Letter 2 America for January 29, 2023

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Dear America,

The last few weeks of the New York Times Sunday opinion section has been unusual.  It always includes essays from both ends of the political spectrum, but in these recent weeks there has been a surprising univocality evident in what the contributors have opined, and notably their political affiliations have been both Republican and Democratic.  For example, two weeks ago, David Brooks and Bret Stephens wrote jointly about the current state and future of the Republican Party evincing concern approaching despair about both.  In comments about the party's appropriate course for the future they departed in both their perspectives on what the party is today and on how it should evolve.  But they both saw today's Republican Party as disturbingly dysfunctional and no longer politically viable.  And of course the reliably critical liberal commenters continued in their disdainful vein about Republicans and the nature of what the party characterizes as conservatism.  What both camps shared was the opinion that today's putative conservatives are nothing of the sort.  Stephens believes that "MAGA" is in no way related to consrevatism, which he characterizes as supply-side economics and moral traditionalism, or put another way, Reaganomics and moral didacticism.  Brooks takes a more purely political view in that he sees the future of the Republican Party and conservatism as bound to a programmatic repudiation of what he thinks of as coastal, Ivy League elites.  In effect, both urge dogmatism, but of a different kind from the xenophobic, chauvinistic exclusionist nature of MAGA would-be conservatism.

The liberals' bent is similarly critical of MAGA-Republican faux-conservatism, but it is no surprise that they display a consensus mentality.  Being an old sixties liberal myself, I am of course in agreement with those in my camp, but shockingly now with respected conservative political commentators as well.  If they reflect even just a substantial minority of Republican sentiment, it seems that the next presidential election will turn on how many voters are in each camp rather than in each party, which suggests to me that we good guys will prevail, but that leaves a residual problem.  Those who subscribe to Q-anon and various conspiracy theories also believe the preposterously tautological notion that the 2020 election was the consequence of fraud in that election of anyone but Trump would have to be because, they fervently believe, he was and is indubitably the majority's choice, and thus, Joe Biden couldn't have won.  They reject the reality that the popular majority in this nation sees Donald Trump for what he is and scorn him as an odious malfeasor of catastrophic proportion in many and varied respects.   They will never see the light, and they will continue to look for confirmation of their biases wherever they can find them, including in the voices of fellow travelers like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and the rest of the deluded MAGA establishment.  They will never go away, which means that they will be inimical to civil tranquility for a long time...maybe, God forbid, in perpetuity, which would precipitate the nadir, and ultimately the extinguishment of the American democratic experiment.  

In the end, the dialectic between the two major schools of thought may have ephemeral meaning election to election, but in the long run, the irrational MAGA faithful will be the problem that won't let us perdure as a nation.  So what do we do about them?  It is my belief that inescapable reason is the only way, and so getting them to listen is the challenge...the existential challenge that we have to meet.  When we discuss the matters that dogmatic Trumpism manifest itself in, the key is patience.  I have an acquaintence with whom I have found myself in the same room on occasion, and when our relationship began, it was tense.  But eventually I simply pointed out to him that our differences were disagreements of opinion, and he seems to have seen that light.  We accept each other now, and that is the gateway through which we can enter upon a discovery of the facts on  which we base our respective opinions civilly and honestly.  For example, Trump announced his first candidacy by proclaiming, in effect, that immigration from Mexico injects into American society a criminal element.  But the fact is that native born American citizens are more likely to commit crimes than are immigrants, legal and illegal combined.  According to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, that is a fact, and it is indisputable.  I haven't raised the issue with this acquaintance because I am waiting for him to bring it up, and that is the strategy that I advocate.  First, get those you know who have suffered inculcation of MAGA canards in their thinking to admit that your political differences are differences of opinion and thus are not amenable to resolution...and then wait.  When an assumption based on factual error comes up, point out the facts and suggest that the person to whom you are speaking not take your word for it, but look it up...but do so with a reliable source.  In a phrase, suggest to them that they embark upon "critical thinking."

I think we are safe from the daunting possibility of MAGA hegemony in our society.  It is still fringe thinking, and I believe that the electoral plurality, if not the majority, still sees reason.  And as to that majority, we all have to be patient and avoid alienating them.  Maybe with the velvet glove or rationality they can be saved.  Let's hope so.

Your friend,


No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://letters2america.com/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/attymwol/managed-mt/mt-tb.cgi/954

Leave a comment


Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 4.38

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on January 29, 2023 3:22 PM.

Letter 2 America for January 12, 2023 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for March 1, 2023 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory