the importance of something about which it might otherwise reasonably be asked “What’s the big deal?”
Garrison Keillor’s concluding paragraph on his piece ostensibly about expatriating should the Great White Turtle (Trump) be elected:
If you want to escape from the Great White Turtle, you could move to New York. New Yorkers saw through this guy 20 years ago, a living, breathing cartoon of a tycoon, vulgarity on wheels, a man who was very lucky that his father was born before he was, and they have closed the book. So he takes his show on the road, and it did okay in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, and so the intelligentsia is working ever harder, trying to figure him out. It’s like psychoanalyzing a toasted bagel. The guy paid $29 million for a 282-foot yacht, sailed on it once, got seasick, and never sailed again. He likes tall models with foreign accents. He dyes his hair. He likes to read about himself. What else do you want to know?
Trump has little history of changing or refining his views through study and policy advice. Many of his goals, while too foolish to implement, are too vivid to revise. Try to imagine President Trump backing down on building the great wall or halting Muslim migration.
Americans are discontented with the governing class, with good reason in many cases. But Trump would be the oddest answer in our history to a leadership void. He has offered disaffected people an invitation to political violence. “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” he said at one rally. “Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”
[Rubio] spoke reflectively Monday about Trump’s brutal transformation of politics. This message should have been delivered much earlier, but it deserves to be heard even now.
“Leadership is not about going to an angry and frustrated people and saying you should be even angrier and more frustrated, and you should be angry and frustrated at each other,” Rubio told a gym full of Christian college students in West Palm Beach. “That’s called demagoguery. And it’s dangerous.” It leads, he said, to “where we are today, a nation where people literally hate each other because they’re voting for different candidates. . . . And it leaves us incapable of solving problems.”
Trump tore up the norms of decency that remained in American politics, and Rubio expressed puzzlement that it worked. “My whole life I’ve been told being humble is a virtue, and now being humble is a weakness and being vain and self-absorbed is somehow a virtue,” he said. “My whole life I’ve been told no matter how you feel about someone, you respect everyone because we are all children of the same God — and now being respectful to one another is considered political correctness.”
Rubio voiced regret for his own role in the vulgarity, saying he “felt terrible” for joking about Trump’s penis size. Such remorse separates Rubio from Trump, who seems to have no shame as he blurts obscenities, delivers insults and winks at violence.
(Peggy Noonan, paywall):
But does [Trump] know the difference between a man who’s attempting to be a political leader and a man who is a mere commentator? Does he understand the former carries deep and particular responsibilities? Just this past week, when asked what would happen if he has most of the delegates needed and the party moves to deny him the nomination at the convention, he blithely responded: “I think you’d have riots.” Coming from a pundit or columnist that would be just another opinion. Coming from a political leader it sounded like a threat. Nice little convention you have here, shame if someone put a match to it.
As you ponder the questions, keep in mind Pete Spiliakos’s piece in First Things yesterday, in which he reads a Sid Blumenthal autopsy of the dead Democratic Party after its 1984 wipeout, and applies its insights to the GOP of today. Excerpt:
The Republicans are reliving the Democratic Party’s nightmares. The cancelled Donald Trump event of Friday March 11 seemed to presage 1968-style disruptions at political events, but 1968 might not be the right analogy. As the party of tired myth and exhausted agenda, the Republicans of 2016 most closely resemble the Democrats of 1984.
It took eight years for the Democrats to win the presidency again. The Republicans ought to thank their lucky stars that charmless Hillary Clinton is not a Ronald Reagan figure of the left.
There’s a lot more in the Dreher blog that can be food for thought for conservative Republicans willing to think, and to look around themselves at the new climate we live in, for better or worse. Sample:
Steve Sailer quotes from a very interesting David Frum tweetstorm analyzing the GOP’s dilemma — this, in reaction to an interview House Speaker Paul Ryan gave to the WSJ. Frum discusses the inability of the Republican Party’s elites to understand what nemesis is upon it. The tweetstorm ends like this:
12) Yet even as the R elite sees what’s probably coming, it won’t believe it. What worked in 1980 must work again. It just *must*.
13) I’ve spent a lot of time being dismissed as a RINO squish, or worse, because I think to save most of conservatism, we must change some.
14) The dominant faction on my side of the argument, however, has insisted that it can win all, by changing none.
Few of the privileged support Trump, though a few like Christie and Carson (!) have endorsed him for some incomprehensible reason (jockying for position in the new American order?). Objectively I’m privileged. I don’t support him. I don’t want to live under his Presidency.
But in light of some recent pieces about his supporters, notably including Gracy Olmstead’s, I’m glad I’ve focused on him rather than vilifying his supporters. They have legitimate grievances — by my lights, though a Kevin Williamson piece at National Review apparently sees them as shiftless layabouts who need to get a U-Haul and move to opportunity, wherever the hell that is.
Anyway, back to my own situation and views. Garrison Keillor claims:
If you go to a foreign country to escape [Trump], you will run into him wherever you go. Foreigners hear your voice, and it’s like you’re wearing a big red A around your neck — they’ll ask you about the Snapper, and how could America be so hopelessly stupid as to elect this blowhard ignoramus to lead the Free World?
I think I have my answer now:
Financialization and globalization of our economy have left a swath of white dispossessed and middle-class strivers sinking economically in both absolute and relative terms. Though we’re not a nation with amnesia almost wired into our DNA, this change has happened too rapidly to escape at least subconscious awareness, where it has bred resentment to the elected folks who made this happen.
I’m sorry as hell Trump happened to the world, but it will end some day and “[n]o one else is going to rise up to be their champion, because such a person would need not only to share their point of view, but also be famous enough to win their admiration and rich enough to run his own campaign without help from any of us. Ain’t gonna happen. By the time the next campaign rolls around, the long-standing patterns of political affiliation will have reasserted themselves.”
I’m sorrier for the economic collapse that we’ll be visiting on the world with our shenanigans than I am for the distress caused by this baboon in the Oval Office.
The Peggy Noonan piece quoted above is titled Will the GOP Break Apart or Evolve? My flip answer is “yes.”
Trump is bringing new voters to the polls and, perhaps, to the GOP not entirely unlike the Reagan era phenomenon of Reagan Democrats. But this time, they’re especially explosive, having the sense (if not the reality, the topic of a Kevin Williamson article at National Review that has stirred quite a heated discusssion) of having been sold out and victimized — and Trump is just the man to light the fuse.
I left the GOP emotionally in January of 2005. I don’t know what it means for a party to “break apart.” But I suspect that a big realignment is coming.
Some of the GOP people who are on record as seriously considering voting for Clinton will follow through, and some of them will become Democrats for the longer haul. Why not? Many of them are already liberals on the social issues, and there’s not that much difference between the parties on economic policy at the moment.
Many of the Trumpistas are Democrats who, yes, have been sold out by the party — in 1972, actually. But <synecdoche>you had to get your head out of the sports page</synecdoche> to notice the sell-out before the collapse of 2008, which itself bodes to become the condensed symbol of our economic situation until the bigger collapse comes.
If those Trumpistas remain Republican, then the GOP bodes to become a much more populist party, with who-knows-what substantive positions on the economy, immigration and those pesky social issues (i.e., what kind of rich people do we want to be?). The “RINOS” will be glad they left, the working-class arrivals will be glad they came, and the times will get very interesting in a more chronic way, versus the acute interestingness of 2016.
And, I suspect, I will remain chronically homeless in the political sense, until the rapidly approaching day that I die.
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)