CAN WE BRIDGE THE GAP THAT DIVIDES US?


In 2010 I wrote A GAP TOO WIDE AND TOO DEEP TO BRIDGE. In that post I quoted from Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. Why? In the first part of the 1830’s Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, rode around America for two years on horseback. Then he wrote down his observations and published a two-volume work. Tocqueville‘s observations included the deepening divisions between the North from the South. Tocqueville feared eventual conflict. Because it seems timely, here we will revisit the subject of that old post.

Just before our last election, Tricia wrote Get Out the Vote. Here she encouraged everyone to vote.

I think it matters not so much who you vote for today but why.  If your higher motivation is hate and fear of the other side as opposed to what yours has to offer, than I’d argue you are missing the boat on the spirit of American small r republicanism. (continued here)

As they usually do,  ‘s post initiated a spirited discussion. During that discussion  provided a link to The Issues That Tore Us Apart by Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson’s article is today’s version of what Tocqueville wrote almost two centuries ago about the divisions between the North and the South. What is different? We find it more difficult to pin down exactly what divides us. In 1861 the North and the South disagreed about slavery. What do we disagree about today? Here is what I observed.

Citizen Tom says:

@Doug and Tricia

The article by Victor David Hanson was interesting. I will probably have to read it a couple of times. The gentleman is one of my favorite columnists.

One of the things that Hanson observes in his article is how our country divided before the Civil war. The two sides separated culturally so that each side did not have much empathy for or understanding of the other.

Why did they fight? The soldiers of the South fought out of a love for the South. They stopped fighting only when the saw the South being destroyed. The soldiers of the North fought to preserve the union, for the rule of law, and to end slavery. Both sides fought to protect something they very much cared about. So neither side was willing to yield.

Was either side wrong? Of course, slavery is wrong, and that peculiar, vile institution divided our nation. Today we have a similar problem. Half of our people, because we have educated them in socialist, politician-run, public schools do not understand American small r republicanism. They think democracy, majoratarian tyranny, is better. Instead of a republic, they want a socialist state. They would trade their God-given rights for the meaningless promises of politicians.

Still, I want everyone, even the misguided, to care enough to try to inform themselves and vote. I want people to participate in our republic. Apathy, indifference, is the great enemy of the soul, even the soul of a nation.

What we do not love, we will not risk anything to protect. What we do not care about, we discard in dumpsters and bury in landfills.

Are we divided over the virtues of American small r republicanism? Liberal Democrats call Conservatives misguided. Many will point to another cause for our divisions, selfishness. To that all I can say is that being in the majority does not give us the right to rule — to enslave –another person. Otherwise, we do not own ourselves. Our government owns us.

Anyway, please visit Tricia‘s post, Get Out the Vote. Consider what she wrote and the comments her post elicited. In addition, study The Issues That Tore Us Apart by Victor Davis Hanson. Can you glean from Hanson’s article what it is that he thinks divides us? Then consider what  means by the spirit of American small r republicanism. Is the spirit of American small r republicanism the path to peace or an excuse for civil war. Is the spirit of American small r republicanism based upon the teachings of Jesus or just plain human selfishness. Is the spirit of American small r republicanism worth discarding or should we preserve and protect it? 

69 thoughts on “CAN WE BRIDGE THE GAP THAT DIVIDES US?

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  1. It’s serendipitous that you brought up David Brooks and conservatism because Brooks’ latest column in the NYT is exactly about this split in the conservative movement. If you are really interested in understand what divides Americans right now, including conservatives, I highly recommend that you read this column.

    Since the rise of conservative nationalism around the world, including the American version which is Trumpism, Brooks has been wandering the wilderness and, with a good deal of introspection, trying to speculate about what went wrong. While I often find Brooks’ sweeping generalizations highly enlightening, I also don’t think it is easy to summarize the rise of nationalism, or both the conservative and liberal reactions to that rise, as deriving from any one thing. However, I think Brooks may be on to something when he says that Nationalism is an attempt to stuff ourselves with empty calories in order to fill a moral vacuum that both elites and average Americans sense in the pit of their stomachs from both the traditional conservative and the liberal agendas.

    I am (or at least I learned to become) basically an institutionalist. I believe that loyalty and service with integrity to our best institutions is what has made our nation and the world great, and that it is an ongoing process that will never be complete. I believe we can best serve God when we, with honor and love, serve our fellow humans within these institutions.

    Serving with love means being a team player with a good attitude about the institution rather than being filled with hate and resentment about how unfair and imperfect it is all the time.

    When being haranguing by some angry soul about this inherent unfairness we find in every institution, whether it be in my military institutional life or my other professional lives, I would generally tell that person that keeping a good attitude about the organization and serving my fellow humans within my institutional role is a matter of positive mental well-being for me. Sure, things are unfair and we should fight for improvements, but being fraught with grievance all the time just feeds on itself and makes you miserable. Just a thought.

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    1. @tsalmon

      What went wrong? Well, a Conservative doesn’t think it is Trump.
      🙄

      Brook’a job is to pretend to be a Conservative, “a reasonable Conservative”. How should you know that? You are a Liberal Democrat or a Progressive or some kind of disciple of the kook Democratic Party. If you find yourself agreeing all the time with someone who calls himself a Conservative, he ain’t.

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      1. Sorry Tom. We are what we are, but I’m not sure any of your labels mean much of anything anymore. I’m no doubt many things, but I’ll cop to being an institutionalist, but I mean that in a very specific way that I have tried to explain.

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        1. @tsalmon

          Brooks labels people. You label people. The people you vote for label people. But my labels don’t mean anything. Well, now you know what I think of all things you call Trump and his wife. Sick!

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    2. Let me provide an illustration. As a Captain at a major airline, I often flew with First Officers who were genuinely aggrieved with our management. The FO had endured a stupid two year furlough and I was forced to downgrade to FO because, during the economic downturn, the management thought they would cut costs by furloughing, but instead lost increased market share opportunities. Even management recognized it as a mistake that actually cost the company money, but now management wanted to recoup the losses by not affording the pilots a much deserved raise.

      The natural reaction.of many of these FO’s was to do the minimum with regard to customer service, on time performance and efficiency savings. When the FO saw me going in just the opposite direction by greeting and talking to the passenger and taking extra efforts to keep the operation moving, he would share his moral resentful with me.

      My question to the FO would be to have him explain how poorly serving our customers and our fellow employees was supposed get back at management. It’s like cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Besides, in an effort to make management pay, we just make everybody miserable, including ourselves. If the FO didn’t buy my explanation, then he probably thought I had enslaved myself to management.

      Doing the right thing is an inherent good that is far more rewarding than money or even righteous revenge. I’d rather be a happy slave serving God and my fellows with love than a supposed free man who tears it all down out of resentful self righteousness. Perhaps that is why Christianity was so attractive to actual slaves. Jesus said that we should all be slaves to one another. Our real freedom is not just individual liberty we give one another – it derives from the free and loving spirit of giving ourselves to each other in service.

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      1. As a professional businessman in my past life, and business owner, I am very impressed at the much bigger picture you applied toward doing your job when morale was so low. Even corporations can easily forget the most valuable asset is the employee who meets with the customer.. or, employees in general. But even at that, if your resentment to management is such that you feel the need to let it reflect in your job.. then it’s time to move on.. or weather the storm and keep doing the job that’s expected of you.
        Very good, Tony. That in itself likely separates you from the rest.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks Doug. That’s very kind of you. I should also note that I served in serveral leadership positions with the pilot union, including as a national spokesperson after 9/11.

          Our role as leaders in that institution to serve our fellow pilot union members was to advocate for the best safety, wages, benefits and work rules possible. We could be very adversarial in that role just as management could be aggressively adversarial in their duty to lower labor costs for their investors and stockholders. Mediating this labor and safety marketplace were various governmental institutions including the National Mediation Board, the FAA and the Railway Labor Act. Every one of these institutions had flaws and benefits on both the moral and practical level, but I think in total, they each did good in their respective, often competing institutional roles.

          Although I appreciate the praise, I’m not mentioning all this to toot my own horn, but to illustrate a broader point.

          Obviously some institutions are more flawed than others, but they are all flawed to some extent. It’s not the perfection of the institution that we serve that matters as much as the honor and integrity that we imperfectly try to bring to our role in that institution. As you say, if one cannot serve the institution with honor and integrity because the institution is inherently corrupt, then it is time to positively reform the institution or move on. I have no doubt that many confederate soldiers fought with honor and integrity for each other in what they thought was a higher cause, and for that they are to be forgiven, but they were wrong and the cause was corrupt to the core. They were duped by demagogues and cynics into serving hatred and slavery. It can happen again. It has happened again. It is happening again.

          I would really encourage you to read Brooks’ latest column if you have not. Brooks points out that the Nationalist movements around the world are inexorably a tragic reaction to a moral vacuum. In my opinion, that vacuum comes from a lack of a real selfless moral foundation on the liberal side and a moral hollowness on the conservative side.

          When ideological liberal progressives say that we should use government to help each other but the philosophically rational, rather than a loving God, is essentially selfish – only that it makes the world better and you get to live in that better world – the cynic is forced to the selffish conclusion that he gets to personally live in an even better world if he takes advantage of all the smucks who believe that way. When the Ideological conservative claims to believe in a loving and sacrificing God, but then he promotes and follows the likes of Donald Trump because at least he makes the Godless do gooder and busybody liberals furious, then the selfish cynic like Trump smiles and says, “Great, now I get to have God on my side”.

          Like I’ve said before, as an institutionalist, I still retain hope that the institutions and the honorable servant institutionists that mostly make up these institutions will ultimately prevail. From what I’ve read, Mueller seems like just such a guy.

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          1. Very good.. and I agree. Although, being more a humanist (vs your institutionalist, which really isn’t a comparison) there is the observation than given the natural propensity for human diversity as a species, many people frankly are not in a mental process to devote the critical thinking toward things like politics.. or even forming an independent opinion on the subject of politics. It is not one bit having to do with intellect or lack thereof, but with our normal attention toward what we prioritize in life.. and at what stage of our own individual existence we might be in that might shift our attention.

            A perfect example is myself.. and likely many others. We spend our early lives concerned with our own careers, social survival, raising a family, etc. I was never the political wonk I currently perceive myself to be, hence I deferred leadership of the country with less interest to the extent of my vote going toward the guy who “sounded” like he made sense… and far less about moral values or critical thinking to form some greater extended opinion. It was more like… “Of course I am anti-war and war is not good but he is the president and my country right or wrong… those damn Commies !.” Now I’m way more about “Were in a damn war because of some Gulf of Tonkin foolishness by the President because of some domino theory ridiculousness? We need to impeach the SOB!”.

            It’s more like the old adage.. some us are born to lead and some are born to follow (with the addendum, either lead, follow, or get outta the way). My whole point here… is some 40% of the voters are completely sold on Trump’s rhetoric without evaluating facts, using logic, or any critical thinking to decide for themselves. It just “sounds good”. It doesn’t make these folks “dumber” by any means because their priorities are elsewhere (“Our local factory is closed and I can’t make $50/hr anymore and ‘they’ say the fault is some idea called globalism and the invaders coming into the country from the south.”

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          2. @Doug

            There are two ways to conquer a country: with military force or with debt. Debt may be costly, but it is much less expensive than war, especially if the debt is repayed by providing access to much needed raw materials.

            What is the problem with debt slavery, an unending cycle of debt? When a nation operates like a loan shark, it has to figure out how to enforce loan repayment. One way to do that is to bribe the elites in the target nation. That can be done with either outright bribes or by giving the elites an opportunity to enrich themselves off the loans made to their country.

            Has the United States been targeted for debt slavery? When Liberal Democrats went after Trump for colluding with the Russians, that sort of backfired. Turns out the investigation revealed Democrats worked with the Russians to produce “evidence” of collusion. Still, the Russians don’t have the resources to loan enough money to the USA to enslave it in debt. All the Russians can do is pay Bill Clinton big money for making speeches.

            Which nations have lots of money? China and Saudi Arabia. Have they plotted against us, to enslave us I, debt? Hard to prove such a thing. The thing is that any suspicious activity can have multiple explanations, some quite harmless. Still, China has made it quite clear they are hostile to us. In addition, both Republicans and Democrats have done nothing to restrain Chinese ambitions. Trump has, and it is about time. That’s one reason I am one of H. Clinton’s irredeemable deplorables.

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          3. @Doug

            Congress controls spending, not Trump, and we have been re-electing most of those characters for quite a while. What is driving our national debt are programs like Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare,…. You want someone to blame. Try looking in a mirror. We elected those people. You don’t like Trump, but you have yet to show how Clinton would have been better.

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          4. Well… no.. Trump signs off on the stuff falling out of Congress. Trump’s last tax cut demonstration just added to the debt.
            Clinton?? She’s history, Tom. Why do you keep bringing her up… regret? I don’t care who or why you DIDN’T vote for someone.. but more like.. what possessed you to vote for the person you did vote for in spite of your Christian values? I mean, c’mon, Tom… just admit you messed up voting for Trump given his demonstrated incompetence and chaos rather than continuing with this charade that he’s actually making the country great again. Haven’t you even bothered to question why it could be that so many people dislike him as President… why the press is all over him all the time… why it’s only FOX who seems to worship is every word… ? Is it just so easy to dismiss the rest of the country as being manipulated by renegade liberals and run-amok Dems and grand conspiracies? Ugh.

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          5. @Doug

            Congress is the most powerful branch of government. Unless a president has the backing of the establishment (Trump doesn’t) and considerable popularity, he can’t pressure Congress to do what it clearly does not want to do. Congress does not want to cut spending. If you cannot figure that out……

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          6. Doug,

            You are a very perceptive sage.

            Right now we are technologically capable of eliminating the representative middle men and letting every American vote on every single issue. If we did that, one of two things would happen.

            Either every American would, instead of producing and consuming goods and services, spend most of their time becoming informed and voting on issues (and our economy would collapse) or most of us would be rationally apathetic and a few of us would have the luxury of doing our civic duty, Either with our current representative system or with such an imaginary majoritarian system, we ultimately end up with the same sort of elite democracy that Judge Richard Posner argues that we have always had and are meant by the founders to have.

            Although I am religious, I don’t necessarily think altruistic service has to be religious, but it cannot simply be the anachronistic worship of reason (it’s inexorably irrational to worship reason). If reasonis our only guide, pure cynical selfishness is the most rational of motivations.

            Instead, any truly moral altruistic philosophy has to have an element of spiritualism, at least to the point where it regards love of something higher than oneself as a foundational force. In so far as humanism is founded in love, which I think it is, I believe it too in this way undergirds a virtuous universal spiritual truth. Some things may be more true than others, but truth is truth no matter whether it comes from any one spirituality or universally from all virtuous altruistic spiritualisms.

            So the question of whether we have an elite democracy isn’t really normative. It isn’t whether it “should” be or not. It simply is in current practical reality. Despite the Utopian dreams of
            supposed pragmatists like John Dewey and William James, who hoped for universal education levels that would replace representative democracy with true majoritarian democracy, at least for the present, our democracy will be one governed by elites, but still checked by an increasingly enlightened majoritarian disdain for extremism by either side. If the elite ideological pendulum swings too far in one extreme, the majority will ultimately demure with the institutional majoritarian check that is the vote, and it will swing back the other way.

            The question is whether or not, In choosing those elites, the majority will value virtuous honor and selfless service or selfish cynicism, demagoguery and vice. Trump is the self proclaimed, unabashed promoter of “us first against them” vice filled selfishness. He does not even hide it. I think the pendulum is already swinging back. At least I hope so.

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          7. The thing about swinging pendulums is that they contain their own inertia to the point that friction takes over to slow them down, ultimately to a dead stop.. in dead center. If we metaphor life as our pendulum, or more to the point, our way through life, then something has to keep powering the swing. Consider Trump as as being that big kick to the right.. farther than usual, and most certainly farther than it’s likely ever been in the last hundred years of American politics. We’ve not yet reached the apex of that swing where everything pauses in a weightless condition prior to swinging back. That’s the short euphoria.. the relief that the swing will go no further to the right. Much like the old biplane going straight up to the point where it stalls; the weightless silence of anticipation.

            The trick is making sure the pendulum returns back in a controlled manner and not just a free swing.. or in the case of our biplane, the fall back to earth is controlled and at some point before hitting the ground we can pull up to level flight. We all can’t be pilots.. someone has to be at the controls… and someone has to be riding in the back. Such is leadership.

            Aviation analogies and pendulum metaphors aside, being a movie buff I tend to put to memory certain dialog quotations. Obviously it’s the authors of the screenplays that compose these lines in spite of the lines been compellingly delivered to make dramatic effect. Nonetheless, I recall a line from Alan Sorkin’s “The American President” that rather sums up the entire Trumpian experience, even though the movie was 20 years prior.

            “People want leadership and in the absence of genuine leadership they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They’re so thirsty for it they will crawl through the desert toward a mirage and when they discover there’s no water they will drink the sand.

            But the people don’t drink the sand because they are thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”

            Trump’s “swing” is reaching it’s apex very soon. That’s inevitable. We need to recognize that the challenge is not in keeping him from swinging further but rather controlling the return swing so that it doesn’t swing too far left.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. @tsalmon

        Don’t disagree with anything here. I am a bit confused with what you think this has to do with the subject.

        Read Romans 13:1-7. Christians accept lawful authority. We just put God first.

        We are not talking about not doing a good job even when we are unhappy with the boss. We are talking about Socialism which can easily morph into totalitarian collectivism.

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        1. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seemed to me that the topic was whether we have come to the point, as before the Civil War when agreement was impossible. Perhaps not, then.

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          1. @Tsalmon

            Did someone twist your arm and make you take a job as an airline pilot?

            Government is force. The arguments are about what people are trying to use government force to accomplish. When someone uses taxpayer monies to pay for abortions, they are trying to force those who believe an abortion is murder to adopt the attitude that an abortion is just an ordinary medical procedure. That’s a twisted use of government power, and it is becoming all too commonplace.

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          2. Tom,

            It’s like you’re just throwing random facts against a wall and hoping some of them will stick in a way that makes historical sense.

            Ya, a few Northern free African Americans fought in the Revolutionary War, but the vast majority of blacks in this country before and for one hundred years after that war were slaves. Sure slavery was less economically popular in the Northern states, but for hundreds of years before and one hundred years after the Revolution, up to one third of the population of nearly half the States were black slaves. Was slavery becoming economically unfeasable until the cotton gin? It does not matter because it existed until then, and in half the country slavery flourished even more thereafter until a bloody civil war. And even after that war, for the next hundred years blacks in the south were held in virtual bondage through the popular terrorism of lynchings and burnings or the institutionalized slavery of extrajudicial imprisonments. Look into dark history of farm labor prisons like Parchment in Mississippi and Angola in Louisiana. Look into the sick history of the carnival like public spectical of terror inducing lynchings and burnings of black men and women throughout the South and even far into the North.

            The only actual limits on government in this country up until the 20th Century have always historically been on what could be done to elites, and then only to newly enfranchised white men. The only limits on what elites could do to the least of these have only been a result of governmental protections, mostly by the federal government, against abuse of power by the states. Read the post Civil War -Amentments. Read the 20th Century Civil Rights Laws and the case law that interpreted and enforced those post Civil War Amendment authorized laws.

            This isn’t some Utopian ideology about limited government that historical revisionists love to imagine. It is a history burned out of suffering, selfless activism, and hard fought human institutional progress.

            Government either enforces tyranny or justice. There really is no governmentless anything. Nature abhors a vacuum. You empty out just government and the vacuum will be filled by unjust government every single time.

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          3. @tsalmon

            I see you and other Democrats as trying to justify ignoring the Constitution because those dastardly elites wrote it. Can’t trust those elites, especially the slave owners who founded the country. That’s quite ironic. Who do you get your marching orders from? News organs owned by wealthy elites conniving for more money? Which politicians do you like the most? Those well financed by wealthy elites?

            In fact, Democrats routinely brag about the money they get. Money is only bad when it is the other guy who has it.

            The founders tried to set up a constitutional republic. The People went along with it because most of them had the good sense to fear being in the minority.

            The framers of the Constitution did not puff themselves up as the wisest and the best. Instead, they accepted our moral shortcomings as a fact of life. They understood that the majority is just more people, not wiser people. Hence, our system of government is full of checks and balances. The only reason we have majority rule is because any other system is worse. Have not even the most murderous pogroms had the tacit approval of the majority?

            So what have I tried to demonstrate? Consider your own words.

            Government either enforces tyranny or justice.

            BINGO!

            When politicians and judges can arbitrarily change the rules to suit themselves, where is the justice in that? Is that not the epitome of injustice? Yet that is that not what you vote for? And don’t you do so by claiming to be fixing the injustices of the past? Are you the one you have been waiting for, or is it Jesus?

            There is another level of government You don’t seem to appreciate. Custom. When government power is limited, we follow the customs of our communities. Those rules may be written or in written. They may be enforced by voluntary organizations or with a frown. Still, custom is more practical, efficient, and just than a law court. It is simply the idea that we don’t have to associate with the people we don’t like. Why is that horrid concept for Democrats?

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          4. What grand conspiracy of straw men are you imagining me a part of? 🙄

            What I’m explaining to you is not to disregard the Constitution. It IS the Constitution.

            As I said, when the Constitution was ratified in the mid 18th Century, it was the greatest innovation in democratic governance in the history of human civilization, but by today’s standards, we would not even consider those united states a democracy. It was a patronage government where only a small minority, an elite group of educated, property owning white men ruled over the rest of the country. Government, particularly the federal government was limited mostIy to preserve the freedoms of that elite. It would take another 200 years to get the Constitution and the more truly representative democracy we have today.

            Over two decades ago, I spent a good deal if my law student time researching this very topic for my constitutional law professor during my third year of law school. That was a long time ago, but I don’t think the history of law in the late 18th Century has changed much since then.

            Very little in the Constitution at that time limited the unlimited governmental power of the states. You are a good student of history but sometimes you only see the history you want to see, the one that your ideology sees. You are right in that some states placed their own constitutional limits on government, with Massachusetts and Virginia being the most innovative in the new nation. But even those limits in Virginia did not keep the white male elite from holding exclusive governmental power over the vast majority of the population, including absolute power over the slave population.

            Some states had state enforced religions. Other states had speech limitations. All states had limitations on female power and property ownership.

            The actually more democratic representative government of THE United States that we enjoy today is the result of a 200 year step by bloody step history of constitutional expansion in the power of governmental protection and greater democratic franchise and particularly the expanded power of the federal government over the states.

            For mostly good and for some bad, this just IS Tom. Our democratic cake is not perfectly baked yet and never will be, but we have inarguably progressed in the evolution of our government, and I personally have no desire to regress back to the Century tyranny of the few over the many.

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        2. Well, Tom, I don’t disagree with any of that either. I’ll go a step further and say that I don’t think my government and my tax money should be used for capital punishment either.

          A little institutional reality check is in order, however. This is not the agrarian world of the 18th Century. We literally are stacked on top of each other now and the world is getting smaller by the hour.

          At the beginning of the industrial era, government force was used to criminalize strikes and boycotts by desparate industrial workers. After much strife, workers finally organized politically and used government force to get the right to strike. But only within legal limits that made self help (strikes, lockouts, sickouts, arbitrary layoffs, etc.) by either side illegal if done outside the institutional rules. Without these, yes, coercive institutional rules, we would have the chaos of wildcat strikes and thuggish strike busting and scab hiring. All of society and both sides suffer. Strikes and lockouts are last resorts, and should be, because they often result in mutually assured destruction.

          This is just one example of governmental institutional moderation as a result of the radical sociological, technological and economic changes wrought by Industrialization and urbanization in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Now we are dealing with sweeping new changes wrought by globalization.

          I’m with you on having the least and most efficient practical governmental coercion, but we just can’t regress back to the 18th Century. Except for a minority of white male elites, it wasn’t all that free of governmental domination anyway. It is a myth that those elites wanted to limit institutional governmental coercion, except only where it applied to them. In fact, the reality is that the most of the founders had no problem with unlimited state governmental powers, but they feared the tyranny of the federal government, mostly because one day it might end their right to own people. And they were right to fear this because a century later, it did.

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          1. @tsalmon

            I’m with you on having the least and most efficient practical governmental coercion, but we just can’t regress back to the 18th Century. Except for a minority of white male elites, it wasn’t all that free of governmental domination anyway. It is a myth that those elites wanted to limit institutional governmental coercion, except only where it applied to them. In fact, the reality is that the most of the founders had no problem with unlimited state governmental powers, but they feared the tyranny of the federal government, mostly because one day it might end their right to own people. And they were right to fear this because a century later, it did.

            That is just ignorant.

            Let’s get something straight. The Democratic Party is racist. It is all you can talk about. Someone disagrees. They must be a bigot of some sort. Except to contrive an absurd excuse to denigrate the framers of the Constitution, there was no good reason to bring up the subject.

            It would be foolish to deify the founders, but it is just as idiotic to think ourselves any better, but that’s where you are headed. You and I and everyone on this planet is a sinner. We all want to believe “I am good. My party is best. I have the truth.” None of that is true. That is why we are better off helping each other, not making each others decisions. Whatever their motive, the framers refrained from abusing their powers. Today’s leaders cannot rightfully say the same.

            If our society is so complex, then we cannot elect people with the brain power to solve every problem. In fact, politicians usually create more problems than they solve.

            Consider a simple bit of logic. When we spend our own money, we each get what we want because sellers compete by offering customers what they want. When politicians spend our money for us, we can only guess what they will do with it. However, it is a cinch their “solution” won’t be personalized. Instead, it will designed to satisfy competing interests, some just sticking their nose in the government’s money bags.

            In a free market, what happens when we lose a job? Doesn’t a sensible person look for another job? What if there is only one employer? Well, there is only one way that would happen. That is because the government made it happen.

            Are there some natural monopolies? Yes, but state local governments can regulate them. With a few rare exceptions (like Standard Oil, perhaps), the necessity for anti-trust action results from the crony capitalist advantages given to a company.

            You don’t want to regress back to the 18th century? Then stop advocating for a government with despotic powers. Those were the norm back then, and they still are.

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          2. Most of the founders OWNED people and justified that ownership on racial grounds, They were racists. That is name calling denigration – it’s just a fact.

            That was an abuse of their power, in fact, the ultimate abuse of power, by definition, and they enshrined that power abuse into the US Constitution and into their state’s laws.

            Even with that original sin, and with the other inequalities that the Constitution allowed, for the time it was the greatest leap in democratic governing in human history. I don’t think we should overly demonize the founders any more that we should mythologize them, but by today’s standard we would not even consider our new 18th republic an actual “democratic” republic. It would be considered quite totalitarian and authoritarian, especially at the state level.

            It is simply an historically revisionist myth that “these” ubuted states of the 18th Century was somehow not highly coercive. Very little about the original 18th Century Constitution limited the absolute power of the states, including the power to allow human ownership. And if you somehow think I am calling you, the brother that so love and admire, a racist by pointing out the simple historical facts, then you have a strange sense of personal victimhood.

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          3. @Tsalmon

            You are assuming things that have less truth than you think. Blacks actually fought during the American Revolution as free men.

            There was an ongoing debate about slavery. Both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine opposed slavery. State governments were becoming more protective of human rights. The Virginia Declaration of Rights predates the Bill of Rights.

            Except for a few crops, slavery was not economically efficient. Essentially, because slaves have to be maintained year around, slaves only made sense when crops required year around maintenance. That’s why the South had slaves. Southerners grew crops that require workers all year long.

            The cotton gin made slavery profitable with cotton, a high maintenance crop. Otherwise, the trend to ban slavery and sell the slaves southward would have continued. Sugar cane requires year around maintenance, but it only grows in a few spots in the USA. Hence, the framers did the best they could. When a few states insisted upon slavery, they compromised by ending the importation and limiting the census count on slaves.

            Slavery is like any other sin. Some people will always succumb to the temptation to advantage themselves at someone else’s expense. If we can get away with enslaving others, some of us will find virtue in doing so.

            Like

          4. Tom,

            It’s like you’re just throwing random facts against a wall and hoping some of them will stick in a way that makes historical sense.

            Ya, a few Northern free African Americans fought in the Revolutionary War, but the vast majority of blacks in this country before and for one hundred years after that war were slaves. Sure slavery was less economically popular in the Northern states, but for hundreds of years before and one hundred years after the Revolution, up to one third of the population of nearly half the States were black slaves. Was slavery becoming economically unfeasable until the cotton gin? It does not matter because it existed until then, and in half the country slavery flourished even more thereafter until a bloody civil war. And even after that war, for the next hundred years blacks in the south were held in virtual bondage through the popular terrorism of lynchings and burnings or the institutionalized slavery of kangaroo court imprisonments. Look into dark history of farm labor prisons like Parchment in Mississippi and Angola in Louisiana. Look into the sick history of the carnival like public spectical of terror inducing lynchings and burnings of black men and women throughout the South and even far into the North.

            The only actual limits on government in this country up until the 20th Century have always historically been on what could be done to elites, and then for decades only what could be done to newly enfranchised white men. The only limits on what elites could do to the least of these have only been a result of governmental protections, mostly by the federal government, against abuse of power by the states. Read the post Civil War -Amentments. Read the 20th Century Civil Rights Laws and the case law that interpreted and enforced those post Civil War Amendment authorized laws.
            This isn’t some Utopian ideology about limited government that historical revisionists love to imagine. It is a real history burned out of suffering, selfless activism, and hard fought human institutional progress.

            Government either enforces tyranny or justice. There really is no governmentless anything. Nature abhors a vacuum. You empty out just government and the vacuum will be filled by unjust government if some kind every single time.

            Like

  2. Michael above said “the bridge is Jesus,” amen to that!

    So yesterday I was having a lovely faith based discussion when this guy just sat down and told another, “you look like one of those ignorant Trump voters.” It was inappropriate, rude, and totally out of context. An epic fail at good manners! I seldom jump into fights between men, but the whole time I was thinking the essence of this problem is simply bad manners and boorish behavior. A complete lack of civility. Why is such behavior now perceived as acceptable? It isn’t even about politics, it’s about when do you have the right to say something like, “you look like one of those liberals who are so open minded your brain has fallen out?” How about never?? Seriously, even if you are thinking it, you don’t necessarily need to be speaking it! And most of us don’t, most of us will attempt to maintain some basic courtesy and civility.

    The whole incident really ticked me off, but it set me to pondering basic civility and good manners.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @IB

      That’s an interesting observation. You might find this interesting.
      https://citizentom.com/2016/10/20/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-2/

      What causes bad manners? Sometimes it is thoughtlessness, but I think it mostly it stems from a haughty arrogance. Because the Bible teaches us that everyone is made in the image of God, Christian humility requires us to treat everyone, not just our “equals” or “superiors” with respect. We know our Father in Heaven disapproves of those who abuse their brothers and sisters, His children. He loves all His children.

      The more we depart from our Christian heritage the more rudeness we will see.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. This is only tangentially related, but the First Lady is trying to publicly get the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security fired for some unknown slight. Do you get the feeling that things have become even more unhinged than usual in Trump World?

          Like

          1. Yeah… and Trump’s manic demeanor is going to translate to more off-the-wall erratic behavior as the outside pressures against him begin to build up, as evidenced in his recent trip to Europe for the WW1 memorial, and the post-election press conference. He’s not going to go down unless he can drag others and/or the country down with him. He’s about ready to replace most of the cabinet for yet another round of recruiting inexperienced clowns who have no business in D.C. This is going to get far worse, Tony.

            Like

          2. If the Nixon administration experience were a guide, then there will be a tipping point in Trump’s scandalousness and corruption, even for Republicans, and then things will start coming apart for Trump pretty fast. Hard to say though. Unlike Trump, Nixon didn’t have an alternate reality bubble with lots of shiny objects to keep his Republican base mesmerized and outraged in.

            I still have faith in Americans and our institutions though. During this last election, looking at what happened in the Midwest, Virginia, Arizona and even Texas, it’s like blue collar and suburban Americans are awakening from the reality TV show nightmare that Trump has put them in and are changing the channel to something less endlessly, exhaustingly outrageous.

            Like

          3. Let’s get this straight, the former soft porn model, foreign born, Third Lady that our President has cheated on is trying to fire a high level, national security official because she has somehow determined that the official doesn’t deserve the honor of serving Donald Trump?

            Well, doesn’t that about sum up your issue here? 😜

            Like

          4. It’s the usual idiocy-run-amok in the White House, T, and as he feels the pressure he will get increasingly off-the-wall which will hopefully gain increasing support for his removal.

            You know, the how’s and why’s in how Trump got elected is one thing and has been passed into history. His agenda aside, what makes nearly 40% of the voting public still support him PERSONALLY? Anyone politician can push the Trump agenda or some variant as itself it’s not unique, but It boggles the mind how so many Americans love this guy on a personal level.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. @Doug

            After eight years of Obama, the prospect of four years with H. Clinton in charge did not look so good. So Trump won.

            Trump has suffered an unbelievable (quite unbelievable if one is bit skeptical and does a little research) barrage of negative news media coverage. Since lots of people regard the mainstream news media and the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party as one and the same, they don’t take what the news media says seriously. So Trump has continued as president. In fact, he is in a stronger position than when he took office.

            Like

          6. Oh.. I meant to add regarding the First Lady using the public to express her personnel-firing wishes.. there’s a not-so-subtle additional thing going on here. It must be obvious that she has attempted to get her hubby to fire this high level security lady.. and it must be obvious the old man didn’t listen to her because security lady is still on the job. So.. FLOTUS aires her grievance publicly. This seems to say a lot on their relationship.. and her borrowing a page from hubby’s playbook and using the press to apply pressure. In other words.. their relationship obviously sucks.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. @Doug

            Big part of if.

            The mass media is owned by those big, evil, amoral corporations. Corporations use their mass media assets to generate propaganda that serves their political interests.

            Consider that Amazon, for example, has competitive advantages it wants to secure from Internet regulation. So it pays Amazon to make certain it has political allies in Congress.

            When Amazon decided to relocate its headquarters, it secured huge tax breaks from the “winners” of the competition it staged. Those tax breaks give the company a big competitive advantage. The people that that finance those tax breaks need to be convinced their political leadership made a good deal on their behalf.

            Not too long ago (Obama was still in office.), Amazon bought “The Washington Post”. At about the same time, the company won a big government contract. Coincidence?

            The notion you and I can easily get the truth out of a newspaper or a cable news show is just naive.

            Like

          8. That’s something that I hadn’t thought of Doug. But it’s all the same kafkaesque cirque du s#@t. When will the fat lady sing?

            Like

          9. “Was there a source for this report?”

            If you mean the First Lady saying the Assistant National Security Advisor doesn’t deserve the “honor” of serving the Donald, it was released in a statement by the office of the FLOTUS. What a surprise that you have not seen it?

            BTW, I kind of agree with what you said about Amazon. Corrupt corporate welfare in politics knows no Party though. Every mayor and state in the country, red or blue, was groveling up to Amazon and showering it with taxpayer money.

            Look we found something we agree on. That can’t last long.😉

            Like

          10. @tsalmon

            BTW, I kind of agree with what you said about Amazon. Corrupt corporate welfare in politics knows no Party though. Every mayor and state in the country, red or blue, was groveling up to Amazon and showering it with taxpayer money.

            The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that in general Republicans don’t try to expand the size and power of government.

            You detest Amazon’s crony capitalism? Well, half our economy is under the control of large corporations, and all corporations engage in crony capitalism, and about a half dozen of the big ones control most of the mass media. If those corporations cannot be trusted, then their news organizations cannot be trusted. Yet those are the folks you believe. In fact, you ridicule me because I am skeptical of them.

            I don’t live and breath the news. Most of it is nonsense. Generally, I wait for a story to “mature” before I look into it. The problem with election fraud is that that is not possible. Once the good ballots are mixed with frauds, there is no way to separate them.

            Like

          11. Well, let me fill you in on some news that you may not have heard about because it’s still maturing – the French had a revolution and killed a lot of royalty. Also the First Lady actually did just publicly fire the Assistant National Security Advisor.

            I knew our agreement could not last.🙃. As for your theories on corrupt government, I think you make the mistake of equating the two, and because of that, you self fulfill your own philosophy. You cynically believe that government is somehow inherently corrupt (more so than any other human institution) and so you inadvertently spread cynicism and corruption.

            I’m more hopeful. I see government as a tool for good or for evil, and therefore I see cynical corruption as the enemy of good government. I think history bears me out on this. Any progress we have made, whether one defines that progress in terms of religious freedom, equality of opportunity and justice or greater average prosperity, that progress tracks hand in glove with dynamic improvements in government. When we have regressed in those measures, it also goes hand in glove with cynical corruption of the institutions of government. You are swimming in the amazingly clear, clean waters of the institutional historic improvements that have porovided you with freedoms and opportunities that were unimaginable in most of history, but instead of counting your blessings, seeing where they came from and passing on improvements to the next generation, you imagine yourself able to swim better without all this awful water in the way. Let’s hope you don’t get what you wish for.

            Like

          12. @tsalmon

            You don’t make much sense. The big progress we have in government is limiting its power making it do only what we need it to do.

            You are swimming in the amazingly clear, clean waters of the institutional historic improvements that have porovided you with freedoms and opportunities that were unimaginable in most of history, but instead of counting your blessings, seeing where they came from and passing on improvements to the next generation, you imagine yourself able to swim better without all this awful water in the way. Let’s hope you don’t get what you wish for.

            The environmentalists in your party believe we are destroying the planet. The feminists in your party believe men are monsters. In general, your party believes Republicans are bigots, especially Conservatives. And you have gone on and on saying awful things about Trump, even his wife. Well, if what you say about Trump and the people who voted for him is true, then the waters are muddy, not clear.

            I think you want to believe an ideology that is full of self-contradictory nonsense. We cannot have a free country and a big, huge, powerful nanny state at the same time.

            Like

          13. Tom,

            In the place where I now live, the place where we both did a good bit of our growing up, much has changed for the better and it is hard to imagine that happening without some of expansion in the powers of government. When I was young here, the waters were so polluted with sewage runoff that tonging oysters in the back bay was banned due to the risk of hepatitis infection. The pelicans, bald eagles and ospreys were nearly extinct. People ran gill nets across the estuaries and nearly wiped out the large migrating fish like the white trout, red fish and speckled trout. I don’t remember ever seeing a porpoise near the shore.

            Now I often wade fish near a dilapidated peer on the beach not far from my house, and I rarely come home without nearing the legal limit on specks. While I’m fishing in the warm pristine waters, ospreys constantly dive down and snatch small fish, and pelicans glide by in formation flocks or preen on every peer post. Great blue herons stalk the shallows and occasionally a pod of dolphins surround me to chase mullet and ruin the fishing for a while. The best way that I can describe the waters is abundant.

            If you think that these positive changes were not the direct result of progressive government like the Clean Water Act, the EPA, and agressive state fish and game management, then you can only be living in you own Randian ideological dream world.

            Of course, government can overreach and be corrupted by its own power. Constant reform should be the norm. But lets not throw out the fish with the Clean Water Act.

            Just assume for a moment that, as virtually every expert scientist in the world believes, man made climate change is real. I have no idea what the best way to address it would be. But can you actually image any scheme to fix or even to mitigate that slow moving disaster of that worldwide problem without the involvement of government, indeed, all governments?

            What I see and hear lately from Republicans is that they just want to pretend there are no problems, deny science and hope it will all just go away.

            BTW, if you come visit some time, I think you’ll be surprised by how much this place has changed and how beautiful it is now. Almost everyday, I run for miles along the sea wall or on the beach and I’m always moved by it. I’ll take you fishing.

            Like

          14. Also, I didn’t say anything about Trump or Trump’s current wife that is not verifiably true. The sad part is just how shocking the truth is about that family the that about him facts are an insult, and yet you’re more concerned about the insult than the truth.

            Why are Republicans considered science deniers? Why are even good Republicans shocked at Trump’s race baiting? Seriously don’t you think the men in both parties have a history of acting like monsters, but that only one party is lead by and applauds the “grab em by the pussy” guy?

            Like

          15. @tsalmon

            In the place where I now live, the place where we both did a good bit of our growing up, much….

            Still trying to use the ends to justify the means. Sigh!

            Preventing pollution is just a law enforcement operation. It is illegal to poison people. We just complicate matters because it is “unintentional”. Well, at least it is unintentional until people figure out that if you dump enough waste in a river that it will catch fire, I suppose it was. Anyway, all we need something like the EPA for is to prevent some people from harming other people, same as the FBI. Most environmental regulation rightfully belongs to state goverments.

            Global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it is nothing more than speculation. Consensus is important only to politicians who dominate the research results because they pay for it, and they are paying to get the results they want. That’s why the “crisis” is always ten years into the future. How many decades does this idiocy have to go on before you wise up? Do you know what the heat island effect is? Google it.

            We just had a little snow storm today, a sloppy mess. Has not happened this early since the 1990’s. Should we blame it on Global Warming? After all, the immigration problem is Global Warming. Hurricanes are Global Warming. The fires in CA are global warming. If someone burns their tongue drinking coffee, that’s probably global warming too. Anyway, the polar bears have not got the word yet. So you don’t need to worry about them. They like snow storms, don’t know what hurricane is, probably will never see a forest fire, and like their coffee cold.

            What you are saying about Trump and his wife is getting sick. True? How would you know? You are gloating about it. There is no objectivity in that. It is also stupid. It proves my point not yours. Because politicians cannot be trusted is one of the reasons I don’t want big government, corrupt politicians favor my argument.

            Consider. Should I dwell on Obama and the Clintons the way you do the Trumps? H. Clinton might even run again. So I may as well start the ridicule now. Besides, all I would have to say is what is true. Moreover, the corruption of Obama and the Clintons make Trump look like a very honest gentleman.

            Thanks for the invitation to go fishing. Been years, but it would be fun. We would just have to discuss something besides politics.

            Like

          16. “What you are saying about Trump and his wife is getting sick.”

            Don’t I know it? It’s a pretty sick administration. And no, I’m not gloating – I’m retching. Like I said, I think things are going to come to a head soon. How about a constitutional crisis for Christmas?

            “Thanks for the invitation to go fishing. Been years, but it would be fun. We would just have to discuss something besides politics.”

            You are right about that. You and your bride are always welcome. Bring some of those grandkids.

            Like

  3. In my opinion, there is a very simple reason we all need to discern why and what is causing the gap to widen.

    My next post will address what is ono major cause and what is perhaps the best remedy to narrow the gap. In my opinion.

    Regards and good will blogging

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I appreciate the link up Tom and am really impressed with you how you extended the depth of my original post with yours here. We are facing what appears to be an unbridgeable gap in America of values and political beliefs. I’m hoping that it’s just the far left vs everyone else which means there is still hope, but the outsized influence that schools, the media and the Social Media companies is creating of ignorance and dividing us further. We shall see how this plays out.

    PS-For some reason WordPress won’t let me like your post and is requiring me to fill in info to make a comment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Tricia

      Glad you enjoyed my post as I enjoyed yours.

      I do think ignorance is the problem, but it is to some extent willful. I know too many otherwise intelligent people who voted for H. Clinton who think Trump is some kind of monster.

      How do we solve the problem? I think we need to encourage people to read and study the Bible. When our fellow citizens begin to understand the Bible is true, I think they will be able to vote more wisely.

      Liked by 2 people

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