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The political atmosphere has become suffocating; sometimes it’s a good idea to come up for air, to try to gain perspective and to reflect on whether we are headed in a productive direction or about to fall off a cliff.
Trying to make sense of the times is nearly impossible. How does one make sense of life in the middle of chaos? The rancor has been intensified by obstinacy, the outrage colored by disbelief. All the stories point in the direction of violence and an ongoing desire for retribution. The irony of these descriptions is that they point to both sides of the political equation. The Left and Right, for different reasons, are contributing to the disruption: I believe that one side is poisoning politics and governance; the other is trying to stop that movement and transcend it.
The Left has become a malicious, vengeful, and hysterical part of the population. Its main sickness is, I believe, entitlement. We often talk about the entitlement of the populace, but I believe it actually began with our ruling elite. The elite of the Left believes that it is entitled to rule — not govern, but rule. They operate out of a deluded idealism that they use to justify their modes of operation: denigrating, demonizing, and destroying whatever slows them down. They will persecute the Right and subjugate blacks. If protests lead to violence, it’s the fault of the Right. Almost any type of behavior on their part is justified: lying, deception, defamation and terrorizing. The Left is willing to do whatever it takes, relying on its delusions of superiority and the hatred of the Right.
The Right can be divided into two groups: the first group is the establishment, or what is called “the swamp.” These folks often despise President Trump for his actions and behaviors, although many of them express their dislike through subterfuge and a focus on trivial disagreements. For the record, I don’t like President Trump either. But I find myself in the second group of the Right. They are the people who want to lift the country out of the swamp, disable the political Left, and move the country forward, and they tolerate or celebrate Trump’s behavior to achieve those ends. The strategy going forward requires that the Right operate from a different gamebook than it has in the past:
- The priority is to get things done that help the country, no matter how ugly Trump is in his behavior. We are all getting to know Trump by now, and the hope that this 70-year-old man is going to change his behavior is a waste of energy. He is helping the country. He is also establishing this country as a power to be reckoned with internationally. Our friends and foes are confused, surprised, even angry at times, but they are learning to expect the unexpected from Trump and this country. This point doesn’t mean you shouldn’t complain about Trump, but it’s worthwhile asking yourself if that’s how you want to expend your energy.
- We have to learn to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. This is a difficult and frustrating goal. People on the Right (or at least Republicans) want to know Trump’s gameplan, preferably far ahead of time. Congress has shown that it isn’t trustworthy, so Trump will not let them know his plans, except for a select few. They’ve earned his distrust. We all must adjust accordingly. At the same time, we could take lessons from Trump’s behavior: the unpredictable is powerful.
- The Right must unify and resolve to be assertive, even aggressive at times, depending on what is occurring. I think the best example of both attributes was Trey Gowdy at the Peter Strzok hearing. Rep. Gowdy was firm in sticking to his questions, even when Strzok refused to answer. In the first minute of this video, Trey Gowdy demonstrates his focused and assertive behavior:
Given Strzok’s evasive behavior, Gowdy switched to an aggressive (punitive) approach, to let Strzok know he’d had enough:
These behavioral strategies can be accompanied by anger and frustration, but if they are to be effective, the Right needs paradoxically to control its emotions and the discussion; if the questioner loses control, the power switches over to the questioned.
- The investigative committees not only need to be persistent and relentless, but they must start issuing penalties, such as contempt of court and even impeachment. But these need to be issued with the backing of the Department of Justice. In the past, there have been no consequences for contempt; it’s time accountability was put in place.
- Bluntness, directness, and forceful language must be used in encounters with the Left: no more Mr. Nice Guy. There may have been a time when colleagues from both sides of the Senate and House could argue and debate, and then have lunch together. Those days are long gone, and may not be recovered for a very long time, if ever.
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These strategies can only be effective if everyone on the Right, no matter where they stand in terms of the Swamp, agrees to behave in this forthright manner. There is a danger in following through: these actions will put the Right on the edges of an immature, dominating, vicious and immoral culture — the Left. The Right will need to anticipate the Left’s tactics and the extremes to which they may go, keeping in mind that the other side has chosen — yes, chosen, to be our adversary.
We must also be certain that we remain tethered, however, to a strong set of clear beliefs and values. That grounding will allow us to take on the Left, but also ensure that we remain true to our moral compass. It will require the balance of engaging with evil and staying connected to Truth.
I see no end to these difficult strategies and encounters. If we care about the future of America, though, it will require all our efforts to be sure that freedom and justice win out.