As a college-educated man with working-class roots, I am perhaps well poised to perceive a wide spectrum of political perspectives.
To put it another way:
I’m a Blue Collar guy with a college degree, so I can see the whole picture.
That’s the theory. Not the dubious “I’m special” part. The fact that both sentences say the same thing, in very different ways.
The US has had two, perhaps three populist Presidents: Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump, and arguably Bill Clinton. With the rest, we’re used to a type of speech I’m going to call “diplomatic” for purposes of this theory. It’s also scholarly speech, presenting ideas with a subtle acknowledgement that later developments might change things. In the first statement above, the word “perhaps” does it. A similar phrase might be “events suggest.” To the average citizen these may sound wishy-washy or mealy mouthed.
Now, holding “events suggest” side-by-side with Donald Trump’s “some say,” or the more commonplace, man-on-the-street’s “I’ve heard,” I see a similarity.
“Some say” grates on my ears. “Events suggest” grates on other ears. To me, “some say” is vague, with no documentation, inviting a response of “well others say,” which leaves us with “who knows?” (William Perry’s second stage of cognitive development.) To others, “events suggest” is just as vague, drawing a conclusion from hidden sources like a stage magician.
Don’t get me wrong. I still think Donald Trump is a snake-oil salesman born with a silver spoon and never went a day in his life without servants, let alone food and shelter, who managed to dupe common folk into thinking he understands and cares for their plight, while riding a golden escalator and telling them their toilets are hard to flush, but not his.
But I could be mistaken. Similar things could be said of any politician.
In any case, this theory prepares me to more openly listen to him, and to FOX News. Even his Tweets, because they’re not *all* self-congratulatory or insulting. Some are actually positive, affirming, even comforting.
“I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing … For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both!”
~ Sir William Berkeley, (1606-1677) Royal Governor of Virginia
Something I often hear from Conservative family members is that college professors have a Liberal bias.
Ergo higher education has a Liberal bias.
At kindergarten (and pre-kindergarten, and nowadays pre-pre-kindergarten) all the way through high school, we can …
Vote for a school board to preserve our Conservative values.
Raise a ruckus to enforce prayer in school. (Granted, we can already pray there, just not officially lead prayer.)
Apply pressure to let teachers teach from the Bible. (Granted, they can already talk about the importance of the Bible in our culture, along with the Qoran in Arab nations, or the Tao te Ching, or whatever else those godless heathens in other countries read. But we can’t teach directly from the Bible like in those glorious one-room schoolhouses of the 1800s.)
Public schools we can influence. But at college level, education is out of our hands.
Higher education has a Liberal bias. Could that be why college costs so much in our good ol’ U.S.A.? God knows we don’t want to be manufacturing no more uppity Liberals.
My Great-Uncles Albert, Goldren, Herbert, J.C., and Willis served in World War II. As did my father-in-law, Harvey. My great-grandmother’s cousin spent time as a Japanese prisoner of war.
My stepfather Chuck served during the Korean War. So did Great-Uncle Glen, who fought hand-to-hand there.
My Uncles Don and Bill served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Second cousins Carlos Irwin, Donald, Gordon, & William were service members then as well.
My brother Steve & I served in the National Guard during peacetime. Our younger brother Randy served full-time Army, mainly in Korea. Our cousin Ritchie is full time. My daughter Christine met her husband Christopher while both were in the Army. He served combat duty in Iraq.
Many of these people have been career service members. And that’s just my side of the family. Jennifer has her own list, running back to World War I.
When I hear, “Support our troops,” I think, “My family is our troops.” When I hear, “I prefer heroes who weren’t captured,” I think, “I prefer politicians who weren’t deferred service.” And when I see veterans homeless, or struggling to get VA benefits, well, you don’t want to know what I’m thinking.
There are, for purposes of this post, two types of people.
One type views life as a competition for limited resources, a dog-eat-dog struggle in which the top dog deserves the choicest pieces of meat, because without their leadership the pack would have no meat at all. In this view, dominance is proof of innate superiority. Pack members too sick, stupid, or slow to hunt must either survive on scraps or die. Even the loss of a few otherwise worthy individuals is just a cold hard fact of nature.
The other type believes that our heritage of savagery doesn’t define us. That humankind is adaptive, even transcendent, expanding our knowledge and understanding to discover and implement unlimited new resources. And that one of those resources is people themselves. That most of the sick, stupid, or slow can be nurtured to contribute. And that feeding a few deadbeats is a small price to pay for getting a deserving person through hard times.
It is not my purpose here to debate which view is more valid. Evidence for either abounds, depending on where our sight focuses.
Visit a public food pantry and you’ll certainly find a lot of ugly, stupid people it seems the race could do without. Or watch the tabloid parade of disgrace across the TV screen with Maury Povich or Jerry Springer.
On the other hand, in that food pantry you’ll also find folk obviously deserving of charity, with whom life has dealt unfairly. Families financially ruined by medical debt, or by loss of their trade, or simply unable to find work sufficient for their needs. Beyond that food pantry, count the number of military veterans now homeless, sleeping in the streets they fought to protect.
Again, it is not my purpose to debate which of these views is more valid. I would like, however, to point out what seem to me a few inconsistencies with the first.
Oddly, the camp of limited resources seems least likely to conserve those resources. It weakens environmental protection standards, often simply by underfunding their enforcement. It doubts scientific consensus on climate change, preferring to err on the side of risk for business sake, rather than exercise caution.
Justifiably, the dog-eat-dog camp is also most vocal about religion, whether Western, Middle-Eastern, or even state-enforced Eastern atheism. In this view, religion (or atheism) provides a codification of behaviors to keep stupid, lazy people from destroying civilization from within.
But oddly, the choice of texts cited seems inconsistent with a dog-pack, limited resources viewpoint.
Consider the prime figure of Christianity, the Christ from which it takes its name: “I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25). Granted, this is not the only teaching in the book, but it’s an undeniable statement by the utterly central personage, a statement that must be confronted and somehow obeyed, or the entire book falls into question.
Or these words by the central personage of Islam: “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith,” and “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” Again, these are not the only statements of Muhammad, but they cannot be downplayed or ignored for the sake of militancy.
Or the paradox of communist atheism’s party-enforced orthodoxy, in light of these words by its patron Karl Marx: “For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society.”
Again, it is not my purpose here to debate the comparative validity of dog-eat-dog competition versus open-handedness. But it’s likely obvious which of the two I find unsuitable. And by contrast, which gives me the most hope for the future.