The Cost Of Losing Your Way

This may seem surprising, but I have a tendency towards more conservative minds, which may seem a bit strange coming from me. Now, to be clear, a conservative as in reserved and not one to grandstand, grounded in nature and spirit and not one to latch on to crazy ideas, conspiracies, and such. My family back in Dodge generally were conservative, as in what was once called the Progressive Conservative Party, which to me sort of sums it up right in the name.

A steady course, a sure hand, an open and principled mind, looking towards new ideas to solve old issues, yet not rushing headlong in, instead using caution and observance as a key towards what path to take. Listening, discovering, exploring, leadership gained by way of natural ability and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and forge that path through the woods or dark future without the need to bully and provoke. There is a stable rock-solidness to that, security, peace of mind.

My Great Uncle Jack here in Canada on my mom’s side was a big one in the local Progressive Conservative Party. He was a farmer and a simple man, salt of the earth, a bachelor his whole life, and being the only boy in a family of 5 girls he inherited the family farm. He was a good man, he worked hard, he was kind and well-loved, a respected member of the community, and always had a story at the ready he had gleaned from regular rounds every Sunday afternoon, or maybe it was Saturday.

Now, that said, today I look around and see far fewer of those types of conservative-minded yet socially focused on the good of the many types, the steady heads and rolled sleeves hands-on types, as in everyone sharing a portion of the load, offering a branch, a hand up, a safety net. Yet today I see people throwing words around, like SOCIALIST or NAZI for that sort of thinking, using some new fangled definition they concocted in order to instill fear into the hearts of the people.

“Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.” 

Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Trump rules by reaction distraction, by wielding his chaos at the issues in order to force his will by way of the sheer need for most rational people to calm the storm, and so they give in to his will. His wall is basically one big manufactured dog whistle for white nationals, and getting it by bending the rules to suit his needs, well that is a very dangerous game and slippery slope.

The words “Unfit to Rule” sound meaningless now in American politics, as many Republicans and loyalist insiders have become merely his unwilling nannies, cleaning his poopy diapers and calming his tantrums by acquiescing to his every whim, in fear of his ire if they don’t.

The attraction some have to this? I’m still struggling with that, all kinds of theories, but generally, I’m completely gobsmacked most days.

He has no dignity, is no diplomat, and more willing to take the advice of longtime American foes than those within his own government. I could go on, but there have been countless missives on his failings, and every day dawn brings another, and another, and by this point, many have become uncomfortably numb to it. And whether or not that is his grand plan, or someone’s grand plan, who blawdy knows, and at this point who cares.

And lies? Holy crap batman, he even lies about his friggin’ height, as I found out from the Maddow show from last night. His height? On his official medical his height is stated as 6’3″, which by photo after photo you can clearly see he is not. Which is bizarre. Like, why on earth does he care?

But I guess that is all part and parcel of this manufactured man, can’t even admit how tall he is.

I suppose that even though I do lean left, and like I said in another post, Canadian politics has more gray than the black and white of the U.S., my more conservative foundation I suppose looks down yonder and wonders what is going to become of that once Grand Old Party that batshit crazy loon leads.

“You might one day be offered the opportunity to display symbols of loyalty. Make sure that such symbols include your fellow citizens rather than exclude them. Even the history of lapel pins is far from innocent. In Nazi Germany in 1933, people wore lapel pins that said “Yes” during the elections and referendum that confirmed the one-party state. In Austria in 1938, people who had not previously been Nazis began to wear swastika pins. What might seem like a gesture of pride can be a source of exclusion. In the Europe of the 1930s and ’40s, some people chose to wear swastikas, and then others had to wear yellow stars.” 

Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

To my mind, they seem to be tripping the light fantastic down the merry road to hell.

I mean, America has always been far more extreme than Canada. With all the similarities we have, with our shared origins and such, still it can be said that Canadians are by and large more conservative by nature, preferring our leaders be a little more circumspect, diplomatic, and stay the f’in hell out of controversy’s, and for gawd sakes don’t embarrass us.

While the world looks on googly-eyed at our dreamy Liberal Prime Minister, Trudeau, many Canadians, while liking the guy, maybe, really cringe sometimes at some of his more grandiose displays of emotion and his antics – India stands out. It is not, em, appreciated perhaps as much as it may be outside our borders.

Yet, still, I don’t believe personally he is a bad Prime Minister for this time, with the dude down yonder south of that border that divides us (and thank god for it), he does have the decades of experience with diplomacy under his father, Pierre Trudeau, PM a total of something like 15 years off and on, and a valued asset that is needed at this time and is a good spokesperson (usually), and being a drama teacher in this climate is not such a bad experience to have, just sayin’.

“The most intelligent of the Nazis, the legal theorist Carl Schmitt, explained in clear language the essence of fascist governance. The way to destroy all rules, he explained, was to focus on the idea of the exception. A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety.”

 Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Every day, we watch as Trump becomes more and more brazen, more and more unreal, more and more this caricature, a persona, and radiates this supremacy, a smug realization that he thinks he can do whatever he wants, and so far you can’t blame him for thinking that. His nannies are co-conspirators in every single one of his manufactured crisis, and to what ends? Self-interest? Power? Corruption, greed, and racism? Pro-life? A wall? These are the things that they are willing to allow this authoritarian-minded reality TV star to possibly destroy the country over?

Perhaps it is only something outsiders can see, but this man and those who brought him there, it would seem to me as though they are trying to force the United States to be something the founding fathers greatly feared, a dictatorship, a fascist regime, maybe an oligarchy, a government for the few on the backs of the many, where corruption and greed are all part of a days work on The Hill.

It is that craven desire to have all your needs met, all your desires, at any cost, and that is very very destructive.

See, I don’t require that, personally, which is why I look for more conservative minds, as I am well aware I have a tendency to go off half-cocked and fancy-free into the shrubbery, and it is that particular more temperant approach I look to, therefore, to be more balanced.

“The mistake is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions—even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do.” 

Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

This is the point, in fighting a tyrant, even us plebs, as our options and means are limited, I think it is essential to in a concrete manner pick our battles.

For me the battle, or issue, or idea is the protection of institutions, the journalist, a free press, that is what I chose.

“Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about—a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union—and take its side.” 

Timothy Snyder, ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century: A historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism.
Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard. || GOODREADs ||

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