Friday, July 12: Philadelphia, PA 4:15pm - At Netroots Nation
Location: PA Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA
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I only started watching Morning Joe recently. Only because I was no fan of his choice as a host. I know enough about Pensacola politics that I suspect there may have been more to his dead intern on the floor problem than we will ever know. Even if not, let's just say that if it had been a leftie; like local lawyer Mike Papantonio, he would have been in prison quickly no matter how innocent.
Don't get me wrong: I love the Emerald Coast, but if extreme right wingers were aggressive killer bees everyone else in the area would have been dead long ago.
This morning they were talking about Stormy and her lawyer and how they "get" what all his Republican opponents and Clinton's team didn't get. The way to defeat Trump, they said, was to out Trump Trump: in your face all the time with aggressive name calling, aggressive nasty framing. Never give him time to rest.
Is that true? I hate to admit it probably is; if winning is our only goal. How far down this path should we go? How much like Trump must we be? Trump has so lowered the political bar it's now even lower than it was before: which was increasingly like a WWE fight. Metaphorical chairs were being slammed over heads and far too many mindless fans thought it all real. They were so delusional they saw those they agree as pure heroes, those they disagreed with as no more than villains. Now politics has become more like the drunk husband coming home and assaulting his wife, raping her and then he lets his friends have at her. If they kill her, good, "the bitch deserved it."
Even the pretense of it being mostly for show is gone.
By the way, the 'killing' part may increasingly become not so 'metaphorical.' Charlottesville should be the raised blood red flag. He who drove through the crowd of anti-Reich wing protesters, and those who marched chanting "Jew will not replace us," have become part of how Trump and his Brownshirts define "good people." And he has been encouraging it to go that way for a while, just consider what his personal army of Brownshirts did during his pre-election rallies, how he pushed for executing the Central Park 5 after they were proven innocent, or continued to push Birtherism.
Must we be more like any of that? And, if so, can we pull ourselves away from being like that if such does succeed? These are important questions.
Maybe I bear some responsibility here. Yeah, I guess I do. For quite a while; especially when my old friend Bartcop was still alive, we both advocated on his page, his rants, mine and this column, that we need to out bully the bullies. I am very much in the frame of mind of Ender in Orson Scot Card's Ender's Game. The solution adults offer to the worst bully problems actually enables them, empowers them. Instead Ender would out bully them. He even unintentionally killed at least one.
I had my share of the worst of the worst bully problems in the 60s and found ignoring them didn't work, trying to be their friend made it worse, finding a different route home increased the beatings and mom, or my father, going to the principal or their parents turned them quite vicious. One day I got off my bike and beat back with the kind of pent-up anger that made them avoid me.
So... I understand. But maybe I'm just an old man. Scratch that: I am an old man. But I see nothing good coming out of this in the long run if we can't back off, if we become too much like Trump to win. Me? I didn't continue to beat others. I had a lot of concern about myself and what I had done, how I had exploded in rage that day; no matter how justified. In Ender's Game our hero also has serious internal conflict over his actions, his behavior. Inside he was a good boy, then a good man. In sequels he goes way out of his way to make amends, correct what he did.
I claim to be no hero here, just using all this to show the differences and the danger of continuing down this path.
Maybe I'm too much a cynic, but I see no backing off on the horizon. I see it getting worse. If this is the new precedent: how you knock down others, how you gain power, how you win, I must admit I sense little to no chance of some collective conscience snatching us away from all this.
This path are walking down includes viewing and treating our 'villains' as worthless, disposable, so one dimensional we can excuse anything we do or say to them. Don't get me wrong: I am not saying we need to give in, give up or just take it. I am not becoming my mother, "Oh, let's just try to get along." But, to quote Ender when he finally understands what he was tricked into doing he says...
"How we win MATTERS!"
To paraphrase, "Extremism in pursuit of liberty too often drags us towards tyranny." Maybe out Trumping Trump is the only way, though I would never paint any such a claim as some ultimate, unavoidable, truth. But, unless we can dump the Trump before this path he is setting becomes the new longstanding standard I fear the end result could be as bad or worse...
...unless we develop a conscience like Ender.
Am I wrong?
I sure as hell hope so.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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