Sol314 Nov 19th, 2019 101 Never
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- My fellow liberals have been taking many approaches to responding to the loss of the recent election. Every single one I've seen thus far shows the same defective, dishonest, and unethical approach to politics that ruined them in the first place.
- They say, "Trump didn't win. Hate won. We have to continue to love and care about one another; that is our strength."
- No. That is not your strength. Not by a long shot. If my extensive experience shows anything, it's that you do not need to 'continue' to love and care. You need to learn how to love and care in a way that's beyond shallow and disingenuous ― in a way that reaches beyond comforting words and banal appeals to poorly thought out values.
- They say, "To all of my friends of minority statuses who are afraid at the result of this election, I will do anything for you."
- This is a wonderful sentiment. Do you know who I'm seeing it from? I'm seeing it from the exact same people who, in the wake of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, powerfully raged against the Christian Right, happily laying responsibility for such a mass murder at their feet. And why? Because their leaders ordered it? No. Is it because of shared political identity or religious identity? As much as they could have merit or dismerit, no; the shooter was a Democrat and a Muslim. So why did they blame these people? It was based on the a priori conclusion that the influence of the Christian Right was somehow instrumental in this murder by passing anti-gay laws, although they quickly, and a priori, disregarded the influence of any other religions or ideologies, all in the span of a single tweet. How quaint. And what a coincidence that it happens to be against the people they hate.
- When I challenged them, they fell apart into nonsense and then silence, carrying on with obvious distractions to avoid a simple fact. These people said that they would do anything for their minority friends. How about this? How about you not accuse innocent people of horrifying crimes? How about you think out your positions not purely in rage and shallow, evil thoughtlessness, but defend them substantively? Why don't you take the time to ensure that your declarations ― including blaming innocent people for mass murder on a whim ― can be remotely recognized in truth and ethics? I can't speak for your minority friends, but your minority friends ought to believe in justice as well, and you do not carry out truth and justice by trying to destroy innocent people in a heartless, thoughtless rage, no matter how it benefits others in some hollow way.
- They say, "I don't know how the left could have lost this election and how the right could have won."
- Is that so? Let me give you a few hints, since I'm perhaps the best conduit for such an answer.
- I have been questioning you, my fellow liberals, every week, sometimes every day, for a year and a half on policy questions that you ought to have been able to answer, but you haven't been able to. In fact, I haven't received any answer at all to most of these.
- You want to ask how you could lose this election? How about this? Tell me how Obama's December 2015 proposal that individuals placed on an executive 'no-fly' list be prevented from purchasing firearms is congruent with any notion of due process under the 5th or 14th Amendments. This proposal was wholeheartedly endorsed by Clinton and then-candidate Sanders. Tell me how this obvious, gross violation of the most important right in human history ― due process ― holds up. I never got an answer, aside from occasional garbage and more frequent silence. All you had to do is convince me. I'm not a gun nut. How the hell will you convince the red populations that you ought to be able to take guns away when you can't even satisfy my fair sensibilities?
- You don't know how you could lose this election, how 'hate' could trump all of your beloved, supposed virtues of love, peace, understanding, or tolerance? How about this? How about you explain to me how one of the flagship issues of both Clinton's campaign and Sanders's campaign ― the repealing of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C. ― is compatible with any just notion of free speech, as enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution? I've asked this question of you more than any other. I've begged for an answer. I've given you months for an answer to what is obviously and clearly one of the most poorly thought out policies of the left in my lifetime. What answer did I receive? None. And I'm no conservative. I'm not a Republican. I'm also the fairest person you'll ever meet in a debate. How will you ever win against people who are raging against you blindly when you can't even scratch together enough effort to answer me? To answer me on a question you should have the answer to right away, but that, instead, you don't have a clue about? On a flagship issue of the entire left: 'money in politics?' A phrase that doesn't even fairly describe the crux of that case ― not that any liberals I've spoken to have even realized that. They couldn't summarize Citizens United in one sentence.
- Let's talk about abortion, another flagship issue of the left. This is an old one. Every young liberal knows this one off their cuff ― but apparently, not so much. A month ago, I stumbled into a debate where a conservative, religious, pro-life friend of mine was debating fetal protection laws and abortion with many pro-choicers. The pro-choicers arguments as to why abortion should be a protected right for a person? This, one of the oldest and best known political issues of the left, which they claim to champion? Lies. All lies and nonsense from the pro-choicers. Genetic reasoning. Flat out deception. Personal attacks. Endless pivots to immigration issues. Indignation when they were called out about lying about the basis of the fetal protection laws. Disbelief that other pro-choicers would dare call them out for lying in the face of pro-lifers. A proud call for the kind of identity politics and defective, genetic reasoning that has rendered our end of the political spectrum intellectually infantile and ethically laughable.
- Then there are bakers refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings. Under the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, these bakers cannot discriminate, let's put it generally for now. The other side argued for the rights of property owners to not have to do business with people they do not wish to do business with, and to have the right not to work by threat of force. Did you address these? No. You simply called them bigots and homophobes, ignoring that this argument had tremendous merit, even if I end up agreeing in the end that it does not carry the day. Another episode where you were too comfortable feeling right to take the time to actually be right.
- Obamacare forced private health insurance to do business with people they would normally have every right to decline to do business with. Your response? "Well, how can you not want more healthcare for people?! You are terrible!"
- Then, when you're not busy failing in almost every conceivable way in these discussions that ought to have been happening, you're parading around as the champions of social justice, under the guise of which you target pro-Trump chalk drawings, hoping to punish the accusers on public lands, in violation of every just notion of human rights; you advocate for the callous disruption and mindless belittling of conservative speakers, arguing a flimsy and embarrassingly defective risk of violence being incited as the basis of this clear censorship; and you wildly and crassly label huge swaths of people ― like Trump supporters ― with every nasty-sounding word ending in ‘-phobia’ that you can come up with, all while ignoring the fact that even bad people can have good arguments ― which never came as a surprise to me, as genetic reasoning and focus on the merits of the speaker have long replaced your concern for the merits of truth. In this case, it didn't matter. Let's say they had bad arguments. You had worse ones, when you even had them at all. And you lost. You lost because, for every day you mocked the stupidity of Trump supporters, they carried the day, and the supposedly intellectual, principled, and ethical resistance you offered was dust in the wind. It was invariably of such a caliber that I could overcome it with one hand tied behind my back. And I'm far from the most threatening foe that you will ever have in politics.
- I wrote something important on July 1, 2015. It was in response to the increasing propensity for the liberal spectrum to engage in nonsense in place of substance. One paragraph was this:
- "We no longer have the same luxury of being 'automatically' right. The issues we are now facing require us to apply ourselves with more effort, more honesty, and more ethics, not less. It is not, and it truly was never, good, right, sufficient, or admirable to simply exhale zeal and indignation at our opponents in reaction to their positions. Our zeal and our indignation must be the fuel of our activism, not the substance of it. It must drive us; it must not wholly become us. We cannot rely on mantra and axiom. Our identity is not worth fighting for if we will not fight for it through just means. If we engage in that, if we allow what is rightfully describable as 'identity politics' to become all we are, then we will succeed until and only until our linear inertia carries us to a position inapposite of our successful activism in the past, such as with gay marriage. What that means, in less geometric terms, is this: our arguments with gay marriage, for instance, were effective and rightful, by and large. We cannot merely carry that sense of righteousness alone into other arenas without the honest procedure, the honest substance, and the ethical course thereto which is truly the sine non qua of justice."
- Your zeal and your indignation are worthless when you use them, as you do, the substance of your positions. Your zeal and your indignation, when they are all you are, are rampaging, mindless, amoral impulsiveness. It is not admirable. But more importantly, it does not work. I said it on that day: liberals are winning things. They are winning things they desperately wanted to win. Gay marriage was the watershed moment, but it was also the watershed moment when you all forget that not everything comes as easily as simply getting excited for activism, writing about how right you are, and then watching a Supreme Court validate your thoughtlessness.
- You think that continuing to 'love' and 'care' in the face of 'hate' is your strength? You people don't know how to love and care for the people you pretend to. When you love and care, you have to not just feel warmth towards loved ones; you have to help them, you have to fight for them, and more than anything, you have to do it in a way that is just and true. And the part you understand the least is that, in order to fight for them in a way that is just and true, you must sometimes tell them that they're wrong. You must sometimes tell them that they don't deserve happiness and comfort such as by accusing innocent people of horrifying crimes, by blaming innocent people for mass murder who had nothing to do with it, or by lying. You must sometimes force them to be better when they're falling short. You must be willing to say to the people you love, "You are doing things that are awful, and I want you to stop." If you care about these people, if you love these people, then demand good things from them. Demand that they be good people. Give them credit for when they accomplish amazing, admirable things, and hold them responsible when they victimize the innocent, even if they have been victims themselves. You have been very good at being advocates, arguing for their positives. What you have utterly and inexcusably failed at is holding them responsible for their negatives. You ignore them because you feel like it's not fair for them to be held accountable. But if you cannot expect your beloveds to be decent, then reassess what you truly value in them and why.
- You want to parade how you'll do anything for your disenfranchised friends? Don't hurt innocent people with them as your impetus. Don't destroy any semblance of honesty and decency from any given interaction. Don't become a mindless, heartless weapon driven by your singular desire to further hurt those people you've demonized. When you're called out, don't fumble and desperately attempt to explain why it's okay for you to accuse innocent people, to blame them for horrifying crimes, when you know deep down ― dishonestly ― that it's just your partisanism in proud play. Then, more importantly, if you want to help them, come up with strong, substantive, true, and ethical arguments that your allies will fawn over and your enemies will respect. Challenge yourself, and not in some trite way; you have to challenge yourself as your greatest enemy, because it's your own desire for goodness that can spin out of control into carelessness and apathy. And for the many opponents that you will meet who will disregard truth and decency, shine as this beacon anyway. Others are watching, and the light of day eventually burns away everything but the truth.
- If you want your side to win, then make your side something that deserves to win. That doesn't mean you want it to win. That doesn't mean you feel it should win. "Our zeal and our indignation must be the fuel of our activism, not the substance of it. It must drive us; it must not wholly become us." Your feelings do not matter, at least when it comes to them being the substance of your arguments and positions. What your feelings matter for, and all they matter for here, is driving you. But you must still actively and responsibly shape what you are driving towards and how you are getting there.
- You have built a movement, an entire side of the political spectrum, on worrying about the good of the many over the wellbeing of the few ― or, perhaps, much more candidly, and much more accurately, you have built this movement on worrying about people you like while completely and abusively belittling and disregarding the people you don't like. Trump supporters were and are real people, and they see you arguing over chalk on sidewalks, calling for the government to arrest the felons who dared scribble it, all while you came up with infantile nicknames for Trump like ‘Drumpf’ or 'T***p.' Meanwhile, they watched as E.P.A. regulations tore away their careers from them. They watched as you blamed them because of their religion for the actions of someone they never met, who did not even share their religion, all as you refused to utter a word about their religion's wrongs. They watched you carefully calculate in memes precisely what groups of people they supposedly hated. How do you expect ordinary people to feel about that? To feel about you? Do you expect these people to respect you? To take you seriously? In the few times you even pretend to justify yourself, you string together all of the things they're 'phobic' to as insults, call their concerns distractions, and then prattle off to give some shallow, poorly thought out fluff about the righteousness of your positions. I'm glad that they were angry at you. They should have been. If only you had cared enough to be angry at yourselves.
- I'm not calling on you to care as much as I'm calling on you for your own self-interest now. Your values need to be better and better thought out. Your arguments and positions need to be substantive and respectable. Your concern needs to be substantial and not a reflection of your partisanism thinly veiled as unimpeachable righteousness. If you're willing to do this because it is the right thing to do, all the better. But, at this point, know that this is the only reliable way for you to ever have a chance to win and to continue to win elections. Our system of government is built on a brilliant structure that pits self-interest against self-interest. If you want to protect the people you pretend to love, you'll follow my advice, no matter how much it upsets you. You don't have any other choice other than to continue to fail.
- You advocate that the lives of these people you love matter. It's time to start acting like it ― truly acting like it, such as working to ensure that your policies are argued and supported in the most honest, decent, and impressive way possible. No more of this demonization of your opponents. No more of these shallow claims to righteousness. No more of this rage where substance ought to be.
- If this election proved anything to you, it's that you have to change. That you can't continue as you are. Above, I've given you the only thing you can become that'll work. This is it.
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