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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A LITTLE BIT OF POWER

"Do not answer a fool, lest he become wise in his own eyes."
-Proverbs 26:4

If you have paid close attention to WATN the last week or two you've seen something happen in the comments.  There has been a commenter who posts anonymously who got upset because I deleted his comment, then began to hammer the comments with complaints about it which were increasingly frustrated and abusive.
Now, in the past I left everything in place unless it was obviously spam (except in the Comment Types thread, where spam sort of fits the theme), because I was interested in reaching out and trying to change things.  I've pretty well given up on that, and just post things I think about rather than any real attempt to convince or persuade.
And this commenter isn't new at WATN.  I remember him from back when I was reading and posting at World Magazine's comment section and when he used to post here.  He tries to present himself as reasonable and thoughtful, but always finds something to pick at and criticize, to undermine and attack.  I wrote about that kind of comment as the Cherry Picker, the kind of comment that ignores the bulk and purpose of a post, and focuses on one point to attack the writer rather than their point.
His tone is passive-aggressive, coming on with thinly veiled contempt and attacks on someone's integrity and intellectual capacity, then backing off when confronted and claiming that he just wants to discuss matters. Whether that is due to frustration or feeling guilty for being so hostile, or because of a personality quirk, I don't know.  You can see some of his commenting style in a post a few years back I did on President Obama's alleged Christianity.
But I refuse to engage that on my blog any longer, I've had enough of debates and arguments to last me two life times.  And nothing really comes of it in the end but a sick feeling in my stomach and my nerves on end.  I might not seem like it but any time someone criticizes or confronts me it makes me go away full of doubt, upset, and even feeling sick.  I try very hard to do what is right, and while I fail a lot and get things wrong a lot, I do my best to learn and pursue the truth.  There's really only so much of that anyone can take.  So for my sake, I don't care to get into that any more and I don't want to clutter up the blog with what are essentially trolling posts demanding attention.  It seems to me the best way to deal with a troll is to ignore them.
However, despite the bearer of the message being someone I don't want to engage, the questions asked were pretty good and if it were someone else I trust or know is in good faith - my friend Lance, for instance - I would have been glad to answer them.  So I'll give it a shot here in case some readers were wondering about it.

The main question was this: doesn't the utter failure of your political ideas to win in the election make you stop and think you're wrong?  Never in my life has conservatism really been given a real shot to fix things in Washington DC, despite a brief period in the 90s where the House of Representatives led by Newt Gingrich gave it a shot.  Everything they accomplished has been totally undone by the Democrats now.  Conservatives can win but never in numbers or positions enough to even attempt to implement their ideas.
The answer to that question is three fold.  First of all, as I noted above, I always question and doubt what I've said, even if it doesn't come across that way.  I lay awake at night with my guts churning wondering if what I said or did was right.  I pray and read and study to try to see if what I thought was correct.  I used to read leftist blogs regularly to get the other side's take on matters.  So yes, I do stop and think.
Second, I used to be a leftist.  I was terrified Ronald Reagan would kill us all in nuclear war.  I thought he was an evil man for creating so many homeless and heartless for cutting welfare.  I thought we could have peace if only we'd get rid of nukes, all that stupid nonsense.  I know what the left thinks, all my visits to sites like Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post simply confirmed what I figured they would say, from my past.  I changed my mind based on the facts and evidence before me, and grew up.  So I did change based on the world around me.
Third, truth and right is not based on electoral votes.  If every person on earth except me voted that we should skin babies alive and drink their blood, that wouldn't make me wrong for opposing it.  The positions I take and the ideas I hold are based on objective truth and what little wisdom I've gained over the years to examine the facts.  Majority rule does not determine truth.  A vote does not decide moral right and wrong.  It simply doesn't matter how many people hold to something or how few in this context.  What matters is whether they're right or wrong.
America has, as I've taken some pains to point out here, come to the point it rejects what's right and true and good and embraces foolishness.  That doesn't make the position of the majority of Americans somehow right, it simply means there's a lot of people who want short term happiness and to feel cool rather than to make hard choices.  That's too bad for the nation and too bad for the people in it, but that doesn't somehow change the truth.

The other question is this: if Romney (or a conservative president) had won would you still feel the nation is collapsing or doomed?  The answer to that is complicated.  As I've repeated here dozens of times, who is president or in power does not determine culture or the nation's future; rather the opposite.  We elect people who reflect our culture, not the other way around.  That's how democracies have always worked, and its why the founding fathers (and the philosophers they studied) were so strong on the point that a republic can only survive with a virtuous people.
Mitt Romney is a bit two-faced, he'll say what he thinks his audience wants to hear.  He's not the glowing white knight some people want to portray him as.  Yes, he seems to be a pretty good guy, but he's a politician.  I had no real hope he'd turn things around.  My only hope, as I wrote about in the past quite a bit again, was that he'd stop the direction President Obama was headed.  I didn't expect him to even reverse a single executive order by President Obama.  
And since Romney is a middle of the road "RINO" (as if the Republican party has generally been anything but middle of the road), I expected him to reach out and work with the Democrats in congress, giving them at least half of what they tried to do, if not more, in the name of compromise and a kinship of ideas.  Paul Ryan is a conservative, but as VP has virtually no power to do anything whatsoever, so that meant nothing except a possible position to be president in 2020.
So I expected Mitt Romney to possibly, with God's grace, slow the momentum long enough for us to try to turn things around before all hope was lost, but not very seriously.  We were teetering on the edge of a cliff, not racing toward it.  Now we've gone over, but it was almost certain to happen either way.
Unlike the left, I don't believe that the right government will fix everything.  I don't believe that electing the right guy makes everything wonderful and fixes our problems.  I don't believe that government is the solution.  But government is certainly the problem and the right sort of government can do the least damage.
A concept leftists never seem to grasp is that government by definition is tyranny.  It is impossible to have a government without it taking away at least some liberty.  Now, in the cause of stability, safety, and commerce, we have to have some government, and surrender a small amount of non-critical liberty.  That's the whole concept behind the social contract; you give up a little bit of your liberty to gain a lot.
Because without any sort of government, you're far less free unless you're the most powerful and richest person around.  Otherwise, you're just prey for the more powerful and less virtuous, who flourish in times of little government.  So giving the government power, any power, to do anything, should always be done with the greatest restraint.
Had the left not been such hysterical, idiotic, and hateful maniacs in their criticism of President Bush, I'd have voiced some agreement with some few of their limited concerns.  I don't care for the Department of Homeland Security, for instance.  Its a vast, expensive, and overpowered waste of money with a sinister Orwellian sounding name.
So giving the government just enough power to make us all comfortable and happy is giving it enough power to make us all slaves and remove our liberty.  I'd rather be free and have a hard time than comfortable and in bondage to a big government. Deep down, I suspect nearly everyone agrees with that in principle.  Its just that when it comes down to hard work and tough times vs ease and slavery, they tend toward the latter like a street kid who likes jail for the shelter and regular food.
Well that's all I have to say on the topic.  I hope that clears up any puzzlement or confusion about what's happened on this blog.  And hopefully in the future readers will know why some comments which are deliberately provocative, trolling, or insulting get yanked.  
I don't care if you disagree with me.  I just care if you're a jerk about it.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never studied political science in college, but as an educational project I downloaded an open Yale course:
http://oyc.yale.edu/political-science/plsc-114
I bought and read all of the books covered in the lectures. (I have the mental scars from reading Hobbes’ Leviathan to prove it.)
In any case, if you weren’t already aware of it, government is a mechanism whereby some people rule over others. Now, I have never really aspired to that. As a father I manned up and ruled over my kids, but always with the objective in mind to nurture a sense of autonomy, so they would become independent and make their own decisions.
But there is a subset of people, who absolutely love making decisions for other people and are relentless in seeking the power to control others. Some of these are transparently evil and will ruthlessly exploit others to better their position. Others pursue their naked ambition under the pretense of improving the plight of the benighted masses; communists and environmentalists come to mind. In either case they have no problem tyrannizing others and using the full force of government to implement their vision.
Historically, the pursuit of the raw power attracts a lot of narcissistic psychopaths. Some individuals seek office out of a sense of civic duty, but a disproportionate number are not so noble in their intentions and then seek to corrupt, subvert, and undermine the institutional limitations on power that they obtain. Modern democracy doesn’t change that impulse, but the U.S. Constitution is remarkable as an instrument for limiting, dividing, and balancing power to protect its citizens from governmental tyranny.
That’s why the last election was so bitterly disappointing. With all his flaws Romney seemed to be very accepting and desirous of limited government. I think one of the reasons he failed in his quest was that he pursued it more out of a sense of obligation, rather than a deeply felt emotional need to validate his own worth. And, yeah, if you think I say that in contrast to Obama, you’re right.
I believe that Obama is deeply flawed emotionally and not as gifted intellectually as he likes to project; that he is very insecure, but masks it with an air of smug authority. I don’t think he has any empathy for anyone that he defines as an enemy, and that challenging him makes you his enemy. He yearns to be a caudillo, the big man; adored by the masses he despises, while he tyrannizes any who oppose him.
Big government scares me, but when it’s in the hands of someone who wants to dismantle limitations to the exercise of its power, it’s even worse. It won’t just be big and inefficient the way it is now; it will become an increasingly intrusive bully that will demand compliance to increasingly capricious demands.
HK

2:21 PM, December 06, 2012  
Blogger Philip said...

"Everything they accomplished has been totally undone by the Democrats now"

To be fair, the establishment GOP, from about 1988 on, did their part to dismantle that as well.

5:49 PM, December 06, 2012  
Blogger landrewc said...

Thanks, CT. I don't usually have very many questions mainly because I know that we are far enough apart on some things that getting to ground zero might wear us both out. ;)

But, that doesn't mean we can't be friends and we can't coexist in the world and at least keep on communicating. So I will try to think up some good questions so you don't always have to engage the trolls.

8:57 PM, December 06, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is completely off topic, but I thought it made sense to leave the comment in your most recent post.

You're a graphic artist, so have you ever thought about coming out with a line of Christmas cards? It's way too late for this year, but I waited too late and now it's hard to find any suitable cards. I suppose I could order them online, but I've checked 5 stores locally and all the cards are made in China.

Ahh, see now that is the rub. I've gone a bit bonkers and decided that I may end up buying many products made in China over the course of the year, but Christmas, Easter, or other such items will not be among them. The Chinese government is officially atheist and hostile to Christians to the point of persecution. Like many things, I've probably overthought this and am overreacting, but I've drawn a line and find it distasteful to the point of nausea to spend money with people who are actively opposed to worshipers of the holiday from which they seek to profit.

I was hoping to pick up a box or two of cards at the grocery store, or Office Max, etc. Had I found any printed in the U.S. (even Israel or Japan would be okay, because they may not be Christian they aren't brutally intolerant) I'd a bought 'em and I wouldn't burden you with this. I am definitely gettin' crankier as I get older. But I cannot help not viewing this as an example of why we are screwed culturally. No one pays attention to this or pushes back in any concerted way. No wonder the Chinese don't respect us, the average consumer would only be outraged if the price is too high.

Not to be overly melodramatic, but shouldn't pastors, ministers, priests, etc. by pounding their pulpits and inveighing against members of their flock purchasing Christmas cards, ornaments, etc. from China until the Chinese tolerate and stop harassing Christians? Is there no sense of moral outrage left?

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Feel free to delete it from the comments if it doesn't meet your editorial criteria, although I'd prefer to see you run with it because you have longer legs than me.

All the best,
HK

2:15 PM, December 09, 2012  
Blogger pdwalker said...

It'd be a shame if you went dark like Steven Den Beste did.

5:12 PM, December 26, 2012  

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