Republicans didn’t used to be this way
By Joseph Lentz
Republicans didn’t used to be this way.
Back in the day, they believed for the most part that integrity, truth, honor, and improving ones self were desirable goals, or at least not liabilities. But those Republicans are mostly gone now, have died out, or been ousted from the party. The GOP is now about raw power by any means necessary, the operative word being “any” – regardless of ethics, morality, tradition or the US Constitution.
This involves keeping the base controlled via selective information (the gentle word for it), keeping them conscience free, and fluffing them regularly by telling them the condition is okay because they are the real Americans (or something similar). Tell them this day in and day out, year after year, after year. It’s okay to support inhumane and unethical actions if you’re a “patriot” right? It’s all for the good of the country right? And this next part is important: Trust only us because those other guys are a bunch of (insert loaded pejorative of your choice) and are determined to turn the country into (insert scary scenario of choice). Again, tell them this day in and day out, year after year after year. After a couple decades the dynamic will take on a life of it’s own.
Remember, if someone is ignorant about something, it means they don’t know. This in itself is no crime, we all essentially start out this way, but the hope is that we don’t become slaves to the condition. Learning is the only cure for this, and learning is a lifelong process. Even people who have embraced bad information and wrong ways of thinking can extricate themselves if their desire for truth and decency is greater than their fears.
The Trump phenomenon is a litmus test for where you are on this scale.
We can see that right vs. wrong has become an abstract concept for many people, but I submit this is because they have either been conditioned into a mindset and are trapped by it (without realizing), or have embraced corruption in exchange for power and material rewards. Most of the Republican base falls into the former category and I have to believe it isn’t irreparable – at least for some of them. Remember taking Algebra or Geometry in HS and either loving it or hating it? For me it was about having the right teacher. Once it clicked into place, it was no longer confusing. Some of it was still difficult, but it made sense in a way that it hadn’t up until a light went on.
Education requires us to open our minds to new information, because this is how learning works, regardless of whether the goal is become a doctor, an electrician, or simply a well informed citizen. But once a mind has become closed, learning is no longer possible, only further conditioning of a static state. We as a society haven’t always glorified ignorance (which is curable) or stupidity (which isn’t), and I know this because I was fortunate enough to live during a time period when there was a near-universal belief among citizens of ALL stripes that higher standards mattered.
In many cases we hadn’t achieved them, but we all knew they mattered. Making America Great Again is a fine goal, but unless it’s only an Orwellian phrase used to whip up negative emotions, we are going to be required to once again learn how to embrace high standards rather then find ways to excuse and celebrate the low ones. We need to figure out how to do this together, because a nation divided against itself will never be great.