Just My Thoughts – Convince or Conquer?

(Silverdale, Washington; Oct. 1, 2020) – Do you wish to convince your political opponents you’re right, thereby bringing them onto your team as enthusiastic members, or do you wish to conquer your political opponents, grinding them under the black heel of your jackboot?

The current political season has brought to the fore the fault lines in American society with a violence not seen in 150 years. The last time the fault lines riddling our nation were this badly exposed, the Civil War erupted. Read up on 1860 and 1861: the Democratic Party refused to recognize the election of Lincoln because they were afraid he and the Republicans would end slavery, so the Democrats led the Secession crisis, precipitating the war. This was done because the Democrats in 1861 did not want to risk being made to give up their chattel property—otherwise known as their slaves. They declared the Republicans the enemy and tried to break up the nation, resulting in four horrible years of war.

Today, the word ‘racism’ is the weapon of choice by those who seek, not to engage, but to forcefully silence those who disagree with them. The word is thrown around so much today that it’s become almost meaningless since people are purporting to fight racism by being racist. For example, telling an entire race they’re inherently, systemically racist simply because of a lack of melanin in their skin is just as racist as telling another race they’re near-sighted because of the physical shape of their eyelids. You cannot fight racism by being racist, but that is what’s happening across our county today. This has cheapened a word that used to have great power, and was used for good purposes for generations.

The words “Nazi” and “fascist” are also hurled with regular abandon at political opponents by those who are actually doing what the Nazis and fascists did: riot, destroy, and use mob violence to cow the people into submission. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has a great article on the anti-Jewish pogrom of Kristallnacht (‘Night of the Broken Glass’). Those riots were sponsored and encouraged by the Nazis while the local police were intentionally told to stand down. The violence against the Jews was said by Nazi leaders to be “justified” as restitution for the supposed ills the Jews inflicted on the “native” German population (https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/kristallnacht). Does this sound eerily reminiscent of what’s happening in Portland and other U.S. cities today?

People are also now being suspended from sports teams for tweets in support of the President of the United States (https://www.foxnews.com/sports/american-cyclist-suspended-tweet-supporting-trump?fbclid=IwAR1bWSNY5B8pBvx_wKVYOSN53znt6UvBPOjA4NPBuyqwVhAsSOPWVBlT_lM). Had Quinn Simmons been suspended by Trek-Segafredo for a tweet supporting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, there would be a huge backlash in the media and political world (as there should be!). However, in today’s world, your employment is now apparently conditioned on you holding only opinions approved of by those in power. Think about it: football players can take a knee and basketball players can boycott whole games, thereby using their employment as a platform to push a political opinion with impunity. However, a cyclist is suspended for a political tweet on his own personal account because his opinion is out of favor with those in power? How very China of us!

Mob rule does not seek anything but power and conquest. The problem is, the mob always turns on its own (look up what happened to Robespierre, who led the mob into a frothing frenzy during the bloody French Revolution). The mob seeks to conquer by using fear, intimidation, political persecution, and violence. That is fascism.

So, the question for you, me, and all of us is this: do we seek to convince our political opponents we possess the better ideas, or do we seek to conquer our political opponents as enemies?

The moment you declare all people who follow a political candidate are evil, you have just declared those people enemies. Enemies are those you seek to conquer and force into subjugation under you.

I’ve unfriended six sets of friends in September alone. Two of them I cut off due to abusive behavior on the part of one of the spouses. Four sets of friends, however, I cut off when they called me racist simply because our ideas differ. As I told one of them in my final communication to him, as soon as he declared me an enemy to be conquered, he ensured I will never consider anything he ever says. He lost the debate by declaring me an enemy; all he has left in his arsenal is violence if he wishes to force me to behave according to his whim.

No one wants to be conquered. When you draw such a battle line, your chance of enlarging your team with willing, enthusiastic recruits ends. When you draw such a battle line, you create an army standing unalterably opposed to you.

People of good faith can easily see the world in completely different ways. Criticizing a political candidate might make for a few heated arguments (let’s be honest; we take our politics personally), but by criticizing the candidate, you leave open the chance of your ideas sparking new ideas in those who follow them. This maintains the possibility of you enlarging your team peacefully while ensuring everyone feels their own political power and their right to a retribution-free life are secure. The result of this is a civil society roiled by debate and controversy, but not ripped apart by violence and hatred.

The moment you declare you opponent is an enemy acting out of hatred (especially when it is factually untrue), you have declared your intention to subjugate to those people to your whim, and their rights be damned unless you decide to ‘authorize’ them a right.

Politics in the United States has been an ugly fist-fight since day one. Look up the rhetoric used in the election of 1800, and you’ll find the vitriol and character smears are the same we see today. However, this kind of verbal violence is now part of our everyday life due to the miracle (sarcasm deployed) of social media. Social media has also given people the security and serenity of being bullies because we can post horrible screeds against anyone without the discomfort of saying it to their face.

A civil society cannot survive when the people abandon civility in favor of mob rule. Mob rule brings a heady feeling of power…as long as you stay on the right side of the mob. The moment the mob perceives you to be lacking in proper revolutionary fervor, the mob will turn on you. You become the enemy, because the mob needs an enemy to keep its adherents motivated and in ideological line.

The question remains for each of us: do we seek to convince our political opponents and bring them willingly to our team, or do we seek to conquer our enemies and put them under the black heel of our jackboot? Remember this: those whom you feel justified in conquering today will likely rise up tomorrow and try to conquer you in retribution.

…Just my thoughts.

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