Representation of an ornamental hermit in Germany in the late 18th century (1795) by Johann Baptist Theobald Schmitt: Eremit in Flotbeck. (from here)

Because some people abuse the privilege of anonymity, anonymity is an issue on the Internet. Some people put their names out there proudly and fearlessly. Perhaps as a consequence of what they have said others have no desire whatsoever to be exposed. Since I blog about politics and religion, I suppose I might seem to be in the latter category. Am I dreadfully fearful of being exposed? Could I be shivering in my hiking boots preparing to spend my last days hidden in a wilderness cave. That is an interesting thought to some, I suppose, but it is not the subject of this post. This post is about identity politics and the guilt trip.

I just finished an interesting debate. Neither of us minced words. Considering my host called his post Healthcare Hypocrisy and I probably qualify as one of his hypocrites, we did well to avoid name calling. As the debate careened to its ending, my host (The blog is named american secularist.) posed a question. Here is his question and the dialogue that followed.

  • BTW – just curious Tom; by no means do you have to answer. But I’m kinda ‘full disclosure’ on my site. You can see a real photo of me, taken just a few weeks ago. I’m posting under my real name. You can run a search on me on bing or google, and you’ll find my voting and license registrations, my former addresses in Ohio an Virginia, maybe as far back to my college days in Tennessee. You won’t find a criminal record, a judgement for non-payment, or anything negative on me. I’m addressing you as Tom, but I know that’s a pseudonym in deference to the great Thomas Paine – whose secularist ideas, by the way, were in much greater harmony with my opinion than with yours.

    I’ve also disclosed my healthcare status on my site, as I find it disingenuous to discuss what should apply to Americans in general without doing so. What’s your healthcare status? Did you have employer-provided insurance for most of your working life – something people in their 20s and 30s increasingly don’t have access to? Are you a recipient of Medicare or Medicaid? These are very personal questions, I know, and I understand if you don’t want to disclose. But I just want to make it clear that I am first of all, not a hypocrite or partisan, and secondly, that I’m not advocating for programs out of self-benefit. Much of what I support would raise my taxes considerably once I return to the US.

  • Don

    When Thomas Paine first started writing in support of the American Revolution, he did so anonymously. Since the British probably would have hung him, he had a much better reason than I for writing under a pseudonym. Nevertheless, part of the reason….well, this quote is on my About page.

    Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the DOCTRINE ITSELF, not the MAN. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle. — from the introduction to “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine

    Am I a member of the Republican Party? Am I a Conservative? Yes and yes. I don’t go to great lengths to hide my identity. Nevertheless, if what I say does not make sense, then no one has to attack me. They can revel in attacking the DOCTRINE ITSELF. If the DOCTRINE ITSELF does make sense, however, then no one has any reason to attack or make me the issue. Therefore, who I am does not matter.

    You see it differently. You make known who you are. You think it matters. Then I suppose you think personal experience very important. Sometimes it is, but with respect to issues of public policy, I don’t give the experience of one person much weight. Granted, some people take a political position just for personal gain, but I don’t read minds. I am not equipped to judge that sort of bias. Therefore, I try not to argue against the policy positions of ordinary citizens on that basis. So rest assured I will do my best, especially where we disagree, to focus on the DOCTRINE ITSELF, not the man. Rather than needlessly anger someone, I think it better to make a friend.

  • I think more direct to the point, Tom, is that there are people who argue against public healthcare when they are beneficiaries of such – Congress, for example – seems a bit hypocritical to me. It’s not my experience that matters – my experiences are important only to me – it’s my objectivity. If, for example, you were arguing against public healthcare for others, while receiving it yourself – I think that would be important for people to know. A lot of people out there preaching one thing while benefiting from another. The purity of the message can be diluted, even spoiled by the messenger.

  • Identity politics of some sort always seems to be something of an issue. Even if I cannot be objective, how about you? Why don’t you just pretend I am a black, transgendered, abused spouse? If that is not enough, you can add that I am a disabled, Muslim, short, refugee (illegal immigrant) woman from Haiti. Thus, I can appropriately as speak as a huge victim on almost any consequential issue of the day.

    Are you talking about a real problem? Yes. If a poor man robs a rich man, other poor men may tend to lack sympathy. Other rich men will, however, find the incident more disturbing. We see things from our own point-of-view, but our point-of-view does not change what is right or what is wrong. Robbery is wrong regardless of who robs who.

After my last comment, added this tidbit and closed comments.

  • Tom your last 2 answers are just a lot of dissembling – reading your comments helps me to understand the audience Kellyanne Conway actually makes sense to. My question was whether you were arguing against public healthcare for others while enjoying the benefits thereof yourself. I’d find that incredibly hypocritical if you were – more support for the title of this post.. But in all the verbiage above I find no answer – really yes, no, or none of your business is all that’s required.

    It has nothing to do with identity politics or ‘victims’ – it’s all about transparency and objectivity. The fact that I disclose who I am allows readers to judge both for themselves.

When I had no desire to make either of us the issue, insisted upon making the issue personal.  Ironically, he was so determined to lump me into an identity group, he did, “the audience Kellyanne Conway actually makes sense to”.

What is the point of identity politics? Why is it a danger? Well, one is rather obvious. We tend to form political factions. That is, we combine forces with people who have similar interests.  As James Madison explained in The Federalist, Paper # 10, the Constitution was at least in part designed to combat factional politics (See also my post, THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY.). What I had not considered more seriously is the way those who make use of identity politics use it as a scheme for shaming their opponents. However, that is probably the main point of identity politics. Is not every identity group also a victim group? Don’t Democrat Liberals try to shame us as selfish or bigoted if we don’t give in and spend Federal dollars on this or that program for this or that identity group?  It is either give in or suffer a guilt trip. Right?

So what is the solution? Do we need to update the Constitution so that is unconstitutional for Democrat Liberals to shame Conservative Republicans? When Democrat Liberals don’t pay attention to the Constitution, what good would that do?  In this case we need to laugh. We are going broke taking this nonsense seriously.

Consider. Here we have an openly professed Secularist trying to guilt trip us into adopting his politics. What is the usual complaint we get about Christianity from unbelievers? Christianity is a guilt trip?

Consider what  John 10:10 says.

John 10:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that we might be forgiven, not loaded with guilt. When we discuss politics, religion, or anything else, what matters is doing the right thing for the right reason. When people try to shame us to get what they want, we need to encourage them to reexamine their paradigm for problem solving. Shaming people instead of seriously considering the issues does no one any good.

On the health care issue, posed as an objective observer, but there is no such thing. The minute we take a public position and start arguing for that position our ego involved. Ironically, the very thing he wanted me to do makes losing a public debate more threatening. Because he has publicly identified himself and staked out such a fiercely maintained position, anyone could easily question his objectivity. How willing is he to admit a mistake?

So what about being a hermit? Well, it is a possibility.  Know any rich guy who needs a Garden hermit? I have no desire to be an object of amusement, but I would happy to give that rich guy advice. Anybody have Donald Trump’s phone number?



  1. Hi Tom, glad I could provide inspiration for one of your posts – haha. In all seriousness, I do agree that we’ve been courteous to each other and – although we’ve disagreed sharply and neither of us pulled any punches – it’s been a good debate. Sincerely, thank you. Sorry if you feel the Kellyanne Conway comment was out of line.

    I really don’t see our disagreement as being about identity politics – I’m guessing we’re both gray-haired white guys from Virginia. I understand identity politics to mean those that favor a particular group to the exclusion of others, a moral bandwagon of sorts that you can’t get on if you want to unless you’re part of that group. Of course people have ‘identity’ and of course race, religion, income level, etc., makes us who we are and plays some role in forming our opinions. That’s true for libs and conservatives – no way really to escape one’s raising. But I’m pretty sure we’re both trying to argue what we think is good for the country in general. I think you’re framing my comments in the wrong way – they were meant to be about transparency and objectivity.

    My comment about me writing without a nom de plume wasn’t meant to say ‘this is who I am and therefore this is what I believe’ – I was just curious as to whether you had a dog in the healthcare race. A lot of politicians, for example, received Pell Grants to help pay for their own college expenses, then vote against Pell Grants whenever they get the chance. Congress just approved AHCA for you and me, but made sure to exempt themselves from it (although I think I read that they passed a bill a few days later to remove that exemption – public outcry, I’m guessing). There are also people who enjoy collecting government-run social security, but vote for politicians that would privatize it for their children and grandchildren. Perhaps you and your readers would disagree – but, yeah, all of these seem hypocritical to me. If there’s any kind of guilt people feel for doing such things, I don’t see it as ‘identity guilt’ or whatever you want to call it. I see it as feeling guilt for knowing deep inside that they screwed the next generation over.

    It’s been a hectic couple of days at work, so I haven’t had time to do much online except answer you – haha. I’ll try to get my own post up about ‘identity politics’ in a day or two.

    Really glad I’m using such a handsome photo of myself on my blog since you’re showing it off 🙂


    1. Hello Don

      Sorry for the delay, but it is Mother’s Day, and I have obligations.

      I have enjoyed the debate. Others do not always learn from us what expect, but they do learn. We can hope that what others learn from us is true.

      Was I offended by the reference to Kellyanne Conway? No. That was the funny thing about it. What you apparently intended as insulting was not insulting. It simply revealed what you think of Kellyanne Conway.

      Am I a gray-haired white guy? Could be, but why is it important? Are we more likely to have something in common? I suppose so, but to a Christian our race and age is not ultimately important. What matters to a Christian, to the extent he or she has put their faith in God, is our identity in Christ Jesus.

      Few people have a strong identity in Christ Jesus, and to some extent we are all sinful. To the extent we are slaves to sin, we do not have the correct motivations. The framers of our government understood that. So they tried to prevent the plague that is factional politics, regardless of whether our differences are economic, creedal, sexual, geographic, or based upon some other factor.

      Are our politicians sinful? Of course, they are. We elected them, did we not? So we have to hold them accountable. Unfortunately, us old gray-haired people have not been doing a good job. So the biggest part of the Federal Budget involves a wealth transfer from the young to the old, programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

      Us old people vote, and these days we vote in large numbers and we know all about voting to keep our pocketbooks full. Effectively, our leaders have formed us into an identity group, and we vote to use the government to take money from our own children to fund our retirement. Hypocrisy? Does even that word provide a strong enough condemnation?

      So if I want to belong to an identity group, I don’t think it would be gray-haired white guys. I strive to settle for being a follower of Jesus Christ and discarding the other possibilities.

      What is good for the country in general? Well, I think we need to realize that what JFK said was a actually good idea.

      And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

      Some things we must do ourselves. That includes charity.

      What happens when we forsake private charity for government-run charity? If we see the government as the solution for all kinds of social ills, what must we trade off? Keep in mind there is no such thing as a perfect solution. There is only an optimum solution. Therefore, whenever we consider a solution, we must consider the problems imposed by our solution. Is our solution actually a solution or have we created a bigger problem?

      Each government program requires us to grow the power and size of our government. When government official have grown powerful, how can a relatively weak people hold it accountable?

      Consider that government does not produce anything. It takes every cent it spends from the People. Do we pay our taxes willingly. Some of us. Many pay because the threat of force is implicit, and some suffer severe punishment when they do not pay.

      So here are a some questions for you.
      1. Why is it moral for the government to tax us?
      2. When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more?
      3. How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit?
      4. How big and powerful does the government have to be before the people have lost the ability to refuse it anything it wants?

      Do I have a dog in this fight? Yes. I am a citizen. When government abuses its power, as citizens we are each responsible. In addition, I have children and grandchildren. I want them to live in a nation where the people are at least as free as they were when I grew up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The left was completely silent about the proven fraud of ObamaCare.

    It’s architect admitted it was a fraud and President Obama lied continually about it in order to hide its true nature.

    So for any of them to complain about THE Donald’s efforts to drain the swamp is pure, 200%, single malt hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They were too silent. A few years back while visiting my family in Virginia, my niece took ill. She is a young woman in her 20’s. She works but at the time did not earn enough money to afford health insurance under Obamacare and did not qualify for Medicaid.

      Kiya went to the hospital three times and for some reason was denied service.

      I found out later that although Kiya has health issues that because of Obamacare, she was not able to keep her healthcare or her doctor.

      I mention this because my niece was one of those people who joyously voted for Barack Obama twice. I imagine that voting for this creep turned out to be a bitter pill to swallow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL! Good post, Tom. I’ve been doxxed a few times, so it is not as if I my identity is a deeply held secret. Still,I like privacy, safety,and internet anonymity partially for those very reasons you mention,a resistance to identity politics, an awareness that people will speak more freely when they feel somewhat cloaked.

    I’ve fought the health care thing for a long time. Trust me, identity politics are very selective and fluid. I’m working class, female, often trying to explain to some very well off people that, “No I don’t hate the poor! I am “the poor” and your policies are hurting people.” Pretty much falls on deaf ears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @insanitybytes22

      Trust me, identity politics are very selective and fluid. I’m working class, female, often trying to explain to some very well off people that, “No I don’t hate the poor! I am “the poor” and your policies are hurting people.”

      When I first started paying close attention to politics, one of the things that floored me is that Democrat Liberals can actually get away with virtually calling people traitors just because they choose to be Conservatives. Blacks, Hispanics, women…. it is nuts! Yet these people want to be perceived as tolerant? Gotta love Trump when he calls them out for such wicked behavior.

      Keep up the good fight!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Exactly Citizen Tom.

        Progressives will call someone a traitor while at the same time burning the U. S. flag.

        Can’t tell you how many people including family members have stopped talking to me when they learned that i did not vote for Barack Obama. People automatically assume that every brown skinned person on the planet voted for that jerk.

        I, too, love it when Trump calls them out. They hate him because for decades, Progressives have been permitted to beat up on Republican bureaucrats who sat there and just took it. The President standing up for himself and this country is driving them off the rails.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When Obama ran in 2008 we had a black guy who had been in the Prince William County Republican Committee for years who broke down and campaigned for Obama. People on the committee got mad and would not let him participate in a local convention. At least he had the guts to admit he had succumbed to the pressure. Fortunately, party members did not hold a grudge against the man. After seeing what supporting what Obama meant, he became an active Republican again.


    2. Well said. Been there on all cases. Have been told that I hate the poor, been doxxed and even accused of being an old white man pretending to be a Black woman.

      When they have no rationale comeback, Progressives go down this line of illogic in an attempt to lock us in a box. How dare we not allow them to take us there. (sarcasm)

      Excellent post, Tom.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. An old white man?

        Undoubted that was intended as a horrid insult. We live in a crazy world. We spend more time worrying about most absurd things.

        Thank you for the compliment. Us old white men need them.


  4. I’ve often told people if I suddenly go missing…look for me in Assisi with the nuns of Santa Chirara as I tend to their olive trees…having lived too long to now take vows but happy to be in a cloistered order of silence…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Quiet solitude tending olive trees. Sounds good to me.

      As it is now I am a troll who blogs from the basement. So if I become a garden hermit, that would be quite a bit more than a step up. That would be one story up.

      Liked by 2 people

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