Given the feedback I’ve gotten over a previous column, both here and on Facebook, I’m inclined to believe that the country will not be salvaged or saved. What I’ve been told by people who I had long believed to be conservatives is that ideology is “BS.” Principles are worthless. Ideas and philosophy don’t matter. It’s all pointless babble, with no power to affect change, and that it must be discounted in favor of expedience, electioneering, and the perceived political exigencies of the moment. I understand that there are people who find themselves in a place of complete and utter political disenfranchisement (welcome to my world,) but to suggest that ideas, principles, and philosophies don’t matter is to say nothing matters, not even life itself. I was told in a Facebook comment today that I should be willing to set aside my principles for “the good of the country.” What in the name of John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt does that mean? Without my principles, how am I to know what is “the good of the country?” Without my principles, I might consider “the good of the country” to be whatever I imagine on a whim. Do I surrender my principles to Donald Trump’s judgments? To Sarah Palin’s? Without principles, how do I know if any of them are right? How do I know? There are some people who I trust a good deal, but I don’t surrender my intellectual or moral sovereignty to anybody. Ever. For once, I’d like all of the proponents of life without principle to consider what it is they’re advocating, assuming they’re still able.
Get up tomorrow morning. Go to work. Why? Why bother? Who says you should pay for your own way in life? Who needs principles? Choose your mate. Your soul-mate. If s/he displeases you, ditch and get another. Why try to work it out? Who says children need parents and an intact family? Why are you hung up on principles? Need food? Go take it from your neighbor. Sure, it’s stealing, but we don’t have time or need of principles of private property, or any of that old-fashioned nonsense about good and evil, the ten commandments, or any other idea. We don’t need that. Just do what you want to who you want when you want! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Why bother with that? They’re all out to screw me anyway, and they will do unto me whatever they want, because they don’t have need of principles either.
To Hell with principle. Principles never seem to get me anywhere, anyway! If I stick to principles while others cast them aside, or never bother to consider them, I’m the sucker, and I’m the one at a disadvantage! No sir, no principles any longer. I don’t worry about principles, or holding fast to my beliefs. I can go with the flow. I can be anything I want to be, any time I want to be whatever it is I’m considering. I don’t have a care in the world about principles, because they simply act as a constraint upon me, but upon nobody else. That makes me the sucker, so no more principles. In politics, I want to win, whatever principles I need to reject, discard, or otherwise eject from my thinking. As long as my candidate wins, principles don’t matter.
Ladies and gentlemen, if this line of thinking has come to dominate your thought processes, you’re on the wrong website. LEAVE NOW, and never return, excepting as your folly becomes clearer in your mind. I find this despicable in every possible meaning of the word. If you accept life without principle, I will have nothing to do with you, as no decent person on the face of the planet should. Had you any principles remaining, you would be ashamed for even suggesting such a thing, never mind practicing it. It is despicable that in a nation founded upon an idea, the people of the country would devolve in character and wisdom to such an extent that in the throws of their allegedly patriotic fervor, they would reject ideas and ideals. It makes me sick – physically, demonstrably ill.
People have prevailed upon me to consider how a certain candidate will “Make America Great Again.” I then ask: “What made America great in the first place?” By what standard of value had American been “great?” On what principle were those standards of value based? How can I even determine what is “great” without principles? How can I know if it’s better or worse or just the same if I’ve cast off the ideology by which I am able to make such determinations? How will I know? Whose judgment shall I trust? Upon which principle will my judgment rest once I’ve cast them off? This is something none of them can or will answer. There can be no honest answer to this without either an immediate confession of error or a de facto admission of idiocy.
The United States, as currently constituted, was founded on a series of ideas about self-governance, limited government and natural rights. Those principles, yes, principles, are the basis of everything we do and have and know in this country in terms of our relative prosperity, our material wealth, our technological advancement, and every other tangible exhibit of our modern culture. None of it would have been possible without principles, and you will neither restore or even retain your country if you now discharge those principles in favor of intellectual and political expedience. Put another way, if you have come to believe that you can “Make America Great Again” without reference to principles, what you have done is to become part of a cult of personality, having surrendered your intellectual and political sovereignty to the perceived exigencies of the moment. Good luck with that. In all the history of the world, such a movement has never succeeded. Most frequently, they result in the rise of despots and the enslavement and purging of human beings in the million. Of course, what do I know? One of those antiquated principles to which I adhere is: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”(George Santayana – one of those useless philosophers.)
If that’s your schtick, so be it. Go forth to whatever end your folly will have earned for you.