Inexplicable January 14, 2014

Mike Flynn passes along this quote of the day:

“There’s a seeming inconsistency in contemporary American politics: at the same time the central government’s size and power have reached unprecedented heights, a smaller percentage of the public view the government in Washington favorably than at any time in the last half-century.” –Richard Winchester,, Jan. 2

(It’s a puzzlement, all right.)

Who can explain the mysterious mind of the American citizenry?  Next, they’ll be reacting disfavorably to music (LOUDER THAN EVER BEFORE!!!!) and even war (more deadly than at any time in history!!!!).  What is the *matter* with these people?  Are they just impossible to please

I remember, years ago, having somebody try to figure out my confusing stands. I oppose abortion, yet I am also against torture! I honor gay people who try to live according to the teaching of Christ, but am critical of those who oppose that teaching (both active gays and Catholic Reactionaries see this as a contradiction shrouded in mystery.) I believe in Just War Theory *and* oppose wars that do not meet Just War criteria. I thought the world of JPII and Benedict, yet I also think the world of Francis, who teaches the same thing they did. I think human life is sacred at the beginning of life, but also think it sacred at the end of life–even on death row. I think the law was made for man, and yet believe man was not made for the law. I think the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the state is bad, yet I also think the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few oligarchs is bad too. I am content with the Ordinary Form, but am also content with the Extraordinary Form. How do I live in that kind of contradiction?

I am large. I contain multitudes.

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  • Mary Beth Murtha

    Consistency often befuddles, doesn’t it?

  • This has me noodling the relationship between principles and persons.

    Contemporary politics is based on identity, largely because principles have disappeared. The good in this is that it places the priority on the person over mere ideas, but the bad is that it reduces the person to membership in a group, and it reduces the group to one side of a power struggle.

    Therefore, when you say something like, “I believe in Just War Theory *and* oppose wars that do not meet Just War criteria,” what they hear is, “I support our troops, but I hate our troops.” And they get confused. For them, all ideas are relative to the persons they relate to, because there is no possibility of the idea having any truth in itself.

    • IRVCath

      It’s tribalism. For all the declamations of the so called progressives, our minds have degenerated to the worst aspects of the Middle Ages, without its redeeming qualities.

      • Agreed. But I’d say, the worst aspects of any age. The Middle Ages actually condemned nepotism and tribalism, even while they practiced it. Ancient and modern ages generally praised tribalism.

        Also, see this interesting take on “ethnocentrism” at the sociology channel.

      • said she

        Yes! They’ve put their donkey/elephant ABOVE the crucifix. (For seculars: above their brains/common sense.)

  • Andy

    This seems to me to point out a problem in the US – the need for a “LEADER” – you know someone who tells us what to think, what to do – that we are not responsible. The paradox you present forces people to think and damn that is no fun, and it is hard. The tribalism reflected in this desire not to be responsible is why we have the elected leaders we do.
    I think we see this most clearly in the “confusion” over what Pope Francis has said – he places the onus on us to think and to be responsible for our actions and beliefs. Again no fun.

  • IRVCath

    Oh, and we all know you are large. 😉

  • Mike L

    so….you are legion?

  • tteague

    positively Chestertonian

  • Matt Talbot

    Mark –

    Governments that are covered with plutocratic pocket lint tend to be unpopular, yes. This is the inevitable end-stage of Reaganism. People are disillusioned from government because it is not protecting
    them from the excesses of capital, but rather has thrown them to the

    Look: Capitalism always, absent some counteracting force, concentrates wealth (and thus, power) upward. This eventually destabilizes the economy because there is not enough purchasing power in the hands of ordinary workers to sustain economic growth, leading to collapsing demand and economic crisis (see 1929 and 2008 for some sense of what that experience is like.)

    Of course, reversing peoples perception of government as ineffective and
    corrupt would require that the government actually take action to
    improve things, which would temporarily inconvenience the Fat Cats, and
    thus is a non-starter in a thoroughly corrupt congress (and yes, I mean
    both parties.)

    The good news is, people are realizing that the bill of goods they’ve been sold is, in fact, worthless, and there is a growing mood in the nation to restore the restraints on Capitalism’s excesses that were the signature agenda of the New Dealers.

  • Harri

    We are in the same “Boat”. Keep up the great blogging.

  • The Deuce

    There is some genuine irony, in that the people voted for much bigger government in recent years, from a candidate that could scarcely have been more clear in his belief that bigger government is the panacea for all, TWICE… and yet, they’re surprised and dismayed by the result.