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.

On the 2020 Presidential Election and Its Aftermath

In the two months since Election Day I’ve been increasingly intrigued by the certitude I encounter in people on both sides of this question: was the 2020 presidential election stolen? If you’re certain it was or certain it wasn’t, I wonder: why do you think what you think? We’ll talk about this.

I’ve also been thinking that people on both sides are missing something important about the US Supreme Court. This leads to unreasonable expectations and fears about the Court’s possible interventions. We’ll talk about this too.

I have some specific thoughts about what should and shouldn’t happen tomorrow, when Congress meets in joint session to observe the counting of electoral votes, and what should happen thereafter. I’ll mention them as we conclude.

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.

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.

More Things Americans Can Do in October

I recently listed 16 things Americans can do in October 2020, in advance of our November election — because we fare better mentally, emotionally, and politically when we do things, not just wring our hands. Here are 16 more things Americans can do in October. (One’s a rerun.) These include remembering things that will give us a more stable, reasonable perspective as hysteria swirls around us; engaging with others in difficult but civil ways; and preparing our minds for some things that may happen.

[Photo credit for the feature image: Wolfgang Hasselmann at Unsplash.com. The elephants are not here as partisan symbols, but because they have thick skins (see #27 below) and a reputation for remembering.]

Think Reasonably About Politics and Government

17. Remember that George Washington isn’t running. Nor is Mother Teresa or Mohandas Gandhi.

Saints rarely run for high political office. Perfect people never do — because there aren’t any. And normally only the living run, no matter how faithfully the dead may vote in some jurisdictions.

Some years’ ballots are worse than others, and we have to make the best of a bad choice. Instead of deciding which of two or more good candidates for high office is better, we end up wondering which one is the smaller or less immediate threat to American liberty and the Constitution which protects that liberty; which is more likely to have his or her excesses restrained by Congress or a mostly-partisan media; which is less likely to cower before the world’s tyrants; and so forth.

Instead of wondering which candidate for school bus driver will start the students’ day better, contributing to their education by delivering them to the front steps of the school in the best mindset to learn and explore, we have to ask which of the unkempt, odd-smelling, foul-mouthed applicants is least likely to get a fully-loaded bus stuck across the railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train.

I’m afraid (as in 2020) it’s often too much to expect that the major party candidates for president have always been faithful to their own and others’ marriage vows, and have always treated the opposite sex with proper manners and respect. This is much to be regretted.

I’d like to see a day when it’s the rule, not the exception, that a major candidate will reliably and articulately tell us the truth in context, unvarnished, and unembellished. I don’t expect to see it soon. I’d like to see the day when — if that ever happens — it would be reported accurately, in context, and unspun.

We want to elect good, wise, and honest men and women to political office. As best we can, we should. But in our goodheartedness, misanthropy, or partisan loyalty, we shouldn’t be blind to any candidate’s real faults or virtues. Everyone I’ve ever seen on a ballot is a fairly fraught mix of both.

Visions of America in 2020 Convention Acceptance Speeches

I watched Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democrats’ convention. It was unusually and pleasantly brief, and because there was no live audience, it wasn’t interrupted dozens of times by applause. So it was watchable for me. Later I went back and read it for this blog post.

I read but didn’t watch President Trump’s acceptance speech. I mostly avoid watching and listening to him, and I usually prefer to read such speeches anyway. His was long-ish, with many interruptions for applause. Life’s too short.

I thought it might be interesting to compare what the two rivals said about the United States of America — specifically our heritage and our historical and current place in the world.

Everything You Like Is (Not!) Socialism

A small fraction of conservatives view almost any taxpayer-funded service provided by government as socialism, and anything that smacks of community as communism.

It’s not just the obviously redistributive programs like progressive income tax, earned income credit, housing subsidies, etc. They denounce the basics too: public roads, public libraries, water and sewer systems. You can hear just about anything government proposes denounced as socialism, if it involves spending, hiring, or making new law or regulations.

This faction has its own wing nut fringe. We heard from them in 2018, when Hurricane Florence hit. A Chick-fil-A in North Carolina opened on Sunday (which they almost never do) to provide free food to refugees in three local refugee shelters. Crazy as it sounds, these fringe conservatives said a business’s voluntary donation of free chicken sandwiches to hungry travelers was socialism. (Some on the left were unhappy for other reasons.)

Strange Bedfellows

In a bizarre turn worthy of 2020, now some on the left make the same claim: any service government provides is socialism.

Impeachment Votes: Reasons, Spin, Romney

Has enough time passed that we can look calmly at certain aspects of President Trump’s impeachment and trial? Locally, the Utah legislature has backed off; they’re not pushing through a resolution censuring Senator Mitt Romney for voting yea on one article of impeachment. There are still a couple of electronic billboards along I-15 in Salt Lake County which are inviting him to quit, but that could go on for years.

[Later note: For some reason this post did not become visible to the public generally when it should have. One way or another, it’s my mistake, and I apologize. The billboards on my commute telling Senator Romney to resign seem to have disappeared by now, and our minds are on other, bigger things. But the lessons here are portable, and the experience bears remembering, even if you’re reading this in March, not February, 2020. As ever, thanks for reading!]