Ed Hall points out the need to not look away. I appreciate, on one hand, the people who said of the CNN Town Hall that they had to turn it off, but I hope that meant they were going to make sure to vote and to speak up even in groups that don’t echo their opinions.
People like to throw around a part of Jefferson’s remarks about an informed public, but the context is absolutely critical:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.
He had his own wars with the newspapers once he was in the White House, but he also founded the University of Virginia, as part of the idea of an educated, informed electorate.
He also took into consideration errors like the one that Kal Kallaugher (AMS) comments on. In the letter he wrote from Paris, he was commenting on reports of the rise and suppression of Shay’s Rebellion, which he didn’t entirely disapprove of, but recognized needed to be controlled.
The tumults in America, I expected would have produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of those tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves.
It’s critical to note that his response assumes both good sense and a willingness to stand up for good governance. Not only was Jefferson speaking of a small nation in which democracy — whether direct or representative — has a good chance of working, but he assumes that the people, as a whole, have good intentions.
Phil Hands has a more cynical view of things and it’s not unreasonable to agree with him, given the volume of approval that remains after the revelation that Trump’s horrific boasting in the Access Hollywood tape was something he actually put into practice, and the cascading proof that what we all saw — if we didn’t turn away — on January 6 not only happened but was not spontaneous.
Not only is a counter revolution in progress, but it’s getting plenty of fuel from the mainstream media. Here, Mike Lester (AMS) provides a demonstration of the Great Replacement Theory, which holds that immigrants are going to take over the country from the white folks who deserve to be dominant. Judging from the cartoon, it’s a view he holds.
Personally, I fear decent folks being replaced by hate-filled white supremacist bigots, but maybe that’s just me.
Mostly, I don’t want to think that the Civil Rights Movement and changing attitudes were just one of those passing moments that the overall will of the people is in the process of suppressing.
However, it’s important to note that the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, the 14th, guaranteeing equal rights and protection, and the 15th, guaranteeing men’s voting rights, are known as the “Reconstruction Amendments” and passed within five years of a devastating war that cost 750,000 lives.
It shouldn’t take that.
But here we are, a century and a half later, and the 14th Amendment is being challenged not just for its use in protecting the rights of gender minorities and of women, but even in its clause demanding payment of the nation’s debts.
And don’t look for logic to solve the problem. Ann Telnaes notes that, while Elena Kagan, sitting at the short end of the bench, turned down a gift of lox and bagels, Clarence Thomas, at the long, six-justice conservative end, has found no limit to the gifts he can accept.
Which seems emblematic of Thomas’s stated willingness to reconsider 14th Amendment decisions about contraception and same-sex marriage, though he’s silent on how, by the same reasoning, the amendment was used to make mixed-race marriages legal.
Self-interested thinking permeates our government. Walt Handelsman notes how state legislatures ignore major issues while boasting over having passed flamboyant laws to suppress rights that they can brag about because their targets are neither powerful nor numerous.
There are, indeed, bigger fish in the sea, but they would put up more of a fight and who wants to take the risk?
Even in a genuine moment of crisis, as JD Crowe points out, the safe political stance is to ignore the body count and play to the more powerful lobby, as Greg Abbott does in Texas.
Crowe may be exaggerating a bit with the vampire wings, but the “buy more guns” is taken right from a Tweet with which Abbott came into office in 2015. Since then, Texas has loosened guns laws and, in the same six year period, seen seven mass shootings with 100 deaths and 119 injuries.
Tjeerd Royaards (Cartoon Movement) shows how the scorecard — which may appear like henscratches from the distance of a statehouse — looks close up.
While, in his Substack, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offers this contrast between what our leaders do and what they profess to believe:
And Pat Byrnes refers to the Book of John to mock the illogic and hypocrisy of those who promote irresponsible, unnecessary gun ownership out of one side of their mouths while professing, from the other, to be Christians.
And yet, Clay Jones says, they persist, and not only did this make me laugh, but it brings to mind the saying “God helps those who help themselves,” and the almost universal disdain for those who profess faith without works and hope for gain without effort.
Finally, Tim Campbell (Counterpoint) shames me, because back in the ancient days when on-line commerce was just beginning, I joked about setting up a website that would, for a price, place teddy bears and flowers at the scene of a disaster in your name.
I’ve often wondered, had I done it, would my sixth house be on Ibiza or Antigua?
And what would my inner Portrait of Dorian Gray look like by now?