Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Rebuff

     Via the indispensable Mike Hendrix comes this highly instructive tale from a political bigot:

     I went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and I arrived home feeling heartbroken. It was the last way I expected to feel....

     My fury has been bottomless. I drink my morning coffee from a cup that says, "I hate to wake up when Donald Trump is President." The constancy of my outrage has been exhausting, yet I have not yet found a way to quell it — nearly each day has brought a new reason to stoke the fire. But a day with my daughter, communing with the angry and the aggrieved, seemed a good way to try.

     After the march, Katherine and I hit the road in the late afternoon, feeling good; we had done our part to express our outrage. We were about 90 minutes south of D.C. when I heard a terrible popping sound. I assumed I had blown a tire and headed toward the nearest exit. The popping was followed by screeching — were we now driving on metal? Luckily, there was a gas station right off the exit.

     Before I could do anything but park my gray Prius, a man rushed over. "I heard you coming down that road," he said. Before I could say much he started surveying the situation. He didn’t so much offer to help us as get right to work.

     And of course, this “redneck” fixed up the narrator’s problem without comment or a request for payment. Please read the whole thing. I’ll excerpt one little bit more:

     As I drove home, I felt the full extent to which Trump has actually diminished my own desire to be kind. He is keeping me so outraged that I hold ill will toward others on a daily basis.

     Who wrote the above?

     Ruth Mayer is a development and communications consultant in Charlotte, N.C.

     You’d think a “development and communications consultant” would be a little less self-absorbed than Miss Mayer. Perhaps even a little more grateful for the kindness of others. But these are not qualities one should expect to find in someone who can retreat into “bottomless fury” over having lost an election.

     All that having been said, there’s a lesson in here for all of us. Not just Left or Right, but everyone who pays even the slimmest attention to national politics.

     Political obsession happens to people from all walks of life. You might think yourself immune. Maybe you are – I don’t know you, after all – but I assure you that others who thought themselves immune have succumbed. That’s one of the principal dangers of political involvement.

     The competitive aspect of electoral politics – someone wins, others lose – gives it the same excitement as any sport. Moreover, national politics today is a very high-stakes game. The outcome of a quadrennial election can destroy whole sectors of the economy. It can alter the treatment of individuals’ rights, or what they’ve come to believe are their rights. And of course, there’s the possibility that America’s foreign policy will change abruptly enough, and dramatically enough, to precipitate a war.

     Except for the competitive angle, all the above are Twentieth Century developments. Before the elections of 1912, it was almost entirely safe for a private American citizen to ignore the federal government.

     The century behind us has changed that. The stakes today are almost beyond measurement. No one’s life or livelihood is completely insulated against federal meddling. If you doubt this, talk to an older neighbor, if you have one, about the price of groceries in 1950, the marksmanship club at his high school, and the flush toilets in his childhood home.

     We expect things to change. Americans have been steeped in the notion of progress. But not all changes are good ones. The changes in politics and government have been almost uniformly harmful. Worst of the lot is the unbounded intrusiveness of every level of government. Government now dictates matters that were once regarded as beyond its rightful purview.

     Allow me to quote one of my fictional characters:

     “The government already takes half of what you earn. It decides what you can eat and drink and smoke and wear, and when and where you can work, and doing what, and for how many hours a week, and when you have to put everything aside and do something like this. It decides what your children are going to be taught, and when, and by whom. It decides who’ll be allowed to sell you legal representation, or medical care. It decides whether you can be trusted with a gun. It decides when you can leave the country, and what you can take with you, and what you’ll be allowed to bring back. The only thing it hasn’t decided for you is what you’re allowed to say.”

     [From The Sledgehammer Concerto]

     And if you’ve been paying attention, there are forces determined to make laws about what you’re allowed to say, as well.

     Ruth Mayer is a political obsessive. Many other Americans are like her, though not all of them share her alignment. The salient thing is her conviction, so deeply ingrained that no surgery could remove it, that everything of importance depends upon prevailing politically.

     Had another candidate for the Republican nomination prevailed over Donald Trump, and had gone on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election, I imagine Miss Mayer’s reaction and “bottomless fury” would have been the same as it is today. Obsessives are like that. They don’t take losing well. They personalize the anger of defeat against those, near or far, known or unknown, who supported the victor. They fume, scheme, and plot vengeance.

     Such people can be dangerous. But more dangerous yet is the “Government uber alles” state of the nation that has made them what they are.

     Food for thought.


Manu said...

Ungratefulness is a hallmark of a Left-Liberal, generally. Nothing is ever good enough for them. They will always complain that we have not done enough for them.

The only way to mollify them would be to enslave ourselves completely and totally to their will. And even then, disappointing them in some fashion would likely be fatal.

Linda Fox said...

Too many women are so invested with their self-concept as "moral" political and social Progressives, that they would be woefully adrift if they had to abandon that identity. The last time we had women whose clung to their Cloak of Self so strongly was after the Civil War. Both the Southern Confederacy-supporting women, and the Yankee self-righteous Do-Gooders fed the fires of opposition to the 'Enemy' long after the men who'd actually come under fire had forgiven their opponents.

I fear that these women will die lonely, bitter old women, certain of their moral superiority to the Evil Others. It's a sad way to live a life.

Let's hope that their children, if any, escape that legacy.