by Joey Clark
I made a promise to myself before the beginning of the 2016 Presidential cycle that I would not support anyone for President, and I am happy to report I have remained true to my promise. Honestly, this has been easy to do because, in my heart of hearts, I forever hope no one will be President, and I have once again been greatly disappointed.
Dare I say, I would love to see America made great again! Yet, my heart also prods me to remain part of the Great American conversation. Consider me akin to those two old men from The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf, sitting in a theater box watching the American political arena. I’m not happy with what I see, but I still show up day after day in my usual curmudgeonly way. I am truly a disinterested party when it comes to supporting one president over another.
However, despite this aloof pose, I do love my fellow Americans and hope to see this dear nation of ours flourishing and prosperous once again. I do have hope for the future of America — that she will serve as a beacon of liberty for all the world to emulate.
Dare I say, I would love to see America made great again!
Yet, since I am not a supporter of Mr. Trump, consider me a neutral third party. Consider me a wise fool here to serve you, “the people,” a fellow traveler ready to provide counsel come what may. Thus, from this neutral place — with love for you and contempt for presidential ambitions — I feel obliged to advise those of you supporting Donald J. Trump.
Guard Your Heart
Yes, you and Donald may be having fun for now — the wining and dining, the guarantees of big walls and big hands, the appointments, the interviews, the speculation, the promise of a happier future together — but there are red flags galore.
So, please, guard your heart.
I do not expect many of you to follow my advice. That’s the thing with being in love — it turns us absolutely dense and quick to play fast and loose with the truth and our well-being. “When one is in love,” writes Oscar Wilde, “one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others,” and this is especially true of the love between the politician and the crowd.
Crowds of all stripes are notoriously more idiotic and immoral than the average person, but a crowd head-over-heels in love with a political leader? Well, such a throng is usually downright dangerous, deceptive, and dimwitted, despite the intelligence and talents of the individuals who constitute it.Crowds give us the cover we need to act like total imbeciles, and democracy gives us a pass to act like petty little tyrants.
One by one, the citizens fool themselves each election cycle that a certain politician will be a president representative of their interests, and then they proceed to fool their neighbors just the same. Their tragedy is usually getting what they want.
Yet, the crowd’s collective responsibility under democracy is really no responsibility at all. There is too much moral hazard built into the system whereby all claim to take the blame without ever personally doing so. Therefore, I suspect you will not listen to my advice. I fear, if you are to learn at all, you will have to learn the hard way.
A Tragic Love Story
So, allow me to provide the moral of your political love story with Mr. Trump before it ends. I’ll do so by way of example. It is the story of a young woman who fell in love with Obama in 2008. The young woman’s name is Carey Wedler, and in March of 2014, she posted a video that went absolutely viral. As of this writing, her video has been viewed 1,869,263 times.
From the outset, Carey appears on screen wearing an “Obama is my homeboy” t-shirt only to admit she was one of Obama’s most “hysterical supporters.” She then displays a photo of her on the night Obama was elected, wearing the shirt and “shedding a tear of euphoria” because she thought “history had been made.” Carey tells us that after a couple years and a little bit of research, she discovered Obama had “become exactly like the George Bush” she “used to so vitriolically hate.” She then proceeds to indict Obama’s abysmal human rights record along with other failures.
The video then takes a dramatic turn.
After telling us she felt personally betrayed by Obama, Carey proceeds to strip off her Obama t-shirt, takes out a butane torch, and lights the shirt on fire!
And now, I can’t help but ask: will Make America Great Again go up in flames just like Hope and Change?
How many of you will feel betrayed and heartbroken by Donald Trump a few years into his tenure just as Carey felt betrayed by Obama? Will it be a few burning candles in the night, or a raging bonfire fueled by millions of hats, shirts, and signs?
But again, guard your heart. I’m not asking you to stop supporting Mr. Trump, but to check your expectations. Take the orange billionaire off the pedestal.
If you choose to not heed my advice, well, that is your liberty. But that brings us to the tragic moral of most political love affairs.
As Carey Wedler says at the end of her video:
Now Barack, I can admit that I probably hated you more than I needed to once I found out what a scam you were. I hated you more than I hated George Bush because I felt personally betrayed by all the lies that you told. But really, I should thank you now, because a few years out from realizing what a scam you were, I understand that it’s not just you… it’s the institution of government that is the problem. It doesn’t matter what political party is in office. It doesn’t matter if it’s a liberal or conservative or you or George Bush or anyone else who will run for President… it’s the institution of government that is violent and forceful and coercive and kills people and subjects them to will with a force… this government that you are currently at the head of (but really it doesn’t matter who is) is strictly violative… it only restricts the potential of humanity…
The Government Is the Problem
Put simply, the moral of the story is this: government is the problem. You shouldn’t put your hopes and dreams in the State, else prepare for a broken heart. It’s not about kicking the establishment bums out, and putting in new people. No, the problem is the government itself.
The government is not “us.” Each election season, we tend to stop seeing this truth. We start seeing personalities. We start seeing the other side who wants to take power over us, so we fight back, thinking we have found a new champion for our cause. So, as you get caught up in the promises of power and your worry about the future of your nation, neighbors, and culture, just remember “we” are not the government. The government is not “us.”
Government is something wholly separate from us, and as much we would like to think we can control this wild elephant by hopping on its back and tugging at its ears, this behemoth is much more prone to trample upon our livelihoods and liberties than ever protect us.
I suppose we must have a president, but I am not convinced this is actually fact. So as you go forth supporting Donald J. Trump, just remember to guard your heart.
The rest of the country hardly considers Portland, Maine, an urban center. In Maine, it is, though, and especially so from where I live, in the northern half of the state.
One recent spring, I spent an April weekend in Portland, my first sojourn into a major city in almost a year. (It had been Portland the previous time, too.) We spent a weekend in a stuffy motel room and departed from our neo-Paleolithic roadkill-and-foraging diet into the decadence of IHOP and Applebee’s. I drank three bottles of Shipyard ale in one evening.
My daughter and son-in-law (a conventionally-married couple, no children, alumni of an über-liberal Massachusetts college who nevertheless escaped with their minds intact) have lived in a second-floor apartment on a “residential” street in Portland for most of their ten years there. She grew up in T1R9 in the Maine wilderness, population 16 per square mile, while he grew up in Manhattan in the miasma of New York, population 100,000 times as dense as T1R9, so Portland is a middle ground for each of them. To my amusement, though, rather than consternation for either, they have been sucked into the pulse and flow of this city, as through a straw; they have hospitality jobs and now drive a Prius hybrid. They blend; I applaud; they have more courage than I; cities frighten me.
As I stalked the sidewalks during this visit, alongside my daughter and the rest of the family, and drifted into a few narrow storefronts, clothed in my rip-stock all-purpose laborer pants, flannel shirt, barn jacket, purposeful work boots, and Registered Maine Guide cap, much of what bothers me about city life chilled me with a weakening hangover-like queasiness.
Each storefront is, perhaps, sixteen feet wide with an interior arranged as to fit a wide railroad car. Who or what occupies the three or more floors directly above each one? I doubt most city dwellers even ask themselves that question. No store has a public restroom, not even Dunkin’ Donuts. At home, I let ‘er go just about anywhere I’m standing when the urge strikes. Where do all the city people go to pee when they’re out and around? (We went to a harbor-side park — Bug Light — to fly kites, and it wasn’t long before I had to pee. No polite way to do it, so I had to let it crystalize in the pipe, so to speak, while I pondered where it would be publicly tolerated, since the businesses which kindly provide such facilities in small towns don’t do so in cities any more.)
Two of the strangest stores I passed in downtown Portland — well, one of the two was in the Maine Mall — are made strange by what they sell. One sells art made of glass. That, apparently, is all they carry. Another sells pillows up to sizes intended to replace major items of furniture and in mostly plain bold colors. Who buys enough of that stuff to make careers for a cadre of shopkeepers? Will either of those shopkeepers one day pass on the business to a daughter or son so that their children can boast “In Business Over 40 Years” or will they both be gone within six months?
I know my way around Portland very well. I began learning the lay of the city in the early 1950s, having briefly lived with my grandmother at 234 State Street, one block below Longfellow Square. My parents, with their other five children and me, as their oldest, continued to visit Grammie Woodbury regularly after that, right through my teen years. I have lived in other cities as well, what most would consider pleasant places, both in this country and abroad — Cincinnati, Monterey, Augsburg, Boston — and in each instance I have become ever more resolved that I will never voluntarily call such a place, or its urban sprawl, my permanent home.
I am an alien in such an environment. I see as much moose poop where I often walk as city people see dog poop on their daily strolls. I love spending a day picking wild blackberries and hoping that I’m out of the berry patch before a bear finds them too. I enjoy sleeping in wood-heated cabins that the power lines will never reach, taking compass readings to make sure I’m still on the trail, listening carefully when I hear distant gunshots to decide whether someone is target shooting or signaling distress. I teach firearms safety and hunter education. As a Maine Guide, I get paid to go fishing. When I’m home, which is more often than it used to be, old man that I am, I am continually engaged in some project that requires overalls and eye protection and, eventually, sutures or at least Band-aids.
I can’t help but observe people, myself included. What I wear from day to day is according to function. What I do from day to day does not depend on or take its influence from what others are doing or what I imagine others expect of me in order to assure my continuing acceptance in their world. Have you noticed, for instance, that since the 1960s clothes designed for city people are intended to express non-conformity? I don’t shop for clothes just so I can then wear them in front of others to show that I have conformed to the expected non-conformity. No doubt I’m an embarrassment to my urban children. I don’t choose a place to drink my morning coffee so that I will be noticed being in the right place. Nor do I think all city people behave thus, but it is apparent that a great many do.
I am just not a joiner. A city is like an enormous club — or an arena hosting many jostling clubs. People in cities make me think of schooling fish or herding caribou. They crowd together and move together as an organism. As an organism they abide predictably by rules of conduct — not that the rules are predictable or assure politeness, but the behavior is predictable. As an organism they acquiesce to noise, loss of privacy, cramped living spaces, bad-tasting tap water, street hazards, expensive everything, weirdos, keep-off-the-grass signs, and innumerable other impositions in exchange for proximity to airports and exotic restaurants and custom shops that sell glass art and giant pillows, and proximity to events like a “musical” about marijuana.
It is the rejection of the individual as sovereign and the view that people are part of an organism that is greater than the individual that sways urban behavior. This is the view that subdues and subjects the individual to the whimsy of the amorphous masses. I can see how it lures people, always has, always will. (In my youth, I was going to be a concert pianist and spent my first college year at a conservatory of music, but then nearly severed my right index finger in a work accident. My next ambition was to become a Russian-English translator. Both of those, in the days before the internet, were certainly urban careers. Along the way to becoming a translator, meanderer that I am, I dabbled in, and became drawn away by, the biological sciences.) And now I can see how wrong city life would have been for me.
City people are convinced that their city is the island-center of their universe and the surrounding metropolitan region is a ring of satellites, and the next city is like the next galaxy, to be reached by passing through the outer space of forests and fields where no one of consequence lives except farmers, who are required to grow food for the city, and forest rangers, who will rescue anyone whose car gets stuck on a dirt-road detour between cities.
I do not see myself even as a decorative whisker on the cheek of such an organism as a city population. And that’s putting it politely, for if I were part of an urban organism I would not be permitted to choose my place; more likely, curmudgeon that I am, I’d get an assignment somewhere in or just beneath the lower GI tract.
That Saturday, as I waited in front of the motel for other family members to emerge for the day’s activities, my wilderness-honed personal space (roughly 1/4 square mile) was being invaded by a growing number of young men boisterously gathering in the taxi area. Presently they grew to eight or ten in number, most with precisely-trimmed narrow beards, flat-billed baseball caps in assorted colors and marked conspicuously with various codes known but to themselves, clean new shoes of the kind we once called sneakers but which are now defined according to purposes other than sneaking: skateboarding now, or basketball perhaps. They were not in uniform; no two of them were dressed quite alike. They seemed to have in common some general ancestral origin — they were all dark-haired and of lightly-tanned complexion, all shorter than I, all of about the same age, all speaking English but I heard the timbre of ESL. I observed them for a few minutes, guessing at what brought them together. They might have been a visiting baseball team except that the Sea Dogs hadn’t taken to their muddy field yet.
One (but only one) of the bunch wore his jeans at that jaunty, gravity-defying level that advertised his bright yellow boxer shorts underneath. (Why was he so modest as to wear boxers? Why not good old white jockey shorts? Why any underwear at all?) Once my family had assembled at our two cars, the motel’s airport shuttle arrived and those young fellows crowded into it. That’s when I decided that they must be some other city’s visiting Men’s Urban Fashion Team, in town for a competition. I can think of no other explanation. If they had been strung out through the mall, jostling all the other competing teams, they would have pleased the judges no doubt, but I never would have noticed them as a separate squad.
I have since retreated to my refuge, remote from the scrutiny and direct influence of the swarming urban masses. They are not on my doorstep, although their politics of collectivism, versus individualism, will forever threaten my independence. And an annual visit to their mild chaos has once again provided me a year’s dose of metropolitan amusement and musings.
November 10, 2016 – note to Mike Rowe Hey Mike. You’ve been very quiet. Everything OK? I just wanted you to know that I voted for you. I was also hoping you might explain what the hell happened on Tuesday, and say something to make me feel better about my fellow man. Thanks, Carol Savoy
Last Friday, my dog posted a video that featured a man licking a cat with the aid of a device that’s designed for the specific purpose of making it easier for people to lick their cats. I’ve been silent ever since, because frankly, I couldn’t think of a better way — metaphorical or otherwise — to express my feelings about this election cycle. The entire country it seems, has been preoccupied with finding a way to lick a cat without actually putting their tongue on it.
Too oblique? Too weird? Ok, how about this analysis:
Back in 2003, a very unusual TV pilot called Dirty Jobs, Forrest-Gumped its way onto The Discovery Channel and found an audience — a big one. For Discovery, this was a problem. You see, Dirty Jobs didn’t look like anything else on their channel. It wasn’t pretty or careful. It took place in sewers and septic tanks, and featured a subversive host in close contact with his 8-year old inner child who refused to do second takes. Everyone agreed that Dirty Jobs was totally “off-brand” and completely inappropriate for Discovery. Everyone but the viewers. The ratings were just too big to ignore, so the pilot got a green-light, and yours truly finally got a steady gig.
But here’s the thing — Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming. It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever. Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic. It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring. In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said “Hey — we can see you,” to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible. Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons. And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.
I know people are freaked out, Carol. I get it. I’m worried too. But not because of who we elected. We’ve survived 44 Presidents, and we’ll survive this one too. I’m worried because millions of people now seem to believe that Trump supporters are racist, xenophobic, and uneducated misogynists. I’m worried because despising our candidates publicly is very different than despising the people who vote for them.
Last week, three old friends — people I’ve known for years — each requested to be “unfriended” by anyone who planned on voting for Trump. Honestly, that was disheartening. Who tosses away a friendship over an election? Are my friends turning into those mind-numbingly arrogant celebrities who threaten to move to another country if their candidate doesn’t win? Are my friends now convinced that people they’ve known for years who happen to disagree with them politically are not merely mistaken — but evil, and no longer worthy of their friendship?
For what it’s worth, Carol, I don’t think Donald Trump won by tapping into America’s “racist underbelly,” and I don’t think Hillary lost because she’s a woman. I think a majority of people who voted in this election did so in spite of their many misgivings about the character of both candidates. That’s why it’s very dangerous to argue that Clinton supporters condone lying under oath and obstructing justice. Just as it’s equally dangerous to suggest a Trump supporter condones gross generalizations about foreigners and women.
These two candidates were the choices we gave ourselves, and each came with a heaping helping of vulgarity and impropriety. Yeah, it was dirty job for sure, but the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation — it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change. The people did not want a politician. The people wanted to be seen. Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them. Hillary Clinton did not.
As for me, I’m flattered by your support, but grateful that your vote was not enough to push me over the top. However, when the dust settles, and The White House gets a new tenant, I’ll make the same offer to President Trump that I did to President Obama — to assist as best I can in any attempt to reinvigorate the skilled trades, and shine a light on millions of good jobs that no one seems excited about pursuing. The first four years are the hardest.
Like those 3 million “shovel ready” jobs we heard so much about eight years ago, the kind of recovery that Donald Trump is promising will require a workforce that’s properly trained and sufficiently enthused about the opportunities at hand. At the moment, we do not have that work force in place. What we do have, are tens of millions of capable people who have simply stopped looking for work, and millions of available jobs that no one aspires to do. That’s the skills gap, and it’s gotta close. If mikeroweWORKS can help, we’re standing by.
If not, I suppose we’ll just have to find another way to lick the cat.
Reprinted without apologies but with the anticipation that lots of people will click on the links above and help support mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Another viewpoint, written by a gay Muslim immigrant, can be found in this brief article.
To my LGBT+ and Muslim friends, my friends whose skin is lighter or darker than mine, my friends whose preferred language is not English, my friends who are currently women, and my friends who have mental and physical challenges that don’t afflict me:
Greetings. I have been tasked to explain to you, (all but the last category above, inadvertently overlooked, I suspect, by the challenger), why you don’t matter to me. I could address this to numerous other groups as well, who also escaped mention in the task — Americans of aboriginal (or indigenous) heritage, for instance, low-wage earners, believers in anthropogenic global warming, people with allergies, and so on. If you would like to, consider yourselves included. This gauntlet was thrown down today in a “meme” posted by a friend on Facebook, that addictive free-speech (sort of) venue that currently rules the internet. The meme, a form of cartoon popular on Facebook, came out on the morning after the 2016 election of our next President, plus all those other offices that take a back seat to it.
It just may be that I didn’t vote for Donald Trump; perhaps whimsically, I’m a registered Libertarian. But my offense is more precisely that I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. There is an assumption among those who rallied behind her and voted for her that she is a champion of the people included in the meme, that her party is also the champion of designated groups, and that no other candidate or party cares about those in the list.
Hillary Clinton shows she cares 1) by stating that she cares and has always averred that she cares, 2) by voting, during the brief period of her one and only elected legislative position, in favor of all proposed legislation that purports to confer favors on people in the list, and 3) by campaigning for President with promises to continue to promote legislation that would confer favors on people in the list, or more accurately, on “communities” wearing favored labels.
The other candidates for President, by opposing her for that office, are presumed by the meme to oppose good things for people who are presumed to belong to favored groups.
First, grouping. I am over 55. OK, I’m older than 65. Politicians have designated a group for me to belong to. Calling me elderly might offend me, so they call me “senior” instead. Politicians assume that seniors must share some problems in common, so they set out to identify those problems and then apply solutions to them.
They apply their solutions to me whether I want them to or not. I may refuse to participate with the group, but I must participate in the solution. Grouping begets “communities.” There is the boating community, the religious community, the environmental community — the list is long — so many groups needing government services. Consider the environmental community as a start, comprised (not my definition but theirs) of individuals and private clubs who, with varying enthusiasm, applaud any act of Congress, and any resulting regulation, pledging to restrict uses of unpaved land and as-yet-unrestricted water, and assess penalties for use without permits. Anyone who is a good steward of land but who is skeptical of regulation is excluded from the environmental community, because the community can include only people who approve of government intervention.
Grouping people this way gives us the contrived LGBT+ “community.” (From someone’s Urban Dictionary, the ‘+’ represents the innumerable other groups of sexual and gender minorities that would make the acronym too long for practical use. It follows, then, that the symbol includes such well-established predilections as necrophilia and pedophilia but perhaps not outright bestiality. The ‘+’ is in the meme, by the way — I didn’t add it, and so I’m only trying to address the task I’ve been given.) Thus, an 11-year-old boy who confesses he isn’t sure yet whether he likes girls is presumed to have the same problems and be deserving of the same community solutions as a 28-year-old woman, born a boy, who demands government-paid cosmetic surgery to correct nature’s error. The 11-year-old is pulled into counseling to help him express his differentness, when all he really needs is time for his hormones to kick in. The 28-year-old woman has been counseled that she may be less self-conscious after the surgery, without the tell-tale bulge, but expects it to be covered by Medicaid rather than by personal funds. Not by their own definition but by the need of government to lump offended people into manageable groups, these two are part of a “community” that also includes child pornography addicts.
I am not only tolerant of my good friends who prefer members of their own gender for companionship and sex, there are those within my immediate family circle who do as well, a choice that has been welcomed throughout our extended family without exception. But I respect the visceral feelings of anyone else who is repulsed by homosexuality. A long time ago I too had such a reaction. It was incomprehensible when I first heard of it. I didn’t need counseling or public school education in alternate lifestyles. I just had to get used to it. But, according to the meme, if I object to a constant barrage of laws requiring that our entire culture be turned inside out to outwardly “accommodate” innumerable variations of sexual expression, I need to explain myself.
OK, that’s what I’m doing. Just as a sexual preference and the activity that goes with it is private, so also is someone’s personal rejection of another’s preference. I agree that my personal rejection of your preference should not be turned into a law forbidding you to act on your preference. And your different preference should not be turned into a law requiring that I do anything except refrain from interfering with you, as you must refrain from interfering with me in the exercise of my preference. There are already laws aplenty assuring that we respect each other this way.
Try this just as an example: If Fyodor builds custom clocks and declines to make one for you depicting two men getting married, then shake the dust from your feet as you leave his shop and go find someone who will. Fyodor’s refusal is not a national crisis. And his ignorance is not yours to overcome, unless with love and prayer. Isolate and illuminate his ignorance with the glow of your enlightenment. Persuade him, don’t coerce him. Coercion doesn’t change minds. Enough coercion changes outward behavior; it also hardens resistance.
If you build custom guitars and you decline to make one for me that is reversed because I’m left-handed and play like Paul McCartney, then I will simply take my request to another builder. I could go insist that the government designate a left-handers “community” in need of special favors because I and those who share my affliction are tired of living in a world designed to exclude and even ridicule us. We even suffer discrimination in education. (I hold my pen the way Barry Soetoro/Barack Obama does, because my third-grade teacher, who was also my cursive writing teacher — when she looked down the rows of students from the front of the room, had to see each one’s paper canted in the same direction.) Worse yet, my left-handers community could grow so influential as to require that everyone replace their scissors with left-handed scissors exclusively. The message there would be, don’t just tolerate my left-handedness; suffer with me.
A candidate for elected office opposed to coercion of the unwilling is safer for the country than one who promises to drag the unwilling to the altar of submission. It is not within the scope of our government to dictate preferences and manage people’s feelings. It is within the scope of our government to assure that we can each act on our preferences while we refrain from interfering — a big difference from participating — as others act on theirs. If someone has a wedding cake depicting two women getting married, I am rightly enjoined from crashing the reception and destroying the cake. I cannot be obliged to bake it for you. (Me personally? I’d actually consider accepting the assignment, although it would be better if you asked me to make the clock.)
People darker than I am for a few months each year, (after my tan fades in the fall) — a euphemism to encompass all manner of genetically non-whitish people, are presumed to belong to a very inclusive “community.” (A community that excludes whitish people whose tan sometimes makes them darker, though.) Those demanding government labeling, (self-appointed spokesmen wanting a group to form around them), excoriate qualified community members who don’t want to participate. Is Condoleezza Rice black? Thomas Stowell? Allen West? Clarence Thomas? Ben Carson? Not according to the gate-keepers of the black “community.”
Bona fide Americans who share a common post-African ancestry are not members of the black“ community” unless they bow at the altar of the party that pulls the puppet-strings of the community.
I grew up in a neighborhood populated more by Negroes, as many self-identified then, than by whitish people. I knew them as individuals, not as a group, and none of our interactions required any acknowledgment of or adjusting behavior for race. The neighborhood we lived in was a community within a larger town, and I was a member of that community. Race didn’t matter.
Muslims who are not U.S. citizens are lumped loosely, by professional label-makers in government, into a “community” under the ambiguous heading of race, while their countries of origin are comprised chiefly of people whose race is the same as most other whitish people. But to oppose open borders and to demand screening of immigrants, according to the meme that scolds me, (best I can tell), labels me a racist. Hell, it makes me a member of the “racist community,” I guess! In the same vein, my insisting that existing law be followed for Central Americans wishing to come by way of Mexico to enjoy the freedom, opportunity, and hospitality of this country also makes me a racist. I embrace diversity, not chaos. A racist embraces no one but those he thinks look like him.
Which brings me to the debasement of the term, native American. Here is an example of what happens when groupers, who are not members of the community they have labeled, become offended on behalf of the people they have lumped into the group, and then proceed to save that “community” from those who have innocently given offense. I am a native American; I was born here. That some of my indigenous ancestors — (I could capitalize that, out of respect, as we always capitalize“Indian”) — that some of my Indigenous ancestors mixed genes with some of my post-European ancestors gives me an interesting genealogy but does not confer on me membership in any particular pre-American aboriginal tribe, nor do I seek it. Nor does it make me an invader of this land, because, after all, I was born here and I’m an “Indian” too; both my parents have told me that I have indigenous heritage. The meme, which scolds me for not helping elect Clinton, doesn’t mention indigenous people, but I extend my explanation to others of pre-American heritage as well.
I’m not interested in grouping — indeed, I refuse to be grouped. I’m not interested in participating in group behavior, demanding things from my government because of some group identity, or advocating for solutions on behalf of any other crowd of people whom I have lumped together as a community without their knowledge or approval. I am an individual. My age doesn’t matter. My ancestors’ countries of origin don’t matter. I have studied, for two years or more, five other languages and can still function well in two besides my own. For those whom I might encounter who don’t speak English, I will meet you part-way in your own language if I can and, if there is time, help you learn mine. If our government would stand aside and let us welcome immigrants without coercing them or us for our language differences, guess what — we would adapt to each other!
Women, without question, are regarded as lesser citizens by many men — indeed, by Donald Trump, too. To Hillary Clinton’s friends and bankrollers in the Arab world, women and homosexuals are treated deplorably. This doesn’t bother her, in spite of her rhetoric. It bothers me, and so does Trump’s behavior toward women. So voting for either, in my opinion, is a toss-up for women. Hillary was not defeated, though, because of her gender. She was defeated because she represents old-style arrogance in government.
As for those with mental and physical challenges greater than my own — (our language has some precise, descriptive words to cover those conditions but people offended on behalf of others have driven those words from common use) — I have, for decades, been a full-time parent to my own severely disabled son and, as a foster parent, for other people’s children who are seriously challenged physically and mentally. I have also been and continue to be an unpaid caregiver for seniors with dementia. Yeah, the meme didn’t mention them. They’re always left out when it comes to government favors, perhaps because the shrill and indignant get all the attention.
While we’re here, I may as well address the acolytes for the faith in anthropogenic climate change. What’s left out of their pseudo-scientific arguments to prove man-made global warming is consideration of the evidence that warming — and cooling — of the earth’s surface has happened in cycles ever since the earth was formed; furthermore, that within each epoch-long warming or cooling there have been long periods of seeming reversal. We do not have the data to say whether we are currently in a temporary reversal in a cooling epoch or vice versa. An increase in temperature precedes an increase in CO2, not the other way around. CO2 encourages plants to thrive and increase, with the release of more oxygen. CO2 is not a poison that accumulates to toxic levels; it participates in life.
I do not flatter myself that I can influence cosmic pulses by buying a new wood stove with a catalytic converter. Should my reckless choice of fuel for boiling maple sap each spring be responsible for forcing the inter-continental airliners flying over my house to compensate instead? There is no way to demonstrate what would have happened during the past thirty thousand years if humans had never kindled a single fire, so there is no way to “settle” that human suppression of natural fires in exchange for controlled combustion of fossil fuel has made any difference. I think politicians are dangerous who share the conceit that by tweaking the tax law they can manage the climate for maximum human comfort. (And then what? Keep adjusting taxes so that the climate never changes by one degree ever again, millennium after millennium?)
If all this makes me non-“inclusive” and a bigot because I insist that immigrants should follow the law in order to get in, then I respond that our language is becoming useless. There is no one who is not welcome by me in my country, my town, and in my home who has arrived on our country’s reasonable terms. Let them followed the process, just as I must follow any other country’s process to become a resident there. If they are desperately escaping the threat of death in their home countries, we have processes for them to enter as refugees and await processing. And yes, perhaps we need a process for rapidly screening large numbers on short notice. I too encourage Congress to get right on it (just as soon as four or five years of impeachment are over). I want to include people. Let’s make it possible.
When you, whoever wrote the meme, decide to tell me that “inclusive” means “carelessly un-selective” or when a serious charge of “racist” is leveled at anyone who opposes ineffective or damaging legislation, or is leveled at whomever declines to coerce others — when the word, racist, is used where it truly doesn’t apply, it diminishes the word to meaninglessness. When half of all Americans are racists by your definition, what word will you use if you need to describe a true racist? When you try to narrow “native American” from its accurate meaning, describing everyone born in America, down to only those with (what percentage?) indigenous heritage, then what term will you use for someone who is a native of America? And are descendants of indigenous people all that happy about being lumped into one group anyway? Pre-American tribes used to have individual tribal identities that they fiercely defended. It’s convenient for the government to think they’re all the same. I don’t think the people affected agree with that.
I’ve also noticed that places such as Chappaqua, New York, Hyannisport, Massachusetts, McLean, Virginia, and many other elite communities are not scrambling to resettle un-vetted refugees in their communities. Makes me wonder why I must do so first. And I don’t deny that we should accept refugees. Emma Lazarus’s poem is often quoted as a justification for throwing open the gates (while continuing to restrain those already in the process of entering legally). The poem still represents my sentiment, but my sentiment doesn’t override my caution. And sentiment doesn’t automatically create new law.
So, let people freely associate, form and join — or not — groups of their own design: political parties, churches, garden clubs, parade committees, secret lodges. Let them join stupid clubs, too, and act like idiots — as long as they don’t impose anything on those of us who aren’t interested in them. Let them be racists! Let them be homophobes! Let them go to hell! Your job as an advocate for the disabled or for the sexually-different of for Christ or for Mohammed is not to make them join you.
Let those who want to form any group on their own — ACLU, American Legion, B’nai Brith, Catholic Charities, Association of Gay Muslims, 4-H, Tunnels for Towers — generate their own funds for their own internal or external objectives and keep their hands, and their government’s hands, out of my pocket.
Instead of believing that politicians have your best interest in mind when they promise favors, let there be laws simply to assure that we all refrain from interfering with one another’s activities so long as your group’s activities don’t interfere with me personally. And instead of being offended on behalf of people who haven’t asked you to be offended, mind your own business.
I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I don’t believe I owe anyone an explanation. But I also don’t want the author of the meme to believe that there is no explanation, so here it is.
Want more explanation? (I doubt it.) Look at this: CNBC:sorry. See my subsequent post, Off the Wall, quoting Mike Rowe. And for one more viewpoint, written by a homosexual Muslim immigrant, here is this brief article.
The passage below, about freedom, a hard-won human condition, is taken from Memoirs of a Superfluous Man by Albert Jay Nock, published in 1943, beginning on page 313.
Like the general run of American children, I grew up under the impression that mankind have an innate and deep-seated love of liberty.This was never taught me as an article of faith, but in one way and another, mostly from pseudo-patriotic books and songs, children picked up a vague notion that “the priceless boon of liberty” is really a very fine thing, that mankind love it and are jealous of it to the point of raising Cain if it be denied them; also that America makes a great specialty of liberty and is truly the land of the free.I first became uncertain about these tenets through reading ancient accounts of the great libertarian wars of history, and discovering that there were other and more substantial causes behind those wars and that actually the innate love of liberty did not have much to do with them.This caused me to carry on my observations upon matters nearer at hand, and my doubts were confirmed.If mankind really have an unquenchable love for freedom, I thought it strange that I saw so little evidence of it; and as a matter of fact, from that day to this I have seen none worth noticing.One is bound to wonder why it is, since people usually set some value on what they love, that among those who are presumed to be so fond of freedom the possession of it is so little appreciated.Taking the great cardinal example lying nearest at hand, the American people once had their liberties; they had them all; but apparently they could not resist o’nights until they had turned them over to a prehensile crew of professional politicians.
So my belief in these tenets gradually slipped away from me.I can not say just when I lost it, for the course of its disappearance was not marked by any events.It vanished more than thirty years ago, however, for I have consciously kept an eye on the matter for that length of time.What interested me especially is that during this period I have discovered scarcely a corporal’s guard of persons who had any conception whatever of liberty as a principle, let alone caring for any specific vindications of it as such.On the other hand, I have met many who were very eloquent about liberty as affecting some matter of special interest to them, but who were authoritarian as the College of Cardinals on other matters.Prohibition brought out myriads of such; so did the various agitations about censorship, free speech, minority-rights of Negroes, Jews, Indians; and among all whom I questioned I did not find a baker’s dozen who were capable of perceiving any inconsistency in their attitude.
According to my observations, mankind are among the most easily tamable and domesticable of all creatures in the animal world.They are readily reducible to submission, so readily conditionable (to coin a word) as to exhibit an almost incredibly enduring patience under restraint and oppression of the most flagrant character.So far are they from displaying any overweening love of freedom that they show a singular contentment with a condition of servitorship, often showing a curious canine pride in it, and again often simply unaware that the are existing in that condition.Byron, one of the world’s greatest natural forces in poetry, had virtually no reflective power, but in the last lines of his poem on Bonnivard, who “regained his freedom with a sigh,” he displays a flash of insight almost worthy of Sophocles, into mankind’s easy susceptibility to conditioning.
I do not know the origin of this idea that mankind loves liberty above all things, but the American revolution of 1776 and the French revolution of 1789 apparently did most to give it currency.Since then it has done yeoman’s service to an unbroken succession of knaves intent on exploiting the name and appearance of freedom before mankind, while depriving them of the reality.Such is the immense irony of history.The goddess of liberty, as she lay in the arms of de Noailles and Lafayette, was a beautiful and alluring figure; but after she had been passed on to the arms of Mirabeau, then handed on to the embraces of Danton, Robespierre, Saint-Just, Marat, Barras, Carrier, and finally Bonaparte, she was left in an extremely raddled and shopworn condition.“Good old revolution!” said one of my friends in a meditative mood, during the stormy times of 1936 in Paris. “Liberté, Égalité, Defense d’uriner.They still keep the fine old motto posted up, I see, but it doesn’t seem to mean much more now than it did when Robespierre was running things.”
I might have witnessed some of the revolutions which occurred in my time, but having a pretty clear notion of what they would come to, I paid little attention to them.Like Ibsen and Henry George, I have little respect for political revolutions, for I never knew of one which in the long-run did not cost more than it came to.Beheading a Louis XVI to make way for a Napoleon seems an unbusinesslike venture, to say the least of it.Passing from the tyranny of Charles I to the tyranny of Cromwell is like taking a turn in a revolving door; the exertion merely puts you back where you started.If every jobholder in Washington were driven into the Potomac tonight, their places would be taken tomorrow by others precisely like them.Nor have I any more respect for what the Duke of Wellington called “a revolution by due course of law” than I have for one of the terrorist type.In this country, for example, unseating predatory and scampish Republicans to give place to predatory and scampish Democrats, and vice versa, has long proved itself not worth the trouble of holding an election…
Soon after World War II, Congress began trying to solve all your problems for you. Up until then, if you had a problem, (if you were around then), you understood that you had a responsibility to solve it, and government understood its role to assure that you had the same chance as anyone else at doing so.
Your air was dirty, your rivers were dirty, your roads were narrow and slow, and lots of people were living in poverty, as poverty was defined in 1950 or so.
There were rich people, of course, who had nice homes and nice cars and owned businesses and such. You envied these people a little, but the very fact that they existed was evidence that you were free to work at creating your own wealth. You could aspire to be like them, and it was up to you to discover a way to join them.
Then Congress grew serious about solving your problems. First they had to identify your problems, especially the ones you didn’t know you had. (Current government philosophy: If it ain’t broke, fix it until it is — from a bumper sticker.)
Now, I have a question. Who is better off after 60-70 years of all this federal problem-solving? Is the air cleaner, and the water? (Or did we just shift all manufacturing to countries where the once-clean air and water are now dirtier than before, when they were merely agrarian societies?) Is there less fraud in finance? (Or has the switch in 1972 from the gold standard to make-believe money and the credit standard merely created new ways of committing fraud?) Is the workplace really safer? (Or has the majority of the risk been transferred to those countries where workplace standards are lower?) Are our kids better-educated? (Or have they merely taken control of the culture and set the learning standards themselves?) Are there fewer people living in poverty? (That’s a big one. When a young adult who shows up for a medical appointment, charging it to Medicaid, is thumbing a cell phone with unlimited texting, has a half-finished tattoo collection, drives a brightly-accessorized new car, sports tinted hair, $150 shoes, a pop-icon cigarette lighter, and is sipping from a super-sized plastic cup, while the medical receptionist checking him in at $9 an hour has relinquished her cell phone so she can pay for her own medical insurance, the poverty line is upside down.)
This is problem-solving according to the do-gooders YOU have sent to Washington, or refused to remove from Washington, for four score years or more. If Congress hasn’t truly been solving problems, then why aren’t YOU doing something about it?
Undergraduates in any college political science programs must eventually take a constitutional law course. Invariably they learn the adage: The President proposes; Congress disposes. If Congress wants to solve real problems, it can. But to do so means behaving in a way that Congress — the current 538 of them — can’t bring themselves to do.
Here is my list of problems they won’t solve.
The only thing that passes for free enterprise in America any more is a yard sale. Manufacturing within our borders is illegal. It’s not proscribed in an outright statute, but any enterprise that attempts to manufacture something must submit to such a gauntlet of government permitting, insurance-buying, scrutiny at every step of a process, and such a reporting and record-keeping burden, that the primary effort of a business is not manufacturing but accounting for what it does and proving that it hasn’t done what it hasn’t done such as violating non-discrimination regs or purchasing raw material from an unapproved source. (I used to be a manager in a hospital. If we didn’t have any patient complaints during a period of a month, we were required to prove it.)
Our kids can’t read, write, and cipher as well as they could before there was a department of education.
There isn’t enough money. Even though they have poured dollars into the economy in incomprehensible amounts (trillions, whatever those are*), those dollars are not real and they do not comprise wealth. There is probably not enough wealth in the country any more to balance the dollars in circulation.
Here is a list of problems that Congress has solved.
1. There wasn’t enough federal control over baseball. Now Congress convenes hearings to manage baseball. 2. The lawyers in Congress solidified their priesthood in two ways: first by cultivating a massive, invasive, tumorous fourth branch of government (the unelected, unconstitutional regulatory branch) and transferring law-making authority to it, thereby exponentially increasing the body of incomprehensible law; and second by leveraging votes on legislation in exchange for hiding bills in the pages of other bills so that the hidden bills avoid scrutiny on their merits. 3. The accountants in Congress solidified their priesthood in two ways: first by feeding the gargantuan, uncaged monster called the IRS that then dreams up terms such as “constructive receipt”; and second by creating a massive, unfunded federal “reserve” (funded by pretend money). 4. It is too messy and time-consuming for a representative to propose a bill in the House of Representatives and expect the House to debate it on its merits and vote on it. Congress has solved this problem. Nothing comes up for a vote on its own. Committees filter bills, but favored members of Congress can hope that something will emerge from committee that resembles their original proposal, at least in the way a 5-year-old’s scribble of a house resembles an architectural drawing, and hope that a parody of the original proposal will later be rolled into a “comprehensive” and highly-compromised bill. Funding for their proposal will be overestimated and eventually rolled into a Consolidated Ommibus Budget Reconciliation Act. 5. More specifically, members of Congress no longer write the laws that they vote on, which no one can read, and which no one can understand even if they try, as exposed in the famous Pelosi quote of 2010 that “we have to pass the bill [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.” Congress mostly engages in the scandalous practice of enacting “enabling legislation”. Instead of writing the laws to clean up the air, they declare: There shall be clean air! This enables the executive branch, overseer of the regulatory branch, to actually write regulations, which have the power of law. But what if part of the regulation is over-reaching (what reg isn’t, but never mind that)? If part of the regulation needs to be repealed or rewritten, (prove that you had no complaints) that change has to be rolled into some other unrelated bill (requiring that voters present identification in order to vote), and if Congress can’t pull together the votes to pass that, then the bad regulation stands the way the regulatory branch wrote it and Congress can’t fix the law that it is supposedly responsible for. 6. TheTax Reform Act of 1969 was odiously known as the Lawyers and Accountants Full Employment Act, which is self-explanatory. (Was it William Proxmire, the prominent Democrat and Wisconsin senator, who said that? Could have been.) Most acts of Congress deserve that appellation nowadays. All the legislation enabled by Congress, by abrogating that responsibility to the unconstitutional fourth branch of government, the unelected regulatory branch, are promulgated to assure that only a high priesthood of lawyers and accountants can interpret them. Woe even to the retiree who tries to file her own income tax whose only income is from Social Security.
That Congress has come this far from protecting your freedom should frighten you. What am I doing about it? I have written this, so that you may understand what you never before suspected.
*In an early episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, Jed Clampett comes into the house and announces that “Mr. Drysdale says they’re going to pay me in some new kinda dollars.” Grannie says, “There ain’t no new kinda dollars.” Jed turns to his nephew and says, “What’d he call them, Jethro?” “Milli-yun dollars,” Jethro replies.
The Constitution, Article IV, Section 4, declares “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Nothing in the Constitution suggests that this country was ever intended to be a democracy. The critical difference is in the matter of rights.
John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he wrote, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” An individual has a right to his life, a right to defend himself against an aggressor, a right to protect his family, a right to use and to dispose of the fruits of his labor as he sees fit, a right to speak, a right to associate and assemble with others of his choosing, a right to turn his back and walk away, a right to manifest faith in a God, and a right to attempt to persuade — but not to coerce — others.
A republic is the one form of government that is designed to protect the rights of an individual against the whims, fashions, emotions, fervor, and ignorance of the many. A democracy confers on the majority the temptation to interfere with these rights, to introduce new, arbitrary privileges, and to do either according to popular zeal. A monarch or dictator may also presume to interfere with the fundamental rights that John Adams described. Even under a dictatorship, those fundamental rights exist; it’s just a question whether an individual or group of individuals will assert them.
The United States is confused, nowadays, about its form of government. It is not a democracy, although the original republican form of government has been corrupted into a semblance of democracy. And the people are deluded into thinking that a republic and a democracy are one and the same, even that a democracy is somehow superior to the antiquated and presumably unworkable concept that we are a republic.
In a democracy, you see, the majority rules (supposedly, and that is debatable, because those hungry for power, whom the majority has elected, effectively rule), while in a republic, the individual is protected from the majority. In a democracy, the people’s representatives identify groups, often called “communities,” who need special privileges in order to remain more loyal as voters, and the people’s representatives create new “rights” to soothe those groups. Generally these are “rights” to be free from discomfort and almost by definition infringe on the real rights of every individual.
With this distinction clear, consider now a passage from Nock’s The Theory of Education in the U.S.:
So the popular idea of democracy postulates that there shall be nothing worth enjoying for anybody to enjoy that everybody may not enjoy; and a contrary view is at once exposed to all the evils of a dogged, unintelligent, invincibly suspicious resentment.
The whole institutional life organised under the popular idea of democracy, then, must reflect this resentment. It must aim at no ideals above those of the average man; that is to say, it must regulate itself by the lowest common denominator of intelligence, taste, and character in the society which it represents.
In a republic, where all the population are free to create, invest, and exercise patience or engage in self-indulgence, an individual may prosper and enjoy comfort that many others do not. This prosperity may have come his way by birth and inheritance, by effort and good judgment, by sheer luck, or by a convergence of these advantages. In a republic, a person who enjoys some prosperity may share his good fortune with others, or may choose not to do so. In a republic, an individual chooses how to dispose of his income and assets, and takes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. In a democracy, where all the population are free to create, invest, and exercise patience or engage in self-indulgence, an individual may prosper and enjoy comfort that others do not only until those others, many of whom do not want to take responsibility for their own choices, are goaded by people who ache on their behalf and are whipped into mass action that denies a moderate person the fruit of his labor.