National Politics: Where’s my Angst?

By: Bill Whaley
31 October, 2017

Moderate republican David Brooks, columnist of The New York Times makes a good point today about the loss of the spiritual-moral center as mainstream Americans today try to “fill the hole,” whether on the left or the right. Brooks writes: “Politics these days makes categorical demands on people. It demands that they remain in a state of febrile excitement caused by this or that scandal or hatred of the moment. But it doesn’t actually transform life or even fill the hole left by the lack of other attachments.


“If politics is going to get better we need better myths, unifying ones that are built on social equality. But we also need to put politics in its place. The excessive dependence on politics has to be displaced by the expulsive power of more important dependencies, whether family, friendship, neighborhood, community, faith or basic life creed.


“To be a moderate is to be at war with idolatry. It’s to believe that we become free as we multiply and balance our attachments. It’s to believe that our politics probably can’t be fixed by political means. It needs repair of the deeper communal bonds that politics rest on, and which political conflict cannot heal.”


Given these generalities, all of which may be true, the challenge remains. How does one implement a change in consciousness? How do you change the message, now dominated by the genius of the Trump Twitter, a successor to the right-wing broadcast message of Fox and Limbaugh, who dominate the minds of Trump’s republican supporters? Similarly, the MSNBC and CNN partisans dominate the minds of the Obama-Clinton wing of democratic supporters.


While folks like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Michael Moore are out there trying to change the message, the loyal opposition to Trump, democratic mainstreamers repeat the errors of the Clinton campaign with their ministrations to Wall St. and negative reactions to the one-time supporters, who switched from Obama. What happened to the unions?


The focus by Broadcast media on melodramatic office politics is similar to the way sports fans discuss their teams, the stats, who’s starting, who is on the bench, who’s on fire, who’s injured. In sports you get to measure the results. Now we’re starting to see the results of Mueller’s investigation. The man is throwing strikes.


Its no accident that Limbaugh, who began as a baseball announcer, applied the same principles of sports enthusiasm to develop a following based on the “conservative v. liberal” dichotomy, divide and conquer, cheer for the home team. It’s good for ratings but bad for the civil government because the electorate needs to find common goals.


Ultimately, good pitching beats good hitting or the game would never end. I think of Trump as a flash-in-the pan home-run hitter up against the hard throwing Robert Mueller. In this age of the digital paper trail what gangster would want to face Mueller and his Band of prosecutors?


As Brooks points out above, the real work to be done involves changing one’s values and seeking meaning in “family, friendship, neighborhood, community, faith or basic life creed.” Brooks notion summarizes the way I think about “community,” which brings me to last night’s event at the old County Courthouse, where the good people of “Strong at Heart” are trying to reinvent the wheel. (See accompanying post.)

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