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October 23, 2016

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Politics is applied mythology. It always has been. Most political pundits and most politicians are but spinners of age old tales of hubris and nemesis, of heroes and betrayers. Douthat is here doing the exactly that. But like any form of entertainment since that consisted of stories told around communal tribal fires believing them requires that you suspend disbelief. That is my personal standard for evaluating what politicians offer as policy or promises. What are you requiring me to believe? This does not mean I have no room in head or heart for aspirations. That's what keeps me going, a belief in the possibility of progress.

If there is any truth in Douthat's selective editing of truth and fact and memory it is that both sides do it. Both sides offer myths about why we are where we are. Both sides offer myths of betrayal. The difference is that these particular myths usually reside on political fringes. The Republicans to their great discombobulation decided to make fringe beliefs mainstream. But Bernie tried. The difference between Sanders and Trump is exquisitely important. Bernie was aspirational. I could not find much to disdain in his goals even as I found many of his policies foolish. My chief of objection to Bernie was his choice to take the same path as Trump in asserting that the system was rigged and his own party, that he recently joined, had betrayed the American people. That way lies madness. Trump proved it.

I like watching Joy Reid. She is a smart and able inquisitor. This morning features Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra from Michigan. The discussion was about trade. You will be pleased to know that what Donald Trump means by renegotiating the worst trade deal ever signed actually means that after forty years it needs to be reviewed and maybe made better if neccessary. For all signatories naturally since they would have to agree to these revisions. Keep in mind Pete' is from Michigan. That seems a curiously restrained response from a guy from a state hard hit by globalization and trade. Maybe he knows how many jobs in Michigan are absolutely dependent on exports to Mexico. Or that the competitive state of the auto industry in Michigan is absolutely dependent on cheaper components and sub-assemblies made in Mexico and elsewhere. And if they didn't have that access their competition would eat them alive. Maybe.

PREFACE TO THE REVOLUTIONIST’S HANDBOOK

“No one can contemplate the present condition of the masses of the people without desiring something like a revolution for the better.” Sir Robert Giffen. Essays in Finance, vol. ii. p. 393.

FOREWORD

A revolutionist is one who desires to discard the existing social order and try another.

The constitution of England is revolutionary. To a Russian or Anglo-Indian bureaucrat, a general election is as much a revolution as a referendum or plebiscite in which the people fight instead of voting. The French Revolution overthrew one set of rulers and substituted another with different interests and different views. That is what a general election enables the people to do in England every seven years if they choose. Revolution is therefore a national institution in England; and its advocacy by an Englishman needs no apology.

Every man is a revolutionist concerning the thing he understands. For example, every person who has mastered a profession is a sceptic concerning it, and consequently a revolutionist.

Every genuine religious person is a heretic and therefore a revolutionist.

All who achieve real distinction in life begin as revolutionists. The most distinguished persons become more revolutionary as they grow older, though they are commonly supposed to become more conservative owing to their loss of faith in conventional methods of reform.

Any person under the age of thirty, who, having any knowledge of the existing social order, is not a revolutionist, is an inferior.

AND YET

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder

G.B. Shaw, The Revoluionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion

People interested in advancing their agenda, wise or not, would be well advised to read Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Which is a pretty good prescription for making systemic change within the system. The key to actually making changes is having the legitimacy that comes from working within the system or even better, being elected to office. The most appalling result of thirty years of attacking the legitimacy of government and the politicians is this, virtually no one in the millennial generation has any ambitions to run for office. Why would you when you've been convinced that the system is both corrupt and corrupting? And that is a message that comes in stereo.

Douthat has been trying this for awhile. Earlier in the election season he did outright blame liberals for Drump's rise. I guess the GOP is the party of personal responsibility. Except when it isn't

Say did anybody else see Trump's Gettysburg Digress? The world will little note nor ever be able to figure out what he said there. I cannot help but wonder if Trump is at all aware that the results of the battle at Gettysburg are not something universally celebrated in all red states.

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