Impeachment, Etc.: What’s Going On?

People keep taking me aside, literally and virtually, to ask me privately what’s going on in Washington, DC, as the violence of January 6 and Big Tech censorship intersect with a frenzied rush to impeachment, during President Trump’s last two weeks in office.

Here’s what I see. But first, fair warning: This may be too pessimistic for your tastes. And the causes I see for hope and optimism are subjects for another day.

Violence Is Violence

The violence at the Capitol seems to have come, perhaps not equally, from both extremes of our political spectrum. The far-right criminals who participated have more in common with the leftist criminals who joined them than they have in common with Trump voters generally. The vast majority of Trump voters doesn’t approve the violence any more than it approved last summer’s much greater violence by the Left.

(Theoretical tangent: I don’t view the political spectrum as a straight line; I see it as circle. The ends — the extremes — curve back around and meet each other. Far-right and far-left radicals are practically indistinguishable; their body counts and even their ideologies are more alike than different.)

Twitter Doesn’t Like Free Speech. They’re Not Alone.

Twitter’s leftist partisanship has grown more overt in recent months. Likewise YouTube and Google generally, and Facebook. Lately they’ve trumpeted it for all to hear, to the great delight of American leftists, whose commitment to free speech shrinks as their power grows.

(Note: Some leftists’ delight is not complete. They publicly blame the Big Tech leviathans for not suppressing even more political speech they dislike.)

I Don’t Need Twitter (Mostly)

I never followed President Trump on Twitter, and I don’t recall ever seeing one of his tweets in its natural habitat. I’ve only seen them in stories and columns about his tweets. But on Friday afternoon I read Twitter’s absurd justification for banning a President of the United States, and I went home and deleted four of my five Twitter accounts. At the time I didn’t realize I was part of a trend.

Why I’m Voting for President Trump

I recently urged those of us who can to tell others how we’re voting for president this year. I promised to do the same. I’ll be voting for President Trump.

I’m not saying you should cast the same vote. I’ve made the choice I think is best for the long-term freedom and welfare of our nation and my family. You could do the same, and vote differently.

If your vote differs from mine, I’ll still respect you as a person, and I won’t accuse you of being more loyal to your ideology than to your loved ones, or valuing politics more than you value truth itself.

If we vote differently and your guy wins, I’ll pray with all my American heart that you were right. If my guy wins, I’ll pray I wasn’t wrong.

I wonder what we’ll think of this moment two years from now, or five or ten.

Meanwhile, I’m not here to convince undecided voters or change anyone’s mind. So I won’t be explaining every point to my own satisfaction — or yours, probably. My first draft included what felt like a bare minimum of explanation. Then I cut it in half.

On Blogging and Not Blogging in the Trump Years

I haven’t blogged here since the aftermath of the 2018 midterm election. If you’ll forgive the possible narcissism, I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll examine two of the reasons in the context of our current politics. President Trump’s name will come up, as it also does in a separate, simultaneous post about impeachment and due process.

One reason for my long silence is, I’ve been writing other things:

  • several posts on local issues and elections at afelection.info, which involved many hours of work;
  • occasional posts on non-political topics at bendablelight.com, where I write about books, religion, high school bands, etc., but not a lot lately about anything; and
  • some fiction, including some (local) award-winning short fiction and my first novel, which is now ready for beta readers.

I’ve also been busy at work.

My supply of mental and physical energy is not increasing with age.

And sometimes life gets complicated, despite my efforts to simplify.

But it’s more than all that, which brings me to our topic.

I haven’t been ignoring national politics. I consume about as much content as before, from across the political spectrum. I’ve outlined and even drafted a few blog posts along the way. I still discuss issues with friends, family members, and acquaintances of various political stripes, in person and online. But I’ve left blog posts unfinished and unposted, and I’ve discussed issues with others a lot less than before.

My Plan for Mitt Romney (An Open Letter)

Dear Mr. Romney:

I voted for you in the 2012 presidential election, and I still think you’d have made an uncommonly good president. I was pleased to hear that you’re running for the US Senate seat which Senator Orrin Hatch will vacate at the end of his term. I’ll be eager to see what you can accomplish.

I’m sure you want to make a difference for Utah itself, not just for the country. So I have an idea for you. First, I’ll tell you what it is. Then I’ll explain.

United Utah

I propose that you change your party affiliation from Republican to United Utah, then run for that party’s nomination for US Senate.

US Capitol
The Capitol in Washington, DC

If you do, I will join that party too, and many others will also, I expect.

You’ll have little difficulty getting their nomination. Right now their website lists no candidate for that office, but even if there is opposition, you have enough support in Utah to win. You could simply urge your supporters to join the United Utah Party, so they can vote for you in its primary. If they’re Republicans now, as I was from age 18 through August 2016, they probably already know that most of the Utah GOP leadership doesn’t want you or them. If they’re unaffiliated, as I am now, perhaps it’s because the feeling is mutual.

Once you’re on the general election ballot, party affiliation won’t matter much. You’ll win in a landslide, assuming you’ve campaigned effectively at all.

November 7: An Anniversary to Remember, Not Celebrate

Long Ago, on a November 7 Far Away . . .

Long ago in a distant land, a new social and political order arose. Many in the United States and around the world celebrated its appearance and subsequent development. It was such a modern thing. It was clear and promising evidence of human progress. It was cause for hope for the world at large.

That this new order arose in blood and horror scarcely merits mention; what new order has not risen that way? Granted, the violence probably seemed like more than a footnote to the millions whose lives were taken by bullets, bombs, and famine, and to the many millions more who loved and mourned them as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, neighbors, teachers, students, and friends. (I prolong the list advisedly.) But that wasn’t enough to disillusion Western intellectuals, among other idealists.

It Got Worse

Not many years passed before a great butcher replaced the brutal theoretician who led the Revolution in its early years. This butcher was ruthless and paranoid, and his reign gushed rivers of blood. In a sick parody of bureaucracy’s worst tendencies, he extinguished every leader, especially military leaders, whom he thought capable of becoming a rival. Every loyal subordinate with any ability was a potential traitor.

graveyard

Toward a Diagnosis of Our Politics

Trump Sanders Clinton

I’ve said for years that President Obama — the quasi-monarchical head of a selectively but systematically lawless regime — is more of a symptom than the disease. I think the same of Donald Trump. I don’t mean Donald Trump the person; I mean Donald Trump the Republican front runner. Donald Trump of reality television (pardon the oxymoron). Donald Trump the foul-mouthed verbal bully. Donald Trump, the least convincing conservative impersonator we’ve seen at the head of the pack in a long time. (Rabid right-wingers will insert their own snide Mitt Romney joke here, I suspect. But he would have been a great president, even if he’s not conservative enough for you and you and you and you and maybe me.)

Meanwhile, with a less partisan Department of Justice the Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton, would probably be facing — and in fact may yet face — federal indictment on many counts of knowingly treating classified and secret materials with all the seriousness due to recipes published in the food section of last week’s Sunday Times. And she’s losing states to Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist whose appeal crosses demographic lines, but is particularly strong among young adults who have not yet been required by curriculum or circumstances to learn how the world works.

The symmetry here is that millions of voters are so hostile to establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle that they are voting for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It is a remarkable time in our politics, though not a particularly encouraging time.

There are some very smart people (among many others) thinking and writing about this. Here I’ll offer some highlights from the best recent explanations I’ve seen. Peggy Noonan looms large here; she’s a perennial favorite of mine. I’ll also throw in some George Will, some Charles Krauthammer, some (American-turned-Brit) Janey Daley, a bit of Mark Steyn (an Aussie), and even some David Brooks (who sometimes plays a conservative on television but must, in general, be embraced with particular caution).

In each case I am excerpting longer essays or columns which you should read in their entirety. I offer the excerpts as much to persuade you of that as to offer an explanation of the Trump/Sanders phenomenon here. (Note: The fact that I have called the phenomenon after its most prominent current symptoms does not mean they are the only symptoms, or that the disease is not rampant at other levels of government. We’ve been fighting it locally in my city, American Fork, Utah, for some time in our own quirky way.)

The Post I Never Finished Last Year (Updated)

For me 2015 was, among other things, a year in which I didn’t blog as much as I hoped to, and didn’t finish some of the writing I started.

I’m trying to avoid that this year, in part by scaling back my expectations, but also by doing a little better outside of election season. There are things other than politics and government about which I want to write — am writing — elsewhere, but these things matter too.

I have fragments of an unpublished post from last year in which I predicted some things for the coming year. I thought it might be interesting to look back, forward, and around on the same topics one year later.

How to Pray for a Tyrant

To those who are inclined to pray about earthly matters such as government, it seems perfectly natural to pray for the people of a nation with democratic institutions, such as the United States — that they will desire freedom, for example, and that God will grant them wisdom, will, and power to preserve it. Likewise, it’s easy to pray for political leaders we like, such as a president we think is doing well. But what about leaders we don’t like?

Here’s an example. I don’t mean it to be off-putting for some readers who feel otherwise, but describing how strong an example it is serves my point.

I think President Obama is a tyrant and in some respects a lawless thug. I have made no secret of this view. He routinely dishonors and jeopardizes the nation. He misinforms and poisons our public debate. He incites and excuses violence. He whittles away our freedoms with ten thousand petty regulations, thumbing his nose all the while at Congress, the people, and the Constitution which created his office. He frustrates and insults our friends and allies. He arms and emboldens our enemies. He confuses and endangers the world.

I have friends and neighbors who share this view. Most of them are less technical about it. Many of them are more emphatic.

I have other friends and neighbors who would wholeheartedly agree with all this, if I changed the words “Obama is” to “Bush was.” Several years ago, they would have asked essentially the same question their counterparts ask now, when I assert that we should pray for the President of the United States and other leaders we don’t like. (At least I can say that right now without people who know me thinking I’m being partisan.)

What Is Socialism?

Socialism: The Debate

I’ve held forth at some length recently on the meanings of the words republic and democracy, which are of interest to Americans generally, and which have also, here at home, been at the center of heated debate in recent years, over the Alpine School District’s official statements of its mission, goals, and values. The debate is confusing and off-putting for many, in part because it sometimes takes a combative tone, but also because one side has directed a great deal of energy toward artificially narrow definitions of democracy and republic. We are told that a republic is good and a democracy is bad — end of story. Neither concept is that simple, and the part about democracy being bad rings false to a lot of people who love both their country and their freedom.

If the activists were more careful with their terminology, they’d say that a certain kind of republic (our kind, the democratic, constitutional republic) is good, and we need to understand and preserve it; and a certain kind of democracy (our kind, the liberal, constitutional, representative democracy) is good, and we should understand and preserve that, too. They’d say that we should be careful not to be diverted to either direct or social democracy, both of which really are bad — and one of which is a major feature of the Alpine School District’s official goals and values.

The movement could put itself on a sound theoretical footing by adjusting its arguments in two ways: opposing social democracy specifically, instead of insisting that all democracy is evil; and explaining social democracy without calling it Marxism. Besides sounding too extreme and too alarmist for the circumstances, Marxism actually is a different road to socialism. The movement’s alarm over socialism is at least partially justified, but its influence is compromised by imprecise and incorrect terminology.