That slow sucking sound you hear is our country and its values being flushed down the toilet by Republican leadership. Only rational people can save our democracy. If I were to say that Democrat leadership is modern and Republican leadership is post-modern, it probably wouldn’t raise the hackles of the Republican base.
However, if I were to say Democrats are rational and Republicans are irrational, it would be a different story.
The idea of modernism is based on rationality. Conservative columnist David Brooks and Brookings Institute senior fellow Jonathan Rauch agree that rational knowledge stems from “a network of institutions — universities, courts, publishers, professional societies, media outlets — that have set up an interlocking set of procedures to hunt for error, weigh evidence and determine which propositions pass muster” as rational.
Rationality and modernism are the same, as Rauch notes, as the scientific method that promotes COVID-19 vaccinations. Post-modernism is based on a rationality of sorts, but it has been corrupted by Republican leadership who may or may not be aware of what post-modernism represents.
In essence, post-modernism holds that there are no absolute truths. As used by most Republican members of Congress, post-modernism manifests itself as saying whatever will get you through the moment as you try not to irritate Donald Trump. The question is: Will rational Democrats trying to live up to the promises made in the last campaign, which they won, ever be able to communicate with irrational Republicans through honest discourse for the good of the country?
Republicans have stood by while Trump denigrated the military, the intelligence agencies and career members of the diplomatic corps. They bowed before his irrationality at Mar-a-Lago with regard to the “Big Lie,” apparently a Rudy Giuliani idea, and now they are part of it. How do you, as a rational person, communicate with such irrationality?
The French love their intellectuals. Our feelings as Americans toward intellectuals might be summed up in the statement: “Why should I waste time reading the directions before I start to assemble my delivery from IKEA?” We Americans are clearly “doers.”
Rene Descartes was, perhaps, the first rationalist to make a name for himself. The title of “father of modern post-modernism” is usually given to Frenchman Michel Foucault, who died in 1986. Foucault was a homosexual, which I only mention because it is crucial to understanding what led him to his idea on post-modernism. As Foucault was aware, French political regimes sometimes defined homosexuality as a crime and, sometimes, a mental deficiency. Foucault’s conclusion was there is no point in searching for the truth, because definitions change depending on which powerful people are in charge.
A classic example is the Iraq war. It also might serve as, perhaps, the first big Republican lie of the 21st century. You may recall that our initial foray into Iraq was to root out weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were found. Rather than apologize and withdraw our troops, at least for their own safety, we redefined the mission. We would give them democracy.
Just a personal anecdote on this matter. I asked one of my classes at the time if it was a good idea for us to be in Iraq to give their people democracy. The 40 or so students overwhelmingly supported democracy for the Iraqi people.
In a surprising moment of clarity on my part, I asked the class to show me their voter registration cards for 20 extra points. If you’re going to give a gift, give big with no strings attached. Six students were able to show a voter registration card. The rest were given an additional week to produce their cards. Those students were allowed to contact their local courthouse and make me aware of their efforts.
I am a generous guy. However, that was it, six people out of 40-plus were participants in our democracy. The rest were willing to send others off to fight and die for a concept they felt obligated to defend, but did not themselves participate in.
The Republicans have corrupted the concept of post-modernism by continually lying in the face of the facts.
Trump won the 2020 election, there was no violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jewish space lasers are responsible for western wild fires, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is to blame for the failure of the U.S. response to the pandemic are lies and conspiracies Republicans support.
Slate reporter Dahlia Lithwick wrote recently, “Incubating, amplifying, and polishing lies is now the full-time occupation of much of the GOP.”
Who are the people Republican politicians want to please? We can’t describe all of them, but, according to the column Poll Watch, 26% of Americans can be described as “highly right-wing authoritarian.”
Twenty-six percent of the 75 million votes cast for Trump, comes out to approximately 20 million votes, and enough to sway an election. Research further defines authoritarianism as the desire to submit to some authority with aggression toward those the authority figure tells them should be targeted.
How do you deal rationally with irrational people? Imagine the whole government dissembling, lying or otherwise shading rational thought on information citizens need to have. The only way for Democrats to work with irrational Republican ideology is to stay rational and hope Republicans “see the light.”
It could happen. At the CPAC gathering this month, Trump complimented the Jan. 6 rioters as peaceful and great people. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., responded by saying “That makes no sense at all. I dispute his facts tremendously.” That’s a start in the right direction. Good for her. Her statement appears to demonstrate a swing in her thinking with regard to Trump. Now, fellow Republicans need to follow through.
Surely, there is a rational Republican in Congress ready to step into a leadership position and walk this party out of the dark place it’s in.