The Insidious Nature of Arrogance

I have been quietly observing the coverage and opinion sharing surrounding Trump and his salacious past for a while now. As his affairs have come to light, people have become ever more divided in their opinions over him. On one side, you have those who call Trump the worst kind of cad and liar, and on the other are those who insist they can and should overlook his past in favor of the good he may do now.

Both sides have valid points.

I have been reluctant to weigh in with my own opinion because I know that the people who are vehemently opposed to Trump will become apoplectic and will question my character by extension. It is similar to the irrational attacks levied by the hard core pro-Trump side whenever I have been critical of him, but oddly enough it is the antis who have been the most unpleasant since the election.

That is, I had been unwilling to weigh in… until today.

Earlier I saw this post and my immediate reaction was surprise that the NY Times should be concerned with character. They do, after all, have a history of blatant biasfabrication, and political spin. It is ironic, given their history, that they should have published an opinion on precisely this topic. If they were subject to their own standards, I would be compelled to assign them to the dust bin of the corrupt and unreadable. I suppose, then, that it is good to separate the publication itself from the succession of questionable posts and journalists that have been published within its periodicals. 

The post itself talks about Trump’s past and the support he gets from conservatives today despite what could politely be called a colorful history. It calls into question, specifically, the character of Mike Pence, but also that of the whole of conservatism and the right. 

As to the character of Pence, I can only say that you need not agree with him in all things to acknowledge he is a man of honor. I believe that he feels he can do some good in his position as VP, and that he could influence Trump’s life in a positive direction. 

I believe we can all agree that Trump could use all the positive influence he can get. Of course his past indiscretions are inexcusable. They may be understandable in a sense, but I wouldn’t attempt to justify them. Therein lies the source of the divide over support for Trump. He has been, at least, honest about his vices. That alone sets him apart from most politicians, many of whom behave exactly like Trump privately and then publicly play at being virtuous. 

It doesn’t help the discussion at all when one considers that the integrity of the presidency was utterly destroyed under Clinton, and that this was defended and approved by the very media outlets that have engaged in perpetual pearl-clutching since Trump’s nomination. Hypocrisy is alive and well and its most ardent champion is mainstream media. 

Which brings me back to the Divide, and the most common refrain associated with said divide, “Consistency!” “Character!” “Conviction!”

I found this quote from the Times post particularly telling: 

“Conservatives have twisted themselves into knots trying to excuse Trump’s vulgarities as acceptable and somehow set them apart from the supposed productivity of the man himself, somehow cleaving the sin from the sinner.”

Concerning the questions of character and convictions, and the contention within conservatism and particularly among Christians, is this not precisely what we ought to do?? Not make excuses, but to separate the sin from the sinner? Can we not acknowledge that things done may be unequivocally wrong while also acknowledging that people may be redeemed? 

Before you counter with, “Yes, but..,” let me reminded you that not one of us can redeem ourselves by our own power alone. If you have ever sought forgiveness or absolution then you cannot claim any more innate goodness or virtue than the President can. The act alone is proof that we are not good for goodness sake, whatever childhood songs may say. 

This brings me to what I perceive to be the insidious arrogance of “better than.” 

It is possible for a conservative Christian to support Trump’s presidency and abhor his dalliances. Jesus did not tell us to seek our salvation in politics, nor did he say that we should hawk our “fruits” in the public square by proudly proclaiming the superiority of our vote. When the elites of his day tried to trap him in an inconsistency, he merely said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” What our duty as a voter is, then, depends on a very personal conviction that is God’s alone to judge, as He alone is the one to place such convictions on us. 

It is disturbing to me to see such prideful and contentious interactions among otherwise delightful people. Yes, we should definitely be concerned with character, but first and foremost and always the character that concerns us most should be our own. If we cannot hold a mirror to our own pride and foibles, and seek always to remain humbled by what we find there, then we have no business becoming the arbiters of virtue in other people’s lives. 

We may not like what it says about us that our Representatives are such fallible and fallen individuals, but let us not delude ourselves with the fantasy that we each and all have not at some point been just as given to vice as they are. They are the reflection we turn away from. They are the beams we avoid in our search for specks

I can already predict the rebuttals to this opinion and I may in time address them, but I believe we can gain an understanding of what are simplistically called “inconsistencies” by remembering the many instances wherein God uses secular leaders to perform wise and good acts, and how sometimes a part can redeem the whole. These things did not come about by posturing, however; they were the result of real conviction, real faith, and constant prayer. I can’t help thinking our time would be better spent in the pursuit of self improvement and spiritual communion rather than in endless arguments over who is the “better” person based on whether or not they support the President as a politician or as a person.

To that end, I would leave you with a passage from The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis:

“We are deceived by looking on the outside of things. We suppose ourselves to be roughly not much worse than Y, whom all acknowledge for a decent sort of person, and certainly (though we should not claim it out loud) better than the abominable X. Even on the superficial level we are probably deceived about this. Don’t be too sure that your friends think you as good as Y. The very fact that you selected him for the comparison is suspicious: he is probably head and shoulders above you and your circle. But let us suppose that Y and yourself both appear “not bad”. How far Y’s appearance is deceptive, is between Y and God. His may not be deceptive: you know that yours is. 

In an instant of time -while your friend hesitates for a word- what things pass through your mind? We have never told the whole truth. We may confess ugly facts -the meanest cowardice or the shabbiest and most prosaic impurity- but the tone is false. The very act of confessing -an infinitesimally hypocritical glance- a dash of humour- all this contrives to disassociate the facts from your very self. No one could guess how familiar, and in a sense, congenial to your soul these things were, how much of a piece with all the rest: down there, in the dreaming inner warmth, they struck no such discordant note, were not nearly so odd and detachable from the rest of you, as they seem when they are turned into words. We imply, and often believe, that habitual vices are exceptional single acts, and make the opposite mistake about our virtues…”

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Enough With the Political Sanctimony

It’s no secret that the political atmosphere is rife with tension these days. It doesn’t help that both online and in the real world, there are paid trolls who are making bank off the divisiveness of various movements and campaigns. It is mentally and spiritually exhausting to deal with.

I’m simply tired of the political blame games. I’m tired of broad insults and assumptions.

Someone asked me earlier, in discussing ‘deplorables’ and ignorance and support for this side or that, “Who’s fault is that?” You know what I said?

Ours. It’s our fault.

It’s my fault and your fault. It’s everyone making sweeping assumptions and dispensing broad insults and NOT talking to the people around us in real life about the whys and hows of real life issues. We aren’t even aware of what issues matter most to the people living around us, working with us, and teaching our kids, or why those issues matter to them.

Seriously.

I think we need to step away from the internet and relearn how to speak to actual human beings. We need to be able to discuss, educate, and persuade without being complete asshats, because that’s pretty much how we all come across when all we do is obsess over who’s on the right side of politics all day online. We spend an inordinate amount of time arguing with people whose opinions we don’t esteem in the least, and whose lives we couldn’t care less about. And why don’t we care??

If you can’t see your opponent as a human being with value simply because they vote differently than you, then I’d say that says a lot more about you than it does about them. I certainly don’t like what it says about me, and as convinced as I am of my rightness, I realize that it makes no difference when I crow about it on the internet. That usually doesn’t change anyone’s mind, but it validates my opinion with every like and “Amen!” thrown my way…which is still pretty unproductive.

Being morally superior about our choice in candidate does far more harm than good. I can and will express my opinions, but I’m trying to avoid issuing insults to people I don’t even know. People whose lives, concerns, and values I can’t possibly understand. I know that their support may go to policies and candidates that I find detestable, but why should I then write them off as if they’re no better than dirt? Not knowing what led them to this choice, what good does it do to insult them now that they’ve reached it?

Basic decency has taken a critical hit in this election cycle. Even good people are so caught up in the frustration of it that they’re letting their pride and ego turn them into something unrecognizable. I get it, we’re all extremely frustrated! We’re all disappointed and disgusted and afraid. But we’re also all still human beings, and we’re more complex than “Trump voter” or “Hillary voter” or “Johnson voter”. We’re all far more complex than political affiliation. Our importance and worth extends beyond “ally” or “opponent”.

You may be right. You may have the most facts and the best arguments. You may have a brain the size of Canada.

But if you don’t have a heart, you’ve lost. It’s just that simple.

You’ve lost your ability to influence people who you will need on your side politically, and you’ve lost a crucial part of what it takes to be a decent person in general.

There’s a saying that goes like this: “You can be right or you can be happy.” Just look around you. Look in the mirror. It’s pretty clear that we aren’t choosing happy, and frankly I don’t wish to be allied with a bunch of sourpusses.

I simply cannot retain the good in me when my mind and mood is being poisoned by negative influences. I choose to be happy, and to be at peace.

 

Romans 12

 

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord.

 

Your Logic is Flawed

All I see on Facebook lately is “Colorado was STOLEN!” “Cruz is an establishment sellout!” and the further I investigate these claims, the more I facepalm.

I know I’m not convincing anyone of anything here, so I’m merely going to point out why your logic is flawed if you believe these things. I understand you all have your preferred sites that deliver news in exactly the tone you wish to hear, so I’m under no illusions that my post will shake the foundations of your beliefs. This is simply cathartic for me.

First, let’s start with your news sources, shall we? I keep hearing how The Media is evil and in the tank for The Democrats or The Establishment Republicans (it changes depending on who is critical of The Angry Cheeto – which reminds me of the evil Cheese Curls in Veggie Tales, right down to the lips). I see a lot of Trump supporters claim that the big networks are too liberal to be taken seriously while at the same time stating that smaller publications aren’t established enough to be trusted. Basically, anyone who isn’t printing favorable articles about Trump is untrustworthy. It’s true that we don’t have a lot of unbiased news sources, but when you link to biased and fake news sources posting rumor, slander, and speculation, you have effectively lost your argument. You cannot merely silence opposition, accuse it of bias, and then post biased fake garbage that supports your claims. And if you cite The National Enquirer, people are well within their rights to laugh in your face. Having a real story once every decade does not a reputable source make, especially when they are in the business of sensationalism.

Next, I’d like to put to rest this hysteria over Colorado delegates being “stolen”. I had a gentleman earlier state that “you only think you live in a Republic” while bemoaning the fact that votes were not cast democratically. Now, if you’ve got at least 5 brain cells firing at full power, you know he might have a problem with defining either the word “republic” or “democratic”. The fact is, the way delegates were elected in Colorado was Constitutional and pre-dates (in practice) the more widespread democratic primaries we see in other states. The delegates were not hand picked by The Establishment, in fact you could not get more “grass-roots” than the delegate selection process. The only thing barring Joe Voter from becoming a delegate is making a commitment to the party (paying a small fee) and showing up to a meeting (being active in the process). Oh, and perhaps eloquence and charisma. The delegate process is representative in the same way that other offices are representative: you vote for the person that you think will protect your interests and then they cast votes and represent you. If you’re confused about this, take it from someone who participated in the Colorado Caucus. Trump had plenty of time to court delegates, but he was not prepared to do so, and any reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or The Establishment is a load of hogwash because the Colorado process began months before either Cruz or Trump were hopeful nominees.

That brings me to my next point, which is that for someone who will “get things done” and “make really great deals”, Trump has shown that he is ill-prepared even when he has months to strategize. Hell, he can’t even count on the votes of his children because they didn’t register as Republicans before the cut-off date. It’s almost as if he thinks his propaganda sites and angry tweets will carry him right into office, all the while whining that the process is unfair and promising that only he can get things done. I still don’t know what Things he will get done, but apparently winning delegates and securing the votes of his children is outside of his ability. Rage tweeting may keep him in the press, but it doesn’t bode well for foreign diplomacy or for his business, which he also failed to account for. I can’t fathom the people who whole-heartedly believe that Trump is the ultimate Doer and Deal-maker when he hasn’t exhibited any efficacy outside of being a giant orange Crybully.

Finally, the worst and most abused logic is that which contends only Trump is “anti-establishment”. Most recently Trump supporters point to Cruz securing the funding of a junior Bush brother (gasp!) as proof that “he’s been bought by The Establishment!”. This despite the fact that Cruz defied Bush 43 and defended Texas against the U.N. and the International Court, which may have led to a distinct coldness from the Bush family (this should also lay to rest the idiotic globalist charges). The charge also flies in the face of literally everything that Cruz has tried to accomplish as an attorney and a Senator. To claim that a man who has stalwartly defended conservative principle and policy throughout his career is somehow, in a single primary season, a shill for The Establishment is perhaps even more ridiculous than to claim that a man who has been a lifelong progressive waffler and backer of Establishment and Democrat politicians is, in a single primary, suddenly conservative! I mean, do you even listen to yourselves?! Even Ben Carson, who woke up long enough to endorse Trump, has implied that he believes Trump is a fraud and a bad person, but that he is supporting him anyway #ForTheChildren. THIS LITERALLY MAKES NO SENSE! As far as I can tell, the logic behind backing Trump is “he’s a horrible person but he pretends to be okay, so he’s gotta be better than that horrible person that pretends to be okay” – and all in the name of being Anti-Establishment, which Trump has  funded, Cruz has fought, but because Cruz is winning delegates and donors, suddenly everything is flipped upside down and The Dufus Dealmaker who can’t strategize his way out of a cereal box is being shut out by the Establishment Shill who just happens to be a lifelong principled Conservative.

GAH! You people. 

The cherry on top of this Illogical Sundae you Trump folks serve up on the regular, is the claim that even if Trump is not really Conservative, he’s still better than Cruz because he can “work with people and get things done”… because “no one likes Cruz.” So you say Cruz is Establishment and part of this massive conspiracy to unite the party against Trump, but he can’t unite the party against Trump’s ideological equals… because no one wants to work with him. And then you say that only Trump can work with the Establishment in D.C. to “get things done”.

cant even

I’m done. I am so done.

spock cries
You made Spock cry.

 

Choose Your Poison

Choice.

No matter what political camp you belong in, we all have one thing in common: we love our autonomy.

The problem with our choice presents when we seek to coerce or force others into the same choice we made for ourselves.

This is no more apparent than in the differences between liberal and conservative thinking: the liberal sees people as a collective, assumes that they need guidance, and wishes to make them operate as one, relying on the “wise” few to make choices for the whole; while the conservative sees the individual, and presents to them the ability to choose for themselves – inasmuch as their choices do not directly negatively impact another. We differ greatly on how involved we want the government to be in protecting our freedom to choose and in protecting us from the choices of others, and there is a lot of cognitive dissonance on the left arising from the desire to be autonomous while simultaneously forcing everyone into a collective, but inherent in the human spirit is the desire for individuality.

The one thing we all agree on is that we want to have power over our own lives. This is why we get so excitable about elections. Elections are the barometer of our willingness to allow others to affect our individual choices, and in which we decide who will make choices in our stead.

This is why many of us become engrossed in politics. We wish to thoroughly vet the people who will be making decisions for us. This is why we don’t take very kindly to being told we have no choice, or that our choice is a de facto concession to something we abhor.

Without even having a Republican nominee, I have already seen many people say that there is only one choice and they will throw in with the collective despite their deepest wish that things could go otherwise. The battle hasn’t even been decided, yet they have given up.

Forgive me if I question the moral fiber of people who are waving the white flag before the battle has even started. However, it is entirely their choice if they lack the tenacity and purpose to strive for something better than “the lesser evil.” I may not admire their choice, but it’s theirs to make. I don’t believe for a second that they are being stuck with something they don’t want, though. They may be acquiescing to the lowest bid they were willing to take for their vote, but they were willing to take it. That explains why they weren’t holding out for something better.

For those of us holding out for something better, we are likely being told there is no choice, or that a choice not to support one presumptive winner is a de facto support of the other presumptive winner. For this reason, I have diligently sought to answer the question of whether I can support the “lesser evil” if it comes to it. What is to be my choice??

Pondering this, I thought of the Christian martyrs. When they were faced with the choice to die or renounce their beliefs and their God, they chose… neither. Seriously, what kind of choice is that? No one who believes their purpose is to evangelize chooses death, else they would commit suicide. They chose neither, rather they chose to praise God despite the circumstances and the threat.

When our founders were faced with ‘liberty or death’ they may have paid with their lives, but it was in pursuit of liberty. They chose liberty. Liberty wasn’t an option given to them (subjugation was), it was an option they gave themselves, based on values they held dearer than life itself.

Do our values matter?? Do they really matter? If I would abandon Constitutional and Christian principles in order to throw in with a man who has praised socialized medicine and that awful butchery Planned Parenthood, why would anyone believe that I actually held those principles of Life and Liberty sacred? Could I even respect myself if I chose to support someone with such antithetical values to my own?

The choice of the lesser evil is still a choice for evil.

When I see or hear someone say that to withhold a vote from Trump is to cast a vote for Hillary, I can’t help but feel there is really no choice at all. To deny God is to die in sin, so the martyrs were told to choose between death and death. They chose life abundantly, often witnessing even as they were executed. They did that because they valued something so greatly that it was worth the loss of life. The founders were told to choose between death and servitude, and they chose Liberty. We aren’t even fighting for our lives (yet, granted), we’re talking about losing an election. One election. And maybe it’s a big one, but is this really the biggest loss to us? Is it worth losing our moral clarity? Our self-respect?? Our freedom?

People want to strap these stones to my feet and tell me if I’m not a liberal I’ll swim, and then they scoff at me as I drown. That’s what this ‘choice’ between Trump and Hillary looks like to me.

That’s why I’m not waving a white flag and calling it a victory flag. That’s why I will cling to hope until this election is over, and even then despite all I will cling to the Hope that will never be taken from me.

I’ve made my choice. I choose Life.

Because some things are more important than winning, and there are millions who were never given the option to fight.