Be Civilized Grudges are for Neanderthals

It is with great hesitancy that I wade into the quagmire of this month’s events in Charlottesville and Boston.  Uncontrolled and irrational emotions on both sides seem to have wiped out any chance of civilized conversation about Charlottesville, President Trump, Antifa, White Supremacy, Confederate statues, and other issues that have gripped the news and social media.

In the past week’s, I’ve heard too many conservatives defend White Supremacists and Nazis with the logical fallacy that “Antifa is worse.”   If you truly believe that Nazis are evil, then your argument should never end with “but….”.  There is no “but” when condemning evil.  White Supremacists and Nazis are evil, hate-filled, and un-American. Period.

To see White Supremacists, Nazis, and Antifa activists clashing in our streets is a natural progression in the breakdown of civility in many parts of society.  We label our opponents with nasty names, regardless of their true nature.  In the rhetoric of the Left, all conservatives are “Fascists” (though hardly any understand the term).   Failing that, they have a whole dictionary full of slurs (“Teabaggers”, “Deplorables”, “Misogynists”, “Racists”).   Extremists on the right label liberals as “Socialists”, “Communists”, “Libtards”, or “Snowflakes”.   Our national debate has turned into a playground argument between 3rd graders.

In the end, all of these slurs, left and right, fail to move our national conversation forward.  They diminish the civility required for us to find solutions for our country’s ills.  The insults dehumanize our fellow Americans.   The conservatives that I know are not Nazis or White Supremacists.   The liberals that I know are not Socialists or Communists and they are definitely not wearing the black masks of Antifa.

One of Russell Kirk’s Ten Conservative Principles is that there exists an enduring moral order.

“This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.

Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an old fangled moral order.”

 

I would include civility as an important foundation of this moral order.   When we degrade ourselves by resorting to the foul language, insults,  and behavior of those who do not respect this order, then we have lost.  By holding ourselves to a higher standard, we advance civility and moral order.

This doesn’t mean that we are disarming ourselves.  No, in fact, it means that we are better armed than our opponents.   It means that we can win not only debates, but hearts and minds, with logic and reason and passion against those who defend failed economic and social theories.

This is the true nature of a conservative: to believe in and to abide by the enduring moral order, an order that includes civility, good manners, and respect.

 

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

How beauteous mankind is!

 

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
— William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I’ve just finished reading Brave New World (when I say “reading’, I really mean listening to on Audible).  Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World was one of the first dystopian novels, a genre that has gain much popularity in the 21st century, and for good reason.

Originally meant to be a parody of utopian novels by H.G. Wells, the novel took on a life of its own and received much praise when it was published.  It frequently makes lists of the top 100 most important books of the 20th century.

Utopian novels were popular in the early 20th century, the age when Progressivism, Communism, and Socialism were gaining acceptance.  These were the movements that would perfect society and individuals.  People saw mankind’s rapid advance toward perfection and imagined the fantastic society that would be come.  Huxley’s novel follows the trendy movements to their natural conclusion-to a drug addled, hedonistic society that had lost its soul.

Ironically, Huxley was inspired to create his dystopia after a visit to the United States.  He was not impressed by the sexual promiscuity and inward-looking nature of Americans.  Brave New World is set in London, but when its characters come to New Mexico on holiday, it is to see the savages.

Dystopian novels are meant to shock and to warn us.  After more than 80 years, Brave New World is just as relevant, if not more so.  We still suffer from the meddlers and tinkerers who continue to try to tweak society towards what they view as Utopia, where everyone is equal, happy, and wants for nothing.  Today’s college campuses would fit right in with Huxley’s Brave New World, where heretical diversity of thought is banished to far off places.  Our politicians focus on ways to make everyone equal.  I imagine that they would prefer if everyone were average, educated at a liberal arts college, and drank only Fair Trade coffee out of reusable cups.  Blandness is the Progressive’s Utopia.

Try as they might though, people don’t seem to be following their plan.  They continue to find ways to express their individuality.  The old behemoths of industry and commerce are destroyed by innovative upstarts working in their parent’s basements.  They don’t vote the way that they are expected to by the elite and the media.  They won’t believe the latest scaremongering expert telling them to change their ways or die!

“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t.”  Keep living your beauteous lives in ways that give little regard to the opinions of meddling experts.  If we are to move toward a Utopia, it won’t be because of a government program or an inspiring leader or an academic theory of society.  It will be because you moved us closer. Individuals and families living in community, working hard, enjoying life.  That gives me reason to exclaim “O wonder!”

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

All this is what it means to be an American.

Independence Day offers us reason to celebrate and to reflect what it means to be free.  Looking to the revolutionary times of the late 18th century, we see a society where, for the first time in human history, the “common man” came to seize power from his aristocratic oppressors.  Today though, we should be looking beyond the “common man”.  We should all be uncommon.

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Don’t Always Believe What You Think

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

Winston S. Churchill

A few years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said something that stuck in my mind firmer than the sticker was attached to the bumper.  It said ‘Don’t Always Believe What You Think’.  Philosophers call this concept “Intellectual Humility”.   This type of humility acknowledges the limitations of our knowledge.  It calls on us to challenge our own beliefs and, in doing so, places the surviving beliefs on firmer ground.

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Has our government always worked this way?

“American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

This month, we are witnessing one of the most important rituals of American democracy:  the confirmation hearing of a United States Supreme Court nominee.  This process has evolved over the past few decades, particularly since the failed nomination of Judge Bork.  The contentiousness has reached embarrassing levels.  Like most modern political practices, we continue to battle over nominees much as our forefathers did, but we do it in a way that shows little regard for the character and qualifications of the nominee.

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Draining The Swamp

Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “Drain the swamp” has successfully placed him in the Oval Office.  But what exactly is the swamp, and how does one go about draining it?

The commonly accepted definition of the “swamp”, and the one Trump alludes to, is the career, political elite of Washington, D.C., who are in essence tenured legislators.  This career, political class is seen as an entrenched, corrupt, blackguard of the status quo, a semi-permanent legislative body that stands between the people, their rights, and a just government.  I contend that these entrenched politicians are not in fact, THE swamp”; rather they merely reflect the dominant ideas of our culture.  I would argue that these career politicians are merely a surface layer, and the real depth of the swamp lies somewhere else.

The Democrats and Republicans are virtually united in their moral base, that is, the pinnacle of virtue for both parties is altruism, the morality which preaches the sacrifice of the individual self for “others”.  They sometimes differ on which individuals should be sacrificed, and quibble over the level of sacrifice, but they both fundamentally believe in the moral duty of being “thy brother’s keeper”.

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The rightful masters of both Congress and the courts

Eight years ago, the Tea Party movement began, supposedly sparked by a ranting CNBC reporter.  Unlike the protests that occurred this month around the inauguration of Donald Trump, those rallies began more than a month into President Obama’s term.  It took until September before the first large rally occupied Washington, D.C.

Times have changed though, and power has shifted.  For many, hopes are flying high.  For others, fear grips them.  I have a hard time understanding those who are frozen by fear of the Trump Presidency, but I do not doubt that their fear is real.  The marches against Trump were planned well before he held any power, yet organizers were able to mobilize millions of protesters across the country.  As a veteran of the Tea Party movement, I say “kudos” to them.  They are doing what Americans should do when they peaceably to assemble, and  petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I think that one thing that has created fear on the left is the decimation that they have suffered at the polls over the past eight years.  They thought that they would be the rightful masters of Congress and the courts indefinitely.  They are not.  The incredible shift from an electorate that elected the most leftist President in our history, to one who promises to undo that President’s legacy, is something for the history books.  The left does have reason to fear a Trump Presidency, not because he is an evil man, but because after 8 years of perverting the Constitution, things are going to change.

I have my doubts about President Trump’s concern for the Constitution.  He never mentions it.  Some of his ideas seem contrary to the limits of the Constitution.  Until the power of the Presidency is rightfully diminished, we’ll have to cling to the hope that he is serious about shrinking the power of Washington, D.C.  He’s gone outside the box in his cabinet appointments.  The coastal elites are apoplectic about some of these appointments, but their fossilized idea of government has been rejected by the American voters.  This is the biggest hope for the Trump Presidency, that it is a transformational era, where new ideas are allowed to flourish, while the stagnant failed model of the New Deal, Progressivism, and “wars” on everything are once and for all declared dead.

We will forever have leaders who seek to pervert the Constitution.  Regardless of who is living in the White House, vigilance is a virtue always required of the patriot.  The task of the Tea Party is no lighter than when Barack Obama was President.  When we started this movement, I said that this is a decades long task.  Our problem is not with the leaders who pervert the Constitution, but with the voters who elect them.  These are the minds that we must win over.  This is your task.  Instead of badmouthing the left, we should talk about the power of the model that our founders gifted to us.  By creating more lovers of the Constitution, we can ensure that the road to real liberty is always open.

In Liberty,

Ken Mandile

Senior Fellow

Worcester Tea Party

It is less about Resolutions, and more about being Resolute in 2017

Welcome to Harvard everybody!!After the election, I spoke with a person from the other side of the aisle who asked what I would be doing now that the Tea Party’s mission was over.  He was under the impression, probably gathered from fake news stories, that the Tea Party’s mission was just to oppose Barack Obama.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

The Tea Party Movement is a grass roots response to the corruption, and incompetence, we have seen at every level of government.  The Worcester Tea Party is an incorporated non-profit dedicated to education focusing on economics and politics.  As an educational organization, those that accepted a leadership roles are given the title of Deans.  The treasurer of our organization is our Bursar.  Previous leaders of our organization that have retired from most active duties are Senior Fellows.  The guidance and counsel of our Senior Fellows is very important to our organization.  I have the honor of being the President of the Worcester Tea Party.  The President is the spokes person and evangelist for the group and I help out in any other way I can.

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