Living Liberty: We’re Doomed, What Do We Do Now?

Recent polls show that only about 12% of Americans believe that the Federal government does the right thing all or a majority of the time; compared to 81% who believe that the Federal government rarely or never does the right thing. Combined with over 50% of Americans who believe that the federal government has lost all legitimacy – we have to begin to ask, “what can we do about it?”

With such overwhelmingly depressing outcomes at the federal level, the American people are left in fear and despair about the direction of the American government: worse, we don’t know what to do about it. We don’t know what we can do about it.

So here we are, pretty much everyone agrees, we’re doomed! So what can we do? Elect an excellent president, of course! Someone who understands the constitution; honors the rule of law; will increase our allies’ trust in our country; who has unassailable moral character; and who can lead our country through these dark times with a clear vision of the future.

Wait…

Who are we choosing between?

Dang.

Well…

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeps bitterly>

Well, I suppose we can retreat to our bunkers and live off of food storage while we wait out the coming apocalypse?

What?

The American people are in more personal debt than ever before, combined with generations of no increase in individual wealth? 

So…. There aren’t any bunkers? 

And nobody has food storage!?!?

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.>

<Wiping away the tears, choking back sobs> well… At least we have a congress that is trustworthy!

What? 9… 9% percent approval rating?

Oh. I see. 

Excuse me again.

<Runs out of tissues. Screams loudly>

What can we do? The federal government is so broken as to be an effective kakistocracy (good word, look that one up). And if this election is evidence of anything, it’s that the broken mess is so complete as to be above correction.

Or is it?

Personally, I think we are left with one of two options. I wish I was being a defeatist here, but I’m afraid that (short of someone presenting another option), I don’t see another solution. The first option is a bad one. No, like… literal blood in the street… Bad.

This option is the complete dissolution of the Union. I have variously found myself desiring this option: the nation would dissolve into an handful of smaller independent nations. The Liberty belt might include Texas up through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho: over to Oklahoma and Georgia. I’d be in Texas as fast as an heartbeat. The People’s Socialist Republik of California might include Washington and parts of Oregon. DC might be the seat of the new United Socialist States of America, including New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine. The Dakotas would be designated as factions fought over access to electrical power…. But before any such dissolution, there would be the requisite civil war: literal blood in the streets, and war-caused poverty for a generation (or more). The Liberty States might well become wealthy, at the cost of generational war from both sides as the bitter socialist-leaning states insist on stolen birthright, or something epic like that. In short: this would be bad. I do not support this action. I’ll go a step further, those who (actively) do, are dangerous. War, when there are better options, is a bad thing.

But what other choice do we have?

The founders expected and planned for a day when the federal government had stomped over the protections defined in the constitution. They anticipated a day when the federal government, obsessed with power, took no action to limit itself.

And they defined the ways that power could be restored back to the people: these methods are defined in article 5 of the United States Constitution. The particular section allows for what has become known as a convention of states:

On the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

This convention allows for the people and the states to restore power where it rightfully belongs: to the people, not to politicians and bureaucrats in DC. This convention has support in each of the fifty states, but hasn’t been proposed by each state’s legislature yet (as required… Well, in 2/3’s of them anyway). Over the course of this series, I hope to make the case for changes to the constitution that would restore both power to the people and the faith in Washington. I hope to alleviate the concerns claimed by opponents to the convention. And I hope, most importantly, to restore hope when it is currently so tenuous.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert. I am an opinion writer. I, of course, believe that I am right on this solution. However, I implore you to seek knowledge on the topic by those more articulate and better informed than I am: I recommend that you start by reading The Liberty Amendments by the great one himself, Mark Levin. We’ll be back to talk specifics later.

 

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Knowing the Language in Politics

 

There seem to be 3 or 4 main languages in the United States. English is the most common language, and Spanish is common. But Washington DC speaks 2 different languages altogether: Legalese and Politics.

Legalese is a very precise language, though never concise. I have some skill in interpreting this language, having worked in law enforcement. We spend entire courses on understanding this language. Good Legalese is written in such a way as to be entirely specific: meaning that there can be no misunderstanding (given a knowledge of the Legalese language). Bad Legalese is deliberately vague, and when used, writes bad law.

But I want to talk about the other language used in DC: the language of politics.

This language sounds more like English than Legalese, but is much more pernicious. Why? Because it changes rapidly and meaningfully. This is the language which, if used incorrectly, can end careers and, at times, has ended life.

But there are some old and some new terms and words being thrown around in the world of politics, and an understanding of them will become important for you in the months leading up to the election. Please note that this list is not comprehensive. Also note that the political language, by design, rapidly changes when a term becomes viewed as negative: as such, some of these terms don’t mean the same thing they meant even last year, and some will change soon as well. I intend to editorialize.

 

Alt-Right – self described as an ‘alternative to the right,’ (hence, alt-right) or as an ‘alternative to conservatism.’ This group is neither conservative nor right wing. Many have an openly socialist ideology, or are at least sympathetic to socialism. They are, almost universally, nationalist in nature. They fundamentally oppose immigration (not just illegal immigration) as an invasion on the ‘American Culture,’ (note that they, generally, aren’t concerned about immigration from Western European countries… Their fear is that non-European originated, read “white,” people are not capable of integrating into American Culture.) Their beliefs are Statist in nature, favoring ever increasing federal power in an effort to protect their twisted view of Americanism. They base their views largely on the concepts of tribalism, which is, each race naturally forms tribes which are definitive to the race – black people, white people, Jews, orientals, etc should maintain separate counties based on their own tribes and should not try to intermingle. If you feel slimy reading this, that’s good: it’s pretty slimy stuff. For more detailed information about the Alt-Right, please refer back to my post The “Alt-Right,” Triangle Badges, and the Lie of Otherism.

Communism – differs from pure socialism because rather than being a purely economic system, it is a governmental system of forced equality. Communist governments have always, however, lead to a two class system: the extremely impoverished ruled class, and the wealthy ruling class. Communists, however, like Marxists, call for power to be gained by revolutionary means: they, like Marxists, want to violently overthrow the current government to install a new government.

Conservative – in the last century, this term has come to mean “classic liberal,” but recently has come to mean something entirely different. This term now holds a substantially negative connotation because it has come to mean “regressive.” It has come to represent a person who desires a return to the systematic racist and misogynist past. This change is, of course, patently ridiculous; however, the change is nearly complete. Before long, all those who identify as conservative will be actively dismissed by the mainstream. Those of you who have been conservatives, consider redefining yourself as what you really are: “classically liberal.”

Democratic socialism – a term actually coined by Stalin himself. Democratic socialism, like communism, is forced socialism. However, unlike Marxists or Communists, democratic socialists desire the governmental change by elective means. These are less violent… But still desire the force of government to enforce economic equality – this “equality” is, without exception, a low standard of living: everyone is equal in poverty.

Federalism – the belief that the Federal government should be restricted to constitutionally defined authority only, and that all other powers and authority shroud be decided at the state level. This term might also be, rightly, interchanged with ‘Constitutionalist.’ Most federalists are classic liberals, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. One could, theoretically, be a federalist and a Statist, though I’ve never met that person.

Globalist/Globalism – this term is used strongly by the alt-right to describe anyone who opposes them. The real meaning is used to describe those who favor global governance rather than national control over law. Some people are rightly described as globalist, for example, President Obama, who continually issues Executive Actions or pushes for laws and treaties that transfer power and infrastructure to the UN, power that overrides American Laws; or that consistently appeals to so called ‘international law,’ rather than deference to American law. While there are those who rightly are globalists, generally speaking, if you hear this term, the person speaking it is probably part of the dangerous, nationalist Alt-Right.

Liberal/Liberalism – classically, liberal has meant one who believes in and supports individual liberty. The founding fathers could easily be classified as classic liberals. The term was adopted by the progressive movement in the early 20th century. Since then, “liberal” has come to mean “progressive.” Today, however, the term is beginning to find its way back to its roots. There are many social liberals who are struggling to identify with the extreme authoritarian progressive left, and thus are beginning to identify more with classical liberalism despite being socially left. Those identified as liberal need to be further questioned to really know where they stand, as the term has become, intentionally or not, a completely muddled term.

Libertarianism – the idea that the government should be as small as possible and thus have as little influence and power over the individual as possible. The idea is usually tied closely to classical liberalism, but one could theoretically be a libertarian socialist…. But again, I’ve never met that person.

Marxist/Marxism – Marx detailed the economic socialism as defined here, and called for the “working class” people to violently rise up, to create a government that forced equality, for a time, before fading gradually away to the “pure” form of socialism. Understand: a Marxist is necessarily a radical. Marxism literally calls for violent overthrow of democratic government. Marxism, like pure socialism, is a theory that has never happened. Every Marxist revolution has lead to true communism, and never lead to pure socialism. Why? Because once a government has absolute power, it doesn’t surrender it without being compelled to do so.

Nationalist/Nationalism – the belief that one’s country is inherently superior. A nationalist, usually part of the alt-right, believes that peoples’ origin define their ability to integrate into a society. Nationalism is not patriotism. It is the blind belief that anything your country does is good because it is your country. The Nazi’s were literally the Nationalist Socialist party. Nationalists usually support racial division of classes/races/ethnicities because, as I’ve already said, they believe that a person’s origin defines their ability to integrate into a society. They believe that culture and race are usually integral. They believe that some cultures (and thus some races) are inherently superior to others.

Patriot/Patriotism – pride in the success and righteousness of a person’s country. The patriot is proud when their country does right, but opposes wrong action on the part of their country because it shames the country and its citizens. Nationalists often deliberately identify as patriots in order to identify all patriots as nationalists in order to increase the supposed support of their radical agenda. Globalists deliberately conflate the two terms in order to classify patriots with the extreme Nationalists.

Journalist Sydney Harris differentiated the terms like this:

The Difference Between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does , and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war .

Populism – the idea that the majority (50% plus 1 person) of the people should hold absolute authority. A populist believes that if the will of the majority of the people is behind a decision, that decision must be inherently right.

Progressive – the American progressive movement of the 20th century were those who, while accepting fully the ideology of Marx, desired to avoids the radical revolution of the communists of the day. Instead, they desired to implement the communistic form of government a little at a time, or progressively. The term fell out of favor with the rise of Hitler, who had been in active contact with America’s progressives (like Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who desired to rid the nation of “blacks and other undesirables,” through eugenics, i.e. birth control and abortion. Today, Planned Parenthood’s practices, would make her proud) – at that time, the term “liberal” was deliberately hijacked by the progressives, who began calling liberals of the time (classic liberals) the derogatory “conservative” in an effort to show how “regressive” their ideas were. (That meaning, as I’ve said, is coming back around and being accepted: conservative = regressive, even though it is applied to the classical liberal… And liberal means progressive who are really regressive and anti-liberal…. Confused yet? It’s intentional.) The term was restored to popularity with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Closet progressives who have been calling themselves liberals for half a century are now calling themselves progressives again, but the meaning has not changed.

Socialist – one who adopts the economic view of complete economic equality, forbidding individually owned property, insisting that all property belongs to the community. While this has been tried many times throughout history, it has never worked. Why? True Socialism requires every individual to buy in. If even one person isn’t fully converted (a religious term, because the level of buy in required is bordering on fanatical or religious), the whole system either fails or reverts to forced socialism. Forced socialism (communism), however, is no longer an economic system, but a governmental system. Every attempt at pure socialism in history has resulted in government involvement or the failure of the system, without exception.

But it’s important to understand what socialism is. Most people who call for socialism are speaking solely of the economic system. They really don’t think that government is needed (unless they are Marxists, democratic socialists, or communists). This system is a theory of economy only. It cannot and has never existed. Remember that.

Statist a person who pushes for social change by force of the state. The solution of the Statist is always increased legislation. In the United States, a Statist usually desires an increase in authority of the federal government, rather than state governments. It is theoretically possible for a person to be both a federalist and a Statist: desiring increased power of state government, but decreased power of the federal government.

 Why do these terms matter? Because language matters! And the language shifts so quickly. Many of these terms have had their meanings shifted, at least once, over the last 100 years. And each will be used to either describe opposition, or to self describe individuals. You have to understand the language to be able to effectively use it. Thus, political language bleeds over to English.

 

Argument Ad Naseum; What’s the Point?

This is a type of meta post, and it may present me in a negative light. Understand, I am making a point about arguing…. And it this may come across as…argumentative…

The other day I found myself embroiled in a proverbial civil war on Facebook. A good friend (while I find I agree with him less and less, he remains a good man, strong in character, and kind above most) had posted an (unintentionally) inflammatory socio-political blog post. My brother countered the argument our friend was making with another, and I replied to my brother’s comment with a short, sarcastic comment. I meant little by it, but to show support for my brother’s counter argument….

What ensued, however, was the longest comment thread I’ve participated in (nearly 350 comments). Over the course of the next 48 hours, sides entrenched, and arguments were made. My brother and I found ourselves nearly alone against a barrage of opposing arguers. Our other brother joined the battle occasionally, when he could, on our side. And near the end another joined us still.  The opposing side had a nearly revolving door, except our friend who made the original article: he had the decency to stay through the battle, rather than swoop in and hurl proverbial air support insults at the opposition before retreating to the safety of internet oblivion.

Side note: God blessed my family with great intelligence, even if He didn’t provide us with wisdom…. And even if we haven’t learned humility…. 

I have to say that my brothers and I were equal to the task. We stayed consistent to to our principled stance, and provided substantial logical and factual information to the fight. Of course, I don’t believe the same to be true of the opposition.
I could hear the wives of everyone participating singing with exasperation “still arguing?!?” I can feel their eye rolls as they wonder about the stubbornness of their husbands who argue with friends and strangers alike for 2 days on the same conversation. And I feel their frustration as they point out that their husbands have failed to convince anyone on the other side to their own point of view.  I know that my sister-in law and my wife joined in those frustrations… And I’m sure that the wives of the others involved felt the same. And they aren’t wrong.

My friend wasn’t convinced of his wrongness. My brothers and I weren’t convinced of our cold heartedness. And I’m sure than none of the fly-by pilots chose to settle their planes on my brother’s battlements after surveying the field of battle.

So, like our wives, you might ask: what’s the point? Why argue when everyone is entrenched, and no one will change their minds? I believe I can speak for all involved when I answer those questions. (Maybe not, in which case, I speak just for me).

Why argue when no one will change their mind?

1. Arguing challenges me: how will I know that I am right if I am never challenged? One of the damning principles of modern education is the lie of “consensus.” If we only surround ourselves with those with whom we agree, we start to believe that everyone agrees with us: this builds up unhealthy narcissism. If we are never challenged, and preferably aggressively challenged, we never develope our own thoughts to the point of value to society. Without opposition, our own views become one sided, weak, and arrogant.

2. Sometimes I am wrong. My wife says that I always believe that I’m right. I fail, even after years of marriage, to see this as a bad thing. If I argued principles and points that I believed to be wrong, wouldn’t that make me a liar? Of course I think I’m right… But I am sometimes wrong. Arguing presents information that challenges mine. On occasion, that information, those arguments, convince me that I am wrong.

I remember one such conversation clearly: while on the phone for work, I had a customer delve into the forbidden territory of politics; and I silenced myself to avoid getting in trouble. She asked if my state had universal sales tax, that is, sales tax on every purchase including food. I answered in the affirmative. I believed that any other such tax, or a tax not applied universally, would open the door to corruption and beurocratic nightmare. (I didn’t say this, of course, lest I get in trouble for misrepresenting the company for whom I worked). In one single sentence, this woman, a self avowed socialist, changed my view: “do you think it is okay that you have to be taxed for food; that you need your governmental overlord’s permission to eat?” I found myself legitimately flummoxed (something that I have to admit, doesn’t happen often). In one question, she convinced me of the immorality of taxing food. I was sold; governments  should not tax food. The principle developed further, as I studied it further, but this is to illustrate that I am willing to have my mind changed given convincing evidence and superior arguments.

3. The third point belongs to my brother, and is his answer to his wife when she asked “why are you still arguing? You won’t change their minds.” His response was simple “because they’re wrong.”  He continued (paraphrased) “just because they are entrenched, and because we are entrenched, doesn’t mean that everyone is entrenched. There will be people who read this argument and are swayed one way or the other. There will be people who haven’t formed an opinion, who haven’t taken a side: and of no opposition is offered to the wrong viewpoint, they will be convinced that the wrong viewpoint is correct.”

This answer, my brother’s, is perhaps the most moral reason why arguments must be made. Even the Savior (while I emdeavor to emulate Him, please don’t understand that I am comparing myself to him), even the Savior argued with the leaders of the day. He always won those arguments…. Because He’s perfect… But he argued nonetheless. Especially when the topic is not trivial, it is critical that opposition to the wrong side be presented. Because, though it may seem like it by the commentating class (myself included), by the overtly opinionated (myself included), by the openly argumentative (myself included), not everyone has picked a side. There are those who will be convinced one way or the other. If the right never stand up to the wrong, which side will the unconvinced choose?

4. Speaking just for myself: it’s fun. Mankind’s history has always been met with combat and competition. When society has changed, the forms of competition have too: including competition of status (winning in the workforce, to be able to “humbly” show your fellow man how much better you are by driving a nicer car, or wearing an Armani suit or otherwise “winning”). Man’s bloodlust hasn’t satiated over time, it has just changed. I am not convinced that this competitive drive is wholly unrighteousness, so long as it is curbed and controlled; not allowed to consume and define the man. I’d love to admit that I am free of that competitive desire: but I am not. I like winning. Being physically broken, intellectual debate provides the last area where I can be the competitive equal of my opposition. Intellectual argument is the last proverbial arena were my manly desire for combat can be satiated with the (again proverbial) blood of my foes.

So what happened? Who who the argument?

Some may want to know the end result of our bitter ideological entanglement: I will oblige. Understand, that a participant in a debate is never a fair judge of it, and so my view is far from unbiased.

If ours were a moderated debate, werin the rules of civilized debate were adhered to and counted for or against the arguer: my brothers and I won the debate. We worked hard to avoid personal attack and logical fallacy. The opposition, contrarily, bounced from one fallacy to then next (I joked that they had read a list of the logical fallacies and were trying to incorporate each into a single argument…. but the joke wasn’t without cause). One of the opposition insisted, no less than 5 times, that I was ignorant without once providing reason for the insult nor countering my points to show my ignorance.

Ifs the were a bloody arena combat, I have to say that the battle again favored my brothers and me. Our arguments were consistent and principled, as opposed to the our opposition who abandoned theirs as frequently as we defeated the arguments , rather than defend them with new information or reason). This method is called the shotgun approach: get as much lead downrange as you can, and see if you hit something.

If the object was to convince the bystanders, I cannot speak definitively. I hope that my side, working hard to keep from personalizing our attacks, maintaining the higher ground; combined with consistent argument and unrefuted information: I hope that ours was the more convincing argument.

If the objective was to convince the other side, we all lost. I am sure that no one who participated, was convinced.

As for friendship; I feel that some friendships were damaged. My friend was first my brother’s friend. Growing up, I looked to them (more him than my brother) as the definition of charismatically cool. In adulthood, my limited exposure to him has lead me to define him as my friend, irrespective of my brother. Their bond is unassailable, despite frequent socio-political grievances. However, during the course of the debate, our friend made a conclusion based in the assumption that I disliked him. This error, I must wholly own. My opposition to his politics (of which, like me, he is very verbal) has lead him to the incorrect beleif that I dislike him. In short, I have failed to communicate love and admiration during heated debate. In this cause, I have lost. And it is a loss that I mourn.

So why do we continue to maker arguments when everyone has already picked a side? Because not everyone has picked a side. And just like battles of old, friendships are often the casualty of the war. I regret these casualties most of all.