Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waste Not, Want Not

ANNOUNCER: And now, an important word from the author.

AUTHOR: Oh! Hullo there. I didn't see you come in. Welcome to the Independence Hall of the Mind!

Please, pull up a seat and help yourself to a pint of hard cider. I advise you to use the wooden mugs: The pewter tankards were 
left here by the Tea Party squatters that I had to turn out earlier. The terrible things are made in China and are therefore laced with poisonous lead. These teabaggers are not fond of health and safety regulations. Although, I suppose I should acknowledge their one token nod to authenticity. 

They really left a mess. You know, they actually plastered-over the Liberty Bell with "Reagan '80" and "Trump '16" bumper stickers. That's going to take a lot of solvent to remove. (Propriety forbids me from telling you what they used copies of the Constitution for.) So, I showed them the door. But they did not seem to know what to do with it, so I had to provide some kinetic assistance.

In any case, onto business. No doubt you have noticed this bust of Benjamin Franklin that I have on my desk. His expression is alternately wry, weary, bemused, or disapproving depending on how the light hits it and how happy I am with my latest bit of writing. It keeps me second-guessing myself and therefore on my toes. Whenever I am stuck, I look on it and ask, "What Would Franklin Do?" (WWFD?)

The question then answers itself and I take another swig of cider. Or wine.

Thus fortified and put in the proper state of mind, I then reflect on the good Doctor Franklin in greater detail. Today, I was pondering how to best present the central problem of our time. To wit that our country is in the grip of a grippe of ignorance because not enough of you have bought and read my book.

So I asked myself WWFD? and pondered the Sage of Philadelphia's tireless advocacy of economy and frugality. In a flash, I remembered that the efficient writer wastes nothing and uses every part of the press packet. And i
n that spirit, I have turned my Amazon product description into this blog post because, to quote both Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry's The Little Prince and Mark Twain's Diary of Adam and Eve, it bears repeating. Indeed, it cannot be repeated enough:

The three interdependent ideals of liberty, equality, and democracy are central to America’s identity. Yet conservatives are ideologically allergic to them. They try to play liberty against equality in a zero-sum game and their hostility to democracy is well-documented.

Conservatives are authoritarians who imagine they are libertarians. And authoritarians cannot be happy in a free and equal society. Not only do they disapprove of the “immorality” around them, their sense of authenticity feels constantly assaulted. Yes, conservatives the world over crave a sense of place, both on the map and in the pecking order. But conservatives in other countries are not as haunted by this awkward contradiction. American conservatives feel forever besieged because America’s very identity threatens them. As a result, they routinely project and question their opponent’s patriotism. Their defensiveness turbo charges their obsession with who does and does not belong.

This also explains their almost comic efforts to co-opt FDR, JFK, MLK, and Rosa Parks. Their ideology chronically puts them on the wrong side of history, thus the desperate necessity of their highly inventive rewrites. From their fantasies about what the founders thought to their absolutely backwards Nazi analogies, this explains all the strange things your Fox News-watching father-in-law swallows.

Finally, many of our Founders thought a rough economic equality was a fundamental to a functioning republic. They had an analysis of where aristocracy came from – filthy rich families. Accordingly, many of the revolution’s luminaries, like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, openly advocated capping and/or redistributing wealth. As Noah Webster warned in 1787, “An equality of property, with a necessity of alienation, constantly operating to destroy combinations of powerful families, is the very soul of a republic.” And Cato wrote, “liberty can never subsist without equality.” To that he added, “In every country and under every government, particular men may be too rich.” No doubt this is news to the Cato Institute.

This election year, countless soon-to-be obsolete political books are vying for your policy wonk dollar. They are focused on the moment, on "also ran" candidates. Invest in one that will remain relevant forever. The title is the thesis: Conservatism is Un-American. And that fact will outlast us all.

And to cannibalize a blog post from before:

If you enjoy my blog, there is a lot more where that came from. The writing styles are pretty similar, as my posts' copious footnotes should suggest. The Amazon page offers a very generous sample - the entire introduction plus half of the first chapter. I have also posted the chapter on conservatives' ass-backwards Nazi analogies here on this blog, so you can download with confidence.

Senator Bernie Sanders has started a national dialog on socialism - not just on its desirability but on its place in American history. My book has ample examples that buttress his arguments. And as the quote in the graphic below shows, these roots reach even deeper than he thinks.

So, buy my book, tell your friends, and please feel free to share the graphic.

And here is the citation for the Franklin quote in the graphic:

- Benjamin Franklin, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. William B. Willcox, (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1982), 22:533.

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