Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Morality + NeverTrump [Some Links]

** Back in 2016, when world politics and debate began a swallow dive straight into the toilet bowl, Republican Party reptile PJ O'Rourke openly declared himself a Never Trumper -- even with all "her lies and empty promises," a Hillary Clinton presidency he famously declared could only be "the second-worst thing" that could happen to the US: "I mean, she’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”

Twenty-eight months later, The Atlantic demonstrates his case with 50 moments that define an improbable presidency, starting with his clutching a glowing orb.
In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”
In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.
There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.
He has not changed.
This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyse 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.
They remain guilty of understatement.

Test your own resilience if you still find yourself in thrall to the orange fool.

** A nice complement  to that record of life outside the norm is Rob Tracinski's interview with Tom Nichols, professor at the Harvard Extension School and author of "The Death of Expertise," about the future of NeverTrump.

The conversation covers the probable truth about Trump's Russian connections, the one good thing about the Trump presidency, the difference between nationalism and patriotism, why principled opponents of big government might so often be heard shouting "not this way," and what the fuck "the right" could do as long as the circus remains in town.

** What they should not do, most importantly, is ignore morality. And not just the amorality of their president, but the moral arguments of their opponents. Because as Yaron Brook demonstrates,  the fact that the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are clueless about numbers is entirely irrelevant when she simply plays the moral card. Because most people at bottom do want to do what's right, it's the numbers and the suit of that card that have real political power, and so desperately need to be challenged. The fact is:
Until capitalists are able and willing to go toe to toe with the Ocasio-Cortezes of the world on morality, she and her kind, whether from the collectivist left or collectivist right, will keep winning, no matter how deadly & disastrous the results.

** A good bookend to all this is Russ Roberts's discussion of the growing loss of civility -- not unrelated to the phenomenon discussed above. [Listen here.]
The current state of political and intellectual conversation is increasingly like the world William Butler Yeats described in his masterpiece, “The Second Coming”: 
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity 
Maybe it’s paranoia but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt the thinness of the veneer of civilisation and our vulnerability to a sequence of events that might threaten not just the policy positions I prefer but the very existence of the American experiment.
What disturbs me is how we talk to each other and our unwillingness to give even a modest hearing to the other side. The Trump phenomenon is just one example...
He's right to raise the point.

He's right to worry about it.

And he may just have a few solutions.

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend Tim Snyder's series which explains the hows and whys and what nows of Trump


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