I am traveling to attend my son’s graduation. There is, of course, much to say about the academy and its left-wing assumptions and the small-mindedness of some of the students it turns out as a result of them, but I’m in no mood to say any of it now. These great occasions, I always find, take the stomach for politics out of me somewhat. Life is one long leave-taking — that’s part of its melancholy beauty — but in those moments when I’m most reminded of the fact, political wrangling, though a noble and important pursuit, seems to me somehow besides the point.
The problem may be that politics necessarily focuses our attention on the sins of others rather than on our own. We feel we’re defending sacred ground and are therefore justified in taking a hard stand against the wrongs committed by our opponents. And fair enough. But wisdom always begins with inward-turning, and so does compassion, which is wisdom’s second self. Men don’t become wise in battle, only in the pauses, when they have time to sit and think.
In moments when I do pause, it comes back to me that, while people like Barack Obama or Harry Reid may be small, dishonest and corrupt individuals whose actions and philosophies are antithetical to the greatest ideals of the American state, many of the people who voted for them are far better than the men they voted for. They are people of good will who make their political decisions in keeping with their reason and traditions and in accord with what they think they know. So many of their hopes for the country are the same as mine. Often it’s only the methods we disagree on.
An example of what I mean. Not long ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts famously wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” More recently Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”
Anyone who reads this blog knows which of these two I agree with and I’ll be happy to argue the point another day. But, regardless of our opinions and regardless of what we think of either of these justices, note that the goal is the same with both: to end racial discrimination. It is a fair subject of debate to ask what these two solutions would look like in practice and which is more likely to achieve the desired result. In a world with fair journalism and politicians of some small common sense, we could have that debate in a civil and intelligent way and even road test the answers and find a way forward.
We do not, apparently, live in that world, and so we go on fighting our corners, hoping to sway the undecided with narratives and posing, insults and lies. The appearance of virtue becomes the enemy of true virtue, as Plato knew. Corruption devours even the tried and true. Politics.
So a pause. To think, live and read some Shakespeare — before I return to beat those leftist bastards into the ground head first like they deserve!