Why Change Is Anathema To Conservatives

I take conservatives at their word. They call themselves “conservatives” because their mission can best be summed up with that word: conservatives want to CONSERVE. Nothing is more important to a conservative than “what is” except for “what was“. What “was” really is the target — the past is what any conservative wants to conserve or as much of the past that still remains in the present. If they could suspend time and capture this moment in amber — and then force the rest of the world to live inside that frozen amber — that would make them supremely happy. White supremely happy. That’s the part of our human past conservatives point to with pride — when the descendants of white Northern Europeans ran America with zero interference from Black or brown people and also women. The Confederacy remains a high water mark in white culture TO white culture. In fact, I bet that if there was some way to put a “Bring Back Slavery” referendum on the ballot in some crazy Republican-run state, some Republican would do it, knowing that every other Republican now thought he was a god.

By its very nature, conservatism resists change at all costs. Whatever change it agrees to, it agrees to gradually and unwillingly. Conservatives know that change doesn’t just happen. It begins, often, with curiosity in the face of a problem: “Why are things the way they are (broken) — and what can we do to fix them or make them work better?” Conservatism will organically assert that the old way still works (“If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it”) when, in fact, the old way NEVER worked for a significant portion of the population — the part that wasn’t rich, white and Christian. What conservatives mean is “If it ain’t broke for US, we have zero intention of letting YOU ‘fix it’.” All change, conservatives understand, begins with “new information”. Add “new information” to any environment and the environment instantly changes. Immediately, the old environment is gone — transformed into something, well, “new” because of that new information.

That terror has always been behind the conservative refusal to ever go along with sex education for kids. Right off the bat, the conservative assumption was that a young person armed with information about sex and their own sexuality would do the obvious: use it to start having informed sex. Or, worse, a young person armed with good information about human sexuality might go to the worst possible extreme. They’ll come out of the closet or confess to masturbating or, worst of all, find a modicum of happiness and contentment within their own skins. That’s the hold moral authority (usually in the form of a religious institution) has over many of us: they get to tell US what happiness is rather than each of us seeking the happiness that best suits us.

The last thing conservativism wants from those under its thumb is any sort of independent thinking. That’s ironic considering how married conservatives are to their notion that THEY are the “independent thinkers”. But, independent thinking and conservatism are mutually exclusive propositions. The commercial interests that started the American experiment — before the French Enlightenment had a chance to temper some of that exploitative thinking into at least the notion that “All men are created equal” — were conservative in their thinking. They didn’t see this continent as a place where everyone might be free, they saw it as a place where THEY might be free — at everyone else’s expense. Good thing the rest of the world grasped the magnificence of America’s founding concepts — the Black people the white people enslaved especially. Even better that they tolerated white people expropriating this magnificent idea for themselves as long as they did without surrendering. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

What’s changing — what’s making conservatives rise up in full grievance kabuki makeup — is that at long last America is beginning to realize the greatness of its ideals. That will not require a single white person losing what they have. In fact, it will make what they have even better. As more people — across the full spectrum of e pluiribus unum — benefit and prosper, the more fully EVERYONE will. Oh, the richest of the rich might not make quite as much as they used to — but then again, they might — because there will be exponentially more customers out there with money in their pockets.

When I think of what it is conservatives want to conserve, I almost feel sorry for them. They’re a sad, old spider protecting a wretched, old web, unaware that the future will eat them regardless. They might go kicking and screaming into that good night, but they’re going.

That’s the weirdest part: it doesn’t have to be. But change is so impossible for conservatives to accept that they’ll even blow a massive hole in their own foot to try and resist it. Then, still unsatisfied, they’ll turn that same weapon on themselves.

We Really Can’t Compare What’s Happening To America Right Now With ANYTHING From Our Past

People with zero imagination (like most of our news media) will always look to the past as prologue — and most of the time, it absolutely is. But this is not “most of the time”. You can tell because nothing even remotely like it has ever happened to us before. Richard Nixon may have been breathtakingly corrupt, but at least he wasn’t a traitor. That is what makes Donald Trump and his presidency truly unique in our history. Never before has one of our two main political parties crawled into bed with a hostile foreign power in order to win an election. But then, never before has one of our two parties made it their purpose to bust a cap in democracy’s noggin and, in its place, install a state of permanent minority rule. That is precisely what the Republicans are doing. They’re not exactly being subtle about it. How can it possibly be that more Republicans “believe” Biden stole the presidency from Trump than believe Biden won legitimately? Of course they don’t “believe” that. Everything the GOP does is bullshit kabuki of one kind or another.

Though everything about Trump’s presidency defied convention, our news media to this day insist on seeing Trump through a “conventional” lens. What started with Trump calling Mexicans rapists ended with Trump insisting he was still POTUS. Nothing even remotely conventional happened in between. But, if you insist on viewing it all through a “normal” lens then — as happened with us — rather than stop seeing Trump as normal, our news media reconceived “normal” to include Trump. The proof that they did that? When Joe Biden finally took over — and began to govern the way we’re actually used to, our news media regarded it like IT was “strange”. As if doing the work we need done was the oddity while screaming treasonous absurdities at the top of your lungs was what we expected presidents to do.

Our news media is especially determined — since it’s what almost always happen during a new president’s first mid-term election — that the Republicans will triumph handsomely over the Democrats and re-take the House and Senate, making the rest of Joe Biden’s agenda (including SCOTUS judges) moot. Their basis for thinking that? It’s what NORMALLY happens.

Except it’s not what’s going to happen this time because nothing about this time is “normal”.

For starters, the more Republicans try to restrict voting, the more Democratic voters will do whatever they have to to vote. That’s assuming any of the Republicans’ restrictive voting laws survive till election 2022. Take this to the bank: they won’t. They violate Americans’ civil rights and the current Department of Justice has sworn to prosecute such crimes. I don’t think this is an “if they do “; it’s a whole-hearted “they’re going to and no one’s going to stop them”. That’s because of who’s doing it and what it means to them — women, women of color, men of color, Black people, brown people, Asian people, Latino people, Muslims — they all have a lot to gain from keeping the pressure on.

White hegemony is dying as we speak. Oh, it’s still flailing about wildly which means its still incredibly dangerous. But white hegemony is a minority position.

Were Donald Trump the problem, removing Trump from the equation would have solved the problem. But Trump was merely the symptom of a much larger disease. The Right Wing money — the Kochs, the Mercers, etc — saw demographic oblivion coming at them much quicker than they ever thought it would. They may be greedy but they’re not stupid. They saw clearly that a diverse, majority electorate would never elect a Republican POTUS ever again (unless the GOP could manipulate the Electoral College). They grasped that, in time, a diverse, majority electorate would undo a lot of the gerrymandering and make the house a likely Democratic stronghold; with Representatives having to face re-election every two years, holding the House is always a mercurial proposition. The right focused on two things: holding the Senate and hijacking the judiciary.

The Senate, by design, is tilted heavily toward the Republican party and conservatism. Trust me on this: there aren’t TWO Dakotas because there were too many Dakotans to fit into one. It’s the same reason there are as many western states as there are — what with their teeny-tiny populations that, really, could have been combined into several large states. The Senate therefore over-represents red, rural states and under-represents populated parts of the country. Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than do Senate Republicans. Why that’s the population of pretty much every single Republican western state combined. Plus a lot. If we were shown maps that didn’t break whole states down into red and blue (because, of course, real estate doesn’t vote; nor do the cows on it), we wouldn’t think of Republican power the same way.

Republicans, to their credit, also grasped the importance of holding local power. They understand that if you control the architecture, you can control almost the entire democracy. You can even change it to suit your needs even if you are the minority. Beyond holding the Senate (and losing Georgia was brutal for Mitch McConnell — and it was almost entirely Trump’s fault that the Republicans lost Georgia), the GOP made a point of taking over as many statehouses as they could. Often, their candidates ran either unopposed or opposed by poorly organized, poorly funded Democrats.

The big grab was the judiciary. The Kochs tasked Mitch McConnell with doing everything he could to deny Obama lifetime appointments. The Kochs knew damned well that Trump was in bed with Russia. But then, so were the Kochs and Mercers. The decision to go all in with Trump was done with the full knowledge of who Trump was and what he was guilty of. To the Kochs, controlling the courts — the SCOTUS especially — was more important than even being a loyal American. Apparently they can handle Russia running our country. They can’t handle Black or brown people having political power.

That’s what makes this so confounding. In a very large sense, the problem in front of us IS our past. We had a choice when the country was founded, to legitimize or delegitimize slavery. We chose to legitimize it. We got it into our heads that “All men are created equal” could co-exist beside slavery without anyone noticing it made “All men are created equal” look like total bullshit. Trumpism IS our past — every vile bit of it, rolled into one.

The GOP Is A Party Of Bullies

Bullies: A ‘Class’ Photo

Bullies and bullying are a universal evil.  If bullying ended at the schoolyard gate, that would be bad enough but, as we all know, bullying doesn’t stop there.  The whole schoolyard follows us through life — with bullies getting to be bullies forever like Hook-ified versions of Peter Pan.  Donald Trump is the worst kind of schoolyard bully.  He’s the kind who never gets his well manicured, teeny-tiny hands dirty.  He gets other people to get THEIR hands dirty on Donald’s behalf.    That’s why, even though they despised Trump as he tore through their primary in 2016, the Republicans, deep down, not only admired Trump, they aspired to be him.  Not just a bully, an uber-bully.  And, let’s not forget, when the Republicans made Trump their nominee in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was owned outright by ANOTHER mega-bully, Vladimir PutinCurrent GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud a month before the nominating convention to a roomful of the Republican leadership.

Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer.  A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government.  That really happened.  Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality.  Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA!  Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be.  We’re talking treason.  Stone cold treason.  And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president.  What could possibly cause people to go there?  This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.

People who like authoritarians also like bullies.  They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t.  They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen.  They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around.  Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying.  Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably.  We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now.  We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level.  Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is.  THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.

Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”.  While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more.  If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective.  By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress.  It’s too vague a target.  Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!

It’s like “cheating to win”.  If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”.  How can one “win” without following the rules?  This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic.  Either the rule of law is or it isn’t.  We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under.  We’re still in treacherous waters.  Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling.  The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided.  The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).  

But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America. 

This simply cannot be.  It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side.  Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing.  Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster.  It leads to Civil War.  It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum.  America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity.  Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.

In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are.  This is not an exact science.  There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book.  We’re writing it in real time.  Because that’s how reality works. 

Bullies don’t care for reality.  Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks.  The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go.  By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying.  To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard.  Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be.  Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?

Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them.  As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law.  He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself.  THEY will govern.  They and their pals.

Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them. 

This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies.  They rely on our fairness.  They count on our sympathy.  Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying.  In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do.  Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space.  Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands.  If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with.  We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none.  What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet.  Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money.  Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello. 

At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly.  Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them.  “That’s how we  know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.

Know what kind of “families” talk like that?  Know what those families are “famous for”?  Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.

 

Sampling Cicadas Wouldn’t Be Hard – Hell, I’ve Tried CHICKEN SUSHI!*

I just saw on CNN how ~25% of Americans would consider sampling a cicada. That’s surprising. I’d have thought fewer Americans would be open to breaking down such a huge cultural barrier. If Americans had grown up eating bugs — as some other cultures do — we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Food and culture are inextricably linked. Americans like their protein big. We think “cow” or “pig” not “insect”. In time though, even a food we used to revile can become a luxury item. Take lobsters. Today, they’re expensive. They’re a treat for the wealthy. But, when Europeans first started arriving in North America, lobsters were so plentiful that “piles up to two feet high would wash ashore in Massachusetts Bay Colony.” They were used as fertilizer and to feed the poor. I mean, look at the damned things. They’re called “cockroaches of the sea” for a reason. While lobsters are only distantly related to cockroaches, they have enough in common to have made eating them that very first time likely an act of desperation or starvation. If you’d never eaten a lobster before that first time, would you really look at one and think “I gotta eat that!”?

Americans aren’t as obsessed with food’s freshness as other cultures are. The whole point of wet markets regardless of how we might feel about what’s being sold at them is the obvious freshness of the ingredients being sold. Pangolin lovers love their pangolin meat as fresh as they can get it. It’s why we love farmer’s markets. We love the idea that the food we’re eating today hung on a tree yesterday. Or walked around. We don’t need to know how it walked around or where, just that it did — somewhere in the abstract. I wonder how many of us would turn vegan overnight if we had to go out and kill our own food.

I still remember the first time I tried sushi — at a place in NYC in 1982. The whole idea was still incredibly novel; there weren’t more than a handful of sushi restaurants in all of America. Americans did not eat raw fish. That first piece of tuna stuck on my tongue and went to war with my gag reflex. Jump forward a year and I’m happily snarfing it down, eyeing the more adventurous parts of the sushi menu. I’m an adventurous eater by and large. My culinary mind’s open to a lot of things — to at least try once.

A few years ago, I did some consulting for Electronic Arts. I got hired by their studio in Vancouver, BC to help their game designers think more like storytellers. This particular studio was run by an innovative guy named Nilo Rodis. For about a year and a half, I worked on various projects with various teams. One cool project involved a completely reactive environment where the game player really could impact everything. If they blew up the room they were in, that room was going to really blow up — killing their character. Another project I worked on was a fighting game that originated in their Tokyo studio.

For about six months, I scripted the game and helped revise the story and characters in Vancouver while the game’s designers — in Tokyo — did their thing. Finally the project was nearly finished. EA sent me to Tokyo for a week. Nilo felt some face time with each other would speed us through the last phases of our work. And that’s pretty much what happened. We had a good week together.

When I arrived in Tokyo, Ken, my host at EA (and my boss — Ken is Japanese-Canadian) asked me, as we’d be dining together a lot during the week, if I had any likes or dislikes. The last thing Ken wanted to do was put us at a restaurant where there was nothing on the menu a fussy American could eat. Embarrassment is anathema to Japanese people. “I will eat whatever you eat,” I told Ken. “Great!” said Ken, pleased.

Over the course of the week, we ate in some very cool places. Remember the restaurant in Food where that huge fight scene happens? That’s a real place. I was taken there my first night. The sushi was awesome. The shootout was even better. Every meal was fantastic as far as I was concerned; I love Asian cuisine above all others, no matter which one. The week having been a raging success, Ken wanted to take the whole office out for a meal on my last night in Tokyo in order to celebrate.

Being a special occasion, Ken chose a restaurant close to the office that the whole group liked. In particular, they liked the restaurant’s specialty. They didn’t tell me what that specialty was. It was chicken sashimi.

We all arrive at the restaurant more or less together, remove our shoes of course, and follow our host to the private room reserved for us where we sit low to the ground on tatami mats. Food lands on the table immediately. Various innocuous Japanese starters. Ken — I’m sitting next to him — leans close and tells me that they’re about to serve the restaurant’s specialty. It’s why they came here; everyone in the office loves it! I look to the table as small dishes of what looks like pale yellow sushi are set down in front of everyone.

They all look jazzed. Some have already started eating as my sushi lands in front of me. Ken can hardly wait to tell me what a treat I’m in for: “It’s chicken sashimi,” he says as if that would explain everything.

I’m absolutely certain he’s kidding. What’s the course after that? Pork sushi? But Ken’s already got his chicken sashimi chop sticked and heading for his mouth. I glance at the table. My co-workers for the week are all eating it and loving it. They brought me here to share this thing they love with me, the gai-jin (outsider) they’ve been working with all week — the gai-jin they liked enough to bring here.

My next thought — okay, it’s Japan. They have all those wacky game shows. This one’s called “Prank The Gai-Jin” and I’m the gai-jin they’re pranking. While they all eat chicken sashimi made of marzipan, I’ve been served the real deal and the point is to fool me, the gai-jin, into eating it. Sensing my natural reluctance, Ken tells me quietly that the chickens are all grown on the property — no factory chickens. They’re grown here, hand-slaughtered here, processed here. That’s how we’ll know its safe to eat. I nod but not because the explanation satisfies.

As more and more of their eyes look to me — awaiting my reaction to the chicken sashimii, I begin to realize I have no choice here. I mean, sure — I could tell them they’re all crazy but I still have to work with these good people. I don’t want to insult them especially when I told them I’d eat anything they ate. I’ve set everyone up for failure… except I don’t have to “fail” everyone if I just… eat… the damned… sashimi.

I pick it up with my chopsticks and bring it first to my nose. This bird may have been raised like a prince but it still smells like raw chicken. Now I’m aware of Ken’s eager expression. His eyebrows, arching, are telling me: “Go on!”

Some of the others dipped theirs in soy sauce first. That will be my salvation. I practically swirl the sashimi in the little dish of soy sauce and, in one deft motion, pop it into my mouth. Immediately the “smell” of raw chicken hits the back of my throat. It takes everything I’ve got to keep my gag reflex in check. Instead, I chew — slowly — trying, with my tongue, to push the thing toward the back of my throat so I can just swallow it. And I smile all the way. “Mmmmmm-hmmmmm,” I say trying to will the thing down my gullet.

Still it clings to the inside of my mouth — like it wants to be there as long as possible. Like it’s found its new home. Chewing, even softly, releases more raw chicken essence into my mouth. I feel like I’ve gone for a swim in a lake filled with raw chicken. It’s like I never introduced it to the soy sauce.

Finally it slides down, more or less whole, the taste of raw chicken lingering.

My smile now approximates a death ricktus but my hosts buy it. More importantly, my boss beside me buys it. And, nodding happily at having found a convert, he starts on what will be my bigger problem than “Piece Of Chicken Sashimi #1”. Ken has piece number two between his chopsticks and heading for his mouth. So’s everyone else at the table. Again, I’m going to bring up the rear.

Let me tell ya, hard as the first piece of chicken sashimi was for this gai-jin to get down, “Chicken Sashimi Piece #2” was harder by a couple of multitudes. This time, I knew what was coming. So, in addition to the soy sauce coating my piece of chicken sashimi, now I also had dread.

That second piece of chicken sashimi has come to symbolize a certain kind of moment in my life — one where you know from personal experience how badly the shot that’s coming at you is going to hurt. The mere fact that shot number two exists makes shot number two worse.

There’s a terrific piece in a recent New Yorker about disgusting food. Writer Jiayang Fan captures both the squeamishness other peoples’ strange food can cause and the sense of communion food makes one feel toward one’s tribe (especially when your tribe’s food seems stranger to more people than yours does to them). One of the great points Fan makes is how adaptable our palettes can be if required. As Cervantes put it in Don Quixote, “Hunger makes the best sauce in the world”.

That means that given the proper incentive, and a little time, I could learn to love chicken sashimi.

*Sashimi actually but “sushi” is a funnier word.

Reparations For Slavery Are Actually “Back Pay” That’s Long, LONG Overdue

Slavery, understandably, is one of those words that juices our emotions. Anyone with a history of being enslaved understands on a deep, subcutaneous level how that hangs on one’s sense of self. And that’s without ever having been a slave oneself. Slavery isn’t just one thing of course. It’s a lot of things, none of them good. It’s a whole system in fact. But, it’s a system built upon one key, essential foundation: stolen labor. The whole point of enslaving someone — of making them your slave — is to force them to work for YOU for nothing. You get their labor gratis. Now, consider slavery from the point of view of work. If a person works for free, they can never acquire any wealth — or power, a thing that comes with wealth. Money talks, right? If you haven’t got any — and no way to acquire any — you don’t exist. As an individual, that is. Your work however DOES exist — and you, the slave, working for free, improve the slave master’s bottom line like literally nothing else. The bulk of the profits derived from slavery derive directly from the fact that the LABOR itself cost zero.

Now, to be fair, slavery didn’t provide completely free labor. The slave owner still had to house, feed and clothe his slaves. That’s cash OUT. The cost of a slave was seen as the difference between what it cost to keep a slave and whatever that slave’s maximum productivity could be. Since they were viewed as property, slaves could be sold as needed for cash or because they were “too much trouble” (meaning expensive) to hold onto. Killing slaves wasn’t a good option; that was understood as “destroying one’s own property”. Who in their right mind would do that?

Slavery’s apologists insist that the southern states could never have become viable without slavery’s almost free labor costs — as if white peoples’ need to make a buck transcended everything else in the discussion — including other human beings’ freedom. During slavery’s reign, plenty of apologists pointed to the Bible as justification for maintaining the institution as if the backwardness of iron age scribes excused contemporary immorality.

Want to measure what “fair” is? Ask yourself, if the shoes had all been on the opposite feet and white people had experienced CENTURIES of wage theft — and all the other devious ways white people stole Black peoples’ wealth in America — would white people go along to get along? Surely, you jest. White people in America have a terrible habit of changing rules on the fly for their benefit. This is one of them — but one we’re going to change because fairness demands it.

Though the founders couldn’t bring themselves to include ALL PEOPL;E in “All men are created equal”, still, some of them recognized the true super power lurking inside the American Experiment: diversity. In 1793, those Americans insisted that the words “E Pluribus Unum” become America’s motto and placed it on our “Great Seal”. How to sum up America in three words? From many, ONE.

The many, it’s understood, aren’t going to come here because they were kidnapped from their lives somewhere else, brutalized, transported and dehumanized so that others could get rich off your hard work. The many will come here for the opportunities that exist nowhere else on the planet. E Pluribus Unum is a great sales tool. Come Work For Free? Not so much.

The Confederacy, like the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane it relied on for cash flow, was literally BUILT on the free labor of slaves. Every single slave — or their descendant — has a legitimate claim against both the individuals who forced them to work for free and the government itself that falsely justified laws that permitted such egregious, wrong behavior. This was a conspiracy to deny a particular class of Americans (whether or not they were correctly called “Americans” the wages due them. Government conspired with private industry for their mutual benefit. They even went to war to protect this evil conspiracy to deny Black people the compensation to which they were entitled then and still are entitled.

Statues of limitations are a convenient way for those guilty to run out the clock on their culpability. A thing stolen remains stolen until its return to its true owner. Time can’t actually “forgive” anyone or anything. That’s the guilty party whistling past the graveyard of discovery . The wage theft inherent to slavery was just the most obvious of the thefts. Every time white people destroyed a thriving Black neighborhood like Greenwood — Black Wall Street — as they did in Tulsa in 1921 — they’re not just “burning out” and tearing down a thriving Black neighborhood. They’re stealing that neighborhood’s wealth. They’re taking its property — and that, too, DEMANDS reparation.

Hey — would the Carnegies or Rockefellers or Kochs or Mercers put up with this kind of thing? Ask a “hard” question, why don’tcha…

We Have To Stop Telling Ourselves Republicans Get Away With Things When WE’RE The Ones LETTING THEM Get Away With Things

Republicans having to bend democracy to its will is not a new thing. They’ve been doing it ever since it dawned on them that a rapidly diversifying America had already ended their cultural hegemony. You don’t suppress your own voters, right? You suppress the other guy’s — because they won’t vote for you. Political parties gerrymander Congressional districts in order to pick their voters before voters have a chance to pick them. If Republicans thought they could win elections based on the strength of their ideas, they’d happily win that way. But they can’t. So, they do everything they can to circumvent the majority. Until that majority actually does something to stop them, they’ll persist — like the pathogen they are inside our body politic.

We The People are a majority. Let’s start with that fact. Election after election after election, the MAJORITY of Americans vote AGAINST Republicans and Republican policies. Republicans have not in any way spoken for a majority of Americans since 1996. Keep in mind, our system does not reflect a level playing field. There are reasons we have 50 states today and not 51 or 52. There are reasons we have TWO Dakotas (and it ain’t because there were too many Dakotans for one Dakota), two Virginias, two Carolinas. Democratic Senators — there are 50 — represent 41.5 million more Americans than Republican Senators!

If Republicans were pushing America toward some ideological goal, it would be one thing. In the old days, they used to pretend that that’s what they were doing. Travel writer Stuart Stevens has been involved in Republican politics since the early 1990’s. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1960’s, Stevens saw the Democrats as “Good ol’ boy segregationists” which is exactly what the Southern Democrats/Dixiecrats were. That’s why he joined the GOP. But, Nixon’s “southern strategy” incorporated the racist Dixiecrats into the GOP. He finished the swap historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”. The names “Democrat” and “Republican” are almost meaningless in an historical sense. If you were to read the “Party of Lincoln’s” foundational documents, you’d swear you were reading something the modern Democratic Party put forward.

Understanding that bit of history helps explain modern Republicans and modern Republicanism. As Stevens himself puts it in his book “It Was All A Lie”, Ever since Reagan, Republicans have been deliberately and knowingly pedaling a lie to America — about themselves but also about us. About America. Republicans recognized post Reaganism that their hold on American culture was doomed. The demographics said so. Not just the demographics of who was coming to America, but the demographics of who had been in America for a long time already — and was suddenly realizing the power of their vote. The dirty, dirty secret Stevens gives up: Republicans knew the culture war was lost before they declared it on the rest of America. The whole point of the exercise was to seize power in whatever way they could — and then old onto it for dear life.

Republicans regard the rest of us cynically but their survival instincts aren’t wrong. If they could just tweak those instincts away from unilateralism and toward power-sharing, they might yet survive. Ah, but Republicans are all schoolyard bullies by nature. And there is the fact that they’ve committed treason in order to attain power and retain power. They’ve thrown their lot in with treason; there’ll be no coming back from that. That, absolutely, is one thing both sides don’t do.

The first wrong idea we have to let go of is that Republicans get away with everything. Yes, in the past, they mostly have. But then there was Watergate and Iran-Contra — two episodes where Republican corruption became so overwhelming we finally did something to corral it. So, we DO have it in us to put our foot down and say “Enough!” The second wrong idea we need to disabuse ourselves of is that we can pick and choose what parts of the rule of law to follow. That’s exactly how one breaks the rule of law. For the rule of law to work correctly, it must be applied evenly to everyone or people begin to think the rule of law doesn’t apply to them. That brings us to the third wrong idea — that whatever the rule of law is, it doesn’t apply to us. It absolutely does.

If we started thinking of our situation from the rule of law’s point of view, we’d dismiss the idea of Republicans getting away with any thing completely out of hand. The Universe cannot work that way because the rule of law can’t. That’s how WE The People need to think of the Universe and the rule of law. The rule of law is our arbitrator. And our arbitrator demands satisfaction when anyone stops playing by the rules.

For four years, the Department of Justice was corrupted by a racist, international crime syndicate and its enablers. Republicans are already ruing the fact that Merrick Garland now heads the Department of Justice instead of occupying a SCOTUS seat. Garland’s steadfastness as a level-headed prosecutor has already condemned them. Garland has said out loud that he intends to investigate all the corruption of the past four years because THAT is what the American People demand of their “top cop”. Once Garland’s DoJ begins pulling Republican corruption threads, it won’t take long for the entire Republican Corruption Sweater to fall apart in a massive, stinking, corrupt heap.

The fact is, Donald Trump will NOT get away with this. We have to stop thinking it might not happen. Rather, We The People need to think it can’t NOT happen. That way, were it not to, we’d come at it from the proper place: it should have happened & we still want it to. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done to us, we need to be willing to shut America down until that situation gets rectified. In a sense, we’ll have zero choice. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done, it would mean the American experiment is indeed over. Democracy has lost while treason and corruption have triumphed.

The only way that becomes reality is if we let it.

How To Beat Tribalism? Be Even MORE “Tribal”

Humans are tribal by nature; it’s a survival instinct. Since reproduction is one of our key “primal directives”, our genome has built into it behaviors that give our personal DNA every chance to create a next version of “us”. After our own precious ass, our family’s ass comes next in the pecking order. Then our extended family. Or, for some people, their friend circle. The block they live on. Their neighborhood. The school district they live in. The PTAs at their kids’ schools. The social issues that matter to them. Their city. The football or basketball or soccer or baseball team they love — and every other fan of that team. If you think about it, we form tribes with anything and everything we can — because we’re social creatures and this is what social creatures do.

White supremacists are no more tribal than anyone else. They just seem that way because they put all their emphasis on being in a limited number of tribes rather than as many as possible. “Jews will not replace us” — the rallying cry and tribal grievance of the Charlottesville Fascists Club — represents a particularly odd bit of tribalism. The whole “replacement culture” thing is bizarre because it assumes that those with the grievance are “replaceable” to begin with. Replaceable how exactly? In their jobs? In their marriages? In their lives? Being replaceable by “others” to whom you are supposedly “superior” is a strange way to think of yourself and your tribe. If your tribe excelled at something then that fact would make your tribe irreplaceable. Why don’t these “white supremacists” excel at anything other than having grievances? Why do THEY think THEY are replaceable?

In a competitive job market — in a competitive, capitalistic system — one MUST compete in order to stay in the game. Every group arriving here (aside from white people) have accepted that fact and worked their asses off to achieve some degree of success (and they’ve had to do that in the face of relentless white resistance). In that sense, EVERYONE is “replaceable” if they don’t continue to contribute to the group’s effort or hold up their end of the social bargain. Ah, but that’s where white privilege asserts itself. White people have gotten it into their heads that, since white men got together and wrote the Constitution – and framed it entirely to their advantage (as the “men” who were created equal”) – that this is set in concrete. That’s the whole point of “originalism” — to falsely assert that the flawed thinking of a group of (French) enlightened racists and misogynists is America’s bottom line. The country can only be exactly how the framers framed it.

Bullshit. The men who imagined this democratic republic made it changeable. They understood that this bold idea would need plenty of room around it to expand. They seemed to grasp, on some level, the incompleteness of their ideation — that “all men” was a bigger tribe than just white men. Congress approved of “E pluribus unum” as America’s motto (they put it on our Great Seal) in 1782. Out of many, one.

Out of many tribes, ONE TRIBE.

White supremacists can’t abide that. They think their TRIBE is replaceable. That, right there, is the problem.

I’m not sure there is a solution to white supremacy. Centuries of thinking one way about themselves versus everyone else has convinced white Europeans that their whiteness makes them superior. No, white people, it does not. White people are a minority of people on earth. If not for the greater lethality of the pathogens that evolved inside white Europeans over a thousand or so years (versus the pathogens evolving inside other human groups scattered across the globe), perhaps even their guns and steel would have faltered when they went exploring. A big piece of white people even thinking they’re “superior” comes from the relative ease with which white Europeans seized the Americas. The European colonizers told themselves their Christian faith — their god Yahweh — made them superior. Again, NO! Smallpox, measles and influenza — introduced into the Americas by European explorers — wiped out 90% OF NATIVE AMERICANS. If not for fleas — which carried the bubonic plague from China to Europe, bubonic plague might not have wiped out half of Europe in the fourteenth century. If not for Europeans and THEIR bugs, Europeans would have faced far more resistance when they landed on these shores.

How do we defeat tribalism? We don’t deny it; we can’t. It’s just too hard-wired into us. Why do you think there are soccer riots? Instead, we go at it, full bore. We make everyone “hyper-tribal” but not in that they see their exclusivity as a tribe. Rather, like two people who love the same song, they forget all their other potential differences and begin with that thing they have in common. Building from there (something as simple as a song), I bet those two people will surprise themselves with all their commonalities. Yes — there are differences. But, now there’s context for the differences.

Those two people might come to blows all the same; they just don’t like each other. But once you start talking together about how and why a song touches you, you will unlock pieces of your soul (such as it is) to that other person.

It’s a lot harder to feel tribally defensive toward someone whose soul you understand.

As Big Business Is Learning — When Your “Customer Base” Is The American Voter, YOU Are The Marketplace’s Bitch

It’s a brave new world for Delta Airlines. And Coca Cola. And Home Depot. And anyone doing business with the state of Georgia while Georgia is being run by democracy-hating traitors. Their problem: the marketplace is the ultimate democracy where people vote with the dollars in their pockets. Popular goods and services get more “votes” than unpopular ones (just like in high school). Even good ideas can die, unloved, if they can’t find (or maintain) their marketplace. Ask Sony about its Betamax video recorder which was technically superior to JVC’s VHS format yet ultimately lost out to in the marketplace. In the marketplace of ideas, JVC won big while Sony lost even bigger. The marketplace made Sony its bitch.

The assumption is, in a crony capitalist system like ours, the money always wins and We The People are only ever its pawn at best. While that is the goal of crony capitalism — to turn the whole country into a kind of glorified “company town” (itself a kind of glorified feudalism) — ironically, the “capitalism” part of the equation is what exposes crony capitalism’s Achilles heel. The whole point of capitalism is to make money dynamic because money didn’t always used to be dynamic like it is today. We take for granted that one can use money to make money but prior to capitialism’s invention, money sat in the same places with the same families forever and ever. Those families — Europe’s royal houses — did not think to “do” anything with their money. Money was land or livestock — or literal gold or silver — with no way to “bank” it. The only way to “grow” money was through direct lending — and lending money was considered unChristian. That’s why Jews got to do it (and be hated for it). Capitalism expanded the “acceptable ways” to both borrow money and profit from borrowing it.

Capitalism also made ideas valuable in a bankable sense. Thomas Edison’s inventions made him rich because he was able to patent them — an idea that recognized the inherent monetary value of good ideas. American democracy — as a salable idea — also has done very, very well. Despite four long years of Trumpism, people still flock to America — or want to because regardless of whatever squalor or hopelessness they live, their one shot out of that lies somewhere within America’s borders (regardless of who’s president). The core concept of America. “All men being equal” was compromised by what the founders meant by “All men”. That was always a terrible mistake, a product of European, male chauvinism.

Fortunately, time and history have begun to save America from itself. The E Pluribus Unum “Good Angel” of our nature has begun to assert itself over the “America Is The White Homeland” bad angel. That bad angel never knew what he was talking about. He still thinks he’s “American Exceptionalism” — well, the money in his pocket that’s always been there. Some of the founders understood that what would ultimately make America exceptional was the fact of its already burgeoning diversity. Nowhere before in the world had a nation formed itself with the promise of self-government. That idea coupled with the willingness of those arriving to work hard as hell to achieve their dreams made America exceptional by filling it with exceptional people from all over the world. That is American Exceptionalism.

For too, too long, all those exceptional people have been muzzled by the white, Christian males who somehow got it into their heads that they were the drivers of the American experiment. Yeah, it’s money that does the talking all right, but it’s not the big money that makes things happen. It’s the little money in every American’s pocket times the number of Americans there are. In American households, how one “votes” that money has been controlled by the household’s women for a while now. The proof? Remember Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly used to be Fox News’ cash cow. O’Reilly even survived some serious sexual intimidation allegations to stay at Fox (“Remember the loofah!”). But, at some point, O’Reilly’s sexist behavior achieved a kind of critical mass. The companies that advertised on his show were the canary in that coal mine. The advertisers informed Fox News that their clients — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — would no longer advertise on O’Reilly’s show because their customers — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — already recognized how much their customers hated O’Reilly and would soon enough stop buying products associated with him out of sheer disgust. Co-branding with Bill O’Reilly became toxic. The house of cards came down in a heartbeat — the 21st Century Fox Board informed O’Reilly he was now an ex-employee.

Big Business has always known who the “boss” is. That’s why they advertise, right? In the “who needs who more?” competition, in time, we can learn to love a competing brand. They can love “other customers” all they like. If those customers don’t buy, so what? Do boycotts work? Hell, yes. So does the threat of a boycott. That’s why the CEO’s of Coca Cola and Delta changed their tune so quickly. While both Coke and Delta have plenty of competition, they both have their market share — the customer base they think of as “theirs”. Take the brand loyalty out of a Coke drinker and you have a Pepsi drinker. Or a Royal Crown fan.

Is Coca Cola: The “Official Soft Drink” of Democracy or of Sedition?

As anyone who’s ever achieved success can tell you — yeah, getting to the mountain top is a job-and-a-half. But, it’s nothing compared to the relentless, quotidian grind of maintaining that success. Big Business craves monopoly because having a monopoly means you don’t have to spend much on marketing or product improvement while maximizing profits. They’d all love to turn America into a giant, feudal “company town”. Good thing some other Americans have a better idea.

Coke and Delta quickly changed their public stance regarding the Republican Party’s blatant attempt to make election theft legal. They felt Bill O’Reilly’s fetid breath on the back of their neck and they didn’t like it one bit.

We The People have considerable power in our hands but only if we use it. Unused power is power that doesn’t exist. It’s the ultimate “put up or shut up”. America’s right wing was so terrified of losing power that they were willing to co-conspire with Russia in order to keep that power. They had long ago given up on keeping power through the strength of their ideas. Aside from them, no one else wants to live in America circa 1850. The majority of Americans keep voting America toward progressivism while its political structures (the Electoral College and the Senate) keep America rooted in the past.

As more voters step from the sidelines and into the electoral game, America (once thought of as “center-right”) becomes increasingly center-left. We’re not actually “becoming” center-left, we’re being REVEALED as center-left. Not the same thing. The big difference between the left and the right has to do with emphasis. Are you “profits over people” or “people over profits”? Conservatives, for the most part, are profit-driven while progressives are people-driven. At the end of the day however, it’s people who drive profits. Take away the people, there’d be no profits.

As we all know, every time we walk into a crowded room (remember those), a game of “Who’s The Bitch” is up and running. Someone in that room is the room’s “bitch” — the one person there who literally everyone else looks down on. We all search that room, hoping like hell we don’t find ourselves staring back as the bitch. But, the painful truth is, it could be us.

Coke and Delta and Home Depot and all those other companies have finally realized that in the current environment, they’re not driving this bus. They’ve made the same old moves — talking “freedom” and “democracy” while paying for politicians bent on destroying them — only to discover too late that those moves don’t fool anyone anymore. Actions, not words, are the receipts. And We The People demand receipts!

Don’t have any receipts? You know how THAT game goes, Big Business, when you don’t have your damned receipt

Conservatism — By Its Nature — Will Always Look Backwards First

I don’t judge conservatives because they want to conserve — as their name says. I judge them because they won’t admit WHAT they want to conserve. Considering as you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist, conservatives have zero interest in the future. That’s Progressives’ territory. That’s why I prefer the descriptor “progressive” to “liberal”. Progressive is just more accurate — every fiber of my being wants humankind to progress as quickly as we can into the future (because we’ve made a total hash of the past). Just as “Progressive” neatly describes my overall direction with one word, so, too does “conservative” describe the direction conservatives want to take America. What do conservatives want to conserve? What does any individual conservative want conserved? For them, the present is the perfect place to start. If they could literally take us back to the past — to the idealized time and place in their head that they think of as “perfection” — they absolutely would. Same as a Progressive would whisk us all off to a perfect future of enlightenment and harmony. Like I said: I’m not here to judge (in this blog post). I’m here to understand.

Look, the future is scary. Who knows what’s going to happen? If I take off my “Progressive World View Specs” and put on a pair of borrowed “Conservative World View Specs” (they’re way too tight for my liking), I begin to appreciate the security the past held for some. In our part of the world, Europeans got it into their heads that the brutal lethality of the pathogens they carried with them meant they were morally superior to the indigenous peoples of North America they rolled with relative ease BECAUSE they’d been decimated by European pathogens. Europeans didn’t walk onto a “virgin continent” waiting to be enlightened by them, they entered a graveyard — the ground softened not by their ideas, a little by their superior weapons, but mostly because the pathogen load heading west (smallpox, measles, whooping cough, bubonic plague, malaria, yellow fever, dysentery) was more overwhelming than the pathogen load heading east (syphilis). Europeans carried more than just disease with them though. They brought their monotheistic religion — and their monotheistic religion convinced them that THEIR god was THE god and THEIR god said THEY could do whatever they liked to other people — especially if they believed in other gods or, worse, no god.

“Manifest Destiny” was no different from Cortes decimating the Aztecs and Pizarro brutalizing the Incas. “Gold, glory and god”. That was the mandate. Europeans took the Americas with relative ease but not for the reasons they thought or still think. Better and more pathogens. That’s it. That’s the difference.

But, once convinced of their superiority, Europeans would not be dissuaded. Europeans even used their most sacred religious texts — the thing upon which they based their entire civilization — to JUSTIFY enslaving other humans. If bondage and stolen labor were good enough for iron age people, then, damn it, it should be good enough for us! When you cloak your justifications for slavery and personal superiority with the divine, perhaps you can be forgiven for thinking you ARE the “alpha and the omega”. You’ve come to believe your wardrobe is who you are — and you think you’re God.

But for their pathogens, white Europeans might not have had such an easy time dominating the America’s. Their beachheads might have been smaller and less successful even over time. Instead of being easily rolled by the Europeans — who they outnumbered by a lot! — the Aztecs and Incas might have recognized the Europeans for the competitors they were. I bet, given the chance, the Aztecs and Incas might even have learned from the Europeans, found ways to either approximate or steal the Europeans superior war-fighting technology. We’ll never know. When Americans began rolling across North America, their destinies manifested, each mile further west they traveled convinced them that they were truly on a divine mission — new crusaders, if you will, conquering Indians instead of Muslms.

The “All men” that America’s founders thought were “created equal”, were white and they were all men. In their defense, maybe they weren’t quite as ‘enlightened” as they thought. But, that’s the America conservatives want to conserve. That’s the “original version” of America constitutional originalists are thinking of. They believe THAT is the America the rest of us should still be living in. If the founders couldn’t imagine a thing, then we just have to live in an America that laments its founders’ lack of forward-thinking chops. Talk about the tail wagging the dogma! Except that wasn’t how those men thought. They made the document dynamic.

Take away the native peoples who were here for ten thousand years before the Europeans set sail just for argument’s sake (though I bet their traditions would still help us a lot). Prior to the arrival of the Europeans — and then everyone else on the planet — this continent had no “native culture”. That is, European culture was not “native” to this place. Now, when we say, “European culture”, we don’t mean one thing. German culture is not so different from English culture (their royalty’s all related) but very different from Italian culture. It took a thousand years for several of the more prominent tribes of France — the Franks, the Merovingians, the Carolingians — to evolve into what we now think of as “French people”.

Remember how some of the French had no problem collaborating with Germany during WWII? That wasn’t a new behavior, that extreme pragmatism in the face of shifting political tides. In “A Distant Mirror”, her wonderful history of “the calamitous 14th century”, the historian Barbara Tuchman returns repeatedly to the story of Charles de Navarre (10 October 1332 – 1 January 1387), a French knight, in his time called Charles the Bad. He was King of Navarre from 1349–1387 and during those years — as the Hundred Year War raged on, Charles (whose property was in Normandy) saw the English and the French armies go back and forth across his domain repeatedly. The war pitted he French crown against the English crown; both wanted to declare the other’s as theirs. While he could have remained loyal to France the whole time — and simply took his licks (being sacked and burned) each time the English plowed through. Instead, Charles chose to ally with the English BEFORE they got to his land. Suddenly, this French lord couldn’t be more English. He’d welcome them to and through his territory, feeding them, housing them, giving them happy endings if they wanted them.

Then, when the tides changed yet again — and the war’s momentum swung back to the French, Charles would hang out his tricolor as if he’d never taken it down. Why, Charles had ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia AND those damned English! Vichy France’s pragmatic survival instincts kicked in at least six hundred years before we realized. That behavior pattern is part of what we think of as “French” behavior in national affairs. Same token — the Swiss and their neutrality are not new either. The Dutch have always been traders. The Germans have always been… well… “German”. The more closely aligned with the Catholic Church a country was — like Spain — the more cruelly dogmatic it became. Franco and the Spanish Inquisition are directly related.

Even the Europeans will tell you how their neighbors are. Especially the Europeans. When those people came here, to America, they all brought their national personalities with them. No such personalities existed here. But, Europeans weren’t the only non North Americans hitting our beaches. Before too long, people from all over the world had “discovered” America — and saw that they, too, could fill this empty canvass with themselves. Who “got here first” is a nonsensical argument since, really, no one was here first. And, as for whose money paid for it? That’s swell, but “ownership” is a concept invented by men to justify their claim that a thing — land, a cave, a woman — was theirs. The concept of “ownership” saves us from having to piss on or lick everything to prove that it’s ours.

Conservatives, if they could, would piss on or lick practically everything (licking it all first before pissing on it, I’m betting). Conservatism hews closely to its “religious values”, don’t forget. They believe in a kind of perfection perverted — an Eden destroyed by a woman. They believe that humanity’s fall from Grace was redeemed by a man-god born of a virgin, sent to die for all of our sins (though, if he doesn’t get betrayed by Judas and doesn’t die for our sins, I’m kinda wondering what that woulda been like but nevermind). Let’s be real. Down deep, there’s no such thing as a “God-fearing conservative”. No truly conservative person fears God.

That’s because most every God-fearing conservative doesn’t believe IN God, he believes he IS God. They won’t put it that way. Instead, they say “I understand what the lord wants from me” or I have a personal relationship with God!” He looks around at others who think they understand God and shakes his head sadly. Poor, misguided fools think God speaks through them, can ya believe it? Even those of us who “think” we understand God need to be set straight by this guy because HIS version of God is THE version of God (no substitutes accepted).

Enlightenment scares these people almost as much as Enlightenments do. Conservatives have rooted not just their religious faith but everything they think in the belief that a sky deity loves them and wants them to do his bidding here on earth. How things WERE — that’s what the sky deity wants. And if how things ARE RIGHT NOW is the closest we can get to HOW THINGS WERE then so be it. We’ll take what we can get. We’ll enshrine as much of yesterday into today as we possibly can and turn off the engine.

Unlike conservatives, Progressives aren’t intimidated by the unknown. We’re adaptive by nature. New information isn’t anathema to us, it’s our life blood. And if new voices bring new information or new ways to problem-solve? So much the better! The future is going to happen whether anyone likes it or not. Change is inevitable. It’s only ever a matter of time scale.

What do conservatives want to conserve? Everything you need to know is right there in the pause BEFORE they start to answer. They’re making a list, don’tcha know! They’re thinking about everything from the past that they wish could become permanent. The playing field was not level in that past. It wasn’t meant to be. Only the “equal” “all men” were expected to play, being the only ones qualified to play — by themselves of course.

That’s the America conservatives want to conserve. It’s why they’re always looking backwards, hoping to see the past come alive again. It’s the America they had full control of, before the rest of us realized how little they understood it.

A Constituency Of One

“I alone can fix it” was a tell. For starters, it ain’t true. No one alone can fix anything. Donald Trump with an army of followers couldn’t fix a damned thing though, all credit to him, he and his army of trolls came damned close to “fixing” our democracy for good (and the bastards are still at it!) Trump walked in the door compromised (as everyone who was anyone in the GOP’s leadership knew even before they made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he entered a room filled with GOP leadership a month before they made Trump their official nominee for POTUS in 2016, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!. The evangelical community forgave Trump — a man guilty of literally every mortal sin — because they saw a man as cravenly cynical as they are. The Right Wing money (the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelstein and the lesser I Pillow acolytes) saw their last shot at installing a state of permanent minority rule under Trump’s tin pot authoritarianism — a country Trump indeed “fixed” (though not alone) — all in service of his true constituency, himself — his Constituency Of One.

What is this madness? Where does this mania — this conviction that one person is the sun, the moon, the stars, the alpha, the omega and everything in between — come from? It sure as hell doesn’t come from reality. And it sure as hell isn’t healthy (our current situation being the data set). Some people, to this day, ache to be ruled by a king chosen by God. By “God”, they mean the stern, unsmiling, unforgiving (except of them) voice in their head. Religious fervency is as big a tell as “I alone can fix it”. Scratch the surface of your average religious fanatic and you’ll realize: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God — that’s why God speaks through THEM. That’s why THEY understand God while almost no one else does. That’s why it’s incumbent on THEM to do God’s bidding here on Earth. If not them, who?

Manifest Destiny was this idea taken to its most horrible extreme. White people doing God’s bidding because (really) white people think they’re God. Bringing God and Jesus to the ignorant, unwashed natives whether they liked it or not. One person’s “enlightenment” is another person’s genocide.

A constituency of many probably wouldn’t go there. A diverse constituency definitely wouldn’t. A diverse constituency dedicated to the well-being of every part of it? It’d be an absolute impossibility. What that means is, the further away we can get from a constituency of one, the healthier we get collectively and personally.

Donald Trump epitomizes white, male greed. He’s unapologetically piggish. That’s why so many white men love him: he’s the alpha pig they wish they could be. They, too, wish they could have a constituency of one the way Trump does. Trump can do or say anything — and get away with it! They believe that if Trump is president forever, they, too, can get away with everything forever. They can get away with unspeakable greed but also unspeakable hatred. “Cancel Culture” is white peoples’ code for “Whattaya mean I can’t call Black people the “N-word”, Jews the “K-word” and everyone else whatever the most insulting ethnic reference is — that’s how I feel about them!’.

Libertarianism thinks “freedom” means “you’re not the boss of me”. What it really means is “no woman can ever be the boss of me”, “no Black person can ever be the boss of me” and “no Jew can ever be the boss of me”. Other white guys? They’ll make an exception. Libertarians want all the benefits of freedom but they don’t want to take any of the responsibilities that do come with those benefits. They want to be able to preach “do unto others” while raping and pillaging relentlessly. It all goes to serving the needs of the one, screw the many.

Personally, I blame monotheism. This absurd, fictitious concentration of all the world’s purpose and knowledge into one “mind”, alternately deeply mysterious yet just knowable enough to know what the deity hates. When such an all-powerful, all-knowing thing smiles upon you, who are you to deny that smile? Want to know who God is? Stand before your bathroom mirror and really look yourself in the eyes. Voila! You’re looking right into the eyes of God. Are you underwhelmed or overwhelmed by that?

How shall we measure success as a culture? Surely, you can’t look at where we are — so much wealth yet so much poverty, sometimes pretty much right in the same place — and think we’ve done something special here. The happiest countries on earth just so happen to be the most socialized, too. Yes, the citizens of those countries pay more in taxes but they, they GET more — and expect more. America is about to get a big taste of how effective UBI (universal basic income) is at getting an economy back up onto its feet — and keeping it there. A consumer economy like ours relies on as many consumers as possible having as much money as possible in their pockets. The more those consumers spend, on goods and services provided by other consumers, the healthier the economy will become because all that consumption will create even more demand for still more goods and services. Success will breed more success.

It works. There’s data that says so whereas with “trickle down” economics, there isn’t any such data. There’s just the guy at the top saying trickle down works while he trickles down nothing but waste products.

A constituency of one strikes again.

Donald Trump will learn the hard way where a constituency of one leads. So will every Republican who co-conspired with him. Don’t think so? Let’s revisit a few months from now, AFTER Merrick Garland’s been at the newly refurbished Department of Justice for a while. No one wants Garland to do anything other than enforce the rule of law equally. If that’s ALL he does, if justice for its own sake motivates him then once he pulls the first thread of the January 6 conspiracy to commit insurrection, he won’t stop until the entire garment is gone. The insurrection threads will lead right to Donald Trump. But then, so will all the Russia threads that Merrick Garland’s team will begin tugging on. At the end of the day, everything about Donald Trump’s corrupt tenure in the White House will lead to Russia one way or another.

Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank and prepare to be the richest person you know.

There are few things more dangerous to the group than a member who only sees a constituency of one. That person does not see the group except as an impediment to them getting what they want. It’s a damnably male behavior, an outgrowth of having a “squirt ‘n go’ sexuality. The human male at his sexual peak is designed to spread his seed as many places as possible with little regard for what happens after he’s spread that seed. A woman doesn’t have that luxury. Any time a male squirts inside of her and goes — especially if she’s fertile (and even if she’s on birth control) — there’s the possibility that a child will result. As the excellent Gabrielle Blair has written on Twitter, women can orgasm without causing reproduction to possibly occur. Men, can’t. All the pregnancy risk literally comes from men.

A woman would never say “I alone can fix it” because women know biochemically that it’s bullshit. One could certainly try to bear and raise a child on on one’s own but it’s almost certainly doomed to fail. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, it does “take a village” to raise a child. For starters, it’s just way easier to have help birthing a baby — then keeping both baby and mother fed in the baby’s first days. It takes a village to educate a child and coach it through soccer or gym practices. Women can tell you that anything of value demands a village’s input.

American diversity is proof positive of what a village can do when it works together, benefitting from all the knowledge all that diversity organically brings. That IS American Exceptionalism — the fact of our diversity and its output. Hell, we even put the idea of diversity’s benefits on our Great Seal: E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. That’s the only “one” here that has a shot at fixing anything — the one that is the sum of us, not the relentlessly egomaniacal neuroses of the hopelessly deluded, mediocre-to-its-core one of us.

Success relies on many people working together. Failure really can flow from one person. Hell, the Coronavirus Pandemic started with ONE PERSON. Though a Hitler or a Pol Pot or a Donald Trump rely on the madness of crowds to do their dirtiest work, it still begins with that one person’s ability to bamboozle other people into thinking they’re special — anointed by the divine, in fact. Surely a deity clever enough to create literally everything wouldn’t be this painfully neurotic about one of his creations (even if it is his “favorite”). Surely, such a powerful creature wouldn’t lose his mind just because one of his creations either doesn’t “believe in him” or “sanctify him” to his liking. Seriously, what kind of third-rate deity is that?

That, too, is the end product of any “constituency of one”: mediocrity. Gods can’t be judged since there’s no one up to the task. That means a god can get away with anything — as gods do.

Or did…

Trump’s constituency of one is about to crash into the Will Of The People and its constituency. Each greedy Republican — and their “constituency of one” — also will crash and burn. In their darkest moments, I sure hope the words “I alone can fix it!” flashes across their minds, suffusing their anguish with a self-loathing glow. Slowly, but surely, each and every Trumpian or Republican constituency of one will morph into a constituency of done.