Young people: Don't waste you time thinking you can be an "Independent"
You're trying to be decent, but that's not the way
Data collected from the 2022 elections shows that young people are choosing to identify as politically “Independent” in increasing numbers. (This article from Axios explains the trend: “Younger voters declare independence.”
As someone who spent several decades imagining that I was an Independent, let me give young people some advice: Don’t waste your time.
I understand the impetus. As I said, I thought I was independent for many years. But once I understood how terrible Republicans are, I could no longer live with the delusion that there was some “middle ground” between right and left in America.
Looking back, I get why my younger self was enticed by the independent stance. There were two factors that pushed me in that direction.
First, I thought of myself as open-minded and rational. It seemed reasonable to believe that one should evaluate political ideas and candidates on a case-by-case basis, choosing the best policies and the best people from both sides.
Second, I disliked the rancor that arises from strong partisanship. It was much more pleasant to interact with people as though I could understand where they were coming from and reach consensus or at least detente with them.
For me, I realized that these two factors were weaknesses during the George W. Bush administration. From its ruthless behavior in using the courts to usurp an election which they only technically won, to its non-stop lying, perverting intelligence, enacting long-discredited economic policies, waging war arrogantly, non-stop bullying, and endless unethical actions—it became only too clear that the rot injected into American politics by Newt Gingrich during the 1990s was actually the essence of the Republican party.
This realization removed the blinders of my self-image that pushed me toward independence.
First, the firm closed-mindedness and irrationality of Republicans made it impossible to pretend any longer that there was anything to learn from that side. Open-mindedness becomes a weakness when it tries to embrace closed-mindedness in its efforts to be open-minded.
Second, my aversion to rancor had to be jettisoned because it is a severe weakness when confronting people who fully intend to be nasty, offensive, and rancorous. Such people, who began to dominate the Republican party in the late 1990s, make it absolutely necessary to fight rather than pretend that they have even an ounce of good will.
So I became a person who is open-minded except when confronting closed-mindedness and a crusader against Republicanism, which is now nothing more than an excuse for justifying the worst impulses to which human beings are susceptible.
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The time I spent imagining myself to be independent was wasted. I could not act rightly because my self-image prevented me from understanding just how terrible Republicans are. Instead, I played a childish game of trying to evaluate BS “conservative ideas” and trying to see the best in Republicans who had no best to see.
Save yourself from this fate. The sooner the better, since you will eventually regret the time lost living in an imaginary political landscape that doesn’t let you do the right things.
Try to see these facts now.
There are no “conservative ideas.” Conservatism has been a con since it was first developed in the 1950s to combat liberalism, which was transforming the world toward rational self-government at a breakneck pace. Liberalism had all the ideas at that time. Greedy, racist, nationalist, authoritarians had none. They desperately needed something that looked like ideas to push back. So several “thinkers” stepped up—Russell Kirk comes to mind especially—to create “conservatism,” a concoction of idea-like beliefs that were actually just twisted versions or polar opposites of liberal ideas. (I’ll be discussing Kirk’s infamous Ten Conservative Principles in future posts.)
There are no good “conservatives,” let alone good Republicans. The beliefs of conservatives are all wrong at bottom, and that poisonous stew of error taints their relationship with even the most common-sense and apparently altruistic principles. (Example: The so-called “conservative” principle of “small government” makes anything that “conservatives” say about government wrong, even when they agree with liberals. Everything about government has be “right-sized,” not small or big. The “small government” bias is why red states actually love Obamacare in practice, showing that they recognize its rightness, while the Republicans in those state keep denouncing the Affordable Care Act as a socialist plot.) You can’t actually be good, even if you’re trying to, when you act on beliefs that are not good. It’s impossible.
So even if you are content with the image of an independent now, the day will come when Republicans do something so despicable that you finally realize they can’t be allowed anywhere near government power. When that happens, you have to stop listening to them and start fighting against them with everything you have. You have to stop imagining that you are independent the day you recognize that you really want decency to win out.
Why not just save the time and make that day today?
I have a Facebook friend who regularly posts an item she calls “AOTD” — as in “Asshole of the Day” — and it’s always a Republican.
Today I posted the following in response to her AOTD post:
“I do a mental fist pump every time I read your scathing comments about the vile creeps of the modern Republican party. (Not that it was much better at any time in my lifetime, which began during the Eisenhower administration.)
My question to you is this: have you ever succeeded in budging any of the cult-like adherents to the Republican insanity from their views?
I long ago concluded it was a waste of time, not to mention ￼ an effort that I found stressful and anger-producing.
While the most recent iteration of their vileness included separating young children from their parents, a’ la Sophie‘s choice on the ramp at Auschwitz, ￼ they haven’t yet actually set up extermination camps.
And so the parallel to Nazism still falls a bit short, although the century is young. ￼
Nevertheless, the parallels to Nazism are quite strong. And I do regard the adherents to Republican awfulness as being very similar to Nazis.
And of course I (and you) grew up in a time when the military defeat of Nazis was something America was quite proud of. ￼
And just as a Jew in 1930s or early 1940s Germany would not waste his breath trying to persuade a committed Nazi of the error of his ways, I see no point in trying to persuade committed Republicans of the viciousness and folly of their beliefs.
They are, in their own way, an equally implacable enemy, that cannot be reasoned with, only defeated.
The question is … how?“
Excellent piece, sent it to several people.