I am much happier, now. Here, have a picture of a puppy:
Throughout my hiatus, there was one thing I really did miss, and that's railing against assholes who really really deserve it. Not because 'they believe the wrong things'. If I did that, I'd be writing at Cowgirl. No, the ones who usually most deserve it are those who believe that only they and theirs believe the right things, and to them, everyone else commits bad think, and is an an asshole to be shunned, vilified and silenced.
There's a lot of folk out there who have believed for years that I am a 'good Democrat', often with derision, of course. Certainly I'm thought of as a good democrat by the people who send me two to three emails a day, (often more) in support of cause X or petition Y, always with a request for money. In truth, I am a good democrat, it's just that so many others keep using that word. I don't think it means what they think it means.
Way way on back, I spent a couple of weekends gathering signatures for the ERA. (For any younguns reading this, that was a proposed Equal Rights Amendment which actually would have codified in our Constitution that all people are deserving of the same legal rights. That right there should indicate to you that no, that wasn't in the Constitution, and still isn't today ...) Over the years, I've thought a lot about that experience, pondering what I'd learned, or if there was anything from it to learn. The message that came through the loudest is that people, Montana people at least, don't like being told how to think. That seems simple enough on the surface, that no one likes being told what they should think, but that isn't how I phrased it, or consider it to this day. The simple (and erroneous) idea that offering competing ideas to people isn't problematic is probably correct. Where the push-back starts is when you begin telling them how to think about something to arrive at the conclusion you want. The mere threat that you want to change someone's thinking, not their conclusions but the very way they embrace their conclusions, sparks anger. It is a threat to identity, it is a threat to basic authority over one's own reason.
Certainly most folk don't come to the right conclusions. That's why we blog, right? ~wink~ But when we step back and take a look, we find that they are coming to the right conclusions, for them. They have reason, or at least what passes for it in the human animal. They have experiences, biases, myopia and blind spots; we all do. But we don't all consider them in the same ways. Except at the basest electromechanical level, we don't all think alike. We have different, sometimes wildly different, data sets which we call experiences and memories. Some folk inspire imagination and connections between disparate ideas by reading fiction, others not. Some read fact after fact after fact and draw rock solid conclusions (given there are no facts that they have failed to consider.) Some people just plain like having conclusions handed to them so they can process the minutia of the day.
Not one bit of this is new, obscure or revolutionary information. And to me, that fact is what makes assholes really assholes. The one conclusion that is wrong 100% of the time is that there is a right way to think and that others are doing it wrong, monstrously wrong. I wrote the post "Monsters" 10 and half years ago. I wrote at the end of it "If I can work up the give-a-shit, I'll write more on this later." Now THAT, my friends is epic procrastination. A lot has changed in those 10 years. I'd love to say it's for the better, but that would be a bit of a lie, wouldn't it? I certainly won't repeat the litany of everything that has gone wrong, but you won't have trouble finding that listicle if wish. Others repeat it almost daily. Still here's some things that should be on that list and aren't: More Americans are disenchanted with our politics, though how in the hell that happened transitioning from a Bush Presidency to Obama should give everyone a bit of pause. I suggest there is some wisdom to be found there. More Americans are convinced that the government is our enemy, whether by purchase of corporation or from a liberal Kenyon gay-agenda takeover. There's empirical evidence for those opinions, but here's one that just seems a broad observation related to those. In our social media connected information overload world, people seem far more concerned with identifying wrong thinkers and pointing out how monstrous they *really* are.
We've entered a great Ad Hominem phase of democracy, if you can even call it that anymore. Here's what I've noticed about Democrats in Montana. With ever more frequency, they apply the right-think test to people, and have lost ground in the legislature since I wrote Monsters 10 years ago. A lot of ground. I tried to point that out at another blog a number of years ago and was told I wasn't thinking right because Democrats held all five major positions in state government, the state Supreme Court (in a thoroughly non-partisan way, of course), and both Senate seats. I'm stating the same here, and to any who wish to defend the stratagems and right thinking of Montana Democrats with the same argument? Well come at me, bro'. Tim Fox is our Attorney General. Our legislature falls increasingly under the control of the worst elements of bat-crap crazy. And about those Senate seats ... Here's the real takeaway that tends to send me over the edge. For ten years the argument has been made that people will tire of the Republican Monsters and then Utopia. To those so thoroughly convinced that if we just boycott, silence and vilify anyone who doesn't think the right way, how's that plan working out for you? Another website tried their level best to turn Art Wittich into a monster. Yes, he's an awful human being and represents the worst of governance. He also almost single handedly blocked the best job creation infrastructure bill the Montana leg has seen in quite some time. The monster punked us all
I am a democrat because I am convinced that the only way we can have a functioning society that works for all is if all voices are heard and represented, even the wrong-thinking ones. (Irony alert!) Please don't think I'm putting on holy airs, here. I'll argue til the cows go to slaughter, and I don't always observe social niceties. It is fun to misbehave. But I try very very hard to let people think for themselves, even if I think they are idiots. You can't have a democracy where certain ideas themselves become an evil, and getting along becomes a greater goal than social justice and rule of law.