When Edward Gibbon embarked on his great history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, he began his narrative with the accession of Commodus. Marcus Aurelius, the father of the new emperor, was a man who, in the noblest traditions of the Roman people, had combined the attributes of a warrior, a statesman, and a philosopher; Commodus was none of these.
Archives For 21st century politics
This month is the annual novelist writing month known as NaNoWriMo in which novelist attempt through perseverance and will to complete a first draft of a novel. I had hoped to complete this challenge, but don’t feel that I am in a position to do so up to my standards for two reasons. Firstly, I simply don’t have a story idea in mind and didn’t put in the adequate time in preparing to construct a novel. While I could write and let the pieces fall as they may, I don’t believe the end product would leave me satisfied to say the least. Secondly, I would at some point attempt to try my hand at constructing a historical fiction novel of some kind. This endeavor would require extensive research on my part and thus I must attempt it I believe next year after doing the appropriate research and formulating my story. That doesn’t mean, however, that I have no intention of writing at all, which is why I created this page in the first place. Therefore, I will simply try to post new thoughts and musings on my site for the duration of the month. My hope is that I gain some good habits that I can keep going forward. I’ve done the same thing with my Goodreads reading challenge which I’ve done a fairly good job at catching up on and maintaining throughout the year.
The 2018 congressional elections are taking place tomorrow and it would be pretty remarkable to not know this was happening at this point. It seems to me that its getting to the point of borderline harassment when it comes to people telling you to vote. Constant bombardments from emails, ads, and the patricians telling people to vote in my mind seems like a complete waste of energy. What if one does not wish to vote? And why should one be party to a ridiculous electoral system that gives two marginally different candidates and feeds into the current moral crisis? I believe it should be ones prerogative to do so. Moreover I think that its somewhat silly to expect people who have no knowledge of the political system to have undue influence on political proceedings. Its not that I wish for them not to exercise their right, rather I don’t see the rational behind voting uninformed. Perhaps its time to say only those qualified to vote are able to do so. While this idea won’t be popular with certain people, I think its actually quite sensible that certain expectations are met when wanting to perform civic duties.
It appears that most Americans have abandoned their senses and are being consumed by politics in an unhealthy way. For example its not satisfactory to merely disagree and wish to take an opposing political position in today’s society. Today its been deemed perfectly reasonable to infer how people are thinking based on their political leanings and to confer upon people the most vile and nefarious characteristics. I see it rather regularly in social media exchanges where the end goal is simply to get as many views and likes, which is simply a form of self affirmation, as possible leaving no discussion to be had. I’ve not heard a single policy position being bandied about by either party. Republicans were hyper focused on getting their tax cuts which they now have and appear to have run out of ideas. I suppose they could push to defund Planned Parenthood but I don’t see that occurring. Nor do I see a concerted effort to completely repeal and replace Obama care i.e. ACA which leads me to believe that Republican enthusiasm will be diminished. Democrats will appear to be highly vocal and emotional on the back of their 2016 electoral defeat but appear to also be out of ideas outside their extreme dislike concerning President Trump. From my observations they appear to be a ship without a rudder and completely incapable of utilizing Trump’s boorish personality to their advantage. Furthermore they seem to be perpetually outraged over the most absurd things but never long enough for them to do any damage to Trump politically. Notice how all of the post-election Russian collusion talk has suddenly died down and is completely out of the news cycle along with Mueller. I don’t think this is a coincidence. We saw the same thing happen with the Kavanaugh confirmation coverage.
But that being said I’ve not quite decided what I will do for this election. Traditionally I have not participated in the past in mid-term elections mainly out of dismay for the political process. Additionally I live in a largely Republican congressional district and Democratic senatorial state which likely won’t see any changes anytime soon. Therefore my vote likely won’t decide any elections this year barring a historic collapse which is not projected to happen. Don’t be fooled by people saying this is the most important election in the history of this country. Are people so historically illiterate that they believe an essentially meaningless election in 2018 is up there in the pantheon of elections like 1860, 1828, or 1912? This one won’t hold a candle to those. Its also a bit jarring to see people so completely disgusted by Trump that they are willing to abandon their ideological and political policy positions just to go against him. This seems to not only be unprincipled but a case of cutting off the nose despite the face. Do these individuals really believe that partisan rhetoric will die down with deposing Trump? It appears some naively do. I there lies my biggest disappointment with this electoral process. These are state and district elections taking place yet everyone is making the election revolve around the President. This is either an indictment of the office of the presidency holding too much power or people losing perspective because they are no longer connected to their surrounding communities. I would suspect a bit of both.
At various points throughout the year I decided to tune out the news coverage because it was getting to the point of sheer boredom. The constant lies everyone was telling and the forced outrage was not why I ever was interested in politics and current events. Moreover, I find the more emotionally invested people are becoming in the political process the more I have found my own views becoming more apolitical. Why must I be emotionally invested in man’s political games of power? As a Christian I find this utterly reprehensible and a completely digression of human interaction which is ironic since most feel they are far more advanced and progressive now. Rubbish I say. I predict that people will look back on this period and be highly confused as to what happened as they see a country deeply divided but not sure why with so much growth and prosperity. They will view this period as largely unremarkable in the annals of time.
Another trend that has sapped Congress’ influence is the decline of congressional expertise on foreign policy and national security. Simply put, legislators used to know more about foreign policy than they do now. Greater expertise strengthened Congress’ formal and visible role, since committees could engage in greater oversight of the executive branch. Expertise also reinforced Congress’ invisible means of constraining presidential power. Presidents had to think about how a seasoned committee chair or member would assess a policy. During his initial escalation of the Vietnam War, for example, President Lyndon Johnson was careful to maintain the support of powerful committee chairs, such as Senator J. William Fulbright, who led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1974. Fulbright shepherded the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution through the Senate in 1964, but two years later, his probative hearings helped shift public opinion against the war.
This survey is just the latest exhibit in a mounting case that suggests students have been presented with a warped view of the tradeoffs associated with unfettered free expression. Inclusivity is not in conflict with free speech. Whoever taught these students that these two phenomena were contradictory did them and the nation a terrible disservice.
What’s failing, exactly? I wonder if, like intel agencies pre-9/11, mass shooting threats are lumped in to a vastly broader pool, responsibility spread across many agencies federal and local, so no single force is in charge, dedicated to spotting them. Dedicated local task forces like the ones described here strike me as having a great deal of potential. We should be thinking and talking about them more.
There is, to my knowledge, no dedicated national law enforcement + criminologist group specifically looking for potential infamy shooters, for institutional holes that might impede finding them, or trying to educate local officials on warning signs. This may also offer a way to think more clearly about security reforms and the like — Not arming teachers or lightly trained, bored rent-a-cops, but increasing both random and occasionally intel-based patrols by trained police who are specifically there to deter shooters.
The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Johnson edits a website that publishes footnoted essays on topics that range from H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger, where a common feature is its subject’s criticisms of Christian doctrine. “Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writesGregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”
The temptation to dismiss the alt-right should be resisted. Like Christians in late antiquity, we ought to see ourselves through the eyes of our pagan critics and their growing ranks of online popularizers. They distort many truths, through both malice and ignorance, and lead young men into espousing views and defending authors they scarcely understand. Yet we can learn from their distortions, and in doing so show how Christian theology, whose failings have contributed to the movement’s rise, might also be its remedy.
The alt-right’s understanding of human identity is reductive, and its rejection of Christian solidarity premature. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains. “It’s not like other religions that come out of a folk spirit.” Spencer is right that the baptismal covenant transcends our local loyalties and identities. It does not, however, eradicate them.
On Oct. 1, he predicted, Catalonia will be swept up in “a democratic tsunami,” as its streets fill with citizens casting their vote in favor of independence. Democracy, Mr. Puigdemont argued, is “to listen to citizens,” while Mr. Rajoy is doing “another thing” by threatening punishment, with the support of Spanish judges.
It’s a strange argument. Is Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, more mainstream than Linda Sarsour? Are KKK rallies in Virginia better attended or more prominent than leftist anti-Jewish marches in Chicago? Of course they’re not. Why, then, the systemic focus on the alt-right? I pressed Gutnick for an answer; I never heard back.