“Another View,” like any group daring to dispute progressive-approved, politically correct talking points, has had a series of trolls assigned to regularly post online “responses.” Their comments are typically a word salad, mostly plagiarized, of sentence fragments repeating shopworn memes and unsubstantiated accusations like “racism,” “living wage,” “human right,” “corporate rule,” and “fair share.” Recently, one of our group found, buried in an otherwise unremarkable rant, an actual whole sentence asking what solutions “Another View” would propose.
The subject column, “Expensive lessons,” discussed fiscal problems in Baltimore. It did not pretend to have solutions to Baltimore’s problems. If anyone had those, the problems would not exist. What a marvelous (and monumental) change of tactics it would be if we could shift from epithets, curses, violence, blame-shifting, and virtue-signaling to civil, fact-based acknowledgment of our social and fiscal challenges and discussion of real-world, sustainable solutions. Perhaps, sometime in the future, Americans will stop the insanity and come together in good faith to sincerely pursue solutions, rather than fleeting tribal victories, and work toward being one country again.
That will not happen until we fundamentally transform our thinking and speaking. Consider this Sept. 8 passage by New York Times writer Michelle Goldberg: “… the Republican Party, that foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce …” The vocabulary aside, her meltdown is stereotypical of an overtired 2-year-old desperately in need of stern parenting. Michelle and her publisher illustrate one serious problem in America. Both are incapable of and uninterested in contributing to solutions. Her precise motives may be in question, but clearly her agenda is fanning hate and widening division. We will make no progress until we relegate such hateful intellectual toddlers to permanent timeout and demand better of our elected and appointed officials, our writers and commentators, and especially ourselves.
There will be no meaningful improvements while we allow people with disguised personal agendas at the table. One principle of conducting an effective meeting is that all proceedings be conducted “above the table.” An individual who insists that it be his “idea” that defines the solution and rudely interrupts whenever the conversation examines other ideas is disruptive. Those who attend to be disruptive are said to be “rolling bowling balls under the table” and, until they are silenced and expelled, little or no progress will be made.
Contrary to the language used by many seeking office, America is a republic, not a democracy. Our Constitution establishes that and seeks to preserve the rights of the individual over the desires of the collective or the convenience of the government. Our founders wisely crafted a republic wherein a simple majority is insufficient to oppress the minority or the individual. But the Constitution cannot eliminate the evil that lurks in mob mentality. Many today would abandon the Constitution because it interferes with their dark agenda of using government to impose their ideas or values on others. They are unfit to be at the table.
America’s most abominable failures have resulted from a thoughtless stampede into the “democratic” imposition of a majority “solution,” almost always redistributing minority income and enabling incompetent bureaucrats to proscribe individual choices. Lasting solutions will rely primarily on empowering the individual to spend his time and treasure on the needs of his family and others as he chooses. The legitimate roles of government are to maintain public safety, protect individual rights, and advance the public good. Solutions that keep the government starved of resources and prohibited from proscribing individual choices will advance the public good.
Our challenges are not beyond solving and the elements of crafting those solutions are not beyond the grasp of sincere people working in good faith. As important as the individual is, the family is where individuals learn to live with, love, and care for others. Children raised by people who understand that “parent” is a verb and a responsibility will be prepared to attend schools that educate without being distracted by remedial parenting. An educated electorate will know our history and our past mistakes. They will temper their public discourse, not vent their every frustration, and use language to communicate, not to prevent communication. They will respect the rights and needs of others and either participate in good faith and sincerity to build solutions or at least elect and appoint others who will.
(Ken Frederic is a Maine native and alumnus of Brewer High School and the University of Maine at Orono. Before retirement, he worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense. He and his wife, Betty Ann, now live in Bristol and volunteer with several community organizations.)