On Monday morning this week, I watched the CBS Morning News on CBS with three hosts that I enjoy because they are generally fair-minded. Gayle King, who I think I could sit down and talk with over a coffee, was interviewing former President Obama on the release of his memoirs. The following is an excerpt from the conversation:
Gayle King: 72 million people voted for Donald Trump. What does that say to you about the state of this country?
Mr. Obama: Well, what it says is that we are still a country that is deeply divided, and what it says is that the power of alternative world view that’s presented in the media those voters consume has a lot of pull.
Gayle King: Are you worried about that?
Mr. Obama: Yes, because it is very hard for a democracy to function if we are operating on completely different sets of facts. One of my biggest worries about our democracy going forward is how do we get back to a common baseline of facts?
I am a person who has chosen to live a professional life where words are my stock-in-trade. Therefore, the precise meanings of words and the inferences they carry determine if I am to successfully teach and write and tell those stories in my chosen words conveying the meaning I intend.
If the listener or reader comprehends a meaning different from the one I intended, I have failed.
Sarcasm, tone of voice, inflections, and the adjectives I choose all influence the meanings—hopefully clarifying and shading the words even more precisely.
If my wife hears unintended sarcasm in my voice or my adjectives don’t communicate accurately, I am likely to sleep in the back bedroom for a while. But if she knows I am reaching for humor, I might get a laugh instead of banishment.
The power of words cannot be understated, so please read the quotes above again. Do they convey two particular and contradictory meanings through connotation and context? Is there one message to the liberal audience, and a different message is to the conservative audience. Let’s explore.
To the liberals: The message seems to this conservative to be that liberals are the chosen ones—the enlightened ones. Insight and truth are found where large groups of progressives gather. The country can only move forward with a progressive agenda agreed upon by liberal and conservative alike.
To the conservatives: My perception of Gayle King’s opening question is that there is clearly a problem in the country because the 70 million people who voted for President Trump all voted of precisely the same mind.
Clearly, and Mr. Obama agrees, that the entire 70 million are of one mind, composed of ill-informed, gun owning, science-ignoring, beer-swilling, diversity-despising deplorables, as Hilary Clinton so famously called folks like me.
I plead guilty to swilling beer on occasion. I own a few guns and intend to own a few more. I sometimes question the infallibility of science, but I give equal time to questioning religion, too.
According to Mr. Obama, his point seems to be that the country will fail if people disagree on the things that make this country, our country. Funny, I thought exactly the opposite was true.
I seem to remember being taught in Alabama’s pore ol’ backwards public schools that our nation’s strength comes from the polite consideration of ALL our citizens’ opinions.
I have observed repeatedly that when some folks start thinking their views are right and that some other folks views are wrong, you get things like the 2nd Baptist Church that met just down the road from where I grew up. I never knew what it was that made folks so mad they would just up and start another church, although I often imagined that someone must have left their boots under a bed other than their betrothed!
Will the United States come out of this even when groups of people who know better still cast aspersions on an entire other group of Americans just because they think differently?
Hell, yeah, WE WILL!
We always have. And here is why.
First, politicians regardless of party—at least all of them I have ever met—are power-hungry jerks and hypocrites looking for more power and influence, and that includes former President Trump.
If you believe that the Almighty personally plucked Donald Trump up and placed him in the presidency to save the U.S. for Christianity, you need to go in a closet and have a heart-to-heart with the Almighty as suggested in Matthew 6:5-8.
My point here is that neither conservatives nor religion lost much when Trump lost the election. Not, if he will just leave.
The power of conservatism is not in its national or world view; it is in the power of personally caring for all of God’s people in churches, synagogues, and mosques small and large across the land.
The second reason the country will survive the fearful hordes of liberals descending on the capitol is because of the Washington bureaucracy we all detest. With a bureaucracy the size of DC’s, little is likely to happen to change our lives.
The bureaucrat’s job is to make decisions without regard to politics. Bureaucrats thwart new ideas. In your lifetime, has the DMV improved its service … even if it moved into a shiny new building? That would be an emphatic “NO!” That’s not the job of bureaucrats.
Feel any better? I expect not really.
Third, not much of what goes on in DC changes to affect us when administrations change because most of their campaign promises are not grounded in reality and most notably, not grounded in the Constitution.
The Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights says in part: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The founding fathers created a country where the states have more control over their lives than the Federal Government.
The final restrainer of significant change in the country is the Supreme Court of the United States. More than all the past presidents put together, SCOTUS has kept the country on an even keel.
It is not always the course that every citizen agrees with, but we still abide by its decisions. One of the prime ways the Court slows down change is that it generally takes five or more years for a case to make its way through the court system.
As the old saw goes, “the wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine.” And by the way, don’t think that will change just because a conservative majority now exists on the Court.
The Court, the Constitution, and the Will of All the People shall always keep America leading the world. Unfortunately, and most regrettably, it is not the Presidency or the Congress.
By the way, there is one thing that might really change this whole ugly political dynamic for good.
Public schools ACTUALLY teach Civics, Government, and American History. The last few years have shown us most graphically what happens when those three key areas of knowledge are ignored.
That’s is it for my politically themed essays for, I hope, a long while. I am tired of my own pissantness about the subject!
It is time for all of us to say goodbye to Mr. Trump. And to welcome President-elect Biden, wish him the very best, and say a prayer for him tonight.
After all, isn’t that what separates us as conservatives?
There you have it. A bit of ranting. A story or two. Hopefully, a bit of off-the-wall wisdom, and a whole lot of faith in the future!
Until next time remember this from Abe Lincoln: “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Amen, Abe. Amen.