On January 20, 2021, at noon, Donald Trump ceased being POTUS and reverted to being Citizen Donald: former president with a few perks-of-the-office still but, in most other ways, just another American beholden to the rule of law. So, when Trump told those subpoenaed by the January 6 Commission to ignore those subpoenas, he was openly violating the law. In fact, each time Trump opens his mouth — like he did again at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines this weekend — and repeats those instructions while also continuing to openly support insurrection — that’s also a crime. When members of Congress stand with and support insurrectionists, they BECOME insurrectionists themselves because that’s how conspiracy to commit a crime works — especially when members of Congress openly associated with those insurrectionists in advance of the insurrection. It’s a crime to assault people just because you disagree with them. It’s a crime to threaten them — especially with a weapon. It’s a crime to co-conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine America’s government.
At least, in theory, all those things are crimes. Apparently, they stop being crimes when rich, white Christian men are the perps.
First question: WHO is being permissive here? Who appears willing to accept terrible behavior by one group versus far less terrible behavior by other groups? For sure, Black people aren’t being permissive toward white crime, neither are brown nor Asian American nor Native American nor anyone LGBTQ. That leaves white people — and the people who speak for white people, our news media. If outraged citizens on the street, witnessing George Floyd’s murder, hadn’t videoed the event with their phones, we wouldn’t know about it. Same as we don’t know about most of the 6,400 other people police have killed or fatally shot since 2015. This doesn’t happen in other countries. It doesn’t make us “exceptional”.
America remains a great idea poorly executed because the white, land-owning Christian men who drew up America’s founding documents couldn’t overcome their own native racism. And, yeah — they were racists. They proved it by agreeing that “All men are created equal” so long as “All men” is “white, Christian, land-owners who also are MEN”. No one else qualifies as “equal”. Well, that idea is demonstrably false. The same men also put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one”. The Great Seal doesn’t qualify who the “many” are. That’s because E Pluribus Unum captures more fully America’s Secret Sauce (what makes America truly exceptional) far better than “All men are created equal” does.
The playing field has never truly been level here in America. That’s not a reflection on the strength of our founding idea, it’s a reflection of our not having gotten the hang of democracy yet. It really is a challenging form of government, being all DIY. As Churchill put it, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…”. Democracy is the best of a bad lot, in part, because (as Ben Franklin pointed out) it demands so much hard work to maintain a republic. It demands that its citizens participate — not an easy ask. In the whole history of humankind, self-government is a very, very recent innovation. Kowtowing like betas to an all powerful, divinely-connected alpha dog who claims a superior blood line is much more our habit. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And people claiming divine authority for their power are the MOST corrupt. They’re also the most full of shit.
That’s not a coincidence.
Here in America, white people gained an unfair advantage at the start that — understandably — they are loathe to let go of. But, what originalism really is saying is “Hey, we wrote the rules at the start — with a heavy bias toward ourselves — but that’s just how it is and how the country must always be”. White people also rationalized a legitimacy for enslaving people. America’s economic base, in the beginning, was agricultural. We could easily grow vast amounts of sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The only problem with those particular crops though is the labor intensity demanded to grow and harvest them. If one had to pay a fair market wage to the labor needed — and one needed lots of labor prior to industrial farming techniques — then the profit margins would shrink radically; they might even vanish altogether. The decision to use slaves to perform that labor solved that problem by making the labor costs virtually zero.
At its bottommost line, slavery is stolen labor. America made stolen labor legal — so long as the laborer was Black. We also imposed a variation of slavery on Mexican farm laborers and Chinese railroad workers. Slave wages are designed to make economic independence impossible, keeping the worker enslaved to his or her job. An unhappy worker tied to a job because it has health INSURANCE (not health care — ours isn’t a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing!) that they literally can’t live without is not much better than a slave tied to a master because otherwise they’d have nowhere to sleep, no clothes, no food. Policing in America began as an adjunct to slavery. Originally, cops were slave hunters.
When Trump said, during his 2016 campaign, that he could shoot one of his followers on 5th Avenue and not suffer any consequences, he was horrifyingly right. Trump didn’t use a bullet to take out his followers, he used the coronavirus and lies. Trump understood — having lived the life of a criminal — that being rich, white and Christian was already a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He also understood that by corrupting others, the potency of that “Get Out Of Jail” card increases exponentially.
All abuses of power are corrupt. Our permissiveness toward white people when they act criminally is corruption on the hoof. That, too, is illegal. If we really want to stop this merry-go-round from hell, we need to stop it for good. We need to call corruption what it is and criminals what they are. If we just reframe our story, we’ll suddenly understand exactly what the story really is. And we’ll stop treating Republicans like honest actors, our partners-in-governance and start treating them like the criminals they are.
For all of conservatism’s many negatives, “truth in advertising” isn’t one of them. To its credit, conservatism will tell you right up front what it’s all about and what it wants our collective future to be: our past It’s right there in conservatism’s name — conservatives want to CONSERVE. Fair enough. Conserving the environment is good. Conserving tradition can be good. It can be rotten too. It’s situational. One thing we know conservatives can’t and definitely don’t want to conserve though is the future. Fortunately for them, as the future hasn’t happened yet, it’s the one time frame we can’t conserve. Just as well. The future is the one time frame conservatives want to avoid — by conserving as much of the past that remains in the present as they possibly can — and then locking that version of the present into a kind of stasis,. If conservatism could have its way — which is what they’re trying to do now — America would become a one-party state: theirs. This permanent minority rule wouldn’t just hold us in the present, it would in fact begin to regress us back into the 50’s — an era conservatism and the current version of the Republican Party think of as the “the white man’s golden age“. That’s 1850 we’re talking about!
In America, conservatism is old, Christian white men desperate to maintain what had been a hegemonic hold on power born of a great idea poorly executed. “All men are created equal” needed a rewrite it never got — and diversity — in order to fully live up to its E Pluribus Unum potential. That’s always been the dynamic tension at the heart of the American experiment. Though white people articulated the great idea, everyone other than white people are far better at realizing the great idea’s “E Pluribus Unum” potential. That’s because they are the “Pluribus”. Racism bubbles to the surface when one group thinks it’s superior to another group (as white people do toward Black people and brown people and Asian people and everyone else who isn’t white like them). The reason people from all over the world latched onto E Pluribus Unum is the same reason white Christian men thought “All men are created equal” was just fine as written — and as intended.
The white men who founded America and intended to hold all political power for themselves were actively defining the box they intended America to be. “All men” meant them. White, Christian men intended that white, Christian men would be America’s perpetual stakeholder pool. White, Christian, land-owning men more specifically. No E Pluribus Unum in sight. That’s where “originalism” comes from.
Consider “originalism”. Consider how we get a thing like “originalism”. It’s white, Christian men saying “Well, since we thought of the great idea, we’re the ones who should always get to run it how we like it!” Originalism insists, that America must always be exactly how the white men who invented it intended it to be. Any other version of America, says originalism, is an aberration, E Pluribus Unum be damned.
“Originalism” is “the box” with a tired, old bow on it.
The reason conservatives (and therefore Republicans) can’t run on the strength of their ideas is simple. They have none. Their new idea is to turn America back into how it was. That’s why Republicans have to resort to suppressing Democratic voters and gerrymandering. It’s why they’re corrupt. They’re so desperate to hold onto power that they even co-conspired with a hostile foreign government actively engaged in cyber war with us. Think about that! Conservatism saw more common purpose with Putin (and now with the coronavirus) than it did or does with other Americans. That, to bring it around, is because all those “other Americans” aren’t “them”.
By its nature, conservatism cannot innovate its way out of our problems; that’s because the act of innovating itself threatens conservatism. How can there be new ideas when the old suffice? If new ideas work to solve our problems, it means old ideas can’t or don’t. Any problem conservatism can’t solve poses a threat to conservatism itself because the only way out is through innovation — doing it differently than before. And, most likely, doing it better, too.
Two words conservatives hate are “new” and “improved” because “old” and “how it was” is how they like it.
If not for the Electoral College’s artificial hold on the presidency — if we actually just elected our POTUS via popular vote — it’s likely a Republican would never win the presidency ever again. Future Democrats would run up even bigger margins than Joe Biden’s 7 million vote cushion. Ah, but the EC is another old, artificial, racist governing structure trying to keep “All men are created equal” from turning into “E Pluribus Unum”. Just like the structure of the Senate — another example of white power tilting the playing field toward itself.
Conservatism’s answer to virtually all of our massive problems is the same: do nothing (as if doing nothing was a cheaper option) regardless of whether the problem is climate change, racism, corruption or treason. Even among conservative Democrats, there’s a latent desire to just “kiss and make up” — to go full bi-partisan kumbaya with the very same bad actors trying to destroy the American republican from within. Doing nothing is invariably the most expensive option of all.
If we do nothing to save our democracy, it will go away. If we do nothing to save our environment, it will become uninhabitable. If we do nothing to save human decency, indecency will eventually come for us.
Solving these problems demands, first, acknowledging them. White America is balking at the whole idea of walking in the door to marriage counseling. They don’t want the marriage between them and everyone else to endure — at least, not the way everyone else imagines the relationship. Like I said, it turns out that everyone BUT white people seem to have a knack for democracy. Black Americans have such a solid grasp of it — and why it matters — that they have endured three hundred plus years of brutality by the white people with the great idea in order to manifest the great idea in ways white people would never have thought of — because they were always in power.
When people keep putting obstacles in your way, problem-solving around them becomes second nature. Joe Biden’s administration could write a few volumes on the topic. Afghanistan could fill a whole library. The pandemic could fill a zip code full of nothing but libraries. The conservative response to Afghanistan was “get greedy”. Its response to climate change is deny it’s happening. It’s response to voting rights is restrict them as much as possible because — as Donald Trump himself put it, “when too many people vote, it’s bad for Republicans”. Yeah — exactly.
Politics in America make little sense because too much of our “common wisdom” thinks everyone does everything for entirely political reasons completely divorced from any desire to actually govern. That “common wisdom” is deeply cynical and deeply conservative — as all “common wisdom” is, coming, as it does, from either long held knowledge or just long held traditions pretending to be knowledge. I don’t know if American politics have always been this cynical (I suspect it has been) but the presence of cynicism also marks the presence of a very real divide. The much LARGER group — on the other side of that divide? They aren’t cynical. They don’t think the worst of everyone. They absolutely experience the same intense gravity from the same tribal pull but, having lived in a diverse culture, they recognize that E Pluribus Unum is the cure for all that. Out of many, one.
Please, let’s be straight up here (like it was a question): only one side in this “conversation” we’re having about America’s future sees diversity as a threat to their hegemony. White people have held political power (and, hence, da money) from the get-go. That’s not because the great idea they spun said that’s how it was supposed to be (the great idea says, literally “all men are created equal” and not “all men who look exactly like us”), that’s because the MEN who crafted these founding documents were flawed (of course they were flawed — they were the male of the human species!). They came from a Northern European culture that mistook the advantages their pathogens gave them as cultural superiority. It wasn’t Christian virtue that laid low the heathens of North America, it was small pox. Thus is cynicism born.
The very idea of “E Pluribus Unum” makes “originalism” bullshit. Originalism is itself a pathogen. It’s the racist mis-step at America’s founding given a deceptive branding. Think about what originalism is really insisting — that how America IS should reflect only what its white, Christian, male founding FATHERS were thinking when they drafted our founding documents. We must accept their world and their world view warts as our world view regardless of any or all changes to our knowledge or thinking caused by our subsequent history. We must accept that this country’s founders understood the “Pluribus” of E Pluribus Unum to be exclusively white people. Originalism is an attempt to excuse and justify racism. It is pure cynicism (as racism is).
But, our news media — lacking perspective — doesn’t see originalism as racism. They see originalism (as they see racism) as a legitimate opinion even if (in the case of racism), it’s an opinion the racist insists isn’t his. It may be an opinion journalists pooh-pooh as offensive — but, considering that their measure of a racist is whether or not a racist owns his racism — that’s really all the current journalistic culture thinks racism is — an unfortunate opinion about other people that good people shouldn’t have. “Common wisdom” therefore says you can ask someone “Hey, are YOU a racist?” and whatever their answer is — that’s the truth we should all accept about them. They would know if they’re a racist, right? And they’d be honest about it!
This is how cynicism “thinks”. From the inside. It’s a rabbit hole constructed entirely of bullshit. And all bullshit is ultimately toxic.
Outside that cynical rabbit hole filled with “common wisdom” and bullshit, that’s where the rest of us live. We watch our news media report on that rabbit hole like IT was reality. We watch them constantly get our story wrong because they’re not reporting our reality.
As with most cynicism, a nugget of truth gets colored all one way. Americans do not vote en masse in mid-term elections the way they do in presidential elections. Except when they DO vote en masse in mid-terms as Americans did in 2018. They also vote en masse — contrary to “common wisdom” — in special elections like the one in Georgia that put two Democrats in the Senate. Our news media really didn’t see that coming because they — being cynical — thought the worst of Georgia’s electorate. When our news media tells us what terrible voters we are, we tend to behave like terrible voters. When they tell us we’re good voters, well — they’re usually behind that curve.
Why did Americans lose their civic pride? Why did Americans stop educating themselves about their own government when their form of government DEMANDS their participation — and therefore their education in HOW to self-govern? Self governing still doesn’t come naturally to human beings. It’s something we have to work at — hard. But you have to keep reminding yourself of all the steps it takes. It’s not unlike playing tennis. Want to have a good ground stroke? It’s all about the fundamentals regardless of the ball coming at you. If all you do is react to the ball — rather than attack it fundamentally, the will will own you. Your ground stroke will be late and it will suck.
Ah, but the “common wisdom” — even though it heard Bannon and reported on Bannon and even talked about Bannon in their talking head discussions — says this is “just how it is!” Of course certain Republicans think like this and, when in power, of course they do everything they can to manifest their craziness in our reality. Can you feel the cynicism?
Through nearly a year of Trump’s candidacy, four years of his presidency and, now, nearly nine months of his post-presidency, our news media has treated this abomination as if it was normal. As perverse and outlandish as Trumpian pronouncements could be, our news media — rather than saying “Hey, that’s really perverse and outlandish — I’m digging in my heels right here!”, shrugged their shoulders and willingly moved on from “Mexicans are rapists” to “Pussy grabbing” – and then to “But, her emails!” because THAT, suddenly, became the story. As we know, there was zero “there” there. And it’s not as if our news media rushed back to their previous outrage to defend either Mexicans or women or any American.
A lot of “common wisdom” stays that way not because it’s wise but because people keep repeating it. “Common wisdom” doesn’t know what to do with people being woke because “common wisdom” — being conservative — cannot tolerate wokeness; all new information threatens the old information’s validity. If some of that “old information” is “white guys are superior to everyone else and therefore deserve to govern and have all the money”, well, you can see how those believing it would be mightily threatened by those who don’t. That, in a nutshell, is America’s dilemma. The rich white, Christian men are unwilling to share power or money. Like Charlton Heston’s gun, it will have to be plucked from their cold, dead fingers. Metaphorically speaking, of course
From the moment our news media finally agreed that Joe Biden fairly and squarely beat Trump — while taking back the Senate — they’ve pointed to the “common wisdom” that off year elections are always catastrophic for the newly elected president. Yes, that’s based on plenty of history. But none of that history is remotely like now.
That’s another of “common wisdom’s” blind spots — the assumption that nothing ever changes. That we live in a constant whose circumstances repeat endlessly. That is the world conservatives dream of. It’s the world they want to bamboozle us all into thinking “is”. It isn’t. Human beings evolve and change and adapt. And they get woke, too.
The moment Trump became potus, America changed. Rather, change was forced upon America and either we were going to accept that change — a right wing power grab aided by a hostile foreign power actively engaged in a cyber war against us — or we were going to reject it. This is the stone cold realpolitik reality. A fearful white minority is trying to hold onto power forever via permanent minority rule. Elements of this fearful mindset have been actively suppressing Democratic voters and gerrymandering elections for a generation at least, the point being to deny the diverse majority its rightful vote and voice.
Only white people could possibly look at the current political landscape and think “do nothing”. Literally every other group is more keenly aware than ever of the threat white people pose to them and to the very notion of America. But, alas, that sentiment, true as it is, flies in the face of the “common wisdom” that says 2022 is an off year election so therefore give it to the Republicans because that’s how it always is.
In fact, cynical. To report such a story — as the Washington Post did a year later, its reporter having heard the RECORDING of the meeting — and not follow up until the question gets answered: why did everyone in that room of GOP leaders agree to keep this terrible information “in the family” rather than call the FBI to report it? Want to know how every Republican in the room could persist and how our news media could report it and not become laser focused on getting to the bottom of it? Cynicism.
If our news media were doing the job imagined for them in the Constitution, they’d be We The People’s final line of defense against unbridled political power. They wouldn’t be political power’s propagandist of choice. That’s what access journalism (the brand practiced too often during the Trump years) creates: news compromised by the access required to get that “news”. It becomes “sales” instead.
I dare the news media to point at one positive benefit voting Republican could do for anyone except for indulging their hatefulness and ignorance. Would voting Republican in Florida or Texas or South Dakota alleviate the pandemic’s onslaught on those mask and vaccination mandate-free states? No, in fact, continuing to vote Republican will exacerbate this tragedy. Yet, cynically, our news media insists that — because 2022 is a mid-term election, Americans will “naturally” pull the lever for Republicans because “we need something different!” or “the other party is more motivated”. True, Trumpanistas may feel motivated — but that’s only if they’re not dying from COVID-19 as more and more now are. To assert — because “common wisdom” — that stupid, sick Americans will show up en masse while healthy, woke Americans won’t is to mis-read the landscape even worse than the news media did in 2018. If you go back and look at the “video tape” of 2018, our news media were determined that Donald Trump was going to win that night big.
He did not. In fact, the exact opposite happened, “common wisdom” notwithstanding.
In the “common wisdom’s” defense, it’s easy to keep in your pocket, even easier to pull out and put down on the table. No one ever was called out because they went with the common wisdom. Until now. There’s a terrible “come to Jesus” moment in our news media’s future. We The People will absolutely prevent the Republican Party from destroying American democracy because doing that is in our best interest while succumbing to the GOP’s authoritarian power grab isn’t. Life’s really that simple. While, sure, fascism overcame even the “good Germans” as it took over Germany, Germany was almost entirely homogenous. Everyone succumbing to Hitler’s totalitarianism was German going back a thousand years. Going along to get along with the tribe was hard-wired. Fascism didn’t work as successfully in France because the French — after a thousand years of becoming French — don’t act the same way.
America presents an entirely different set of circumstances especially since the majority of Americans are NOT part of the same tribe, or even the same culture. Our culture is still very much in its formative stages in large part because something like America — where all these cultures come together, some blending, others not — has never happened before in human history. E Pluribus Unum never happened before. And E Pluribus Unum is what’s now woke and waking up more and more.
Our news media doesn’t see it because they still don’t see us. They’re corporate, most of them, don’t forget. They step on set having been educated in a corporate way of thinking (“both sides do it”) and relying on playing the corporate game to keep the money flowing. They’re invested in the “common wisdom” without even knowing it. And, so, they report what (maybe) was as if it was what “is”.
Cynicism cannot tolerate perspective just like perspective cannot tolerate cynicism. Americans cannot tolerate Republicanism the way our bodies cannot tolerate the coronavirus. Like that deadly virus, Republicanism’s goal is to invade a citizen’s soul like a virus invades their cells, turning them into it. The cure is simple: vaccination. Up here in the political sphere, that manifests as information. Perspective. Why would anyone vote for Republicans when voting for them produces nothing good (not even for them)?
They wouldn’t. A news media with perspective would report it that way.
Here in America, our family motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up on one. The majority of the family has figured out that the family really and truly does best when more of the family prospers versus when, say, only a few members of the family prosper. As anyone born into a multi-child family will tell you, birth order matters in strange ways. It creates odd expectations and artificial friction depending on where in the birth order one was birthed and how the family one was birthed into itself thinks about the importance of birth order.
Republicans like to think that because Northern European, Christian, white men synthesized, articulated and memorialized various ideals plucked from the French Enlightenment into our founding documents (while failing to live up to those very same ideals) that THEY and only THEY should forever be the “keepers” of that “founding flame”. That IS what “originalism” is all about. It’s a first-born male child thinking he personally did something to make himself that first-born male child. It’s George W. Bush being born on third base and thinking he’d hit a triple. “Here’s how it was when WE wrote it up the way WE wanted it to be; how it was then is how it must forever be — because we say so”.
Imagine writing “All men are created equal” while actually meaning only “white, Protestant, Christian, land-owning men with Northern European roots”. That bit of ignorant, cultural hegemony happened in spite of the new, expansive thinking inspired by the French Enlightenment. But then, ideals never drove the quest to settle North America, making a lot of money did. Once Europe realized that North America was a thing and not just a passageway to the Far East, their mandate was to exploit it for the benefit of their royal and commercial sponsors. And, exploit it they did. By the time these Europeans began agreeing that “All men are created equal”, they’d already been living on and claiming title to property that wasn’t theirs for well over a hundred years. Not too, too long thereafter, they’d articulate that bit of bullshit as “Manifest Destiny”.
The thing though about growing families? They’re dynamic by nature. They change. They evolve. Though they start as one thing, they become something else over time via intermarriage with other families from other cultures. Our individual genomes are good at matching up dominant gene traits so as to perpetuate them in the collective genome. While a degree of specialization can be a good thing in a family’s genetic makeup, that can be a trap, too. We’re really not meant to inter-breed with family. Unless we think turning into the Spanish aristocracy’s a good thing.
What makes America exceptional — American Exceptionalism is a very real thing — is our E Pluribus Unum diversity. It’s the whole rest of the family that both arrived here in time but who also were born here same as the arrogant white men who assume that they’re being born here matters more. Think of how much better the American family would be if one of its family members didn’t keep threatening to blow up station wagon with all of us inside it.
I don’t know about you, but the image I keep getting in my head every time I hear a Republican lie or dissemble about their stone cold intention to destroy our democracy is of a spoiled little boy, his arms folded arrogantly across his chest, his lip thrust forward defiantly. He’s saying something like “You’re not the boss of me” or “I like beer” or “Stop the steal”.
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.
The US Constitution — as originally written and ratified — did NOT include freedom of speech or the press or religion or assembly or any of the other specific rights enumerated in the Bill Of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Did you catch that word — “amendments”? The Constitution’s framers built the framework with various means to alter and improve the Constitution because they knew at the start (they argued about it relentlessly!) that the work of crafting it was not nearly finished and might never be. The Constitution’s framers knew as they were framing it that the Constitution would always be a work in progress.
Originalism has two fatal flaws (at least).
The first is the ludicrous (and, frankly, offensive) notion that we have to understand laws only as they were understood by the men who wrote them regardless of the fact that the circumstances under which they lived (and under which they wrote the law) and the circumstances under which WE live are totally different. Originalism compounds the ludicrousness by pretending it can creep inside the minds of the framers where, originalism assures us, they wanted this document to be followed to the letter no matter what.
Even the original originalists didn’t go along with originalism.
Second fatal flaw — arguing that we’re bound to a document written by white, Christian, land-owning men who thought only white, Christian, land-owning men had rights is such a white, Christian, land-owning man thing to argue. The rules were set in stone by rule makers who wrote the rules strictly for their benefit. To go along with that kind of thinking would make everyone not white, Christian, land-owning and male a member of a permanent under-class — without many rights to “speak of”. Well, screw that!
Originalists pick n choose the Constitution the way they pick n choose which Biblical passages to follow.
Perhaps the biggest, most important, most far-reaching decision originalist di tutti originalists Antonin Scalia ever wrote was “Bush v Gore”, the SCOTUS decision that stopped the recount in Florida and literally HANDED the 2000 election to George W. Bush regardless of the fact that Democratic votes in Florida remained uncounted and — most importantly — Bush had lost the popular vote by a ton. Antonin Scalia took a huge, steaming dump on James Madison’s idea that a Government “inadequate to the purposes of its institution” had rights greater than the Peoples’.
In handing the election to Bush, Scalia noted that he was stepping outside the boundaries of originalism — just this once but that we weren’t going to be allowed EVER to step outside those boundaries ever again. Only originalist Scalia could set originalism aside — so as to protect originalism’s tender illusion of relevance. Horse. Shit.
Antonin Scalia — the King of Originalism — should have taken originalism to the grave with him. Not that the worms deserve either. Intellectually, originalism is the quintessential make-it-up-as-you-go-along, “White Guy” argument. “But the rules! But the rules!” says the one who wrote the rules, then broke them repeatedly then got upset when others threatened to write the rules instead. Even on its surface, originalism stinks. Scratch that surface and you unleash a whole sewage system of awfulness.
Never mind the fact that the King of Originalism, Scalia, set originalism aside to write the decision that will most define him: Bush v Gore. Not only did he set originalism aside to write that bit of flaming horse shit, he made Bush v Gore a one-time deal. It followed no rules then made itself unique — all in one neat, corrupt, decision.
Originalism insists the Constitution is stuck in time; therefore so is America. If not for those nasty amendments, America would still be a bastion for rich, white, Christian land owners. Like in the 1780s. The opposite view sees the Constitution as a living, breathing, dynamic document (designed) to serve America’s living, breathing, dynamic population. You know, what that famous Republican president called “Government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People.”
Originalism is about controlling the mythology and pretending it’s the law. It’s Magical Thinking written in lawyer font.
It’s about pretending words say things they don’t.
It’s all about cynicism.
The only correct response when some right wing nitwit hauls originalism onto the table is “Oh, shut up”. The goal is to make you chase them down their rabbit hole because that’s what originalism is: a damned rabbit hole.
“Out of many, one”. That’s what “E pluribus unum” means. It was approved as America’s motto in 1782 as part of the act that created Americia’s Great Seal. “E pluribus unum” and “Novus ordo securum” (new order of the ages) were afixed to it. Together, “out of many, one” and “new order of the ages” was meant to speak toward our ideals.
The problem is we were oppressing some of the “many” we were counting as the “one”. Slavery still haunts America. Maybe the peaceful protests filling America’s streets every day now represents America’s conscience finally (FINALLY!) waking the hell up. We ended the commercial institution of slavery. We never ended the racism that permitted it to even be a consideration as part of a free, democratic country where “All Men Are Created Equal”.
Perhaps the idea this nation’s founders imagined was too big for them to fully grasp. They Euro-centered it in their heads. They didn’t even mean all men when they wrote “all men”. They meant all white men. Some wanted only all property-owning white men. And they certainly didn’t mean any women.
Yeah — great idea, guys — good thing you made the Constitution upgradeable and capable of evolving. Good thing you didn’t put, at the end, “And there will be no changes made to this document, we intended that the law will be how we wrote it in our world with our knowledge base and our technology”. That would have meant we’d still be stuck living in the 18th century.
Originalism is to sound legal reasoning what snot is to caviar. What horse shit is to Truth.
It epitomizes conservative “thinking”. It wants to freeze a moment in time and force us to live in it — because that’s when conservative white power was fully in charge.
Some little boys never learn how to share.
White conservatives would have us all believe that “American Exceptionalism” is rich white guys and their money. E Pluribus Unum says otherwise.
Right now, America doesn’t look terribly exceptional. I take that back. Before America suddenly got woke — at the tragic expense of George Floyd and far too many black Americans to be even remotely acceptable. The protest marches are filled with everything that makes America exceptional. They are American Exceptionalism on the hoof.
Black Lives Matter is a pure expression of American Exceptionalism.