Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Political Tuesdays: Bene Nati, Bene Vestiti, Mediocriter Docti

(Well-born, well-dressed, and so-so in learning)

This came up in the Latin sayings of the week for 7th grade yesterday, right after the Oscars. I've always thought that was appropriate to describe the Hollywood elites, but it works rather well for the political situation at the moment too.

Super Tuesday, and I realize I was not made to face times of such high anxiety.  Riffing on that first quote, I am reminded of the time 23 years ago when the Washington Post ran a hit piece on the religious right, on the front page, calling them "poor, uneducated, and easy to command." Laying aside the final charge, because no one with an ounce of sense would ever call any American "easy to command" -- it's not in our nature -- I personally think maybe the first two descriptions might have been better aimed at the redneck vote, which may have some overlap with the evangelical vote, but is a creature unto itself.  And if "easy to command" means "easy to deceive by a sock puppet Democrat spoiler," maybe the third does apply after all.  Not that there's anything wrong with rednecks, and I know a good many of them. I even like them, when they're not drunk and disorderly.  But they should study ancient history, and this guy has frightening resonance with Nero, Commodus, and Mussolini.

My greatest anger, as Donald Trump is collaborating with the Clinton machine to make the Republican Party a byword, is with the media elites who fed the fire by giving the Donald the attention he craves.  Parents and teachers know this, but perhaps journalists do not: if you feed the fire of a badly-behaved personality that demands constant attention, even with negative attention, you provide the drug that prolongs the bad behavior and ensure that there will be much more of it.

My second greatest anger is with the Republican party establishment, who failed to establish fair boundaries at the outset of the contest, and thus made it quite easy for an old, nasty man with self-evident narcissism to bully his way to the top of a field that was crowded with young, vibrant and well-qualified candidates. Show some leadership before it's too late, and ditch this guy!  And if you can't figure out how to get control of the situation, it was nice knowing you, back in the Reagan/Bush years. I won't be voting for a toxic personality who doesn't pass the decency test.  He doesn't pass the basic Constitutional test, either. Or the character test. I have to wonder if he could even pass an 11th grade Civics test, without paying a stool pigeon to take it for him, or punching the teacher, as he did in the past.  The Party of Lincoln is indeed a  Grand Old one, but anything can be spoiled by rampaging barbarians if you don't protect it from them.

"He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career. "
- George Bernard Shaw

I have some anger also with the anti-establishment Republicans and third party activists, who over the past decades have brewed a culture of paranoia to the extent that they cannot see the qualitative difference between a party-line Democrat and a party-line Republican, so they have to caucus behind an infinitesimally small faction to feel that they are sufficiently pure.  However well-intentioned they were, they have succeeded in marginalizing the vote that identifies itself as conservative, and this has muddied the waters enough that Trump has been able to sweep to victory in a shocking number of states and still manages to convince some that he is conservative.

So here I am, a conservative evangelical who understands electoral math enough to know that you have to get behind the party-line Republican candidate no matter what, and I just can't do that if Trump is the nominee. It's a matter of conscience, of being able to look at myself in the mirror the next day.  Maybe if I keep tabs on people I trust (in the Right to Life movement, and folks like George Will, Michael Medved, and a few others) I can get some kind of picture of where the sane people are heading, and caucus with them.  I like Rubio, I don't like Cruz so much and don't think he has broad enough appeal to be electable, but I would support him if he was the nominee. Fiorina, Bush, Carson, Kasich, Huckabee, Santorum... all of these were people I could respect and  support; even Christie before the invasion of the body-snatchers got him. But Trump is ne plus ultra for me and, I suspect, about 60 percent of real Republicans, or former Republicans. Just don't go there. Please.

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