I seem to be covering much of the same ground as I have recently, my obsessions remaining fixed and the contempt apparently flowing in mostly a single upstream direction to the right. I have tried trashing the left because it is honestly so easy to do. There is plenty of social and ideological stupidity to consume any writer of mostly political and sociological essays on contemporary American society and I have taken advantage.
But today I wish to try something a little different. It is always helpful to attempt to understand opposing views from your own, to ‘humanize the enemy’ if you wish to be dramatic. Of course the right, to me, in most instances, is far from the enemy. I just disagree with most of their public platforms. And it isn’t even so much politically (those are debates where each side can hopefully moderate the other). It is in social outlook that we ultimately find objection with those we disagree with. And so let me try and avoid the silliness of most modern conspiratorial thinking (deep state, and all the never-ending plots of secret societies operating from the center of a hollow earth or in the shadows of industry or even out in the open, using hidden technology to control our minds; or outright treason with Russia and the collapsing America that nervous desire implies; enemy agents infiltrating your soup and the American soul being sold away for a few magic beans), and dive deeper into the social chaos that is, and always has been, unraveling the United States of America. I will attempt to speak from a point-of-view that makes no judgment, and this may be hard. It is quite possible that I will fail. But I believe it is worth trying. Here we go:
“I don’t understand why so many people are down on President Trump. Oh, sure, sure, I get that he is often crude, and comes across as a selfish man, and does not respect many people. I also understand that some of the rumors about the man’s past life are probably true. We have heard him say incredibly inappropriate things, admittedly mostly about women and minorities, and I suspect that he has very little interest in most people. But there is a plus side to his current administration that one will have difficulty disputing and it happens to be on an issue that everyone, deep down, must have a stake in. The economy can so often outweigh personal aversion.
“Yes, the nation is booming unlike it has in a very long time. Certainly there are some aspects to keep your eyes on: current trade practices and deficit worries, all of these questionable tariffs that may go too far and wreck havoc throughout the world. But people everywhere care about their current personal finances and it is a very important thing to consider in the world of today.
“Perhaps it is our own fault, yes, for transforming the world into such a greedy place, but moral judgment has very little meaning any longer as people can come up with valid reasons–family, mostly–that money is their Lord and everything they do is a striving towards it. I know that I am guilty of this too. I want to be more secure, to make certain that I am not homeless and bereft when I am old, that terrifying nightmare of being a toothless old coot living under a bridge in the rain, too weak to defend myself from the even more desperate youngsters among us, who will beat you and rob you and sometimes even kill you just because no one will care.
“And so economic concerns are often the highest issue when it comes to who we vote for and who we love. Now of course there are radicals–on both sides–and they scream and shout about nonsense and a crippling concern that it appears only they care about (sort of like the private economy). And these fanatics are sometimes terrorists, no different than the apocalyptic soldiers of fundamentalist religious cults.
“On both sides.
“This comparison seems to be the thing that most rankles people who choose sides like home team loyalists who boo everything their opponents do. Who actually hate the players on the other team without knowing anything about them personally. They hate the stars the most, because they are the ones mostly likely to change the outcome of the game.
“But we really are more the same than we are willing to admit when we find the other side so reprehensible. This mostly comes down to more internal issues, opinions on the moral direction the world should take. Take an issue like abortion.
“There is no one on earth who is looking forward to getting their first abortion. It is never a point of pride for those women who choose to do so. But ‘freedom of choice’ as a concept is something more important to the American system than being offended by another person’s personal decision.” Let me take off my objective hat to discuss this a little further.
Nobody thinks that abortion itself is a good thing. No one really uses it as a method of birth control and if they do they are awful people in more ways than just this. But that does not remove the validity of making such a devastating choice in a person’s life.
There are the obvious health concerns to the mother and the horror of giving birth to a child of incest or rape. But there are even more profound issues, more contentious circumstances, that set up generally valid sides of the argument. But religion should not really be a hindrance to legality. All it does is create moral disgust, which is equally acceptable.
But there are other considerations to the question of abortion. What about a self-aware individual who understands that if they have a child all of their lives will be ruined–especially the newborn? Don’t we see what happens to unloved children, given absolute freedom from an early age because the parent or parents simply do not care? They grow up troubled, hard, dangerous. Sometimes they are sociopaths, never having been cared about thus making then unable to care for anything.
Despite the handful of miraculous triumphs that come from such a background, or the heartbreaking tragedies of a child dying so young, most of these circumstances end in misery, with a the person growing up ignorant and with no skills to survive in a cold and brutal world.
Of course adoption is an option, and there is definitely more hopeful success with this decision than the one shining light that bursts out of the sewer, but most cases of this are also complete failures. Greedy parents take in children for a paycheck from the state. They too do not think about the children under their care. Just another way to make a living, another job to do in order to survive.
And then there are the group homes, minimum security prisons to train the children for the real thing when they come of age. And these realities are often washed away by the blind moral disgust and the misunderstanding of religious doctrine. Yes, all life is precious, but sometimes it is not really life. And a small, dividing cell is not yet a person. It is more the murder of the idea of a child than an actual bloodthirsty act. And for anyone getting an abortion really late, after the zygote has transformed into a breathing thing–that is why there are limitations placed upon the practice. That, you can make a case, is actually murder when an abortion is performed at an age when surviving premature children are born.
Back to the objective: “There are definitely valid concerns people may have about this, and any other practice, and this does not dismiss the reality of separate morality. Because freedom should be absolute, an idea that if challenged causes it to diminish and finally disappear. Both on the right and the left–the censorious, narco-religious drone of the right’s complaints and the angry, shrieking cruelty of the left attempting to outlaw words, this is the true divide. We are divided more by our stake in absolutism than in our firm political or social beliefs. Those of us who understand what freedom really means, what the original meaning of the Constitution of the United States (and yes, this is another sort of bible to true American Believers), was that we have a freedom to disagree, even to the point of offending those who disagree with us, and they have the freedom to respond. Of course this makes for a fragile society at some times, but this belief has remained intact, regardless of the constant flow of raw irritants.
“There have always been bad presidents. Most, in fact, have been terrible (check out the records of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, for some of the more obscure examples). There is a reason beyond bigotry and prejudice and party-based ire that so many presidents have failed. It is because they have lived in times of such deep rupture, such a torrid battle to create a brave new world, that nothing of value can really get done. So many efforts dissolve into mundane compromise that no one is satisfied, and the nihility of accomplishment drains all hope and simply spreads some duct tape around the leak, to be dealt with by another administration.
“Most of our presidents have been terrible leaders, which is why such opposition, irrational or otherwise, has raged around them. By this argument you could even call Lincoln a terrible president, but the rupture of his time happened well before he got into office and his being there is the only reason he might be blamed. And he also brought the nation back together, as did FDR, as did Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan and motherfucking Richard Nixon with the unification of his opposition.
“But the increasingly hate-filled divisions in our society–in the worldwide endeavor for peace and what that actually means, makes it difficult to blame anyone for anything. If everyone is wrong, after all, we lose the idea of what is right.”