2018

1 February 2017: Hoping to overcome irrationality

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. – I Cor. (13:13, KJV

No arguing with Paul, but I’d settle for more hope than charity. How, though, does one maintain it in the Age of the Big Lie?

Liberals interpret hope expansively: For humanity and, therefore, a better world. Conservatives tend to see it in a more personal, local context and for an afterlife. Liberals also prefer being proactive not reactive, which makes that better world an achievable goal.

That’s quite different from what conservative columnist George Will excoriates progressives for: Belief in the perfectibility of man. That’s no more the case than conservative despair about a more just world. Few liberals would believe in an eventual world without screw ups, either as individuals or acts.

A more just world is a derivation of the ongoing process of creating that more perfect union the Founders declared as our national intention.

Liberals and conservatives read the Preamble differently. Establishing justice for liberals includes social justice. Insuring domestic tranquility goes beyond law and order; it’s dependent upon healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities.

Providing for the common defense requires more than military might: Fostering positive alliances, actively participating in the community of nations, and serving as a democratic model and beacon of hope. Promoting the general welfare is for all, not just those atop the economic food chain.

Likewise, for that posterity for whom we’re to secure the blessings of liberty. For liberals, it is more inclusive than me and mine; they’re for everyone.

It’s a choice between a more utopian or dystopian state, between open inclusivity and closed guardedness, and between trust in and fear of the other.

Rightwing provocateur Ann Coulter who cranks out tomes like Kellyanne Conway does words, in abundance but saying little, published a book titled “How to Talk to a Liberal if You Must.” I didn’t read it because I already talked with liberals cogently and fulfillingly. My advice to Ann would’ve been, “Begin by shutting your yap and listening.”

Taking a cue from Ann though, I pose this: How does one talk to Trumpists? I’d like to take my advice about listening, but for the Trumpists that repeat their man’s nonsensical, fantastical utterances. For a coherent conversation, participants must agree on facts. When they’re ignored or created mystically as Talkin’ Conway does with the frequency she inhales, what then?

Last week, the Denver Post called the newly installed president, “Lying Trump.” I prefer Lyin’ Donald.

While researching for this piece, I came across this:

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

No, it’s not from a biography of The Donald, but from a document prepared by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA WW II forerunner. Its title: “Hitler As His Associates Know Him.” I discourage allusions to Hitler other than for the most obvious and extreme. Trump isn’t Hitler by any stretch, but their common psychological traits are unsettling to say the least.

The Big Lie. Hitler discovered and used it effectively. Don’t just lie, make it colossal, so fantastical people will believe you couldn’t make up something so preposterous. Keep the lie simple. Repeat it ad infinitum until it becomes gospel. E.g., Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim.

Lyin’ Donald’s latest assertion five million people voted fraudulently is a classic example. His fractured ego cannot accept he lost the popular vote by three million, unlike Hillary Clinton who accepts she lost the Electoral College and is, therefore, not president.

In his defense for standing behind Trump’s assertion, Talkin’ Conway said on “Meet the Press,” “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”

“Alternative facts aren’t facts. They are falsehoods,” moderator Chuck Todd replied doing obeisance to honesty, truth, and reality.

Exasperating, to be sure. Even futile to argue with such irrationality. But liberals don’t cower before superstition and delusion. We keep at it. We can’t help it. It’s in our DNA.

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