Silver Linings and Points of Light

I share many Americans’ gloom in the present political moment. My conservative concerns are legion. But I see points of light in the night sky. I see silver linings to the dark clouds, suggesting the light still burns beyond them.

To be sure, I don’t always write cheerfully.

  • Four posts ago I wrote about not giving ourselves permission to hate people. Hatred is as dark as darkness gets.
  • Three posts ago I wrote about social media censorship and possible measures against it — for a future day when we may have a government which isn’t in bed with Big Tech.
  • Two posts ago I wrote about the rush to reimpeachment and its motives. My thoughts were not sweetness and light.
  • Last time I described a dark and detailed dream about freedom, truth, and their enemies’ raging lust for power. I’ll let you decide, when you read it, whether you think it was really just a dream.

In one or two of those sober posts, and in private conversations with several readers, in person and online, I promised happy thoughts to come — because there are some.

I have three potentially therapeutic things for you. (In some cases I may have to explain the cheering effect.) They are danger signs we don’t see yet, those happy thoughts I promised, and things to do.

Thank God It Was Just a Dream

You know those dreams we have occasionally (at least I do) that are so horrific, humiliating, or bizarre — and so detailed — that our first waking thought is, “Thank God it was just a dream”? And our second and third thoughts echo the first?

Thank God it was just a dream.

Some few may think my dream was idyllic, but I knew right away that for me it was a nightmare. Here was an early clue: I dreamt of a world where hatred was okay, even encouraged, as long as you hated the right people. (Or would that be the wrong people?) And hatred could justify practically anything.

It was a vivid, multifaceted dream.

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.)

Electing a US President: 3 Things to Remember While the Chips Fall

The possibility of a contested presidential election result this year makes it even more important to understand our process for electing a President of the United States. Add threats of widespread violence and long-standing assertions by both sides that the other side is planning and executing skulduggery. Mix in a predictable avalanche of reporting and commentary, little of which will be objective. I’m betting you’ll want to remember three things — and two of them are dates.

Knowing these things will at least provide some benchmarks for judging how much trouble we’re in, if any, and whether the unfolding process is legitimate.

Cloth Masks and the Death of Nuance – Part 1 of 2

To mask or not to mask? Cloth masks, I mean. The nature of the debate suggests a larger problem.

Some people’s views of cloth masks are reasoned and nuanced, but extreme responses on both sides are frequent. Even dwelling on the question may seem extreme, when … but you don’t need me to list the world’s or a nation’s troubles. Do we really have time and mental energy to spare for a sustained quarrel over cloth masks?

Beyond health considerations, the cloth mask has come to symbolize for me the death of nuance in our thought and discourse. We’ve lost our taste for complexity, for seeing more than one side of a question, for reserving judgment and forming a balanced view. From our family dinner tables to our national politics, we reject depth and perspective, and weaponize the shallowest version of everything against our political enemies … er, opponents.

We’ve downed those trendy cocktails of fear and anger until we may be too drunk to self-govern. Perhaps we’re drunk on trivia too, in Mark Steyn’s phrase. The almost-ubiquitous cloth mask is a tangible talisman of our inflamed, intemperate time.

I’ll try to explain. And before this two-parter is done, I’ll discuss some remedies — or at least muse on some things we could do that might help. (I don’t want to oversell.)

Impeachment, Politics, Due Process, and the Revolution

Several weeks ago, the US House of Representatives impeached the President of the United States by a close and almost entirely partisan vote. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally held another vote, on a resolution appointing the House managers for the Senate trial and formally sending the impeachment to the Senate. Now the Senators have been sworn in and the rules established, and the trial is beginning.

Meanwhile, and closer to home, I haven’t blogged here in slightly over a year. In case my reasons interest you — they have a lot to do with the present political climate — you’re welcome to peruse another article I’m posting simultaneously, “On Blogging and Not Blogging in the Trump Years.”

I’m looking forward to blogging on other topics, but …

If the proverbial cross between an elephant and rhino is an “elephino,” then this impeachment is … what? A giant elephonkey in the room?” So let’s talk about impeachment generally, and this impeachment specifically. I’ll mention revolution and counterrevolution before we’re done.

Impeachment Is Political

The impeachment we’ve been watching is a political process. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s important to realize that it’s inherently political. Because of this, some things matter and some don’t, in a procedural sense. I’ll tell you what I mean.

Ford v. Kavanaugh Last Thursday

Readers have been asking for my thoughts about Thursday’s all-day Senate Judiciary Committee hearing since Thursday morning, when the committee was still questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about her allegation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. I’ve put off everyone who’s asked, until I could finish these notes. (I was hoping for Saturday, but it turns out that I have a life.) Six days later, off we go. I know this is a lot.

First, my starting point: I awoke that morning willing to believe Dr. Ford and to conclude that President Trump should withdraw his Supreme Court nomination. I was also willing to believe Judge Kavanaugh and to declare that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate should just vote already.

The hearing ran through the afternoon. I watched or listened to about half of it live — some of it from my dentist’s chair, and the dental work was a lot less painful. By Friday evening I had watched the rest of it. Parts of it I watched a second time, or even a third or fourth.

This all would have been easier, if I were willing to believe that he is lying simply because he’s a man (and a conservative), and that she is telling the truth simply because she’s a woman. Some folks are wired that way, I guess, but I still see guilt and innocence as individual matters, not a tribal thing.

Why I (Still) Love the United States of America

I’ve been poking at these thoughts on why I love America for a while now. Once you see what they are, you’ll see why Constitution Day seems appropriate for posting them.

More broadly, this is either an especially good time or an unusually bad time for these reflections. We’re several weeks from a midterm election; those are never pretty. We’re two weeks into the Kneel for the National Anthem regular season. We’re in the throes of another nasty Supreme Court nomination battle. We’ve been watching — has it been forever yet? — the ongoing attempt to overthrow a duly elected President I heartily dislike by a  bureaucratic coup I dislike even more. We’re seeing (still? again?) just how ugly our politics can get, when we’re more committed to obtaining political power over each other than we are to truth, justice, freedom, and the rule of law.

And yet I love my country. Here are some of my reasons. (They don’t have to be yours.)

On Inauguration Day: 15 Things I Didn’t Blog About Lately, 9 Wishes for Our Future, 8 Points of Gratitude and Pride, and 3 Gifts for You

As I post this, one President of the United States is in the last minutes of his second term. (Much of the chattering class said this as New Year’s Day approached, but now it’s literally true.) Another President will call this the first day of his first term. Yet I will finish the day much as I begin it: a citizen of a country whose chief executive’s political aspirations and principles, or personal qualities, or both, I expect to be more harmful than beneficial to the freedom and welfare of my nation and the world.

Ten and a half weeks have passed since Election Day; one day less has passed since I last blogged here. True, I’ve been caught up in personal, professional, and church obligations; I spent more than half that span at least slightly ill (due to nonpolitical causes); and there was a holiday season stuck in there somewhere. So I have plenty of excuses for not blogging here. But they are only excuses. Obviously, I had some time to write, as you can see at my non-political blog, Bendable Light. I just didn’t want to write about politics enough to finish anything I started. I’m not sure what that means.

But here we are. I propose to do four things during our time together here today. First, I’ll briefly mention most of the political topics on which I’ve considered writing in recent weeks. I don’t know what that will do for you – paint a picture of my current political thoughts, perhaps, without belaboring any of them – but it will probably make me feel better and help me move on. Second and third, I’ll try to lift my eyes and words above grim politics, mostly, to some hopes and some points of pride and gratitude we’re more likely to share. Fourth, I have three small gifts for you.

The Electoral College and the Vote

This post is not about candidates or races. I’m not telling you how to vote or why. I’ve already done all I intend to do of that.

Instead, this is something relevant but more general, something to think about while we await results — and briefly, something to do once we know them, whatever they prove to be.

The Vote

Be sure to vote today, if you didn’t vote early – and not to, if you did. (The Chicago exception is noted.) Besides tending to moderate the outcomes, a high turnout among living, registered voters is one of the best ways to ensure that the living outvote the dead, the legal outvote the illegal, and the real outvote the fabricated – if you worry about those things at all.

I believe there is an implied, inalienable voter’s right to be reasonably confident that conscientious measures are in place (a) to facilitate voting by everyone who is eligible to vote and wishes to, and (b) to protect the integrity of the vote from various forms of fraud, intimidation, and other activities which would corrupt it.