Thursday, October 27, 2016

Later in the day than ever

As I've said many times since I started this blog in 2012, I'd give anything for a solid sign that its name was becoming obsolete, and that I needed to change it to something along the lines of Bright Beam of Sunlight.

And given the debbie-downer nature of the name and the tag line, I've felt the need to check myself against undue gloominess fairly frequently. Is the general assessment, even among those who share my general orientation, a bit less dark?

No, it seems that sullenness is truly the national mood.

Ironically, the dread about our presidential choices this fall is the only thing that really unifies us. A significant portion of Democrats wishes it had a choice other than Madame BleachBit, and an even bigger swath of the Republican electorate wishes it had an option other than Squirrel-Hair.

But don't take too much solace in this tenuous bond, all you who seek desperately for signs of kumbaya commonality. We're so polarized it's affecting the team ethos in post-America's workplaces:

With the Nov. 8 election just 13 days away, some bosses and employees say they are white-knuckling through, trying to keep things civil and maintain a semblance of productivity.
More than half of the HR professionals surveyed this month by the Society for Human Resource Management said they had observed more hostility among co-workers than in previous election years, up sharply from the one-quarter who reported an uptick in political acrimony in the group’s June survey.
Mr. Raval and others said they expect things to return to normal by the start of the holiday season.
The dispute at FrescoData began a few days before the Sept. 26 presidential debate, when a conversation about the coming face-off turned into a shouting match in the employee kitchen at the company’s Newport Beach, Calif., headquarters. The senior executive “got aggressive and started banging on the table,” and later taunted his colleague on Facebook, Mr. Raval said.
He said the woman took the Facebook posts to FrescoData’s human-resources department, and said the razzing needed to stop.
Mr. Raval had sent his staff a memo in early September forbidding political discussions in the office, but it went unheeded. Now, he has to decide what to do about a veteran executive responsible for much of the company’s sales. 
And, to multiply the fragmentation, the obliteration of modern conservatism is now complete. Hannity is calling Evan McMullin and idiot, and Lou Hobbs is calling him a "globalist" tool of  some "Mormon mafia." Laura Ingraham likewise tries to ascribe a conspiratorial odor to McMullin's poll numbers in Utah.

Ben Shapiro, who has been an admirable outpost of sanity throughout this grim year-plus cycle, tries to find a way that conservatism might repair itself after November 8. He distinguishes, accurately between the reluctant Trump supporters, and those who have been his slavish devotees from the get-go (see above paragraph). If the reluctants can remember what drove them until they capitulated to their self-defined pragmatism, and those still in the #NeverTrump camp can graciously allow them the space to do so, the possibility for reconciliation exists, according to Shapiro:

After the election, which Trump is almost sure to lose, most Republicans will grieve. Never Trumpers will grieve at the lost opportunity to stop Hillary Clinton and at paving her way by nominating a man eminently unfit and pathologically incapable of running even a half-decent campaign; they’ll lament the damage done to the party by spending months snorting at sexual-assault allegations and shrugging at playing footsie with the despicable alt-right. Reluctant Trump voters will grieve at the Trump loss generally — they’ll lament both his win in the primaries and his loss in the general but will generally acknowledge that he failed his supporters.

This will provide the opportunity for a healing — so long as each side recognizes the genuineness of the other side’s grief. Never Trumpers must acknowledge that reluctant Trump voters felt that they had to do what they did and that they do not bear the stain of his sins for taking a lesser-of-two-evils path, even if Never Trumpers believe that was wrong. Reluctant Trump voters must acknowledge that Never Trumpers felt they had to do what they did not out of a misguided attempt to show their moral superiority but out of a real belief that the only way to preserve conservatism and the Republican party was to dissociate from the political electrical fire Trump represented. No conservative or Republican of decency will be celebrating on November 9. Both Never Trumpers and reluctant Trump voters should recognize this.

The only way to rebuild a Republican party based on conservative principle is to acknowledge the good motivations of those who disagree about Trump. The only way to rebuild a Republican party based on conservative principle is to acknowledge the good motives of those who disagree about Trump. 
In his very next paragraph, however, he spells out the skunk at that garden party: the aforementioned Trump-bots, who will persist in thinking they have the moral authority to redefine conservatism itself:

But there’s a real possibility that such a rapprochement won’t happen. That’s because Trump and his campaign deeply desire a civil war. They want reluctant Trump voters to fight with Never Trumpers. They want to excise the conservatives who wouldn’t back Trump, and they want to co-opt the conservatives who would. That’s why in the waning days of the campaign, Trump spends his time ripping Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — a Trump endorser! — and blaming other Republicans for his own failures. Trump’s team, including political arsonists such as former-and-future Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, want the Right to burn itself out, making way for a resurgent nationalist populism that dispenses with constitutional conservatism altogether. Trump has an active rooting interest in initiating a civil war, for both financial and political gain. He’s planning and promoting that civil war now. To that end, Trump himself stokes the absolute lie that Republicans who won’t vote for him are traitors to conservatism who are hell-bent on belittling those who vote Trump. 
As is customary in any election cycle, because it is intrinsic to the Left's nature, the Left is doing a better job than the Right of smoothing over its panic, despair and bitter divisions. But they are there. Talking-head attempts at spinning the undeniable collapse of the "Affordable" Care Act, as well as the blatant pay-to-play ethos at the Clinton Foundation, as well as the email scandal and the fact that it's obvious that the FBI has been leaned on and compromised, ring hollow.

And, of course, Iran, Russia and China are ascendant on the world stage while post-America recedes into the background, its ostensible interests being scuttled in one hot spot after another.

As late in the day as it is, it affords some kind of faint solace to realize that the principles that constitute real conservatism do not die. If humankind should ever again be interested in giving them a try, they are there for dusting off and being applied.

It will take far more courage in the dystopian scenario into which we are plunging than it would have in times of more comfort, safety and freedom, but no amount of cacophony from the cast of buffoons and tyrants now holding sway can ever make it impossible.


  1. He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32

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  3. Remember that resentment is not a political philosophy and hatred is not a sustainable force for governing." Read on in The New York Times Opinion Section.