How the ctrl-Left make it impossible to be a Nice Conservative

Howdy, folks. Are you all still warming your hands at the coals? From the latest witch that needed burning?

Let me pull up a crate, and tell you a story . . .

I’ve slowly, gradually, achingly reached the conclusion that for a committed ctrl-Leftist, there is not now, nor can there ever be, a Good Conservative. There are Nice Conservatives—who will of course be patted on the head and given table scraps, for being willfully second class human beings in the hierarchy of moral perfection—but there are no Good Conservatives.

Perfect example: Mitt Romney never got treated any better than they treated Bush before him, nor Trump after him.

I happen to think Mitt was the most genuinely decent person to run for the Presidency since Reagan, and yet Romney got called Literally Hitler just like they call all of us Literally Hitler, whenever it suits them.

The Nice Conservative is an indentured servant, polishing the silver in the ctrl-Leftist mansion. Never speaking unless spoken to. Tipping his hat. Straining to smile, and step out of the way. Whenever they tell you to shame someone, you shame them. Whenever they tell you to hate someone, you hate them. If they tell you to escort that person to the door, you not only escort him to the door, you throw thim out with vigor — and pray that the ctrl-Left Master notices.

But as soon as any of us stop being Nice, or we actually start to peel their grubby little paws off the levers of power, they freak out. It’s a four-alarm house fire. We all become Literally Hitler. For daring to stand up. The indentured servant has talked back. This is a violation of the rational order. Sacrilege.

Thus the Nice Conservative will get thrown out of the mansion and beaten with a rod, along with all the other Mean Conservatives—whenever it suits the ctrl-Leftist Master’s purposes.

Ergo, we are all Deplorable. All of us.

I used to think that if I was just patient enough, and kept my powder dry, that I could make a difference. That I could appeal to the better angels of ctrl-Leftist nature. I desperately wanted to believe that reason and good will and careful argument could win. I rallied to flags I thought reflected a similar sentiment.

Nope. We all get kicked to the curb, regardless. We all get painted with the same brush. We are all evil. All of us together. No save for the Nice Conservative. It’s Literally Hitler time.

So I no longer believe them when they tell me I have to slit somebody’s throat, to demonstrate I have standards and can be counted as a Nice Conservative. It won’t save me from their scorn, when the chips are down. They will label me Literally Hitler, and there will be a trail of bodies on my own side—people betrayed for the vain hope that the ctrl-Left respect honor.

Besides, how many throats do you see them slitting on their side? When is the last time they ever burned one of their own? To prove to us that they’re decent folk who have scruples? You have to stop and think about it. The answer doesn’t come quickly. If at all. Does it?

It seems to me that for every one of ours we’re expected to hang, there are ten of theirs being covered down for, and coddled, and protected — despite having committed far more serious infractions. Far. More. Serious.

But never mind me. I’ve grown cynical. By all means, throw another log on. Roast a marshmallow or two. Don’t worry, the smell of charred flesh washes out of your hair. Sort of.

How the ctrl-Left drove me away from American liberalism

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be an outstanding author, once quipped, “If I am forced to choose a side, I choose the side which is not forcing me to choose sides.”

Seldom have I ever encountered phrasing more apt. Because that’s precisely how I feel. I’ve been feeling that way, for years now. It was not a sudden thing. It was a gradual realization. The slow clarity of an underlying sentiment, incrementally surfacing.

To make the picture more specific, let me lay out some background details. This is a bit wordy, so bear with me:

When I first met my wife in 1992, we were both volunteering at community radio station KRCL-FM in Salt Lake City, Utah. Back then, KRCL was something of a tentpole organization for folk who styled themselves as counter-culture. It was staffed with an oddball assortment of old-school Hippies, new-school progressives, the occasional play-anarchist, plenty of environmentalists, a few gays and lesbians, a tiny handful of non-caucasians (my future wife among them) as well as one or two small-c conservatives and small-l libertarians who worked very hard to keep their political cards held close to their chests; at least around the other staff. George Carlin was arguably my favorite comedian. I was attending the University of Utah, having turned down an Army recruiter the year before.

In other words, I was the proverbial sapling, with his roots sunk into decidedly progressive soil.

By the end of 1996, my wife and I had moved to the Puget Sound in Washington State, we were again involved with a public radio station — I was student program director of KSVR-FM from 1995 to 1998 — and I had just voted in my second U.S. Presidential election, selecting Bill Clinton for a second term. I didn’t think Bob Dole was a bad guy, but I tended to pick Democrats in most categories. Why not? Nothing in my life had convinced me that the Democrats weren’t “my” party. And I was surrounded by men and women who all felt the same way. New Dimensions was my favorite weekly talk program, and I was an avid Carl Sagan fan. Being in an interracial marriage practically made me a Democrat by default, though I did not ever sign up with the party, because I liked to be able to keep my options open — and not feel like I “owed” my vote to anybody. I was (and remain) pro-choice, as well as pro-legalization (rec drugs) even though I am an LDS teetotaler of same.

For the year 2000 I voted Al Gore — and was quite upset about Bush 43’s win, as some of my friends from the old incarnation of the ESPN Utah Jazz message forum may recall.

All of which is to say, I may not have been a card-carrier, but I was as reliable a constituent as any Democratic Party planner could have hoped for — a liberal by any reasonable definition of the period. Living in a liberal part of the country, too.

But . . . things had already begun to shift, even if I myself did not yet realize it.

Again, let me lay out some background details:

I’d watched the unfolding of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and could not understand why so many determined liberals and especially feminists, were so willing to give Bill Clinton a pass. Yeah, sure, I voted for the guy too, but voting for a guy and lending him blind license to ill, are not the same thing. I was pretty sure (then, as well as now) if Bob Dole had been in Clinton’s place, everyone defending Clinton, would have crucified Dole. Bill Clinton (and his ardent defenders) let me down as a result.

Likewise, I’d had a front-row seat for the WTO riots in Seattle. Beyond the disruption those riots caused — at the time, I was working at One Union Square — I couldn’t understand what the rioters hoped to accomplish. They seemed to be protesting anything and everything. There was no coherency. Likewise, there was no discipline. Window-smashers assaulted downtown businesses, while anarchists baited the police into overreacting. Crowds pushed up the ramps near the convention center, trying to block I-5. Public transportation was blocked and vandalized too. It seemed to me I was witnessing, not a dedicated movement for change, but a kind of ritualistic cultural event — for all those who felt like the need to express themselves outweighed actually trying to accomplish a goal with measurable metrics. I was very turned off by the whole episode.

Of course, then came the morning when some nice Middle Eastern gentlemen of a certain religious affiliation converted four full airliners into cruise missiles aimed at U.S. targets on U.S. soil. I’ll never forget that day. Even though I was on the other side of the country. It was the moment when many of my conventional wisdoms — about how people, and the world, work — began to spectacularly unravel.

Because none of the Left-wing reactions to September 11, 2001, made any sense to me.

College professors called for solidarity with the terrorists. Liberals were openly self-blaming the United States for the event. Conspiracy theorists said it was an inside job by Bush, to fool us into going to war. People once again lamented the fact Gore had had the Presidency “stolen” from him — because what was needed most of all, was a President who could go to the United Nations and repent before the world; on account of America’s long history of sordid capitalistic colonialist nationalist imperialism. Or something along those lines.

My reaction to it all was to openly say, “What the f***?!”

The United States — indeed, the liberal West as a whole — had been brutally attacked! Thousands died!

Yet the Left blamed us for the thing? We were the bad guys??!

Clearly, there was a major malfunction happening — at the ideological level.

And the more I began to openly criticise these Left-wing reactions — including my adamant insistence that Gore would have been compelled to go into Afghanistan, just as Bush had been — the more hostility I encountered. And not just theoretically, either. I mean from people I worked with, went to school with, and also had become friends with. The culture of King County was going in one direction about the whole event, and I was going in a different direction. The more time went on, the wider the gap between these two trajectories became.

By the end of 2002, I was signed up with the Army Reserve. Me, they guy who’d been talked out of joining ten years prior, because my Dad knew I was an easy-going fellow who liked to take it easy, and Dad was convinced I’d hate military life.

Dad was right, too. I am not a natural serviceman. It’s an existence quite foreign to my sensibilities. But I signed up anyway, because 9/11 felt to me like my generation’s version of Pearl Harbor. To arms, young men! Do not be caught standing on the sideliness of history! Take up the flag of your country, right or wrong! That sort of thing. I had no illusion I’d be any kind of Rambo. When I joined, I had bad eyes, a bad knee, was very sedentary, and did not possess any talent for tactical training like the Army employs. I wouldn’t be an infantry rock star. I just wanted to help out, in whatever capacity they’d have me. Because that’s my general instinct in most crises: I simply want to assist, in tangible ways that count, versus merely being somebody who gets pissed off on the internet.

Trajectories, continuing to diverge. The ground lurches beneath the tree?

Seattle Democrats took an election away from Dino Rossi. Who won fairly — if narrowly — in the Washington race for governor. The Democrats of King County demanded a recount, then set about inventing ballots for Rossi’s competitor all along the way, and once they put Christine Gregoire over the top, magically the results became legit.

These Democrats didn’t even try to hide what they were doing. They crowed about it, exclaiming, “We’re just getting revenge for what Bush did in 2000!”

There was the woman on the street who said, “Go Army, rape those Iraqis!” when she saw me wearing my Army sweatshirt outside my apartment complex on Lake City Way. This somewhat startling comment would be reminded to me a couple of years later, when a classmate at Seattle Central Commun(ist) College told me it was a shame I signed up with the Reserve, because my job was to kill people. Uhhhh, what? Since when does being an HR Specialist at a Garrison Support Unit involve killing people? It got even worse when the students at SCCC began throwing water bottles at Army recruiters, as well as destroying Army recruiter literature. The students ran the recruiters off campus — and cheered themselves doing it!

Those of us who were military, and attending, wondered how long it would be before we ourselves became targets.

This was about the time a one-man protest operation named ReplacementsNeeded! was covering every light and utility pole in the First Hill and Capitol Hill area, with quasi-anarchist, anti-military agit prop posters. They were vulgar, ghastly, and inflammatory, and they stretched from the sidewalk to seven feet above the pavement. Every. Single. Pole. Within about a two mile radius, give or take. He never cleaned up after himself. He fled Seattle with $10,000.00 in fines on his head, unpaid, then bitched on-line about how Evergreen State College wasn’t progressive enough for him. I think he’s since left the States altogether? I am not sure. I know he never took down any of his signs, despite the city ordnance.

Anyway, anti-military and anti-Bush protest marches were also routinely sprouting from the Capitol Hill district, usually kicking off at SCCC and meandering their way through downtown streets, leaving a wake of debris and sometimes damage to public and private property.

Like when they defended Clinton in 1998, I was severely let down by the liberal behavior I witnessed and experienced, after I joined the military. Nobody seemed to care if it was organized, or not. Nobody seemed to question the sense of attacking soldiers because the attackers hated the President. Feelings mattered more than facts. The ends justified the means. They were proud of it, too.

The tree finds itself standing still, as the sod runs like a river to the left . . .

Needless to say, I voted Bush for his second term. First time ever for me, selecting a Republican in a Presidential race. Even I was surprised. I had been unhappy with the Bush win four years earlier. But the nation was at war. I’d always thought that failing to remove Saddam Hussein — in 1990/1991 — was a mistake. The 2003 Iraq invasion seemed like the U.S. was simply taking care of long-unfinished business. And Kerry? Goodness, how in he world was I supposed to take that man seriously? He seemed to embody everything that had been going haywire (in my opinion) with American politics, in the wake of 9/11. He’d thrown his medals over the White House fence when it was politically expedient, and now he was “reporting for duty” and saluting at the DNC, when it was politically expedient.

I did not trust John Kerry to lead the country any better than Bush had. So, while I did not think Bush was flawless — he wasn’t — I thought he was the better option. Just as I’d thought Clinton was the better option, years before.

But, to be an “outted” Bush voter in Seattle, was to be an unwanted alien — living and working in the Puget Sound I-5 corridor.

I had betrayed the zeitgeist of the region.

Eventually, my wife and I moved back to Utah. Not because of the politics, but because of the cost of living. For an area that prides itself on being merciful to people who don’t have a lot of money, the Puget Sound I-5 corridor is a wickedly expensive place to try to function on a single income; when you’ve got a wife and child to house and feed. Plus, we knew my Mom and Dad would be needing some assistance soon, and it was far easier for us to go to them, than for them to come to us.

But when the Obama election rolled around later that same year, even being in Utah was not sufficient to insulate me from the same attitudes I used to face routinely in the Puget Sound. Because suddenly, if you weren’t fainting to the ground with love and adoration for Saint Obama, you weren’t just called stupid, you were declared evil. You were RACIST! Because nobody could not vote for Obama, without being a RACIST! could they? Of course not. Both the media and the Obama voters let all of us — in poor dumb hick fly-over country — know just what kind of reprobates we were. For not being on board the Obama bandwagon.

And I didn’t even vote for McCain. He seemed like a dud to me. Nor was I impressed with Obama, who seemed like he was all flash, but little substance. I wrote in Mitt Romney for (P) and Condi Rice for (VP) knowing I was “throwing away” my vote. It had not been the first time, nor would it be the last.

Didn’t matter to the Obama zealots, of course. Nor did my marriage. Everybody who was not 110% pro-Obama, was magically painted with the RACIST! brush. This was a fact, the zealots said. We were all RACIST! It was declared over, and over, and over again. Apparently this made my wife a RACIST! too, against her own “kind” — because she voted third party in 2008, as she has often done over the years (she’s just an independent gal like that, and was not impressed with Obama either.)

So, did Obama eventually win me over, the way Clinton and Bush had won me over?

No. Obama cut arbitrary deals with Wall Street and the banks. The economy — already headed into the hole — crashed and burned. He paid lip service to promises made on the campaign trail — closing Guantanamo bay, removing U.S. troops entirely from places like Iraq — while courting the favor of vocal elites in academia, the media, and the entertainment industry. He loved being treated like a rock star, because in reality he was still just that nerdy, underachieving, culturally-white black kid; who had to affect a ghetto accent when politically touring dilapidated inner-city streets he never lived on.

But damn if Obama didn’t make his Leftist white voters feel spectacular about themselves, for having voted for him!

Apparently this was the sole great benefit of re-voting for Obama again in 2012: being able to proclaim your awesomeness as a human being, for having re-elected Teh Furst Black Presadent.

I am sounding mighty cynical at this point, am I not? But wait, there’s more.

By late 2015, I was overseas with a Joint Task Force designed to confront ISIS. We watched Obama effectively yank the cord on our mission. We also watched as Hillary Clinton — recently of Benghazi disaster fame — wiped the walls with Bernie Sanders. She would face Trump for the Presidency in 2016. It was a certainty that she would win. No way would Trump make it. He was an absurd candidate. Hillary was inevitable. Very few of us in that Task Force trusted her. But Trump? The reality TV star with bronze hair and orange skin? What?

My UK counterpart in the Task Force, a 30+ year British Army veteran, was cannier than I was. “Mate, get ready for President Trump,” he said. I told him it was impossible. After watching Romney lose in 2012 — the only Presidential election in which I’d ever felt truly and deeply invested — I had no faith in any kind of resistance to someone like Hillary. She would cake walk her way into the Oval Office.

My Brit friend turned out to be right.

But not before all of us who could not stomach Hillary’s lying and duplicity in Washington D.C., got to be labeled SEXISTS!

Failure to be full-blown enthusiastic about Hillary was SEXIST! We were woman-haters, all of us. Even other women, who clearly detested their own vaginas, by not supporting Hillary.

Many of us would have happily voted Democrat in that race, if someone like Joe Lieberman or Jim Webb had run. I myself would have cheered a Lieberman or a Webb candidacy. I would have been all in. Hell, I was half-serious when I said I’d vote Sanders before I’d vote Trump. Remember what I said, about not wanting to “owe” a vote to anyone? The Republicans had not captured me. I was in play. And so were many other people. I know. I talked to them. It was the easiest crossover bet for the Democrats since Clinton in 1996. Surely. Because . . . Trump?! Seriously??!

But no. Hillary railroaded the DNC and PWN3D the Dem primary process, tossing Bernie out on his ear. As had been the case for a long time, what Hillary wanted, Hillary got. And it didn’t matter who stood in her way.

Meanwhile, the Left applauded, and applauded, and applauded some more.

If you weren’t “With Her!” you were deplorable. Everybody who was anybody, was going out of his or her way, to wave the Hillary flag. It was wall-to-wall virtue signalling, dialed to eleven.

Then came the evening of November 8, 2016. Oh my.

I was as shocked by the Trump win as any other non-Trumper. Outrageous. And yet, it was nice to see an ideological inevitability — “I’m with Her!” — overturned by a republican (note the small r) process still healthy enough to stand up to a vainglorious technocrat of Hillary’s raw ambition. I mean, she did everything right. She courted celebrity opinion. She raked in the endorsements. She had corporations in her hip pocket, and billions of dollars behind her, plus a friendly media who ate out of both her hands. Academics loved her. All the Obama faithful loved her.

Not loving her, was a sure sign of misogyny. Nobody wants to be a woman-hater, right? How does she not win?

Apparently, by being the one candidate 63 million voters disliked even more than Donald Trump.

Which of course has touched off close to 90 days of destructive political pandemonium in these United States. Denunciations. Riots. Beatings. Calls for the White House to be bombed, and for the military to rise up and overthrow the government. All from liberals. All by liberals. A righteous junta! Nevermind that the military vote went to Trump at a 3 to 1 ratio, with a large percentage of the remaining military vote going to 3rd parties. I was in the latter category.

And I have been reminded every single day, just how far I’ve been pushed away — by so-called progressives in this country.

Sure, some of that is me walking my talk. I am not exactly the same guy I was 25 years ago. And not because I don’t think some of the idealism of liberal thought is not worthy, or even evocatively beautiful.

It is.

Liberalism — the kind I was attracted to in my teens, and early twenties — mostly focuses on brighter futures with better choices.

Yet at many points over the past quarter century, that shining picture of what the Left supposedly stands for, has been undermined again, and again, and again, and again, by the behavior of self-styled Leftists.

Maybe it all comes down to the fact that I decided Alinsky’s ballyhooed rules are pernicious. Not once do they involve self-reflection, nor questions of higher moral obligation to a power or a need beyond simple political expediency. Like with the 2004 Washington State governors race, the ends justify the means. If you’re a Leftist and you have to lie to get what you want, then lie. If you’re a Leftist and you have to cheat to get what you want, then cheat. If you’re a Leftist and you have to hurt people to get what you want, or if you have to frighten people into not opposing you, then hurt and frighten people.

Never doubt that everything you — the Leftist — says or does, is done justifiably.

Everyone and everything is a fair target. Lash out. Incriminate. Slander. Punish. Make them quake in their boots. They deserve it, the jerks. “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists!” Oops, Leftists excoriated Bush 43 for saying that. Now they themselves live it every day. “If you didn’t vote for Hillary, you’re with the KKK and the Nazis!”

Leftists now give all of us a political litmus test, without exception. Wrong-thinkers will be singled out for eviction from the human equation.

I certainly experienced plenty of this crap during the Sad Puppies campaign, wherein us rowdy sci-fi nonconformists from Delta Tau Chi crashed the Faber homecoming parade, and all hell broke loose with the people from Omega Theta Pi.

And if you’re wondering how in the world an Animal House analogy works in all of this, consider the fact that Senator Blutarsky undoubtedly switched to the Republicans after 9/11/2001. Donald Trump rallies were the toga parties of the election. The Electoral College smashed Hillary Clinton’s guitar against the stairwell wall.

I don’t feel like I’ve stopped being the liberal I was at age 19 — still married to the same amazing lady, still enjoying public radio, still pro-choice, still pro-legalization, still about people having brighter futures — as much as I feel left behind.

The cultural shift that’s masqueraded beneath a banner of liberalism, kicked me out. Or I walked away. Whichever.

Like Hermey the elf, from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. “You can’t fire me, I quit!”

Naturally, my liberal friends reading this will shake their heads from side to side, with pained expressions on their faces. “He’s got it all wrong. The Right is so much worse. They are always worse.”

Hey folks, I never said the Right was perfect. Nor are the people of the Right immune to being hypocrites about a lot of things.

But here’s the shocker. There is far, far more true liberalism on the American Right, in this 21st century, than inhabits the American Left.

I’ll say it again: there is far more real, actual, tangible liberalism, on the American Right, at this point in time, than on the American Left. By a significant margin.

This is not my opinion based on Fox News, Limbaugh, or Breitbart. I don’t watch Fox News, nor do I listen to Limbaugh, nor do I follow Breitbart. This is my opinion based on a quarter century of cumulative experience and analysis. I have reached this point, having felt the spectrum of American political discourse being dragged beneath my feet, such that many of the old-style liberal heroes of yore would be called dangerously extreme Republicans today.

Doubt me? Hell, JFK was a recklessly warmongering one-percenter. Like Bush 43 and Romney rolled into one! He could not hope to win the Democratic ticket in 2017. He’d be compared to Trump, and lambasted in a similar manner. Meanwhile, Martin Luther King would be called a race traitor, for failing to embrace intersectional identity theories and their attendant anti-caucasian, anti-male, anti-straight, anti-cis hatreds — which place Victimhood (caps v) above content of character.

Even the original Suffragettes would be kicked out of the Good Guy club, for their traditional opposition to abortion.

In other words, there is almost nothing about the 21st century American Left, which can be accurately called liberal. No way in hell.

The 21st century American Left is instead a cultural and political enforcer of both dogma, and uniformity. Which preens in the mirror each morning, celebrating its eminent superiority, and talking down to, attacking, or otherwise throwing out anyone and everyone who steps out of line.

It doesn’t take much to get put on the “bad people” list. Witness all the proper progressives forever being witch-burned on our campuses, by the intersectional crybabies (in grown bodies) who demand to never be disagreed with, otherwise they’re triggered — and need to run to their safe spaces.

I can’t ride in that dysfunctional clown car. It is anti-intellectual, and anti-reason. It proposes to elevate feelings above all else, and has turned victimization — both real and imagined — into a bizarre form of morally-elevated celebrity.

Being a victim is now chic!

Failure to abide by the dogma, gets you attacked. You can’t even criticize the dogma from a friendly standpoint, without being ejected from the tribe of propriety. You are kicked to the curb. Shamed. Shunned. Called names. They attack your friends, your family, try to get you fired from your job, and worse.

I mean, good Lord, they attacked Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show, because she didn’t get up on stage and pull a Madonna or an Ashley Judd.

Thus Lady Gaga “failed” the movement. She is a traitor. Yes, Lady Gaga.

Meanwhile, you can apparently beat a woman to the ground on the campus of U.C. Berkeley, and it’s no-harm no-foul — so long as you can call that woman a “fascist” just because you feel like she’s bad, for having a different opinion.

My gentle suggestion would be: the first step in fighting fascism, involves not being a fascist.

“But isn’t the American Right crackers too?” Sometimes, sure. Delta Tau Chi is hardly a monolith of coherency.

It’s just that, I think the ass-paddlers of Omega Theta Pi can have their black robes and their rituals of humiliation — cough, “check your privilege,” cough — while I will be over at the slum fraternity, having fun with the other deplorables. Delta Tau Chi never tells me I have to prove I am a good “ally” by debasing myself endlessly, then going on the attack against others. They also don’t demand that I model and emulate an increasingly strident and narrow form of ideological purity. They further do not believe in throwing friends to the wolves — when the torches and pitch forks of the Left arrive at the door.

Omega Theta Pi — the modern American Left — are control freaks by comparison. They are in love with banning things. Outlawing words. Ideas. People. Making it a punishable offense to disagree. All while taking selfies and giving themselves squishy hugs for being such wonderful, proper, altogether forward-thinking and forward-believing human beings.

And if you believe otherwise, then f*** you, you’re a RACIST! and a SEXIST! and a HOMOPHOBE! and an ISLAMOPHOBE!

Which reminds me: every LDS person in good standing has become painfully aware of just how big the double-standard is, when the Left talks about religion, and religious cultures. Islam and Muslims are a protected, sacrosanct class. Mormons? F*** ’em. Racist, sexist, inbred, fanatical morons. The LDS leadership in Salt Lake City cannot utter a single peep about church policy, without it becoming an excuse for breathless Left-wing tabloid hyperventilation — about the “problem” of Mormonism. Meanwhile, Islamic radicals continue to murder on just about every continent, and violate every sacred belief in the progressive playbook, but we as a nation are piously reminded to never hold Islam or Muslims accountable. Never, ever, ever, ever. If you say otherwise, you are ISLAMOPHOBIC!

And being ISLAMOPHOBIC! is almost as bad as being TRANSPHOBIC! Even though getting caught being gay or trans in many Isamic countries, is a death sentence. Or worse.

But then, the modern American Left is not great at logical consistency. Thoughts don’t count. It’s the feelz.

Skeptical? Check this out.

Want to be a woman today, even if you’re genetically and anatomically male? Shazam! You’re a woman! Here is your golden Victim crown of identity! Nobody is allowed to say otherwise! Oh wait, women who are actually women — with lady parts and everything — cease to be women the instant they run for office as Republicans. They magically lose their melanin too. Just ask Mia Love if she’s still allowed to be black.

The American Left will confiscate your gender and your ethnicity, if they catch you playing for the wrong team.

Again, the pattern emerges: taking away, taking away, taking away. The modern American Left is obsessed with removing things. I don’t know how or why it came to this, but it has. They want to take away your single-occupancy vehicle. They want to take away your ability to operate your private business according to your religious convictions — except Muslims, who will get a pass. They want to take away your right to choose where your kids are schooled, and how. They want to take away your furnace, and your air conditioner — global warming, cough, climate change, cough, reasons, cough. They want to take away your options at restaurants, and also at the grocery store — you will no longer be allowed to have “bad” things in “bad” quantities. They want to take away your right to own firearms and defend yourself, your family, and your property — because only the police should have guns. Even though the same mouths claims the police are out of control and kill black people for sport.

This is not liberalism. It’s contradictory, nonsensical tyranny, which dresses itself up in a ghastly pink-fuzzy bunny suit of false benevolence. Like Ralphie from Christmas Story, except he’s been zombified, and he’s going to eat you.

You know what I say to that?

In the immortal words of Ned and Uncle Jimbo, from South Park: IT’S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

Speaking of South Park, if you need any further proof that the American Left has dragged the spectrum beneath us, consider the Comedy Central fixture which went from being the prime amusement of adolescent liberals, to one of the few entertainment weapons left in the arsenal of adult conservatives (I know, I know, we’re often the same people; just two decades older.)

Matt and Trey are among the few vocal entertainment pairs left, who will openly make fun of progressives and progressive gospel.

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein being another pair. I have seldom laughed harder, than while watching Portlandia.

(Satire is Kryptonite to the 21st century liberal moral majority, just as it was Kryptonite to the 20th century conservative moral majority.)

My bottom-line analysis? American liberalism abandoned American liberalism.

I watched and felt it happen, right before my own eyes. The Left became power-drunk on their ascendant ride through our culture, and now it’s morphed into the very kind of petty, thin-skinned, tin-pot authoritarianism which the Left claims to oppose. It rejects all questioning, and seeks to revile and hurt the questioner. Look at how scientists who criticize climate change alarmism, become pariahs in their own profession — called “denialist” in an almost ritualistic fashion, by the keepers of the gnostic doctrine of the Church of Global Warming. See how women and ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians, who “come out” as conservative, or Republican, are treated as traitors. Witness business owners and executives who resign in humiliation, when they are “outed” for supporting religiously-based political initiatives that run contra to the Left-wing agenda. (Unless they’re Muslim — free pass!)

Folks, I can’t truck with this. I can’t be with the authoritarian control freaks — people who fight the so-called alt-Right, by inventing an even more problematic ctrl-Left. Not even if the ctrl-Left are the heirs to history, like they always claim they are.

My personal suspicion — as someone who recognizes that history is not a straight-line ramp of destiny, but rather a variable waveform of deliberate action twined with chance — is that nobody owns the future. The more hotly and adamantly somebody claims to own the future, like Khrushchev slamming his shoe at the United Nations, the more sure I am this person (or this movement) is writing its own epitaph. Authoritarians always fail. Always. If not sooner, then later. Because human beings are unruly. We seldom do as we’re told. Not even when it’s the cuddly cudgel of compassionate dictatorship banging down across our skulls.

Yes, yes, I know, the American Right has had plenty of moments in that unkind spotlight too. They’re not immune to overreaching.

The American Right just seems to better understand the way people and the world actually work, versus how we might wish for them to work. Thus the American Right spends a lot of its intellectual and emotional capital on concepts like individual liberty and limited government, according to the wishes of the U.S. Founders.

The American Left, meanwhile, is obsessed with perfecting the human condition, using the ideas of theorists like Marx. They seek a total reformation of society, as well as the state. They are anti-Enlightenment, believing that empirical science and objective analysis are somehow RACIST! as well as SEXIST! Facts which refute the reformative theory, are to be suppressed, and the fact-finders walled out of polite discussion.

The ghosts of the gulags and the killing fields tell us which of these two paradigms is sustainable, and which is not.

I choose to listen to the ghosts.

EDIT TO ADD: a friend reminded me of something I wrote two years ago. Re-reading it, I have to say, “Yup.”

If I am insufficiently hateful of a hater who hates, I am therefore a secret hater? And in order to absolve myself of being a secret hater, I have to loudly and publicly hate the hater more than anyone else who presently hates the hater who hates, and this will prove that I am not a secret hater, because I will have hated the hater the way the haters of the hater say I need to hate the hater because he hates? Hating is now how you prove you’re not a hater. You just have to hate the people the anti-hate haters approve of hating!

Because being an anti-hater is all about hating the haters who hate, even if they’re not really hating, but you think they secretly hate anyway. Because all of us are secret haters who have to be shown our hatred, by the hating haters of hate who hate all secret haters. So that in order to become an anti-hater, you must hate yourself for being a secret hater, who then goes on to hate the hating haters the haters of hate say you have to hate in order to become an anti-hater who formerly hated in the wrong way. But once you hate in the right way, you are magically absolved of being a hater, and can go around hating on everyone you want.

EDIT TO ADD AGAIN: if you’ve not read this excellent piece by my senior at Baen Books, bestseller John Ringo, you should. I agree especially with John’s point — reinforced by this viral bit from British satirist Tom Walker, doing his Jonathan Pie character — that the voting booth remains one of the very few places in American life where people can express how they think and feel, and not get attacked for it. So the Left can shame and shun and label people all day every day, but when those people pull the curtain and prepare to punch their card at election time, what does all the shunning, shaming, and labeling accomplish? In Tom Walker’s words, you get President Trump! (Trust a Brit to see it clearly, just as my buddy in the Joint Task Force did.) But the Left seem to have learned all the wrong lessons from Trump’s win. Instead of pushing the PAUSE button and doing a wholesale review of both tactics and rhetoric, the Left have doubled down. The name-calling is even louder. Even more people are being thrown into the “basket of deplorables.” At this point, the Left are doing so much angry eviction — kicking people out of the auditorium — they’re liable to wind up shouting at empty seats. The Left are so high on their own supply of smug self-righteousness, they cannot be bothered to come down from their ivory tower, eat some humble pie, and talk to the rest of us like we’re decent people.

Trumpocalypse: the messy flatulence of the Resistance

To recap something I said on Facebook during the U.S. Presidential inauguration: why do American progressives always take a dump in their own bath water? Violent vandalism in the heart of Portland, Oregon, or Berkeley, California, won’t magically eject Donald J. Trump from the Oval Office. The business managers and owners, watching their store fronts get smashed, probably hate Trump every bit as much as the black-clad rioters doing the damage. Being a classless dick to your buddies doesn’t get rid of the President. Nor will calling for military coups on Twitter — considering the fact that Trump carried the military vote by a ratio of at least 3 to 1. Nor will parading through the streets of San Francisco with a pink crochet Chowder hat on your head.

The American Left desperately needs a reality check. Somebody or something needs to hit the brakes. It’s been almost three months of insanity, and not a single thing has stopped or impeded Trump. He was sworn into office, and he has been cutting executive orders like a corporate boss expects to cut executive orders. If you don’t like those executive orders, consider more carefully whom you choose to support for the DNC nomination in 2020. If you think the President cutting executive orders at all is bad, maybe this is a sign — to you, gentle progressive — that the American Right has been correct for the past 8 years; regarding Presidential overreach.

Now, it’s entirely possible that none of this is intended to have any real effect. The protests and riots are purely virtue-signalling, by an urban political bubble which seems to understand little else besides virtue-signalling.

Or, it’s also entirely possible that most of the people marching in Chowder hats, or throwing rocks through the window at your local Starbucks, don’t understand the first thing about American rule of law. The how and the why of getting people elected, or, in the case of Trump, preparing to de-elect the man in four years — by the book.

Probably, it’s a bit of both.

And the whole ugly carnival seems like a national progressive temper tantrum, wherein a giant toddler (called ‘Resistance’) takes a flatulent dump in its diaper, then proceeds to whip that diaper off, and begin flinging said diaper (spraying liquid sh*t, like with Spud’s soiled bedding; from Trainspotting) around its head.

That is not how a sober movement addresses sobering problems.

It’s the acting-out of an infantantalized sector of our society, which apparently seems to believe that a) it should always get everything it wants, every time it wants it, and b) every time it does not get what it wants, this is automatically Nazi fascism.

Look, I get how it feels to be burned by a Presidential election. I allowed myself to be extremely emotionally involved in the 2012 race — for Romney — and was rather shellshocked in the wake of Romney’s loss. It told me that the country was headed down the wrong tracks. I was uniquely unhappy about this. I was also unhappily aware of the fact that my emotional involvement had colored my perceptions, to the point that I wasn’t able to objectively evaluate what was really going on in 2012.

Suddenly, the shoe’s on the other foot — for the American Left. And I — as someone who filed a 3rd-party protest vote this past November — find myself spectating, in the same way I spectated after Clinton won in 1992.

Speaking as a spectator, I can say that the histrionics and violence typifying the so-called Resistance, is not winning over hearts and minds. Not from the middle, it’s not. Oh, sure, it’s playing well with the staunch Left, who will always treat an incoming Republican President as if (s)he is the reincarnation of Hitler. But For many people on the fence, or who reluctantly filed a Trump vote simply because they didn’t trust Hillary, or they were willing to gamble on an outsider getting things done, the insane caterwauling of the riots, the protests, the unhinged social media call-to-arms, is a huge turn off. Really, it is. Nobody likes a spoiled brat. And right now, the American Left is behaving precisely like a spoiled brat. Worse yet, any time anybody from the mouthpieces of the American Left — Hollywood, academia, the big media outlets — tries to call for restraint, or asks people to reconsider, and calm down, that person gets vilified. For failing to properly virtue-signal that (s)he is on the “right side” in this whole angry fracas.

Which is another arena in which the American Left is flunking: people often resent being commanded to display their colors. Remember how much Bush 43 was vilified for pronouncing, “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists!”? I do. Now, suddenly, it’s, “Either you hate Trump the way we tell you to hate Trump, or you’re with the Nazi fascists!” If Bush 43 was excoriated for cramming the world into a black-and-white false dichotomy, now it’s the Resistance doing the same. Either you’re marching and shouting and screaming and breaking glass, or you’re complicit in the coming Trump Reich.

I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it: maybe if the American Left hates Trump so much, the American Left should not have allowed Hillary Clinton to railroad the DNC in the first place? Bernie Sanders probably could have carried Pennsylvania and Michigan. And if not Bernie Sanders, then somebody else. A younger, fresher face. A big part of Obama’s appeal — in hindsight — was his relative inexperience as a Washington D.C. power player. He swooped into the national spotlight, charmed people with some terrifically lofty oratory, and presented them with a chance to vote for Hope and Change.

The fact that Obama seldom delivered on either that hope, or that change, doesn’t matter as much as who and what Obama was, in both 2008 and again in 2012.

How or why people thought Hillary Clinton — the five-decade Washington D.C. insider with big money interests in her pocket, and a known record of duplicity — would be better than Trump, is one of those questions we all should ponder for the next four (to eight!) years.

I myself thought she’d win, simply because I bought into the same fable almost all American Leftists bought into: that the political fabric of the country had slowly shifted to a permanent hue of blue. Whether it was oldsters dying off and idealistic youngsters cramming their polling places, or people as a rule growing disaffected with the hardships of 21st century capitalism, or the rising up of the thousand different victim identities, there seemed to be little chance that Hillary Clinton would not be our 45th President. I said as much, throughout the tail end of 2015 and all of 2016. Even when my English pal Dave Bone — Warrant Officer, British Army — said to me one morning, “Mate, get yourself ready for President Trump!” I waved him off and said, “Impossible. Not gonna happen.”

Clearly, Dave had the detached perspective necessary to see the coming U.S. election with an outsider’s eyes. And he was completely right.

Now, what to do?

First thing, I think, is for the grownups on the Left to somehow talk their more immature, excitable compatriots into calming the hell down, and shutting the f**k up. Even if they’re all livid beyond reason. None of these protests, nor any of this social media activity, is changing minds against Trump. All it’s doing is convincing the fence-sitters that the anti-Trump crowd has the composure of a two year old, when the toys are taken away. Working Americans don’t have a lot of patience for that crap right now, and the longer it goes on, the more working Americans may throw in with Trump — simply out of fatigue with the anti-Trump crowd’s histrionics and hyperbole. Probably what happens is that the extremists on the Left keep evicting more and more of their moderate kin, such that the number of disaffected sorta-liberal media personalities, politicians, and voters, keeps growing. This only benefits Trump.

Second thing, look to the local elections. Who is your mayor? Who is on your city council? Who are your Senators, or your congresspeople? The Founders established checks and balances for a reason. Trump can’t do much, if the Congress and the Senate are firmly and wholly committed to keeping him under their thumb. But if the 2016 national election revealed anything, it’s that the DNC has become far too infatuated with the national scene, and allowed its state and city level apparatus to get rusty, if not corrode to dust altogether. Conversely, the Republicans — cough, Tea Party, cough — stormed the smaller offices. Eight years of Obama — to act as catalyst — combined with 8 years of progressives repeating to themselves the (we found out) fable of Permanent Demographic Majority, has left small-scale progressive politics at a significant disadvantage. Again, probably what happens is that extremists on the Left double down on national shouting, while local politics gets ignored. Getting involved locally, and with good effect, takes a level of work ethic and patience that I don’t think the American Left has at this point in time.

Third thing, who are the young, idealistic, exciting stars coming up the DNC ladder in Obama’s wake? They seem to not exist. Or if they do exist, they are exciting only to the Leftist choir already wailing about gender warfare, racial angst, homophobia, transphobia, victim classifications, and an insistence that the only thing wrong with America, is that the white middle didn’t disappear the way the white middle was told to disappear, during the Obama Presidency. This tells me that without a major wake-up call, the DNC is going to double down in 2020. They will almost surely run a woman — because “women were denied” in 2016. That woman stands a good chance of being non-white, or at least non-straight; to tie in with the identitarian nature of our fractured political discourse. And she will excoriate the “deplorable” half of the country with even more severe rhetoric than either Hillary or Barrack deployed. Because if the riots and marches tell us anything, it’s that the way to “take back” the country, is to call people names twice as hard as they were being called names before.

Fourth thing, wait for Trump to do something truly egregious, before cranking up the sirens. Right now the outrage is dialed to 11 — and kept at 11 — over every little thing Trump does. No, Trump firing Yates was not egregious. He was going to do that eventually anyway — all incoming administrations always clean out the AG office. No, the immigration thing is not egregious either, even if the executive order was messily done. Every nation in the civilized West has some form of immigration policy, and some kind of apparatus in place — to keep non-citizens from crossing the border and taking up residence without getting on the books first. Trump’s simply doing what he said he’d do, to try to put some teeth into U.S. policy. Leftists may not like it. But again, Leftists should have run a better candidate than Hillary Clinton. Hell, Leftists should have paid attention to the 2.5 million people Obama kicked out. Or are we admitting that kicking people out is fine, so long as there is a Democrat in the White House?

Really, one suspects that if nothing had changed about the past month except for Hillary and Donald swapping places, the American Left would be silent. Hillary Clinton would be getting toasted from coast to coast. The Pussyhatters would be giving themselves hugs for having elected Teh Furst Woman Presadent! Hollywooders would be lining up to bend their knee at White House social functions. The major media outlets would be daily running stories about the “new era” the nation had entered, where a black man and a woman could sit in the most powerful chair in the world. And so on, and so forth.

But the script was not followed. Voters — outside soon-to-secede California — stubbornly refused to perform as expected.

And all hell broke loose. It continues to break loose. We’re looking at probably four years of more or less perpetual breaking-loose.

Which doesn’t hurt Trump at all.

Why?

Take it from this tinnitus sufferer: constant noises will quickly get tuned out. For the sake of sanity. Right now, the anti-Trump din is getting itself tuned out. There is no modulation happening. It’s a 24/7 four-alarm event. People beyond the concrete silo of the “movement” can’t be bothered to listen to the endless echo chamber of hatred against Trump, combined with calls for bloody revolution. Especially since nobody calling for revolution has the faintest idea what (s)he is actually trying to incite. Most of the guns and ammunition, as well as military experience, are decidedly on the Trump side. The only reason the Resistance isn’t already a bloody smear on the sidewalk, is because the people on the other side of the fence are too polite and law-abiding to call the Resistance on its bluff.

We have a way for peacefully exchanging power in this nation. It works.

If much of the Resistance had not slept through highschool civics class, maybe they’d apply themselves to more constructive purposes?

ROGUE ONE review, with minimal spoilage

I still remember how I felt, coming out of STAR WARS: Episode I. Very mixed emotions. I kept telling myself that it was impossible for STAR WARS to capture me, as an adult, in the same way I had been captured as a child. I kept telling myself that it would get better—with the next two movies. Hope sprang eternal. But then . . . Episode II also let me down. And Episode III was such a colossal mess, I was forced to conclude that Lucas had laid a massive egg. No, three eggs. In a row. And nobody had taken Lucas by the lapels and screamed, “My Lord, George, do you have any idea what you’re doing?!” The man who had gifted us with STAR WARS ,had also nearly ruined STAR WARS. It was a bitter pill, which went down very gradually.

Having seen the new ROGUE ONE, I think the other prequels can be quietly swept into the memory hole.

Which is not to say ROGUE ONE is perfect—it’s not.

But my gut check on any film I see, is always: did I lose track of the clock?

If the answer is yes, I know I’ve enjoyed myself. It doesn’t happen all that often. It happened with Episode VII, though I think ROGUE ONE is actually superior to Episode VII on most levels.

I’ll try to explain why, without giving out tons of plot spoilers.

The cameos by known characters were superbly done. Especially Governor Tarkin. Amazing, how they can resurrect an actor with CGI in this manner. The technology has come even further, since they used it extensively for TRON: Legacy. It was almost like Cushing had returned in real time. Extremely crisp, and barely noticeable—so far as CGI goes. We saw just enough of the familiar faces, to impose verisimilitude on the new film’s emotional landscape.

The central villain was meaty, too. Whereas I wanted to drown Ben/Kylo in a toilet—on account of him being an emotionally unstable, whiney, butthurt little emo jerk—I thought the new main villain for ROGUE ONE was actually composed, and sympathetic. Not because he’s not bad—he is. But because you can see how the pressure cooker at the top of the Imperial pecking order breeds, and then grinds down and uses up, capable men. I didn’t root for him, but I didn’t actively root against him either. He was . . . necessary.

The overall mood of the film is most closely matched by Episode V, to which ROGUE ONE is already being favorably compared. I agree with the comparison, insomuch as ROGUE ONE cannot (by design) have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the mains were given compelling plot arcs and the acting was very nicely done. Just like in Empire Strikes Back. The chief difference being, The Force is not a center-stage player in the plot. It’s there, just not overtly at work. There are no Jedi, but they have left a long shadow across the fabric of the galaxy. This was evocative of the original films, and helped to give ROGUE ONE a level of gravitas that Episode VII occasionally lacked.

ROGUE ONE also sufficiently plugs a monstrous plot hole—from Episode IV—which has bothered many a STAR WARS fan for decades. You will know what it is, when you see it in the new film.

And of course, the space battles and planetside fighting sequences are literally spectacular. As we’ve come to expect from any decent STAR WARS outing.

My only regret, is that ROGUE ONE is a ship in a bottle. It cannot “go on” the way the other films do, because it’s sandwiched between the events of Episode III and Epiisode IV. We’re given a brilliant snapshot of the Empire at the near-zenith of its might, coupled with a Rebel Alliance being compelled to find its feet.

Now, as stated earlier, ROGUE ONE is not perfect. It’s got the usual problems the series is prone to, from a hard-science perspective, as well as the same tendency to gloss over certain necessities of fully-fleshed plot development; for the sake of action-packed plot advancement. This is Space Opera, after all. Sure, you could have probably made two ROGUE ONE films, and dialed pacing down for the sake of getting a slow-boil. But this seems to have been a decision of economy, lest ROGUE ONE steal the spotlight from the main plot core of the seven films which have gone before it. Which I don’t think ROGUE ONE was meant to do.

Rather, ROGUE ONE gives us a picture of the struggle as seen from the eyes of the “little” fighters—the men and women whose names and deeds won’t ever reach the level of a Skywalker or a Solo. Yet their actions are still vital to the Rebellion.

In final, I offer some (not always serious) observations, as well as questions:

Mads Mikkelsen gave a very dignified, tragic performance. His character reminded me of Dr. Baranovich, from Firefox.

Felicity Jones and Diego Luna played off each other believably.

Why does the Empire love death-defying vertical shafts, and improbable catwalks?

Likewise, why do the clone troops wear bulky armor that is clearly worthless against blaster fire, as well as melee weapons?

The Imperial officer corps must get otherworldly perks and benefits, since the higher you climb in the ranks, the more savage and hostile the environment becomes.

It was nice to see the Rebellion’s blemishes brought into the light—the drive for winning and surviving at all costs, can make even good people do terrible things.

The hammy droid antics were minimal. Thank goodness.

Gorgeous original X-Wing and Y-Wing battle footage. Absolutely gorgeous.

The matter of planetary shields again raises its head. We know they had one on Hoth, but it was apparently porous to landing craft. Yet, the shield in ROGUE ONE blocks everything and anything, including transmissions? Except for when the plot requires otherwise? And how come such a shield never equipped the Death Star proper? Eiither 1.0 or 2.0?

Heh. Again, the point is not whether the plot holes exist—they do. The point is that ROGUE ONE was bona-fide rip-roaring, with some substance to boot.

I think I now have to rank the entire STAR WARS franchise (from most-favorite to least-favorite) as follows:

1) Episode IV
2) Episode V
3) Episode VI
4) R1
5) Episode VII
— (I prequel redacted from personal fan canon)
— (II prequel redacted from personal fan canon)
— (III prequel redacted from personal fan canon)

😀

Trumpocalypse: hoist by their own petards

Nobody was more stunned by the Trumpocalypse, than Big Media. Like most of us, Big Media assumed Donald J. Trump was simply too absurd to be taken seriously. Also, following the deflation of the Romney challenge to Obama (in 2012) what force in the universe could possibly hold back the long-dreamt-of progressive permanent majority in America? There simply weren’t enough people in fly-over country to thwart the urban liberals. Every poll said Hillary Clinton would win. The secular god of statistical prognostication, Nate Silver — who gained world-wide fame in 2012 — said Hillary Clinton would win. Many opponents of Hillary Clinton (myself included) also said Hillary Clinton would win. She had every single strategic advantage that Obama had, in 2012. She faced a preposterous Republican challenger. Her rise to the Oval Office was essentially a foregone conclusion.

It was, as they say, in the bag.

Well, we all know how that turned out. 🙂

It’s now been three whole weeks since the Trumpocalypse — 21 days, during which a great deal of analysis (and shatbit nuckingfutz commentator insanity) has been expended.

Most interesting — to me at least — has been Big Media’s reaction to being hoist by their own petards. By now, everybody knows about Newsweek’s recall of the quickly-made-apocryphal Madam President special issue. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Examining a quick Newsweek roundup of aborted-release Clinton victory missives — from Big Media notables — shows us precisely the kind of tunnel-vision and identitarian hubris that ultimately sabotaged the Clinton campaign.

CADY DRELL (editor for Glamour magazine, formerly Newsweek):

But what we really want to tell you is that this is only the beginning. The glass ceiling isn’t shattered until women’s success is no longer news in and of itself. The history of feminism in this country has never been for the benefit of the trailblazer in question, just as any women who today voted for Hillary Clinton didn’t do it for their own gain. Women like Clinton, and the women who led the fights for racial equality in this country, and the suffragettes before them, and the countless women whose names we don’t even know before them endured what they did so that things would be a little bit easier for the women who followed them. We don’t celebrate the election of a woman tonight for our own sakes, but because we recognize that the fact of her election means it will be a little less shocking, a little less unlikely, the next time a woman is elected president. Maybe it will be one of you.

The irony of this statement centers on the fact that it wholly dismisses or ignores the possibility that anyone not voting for Hillary, did so because she was evaluated on her record, versus her vagina. Thus, at the same time passionate Big Media feminists cry for an era when women won’t have to “fight” on an uneven playing field, they miss out on the fact that Hillary Clinton entered the contest (with Trump) enjoying all the political, social, popular, and material advantages that should have secured her the victory, yet her record of Washington D.C. career climbing — replete with instances of flip-flopping, back-stabbing, rule-breaking, and outright dishonesty, if not treachery — were simply too glaring for even some former Obama fans to ignore. In simpler language, Hillary Clinton enjoyed bountiful home field advantage, and she lost the home field crowd — and the game — due largely to her inability to wave off half a century of political conniving. It wasn’t about gender. It was about the character of the person with a (D) next to her name. Next time, I suggest Democrats line up a better candidate. Surely there are more principled women in the Democratic Party? Hillary was bottom of the barrel, in this aspect. And voters noticed.

JONATHAN CHAIT (writer and columnist, New York magazine):

Sparing the Republic from the whims of a twisted maniac is no small triumph. Clinton’s skeptics have already been denying credit for her expected victory by noting that she benefited from facing the least popular major party nominee in history, and that a normal Republican could have defeated her. This misses the extraordinary nature of the opposition that produced this unpopularity in the first place. Clinton has absorbed 25 years of relentless and frequently crazed hate directed at her husband, compounded by her status as a feminist symbol, which made her the subject of additional loathing. Her very real missteps were compounded by a press corps that treated her guilt as an unexamined background assumption. She is almost certainly the first president to survive simultaneous leak-attacks by both a faction of rogue right-wing FBI agents and Russian intelligence.

I find it curious that a “press corps” — which is overwhelmingly progressive and votes Democrat 90% of the time — supposedly went to war with its own straw self, in the form of a “press corps” that eternally tried to hamstring Hillary. Uhhh . . . okay. Sure. But Chait is right: Trump’s net drag was huge. Which makes Clinton’s stumble at the finish line all the more impressive, just because you really, really have to fumble the ball, when you’ve got home field advantage, and everyone is proclaiming your victory ahead of time, and your opponent is not even on the other team’s second string; he’s some loud-mouthed walk-on who inserted himself into the lineup at the protestations of the coaching staff. Again, I ask: is it not even remotely possible, oh ye of Big Media, that Americans did precisely as they should, and looked at what Hillary Clinton has done, versus canonizing her simply because she’s a woman who wanted to be President? There would be nothing for the FBI to examine if Clinton had not operated as if she were above the rules. Many Americans are tired of Washington D.C. lifers who operate as if they are above the rules.

I am not going to fisk Katie Halper’s more expansive commentary, simply because Halper (in the article linked above) sees correctly who Hillary Clinton is, and doesn’t seem ready to have a spontaneous orgasm over Madam President’s historic (now alternate history?) win. And while Katie seems to wish for an even more alternative Bernie Sanders victory, her diagnosis of Clinton’s flaws seems essentially correct to me. Merely the longed-for end result is flawed. Perhaps as much as Trump himself, given the fact Sanders still wants to run the country according to the same playbook Fidel “I impoverished a whole nation!” Castro used.

MARIN COGAN (contributing editor, New York magazine, but this piece was prepared for Vox.com):

And yet: Hillary Clinton’s victory is historic—a triumph that should not be overlooked. It marks the end of centuries of exclusion of women from the nation’s top job. Even more remarkable was the way she won it: by running as a woman, who championed policies aimed at women, against an avatar of reactionary sexism. She won under politically tainted investigation, in spite of plenty of legitimate criticism, and in the face of an incredible amount of sexism. In voting for her, Americans rejected Donald Trump’s old, macho vision of leadership and embraced a new paradigm, one that values not only a new style of leadership but also a policy outlook that prioritizes women and children.

Once again, Big Media’s feminists rush to proclaim Hillary’s victory as a victory for women against sexism, yet this analysis is utterly blind to the idea that it was Hillary’s track record that did her in. To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, merely being a woman is not enough. The great failure of identitarianism is that it scuttles qualification in favor of demographics. Millions of Americans believed Hillary was uniquely unqualified for the job. Not because of her vagina. But because she had a broad-daylight history of self-interested, maneuvering, palm-greasing, dirty pool. It wasn’t just a single scandal that dogged Clinton to the finish line — and her collapse just short of the tape. It was an entire career of occasionally concealed and even sometimes brazen shenanigans. That she was too able to intimidate or buy off people who might actually put her in jail, did not stop millions of Americans from pressing the NOPE button on November 8, 2016.

Big Media feminists would do well to realize that the end of sexism in politics, also means the end of using the specter of sexism as a bluff, when any woman’s track record (for office) is called into question.

CHRIS CILLIZZA (writer, “The Fix”—taken from this piece published on the Washington Post’s site):

Clinton’s path to the presidency—much like her last two-plus decades in public life—was not an easy one, defined more by her relentless drive forward than any sort of soaring movement like the one that propelled Barack Obama into office in 2008. And even in victory, Clinton survived rather than overwhelmed. Expected to cruise to an electoral vote victory, Clinton squeaked by—with Democrats fretting deep into the night about her prospects.

In short: It was a uniquely Clinton campaign—with all the good and bad that connotes.

Cillizza seems much more level-headed. Indeed, the Clinton drive for the goal was not the epic passing game many would have preferred. Hillary’s march to the Oval Office was a dreary, time-consuming display of short-yardage runs, occasional pitch-backs, very little in the way of forward throwing, too many tape and chain checks, not to mention penalty flags, all finally terminating with Hillary and her fans doing a victory dance in the end zone — with the clock still running, and the actual ball sitting on the grass at the 3; to be promptly scooped up for a spectacular 97-yard touchdown run by Trump and Co.

ALEXANDRA SVOKOS (political writer, Elite Daily):

Clinton was the first First Lady to have had a full-time job outside of her husband’s career before moving into the White House. She was the first First Lady to get an office in the West Wing.

Clinton was the first female senator from New York. She was the first First Lady to be elected to a public office.

Clinton was the first woman to clinch a presidential nomination and the first female presidential nominee for a major party.

Now, Clinton is set to become the first female president of the United States.

Again, Big Media feminists have to grapple with the fact that an end to sexism in politics (or any other arena) necessarily entails an end to using sexism as a raison d’être for putting somebody in office in the first place. Demographics are not enough. Oh, we’ll see a woman in the Oval Office eventually. Maybe Elizabeth Warren in 2020, assuming Trump blows it? Or, if he doesn’t blow it, maybe that woman will be a Republican? I know, I know, firsts are never allowed to be firsts, when the person making the first, plays for the wrong team. If Hillary Clinton were replaced with Condi Rice, and the (D) with an (R), the meteoric rise of a woman to coming within an inch of the White House would have been met with scowls and scorn — from Big Media — not euphoric adulation. If Hillary set precedents, they were mixed at best. Does a woman really have to be a serially dishonest schemer, who cheats and lies her way through life, to become President? Lord, let’s hope not! (C’mon Condi, get in the game. Your country needs you. Again.)

NEWSWEEK/TOPIX STAFF (prepared for a special commemorative edition):

On Election Day, Americans across the country roundly rejected the kind of fear- and hate-based conservatism peddled by Donald Trump and elected the first woman in U.S. history to the presidency. The culminating election of a career in politics spanning three decades and arguably more experience than any other incoming president, 2016’s was not an easy race to watch, comment on or be a part of—but when the dust cleared it revealed a priceless moment in American history. The highest glass ceiling in the Western world had finally shattered.

More end zone partying, while the ball is still sitting on the grass at the 3. Big Media feminists can’t resist the urge to subtly parrot Clinton herself, with her (now infamous) “deplorables” line. As if Democrats and Hillary apologists were not peddling their own brand of hate and fear, while evicting half of the country from the human equation. When you stop trying to persuade, and can only deride, you run the risk of painting yourself into a corner of irrelevance. Democrats — Big Media being a subsidiary — bought into their own prophesied dream, of manifest destiny: demographic permanent majority. Since those silly old white Republican assholes in fly-over country were dying off, the future was going to be a Democratic rainbow of eternal progressivism. Only . . . no it wasn’t. Demographics is not a political destiny. People change their minds over time. People also have the ability to distinguish issues that affect them directly — the un-recovery recovery, during the Obama years — versus a very distant and ultimately cerebral issue, like putting a woman in the White House purely for the sake of her being female. I said it above, I am sure we’ll get a woman in the Oval Office eventually. It will be interesting to see how Big Media reacts, if she’s a conservative. Five will get you ten, they will be largely silent; about shattering glass ceilings.

JON SCHWARZ (senior writer, The Intercept):

Okay. Okay. The 2016 election is over, and Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States of America.

We’ve all hugged our children, husbands and wives, parents, siblings, neighbors, dogs, cats, parakeets, ocelots and so forth. Some of us may have cried with relief.

Now we have to figure out what to do next.

Top Democrats, top Republicans, the corporate media and big business all have overwhelming incentives to pretend, as of this moment, that the last year never happened. Maybe there was a small glitch in the matrix, they’ll say, but the update we just pushed has patched it. The system worked! Thanks for voting. We’ll handle things from here.

For everyone else, all of America’s regular people, it’s a matter of life and death to stop that from happening.

The fact that a Tang-colored monstrosity like Trump came this close to the Zero Halliburton aluminum suitcase is by itself a terrifying catastrophe. The U.S. has had several presidents who might have destroyed humanity on purpose, but Trump is the first serious contender who could easily have done it by accident.

In any functioning democracy Trump’s campaign would have sputtered to a halt in the fall of 2015 because all of the other Republican candidates refused to appear on the same stage as him.

Instead he tore through every barrier except the very very last like it was wet toilet paper. And in the end Trump wasn’t beaten by anyone but himself. Hillary Clinton was backed by two-thirds of the U.S. establishment, and much of the rest stayed out of it, yet Trump could easily have won if he were a tiny bit less stupid, lazy and vile.

If we look back over the last 15 years of American history and its culmination with Trump, we can see that U.S. elites have built a political system that’s like a killer robot that’s malfunctioning to the degree that even they can’t control it anymore. Working normally it murders African Americans and pregnant women and opioid addicts. The Iraq war was a minor hiccup that caused it to obliterate a country, several thousand Americans and hundreds of thousands of foreigners. The housing bubble was the result of a more serious bug that liquidated hundreds of thousands more from the poorer half of the rich world.

But with Trump, for perhaps the first time, the robot totally ignored the commands of its creators and put everyone in its crosshairs.

This time it missed. It might miss the next time, too. But if it’s not dismantled, you better believe it’s going to get us all eventually. It’s not trying to kill us because of specific bad people whom we can replace, but because of America’s deep, structural problems.

This one’s long, but it does a lot to reveal the minds-behind-the-faces of Big Media. Trump most probably does not represent imminent global doom, any more than the Presidents who have preceded him. Already, Trump appears to be doing a reasonable job of assembling a staff who will reasonably advise him on reasonable policy. Maybe not policy to make progressives smile, but hardly an immediate pushing of the Big Red Button, precipitating World War 3. But for Big Media progressives, Trump has become the avatar of everything they detest and loath in the world. So much so, it’s not even Trump the guy they seem to hate, it’s a curious straw effigy of Trump who is deranged, maniacal, as absurdly stupid as he is fiendishly wicked, and determined to bring woe and pain to the whole universe. In other words, hang that effigy next to similar effigies of Romney, Bush, Dole, Bush’s dad, Reagan, etc. In so many ways, Big Media has been crying wolf. Looks like it bit them in the ass this time, finally.

He’s right about one thing, though: the elites have built a political system that acts robotically. Jon would just be shocked to realize he’s part of that system, and his response to Trump is as precisely robotic as the lining-up-behind that occurred with Hillary Clinton — despite her own mountain of disfavorabilities that followed her around like a squall of abandoned, unhappy children. Again, had Clinton been Condi Rice, with an (R) next to her name instead of a (D), Big Media’s reactions would have been startlingly different.

Really, it’s hard to blame Big Media, since they are more of a symptom, than a disease. As someone who voted for Clinton in ’96 and then Gore in ’00, I’ve watched as the shine’s not only worn off the Big Media apple, the apple has shown itself to be infested with worms! Behind the cracked, shabby patina of neutrality, Big Media is a wholly political apparatus which works at the strategic and the granular level to dispense a “proper outlook” to U.S. citizens, whether it’s pedaled soft, or pedaled hard. But Big Media would have no influence in our lives if we did not accord them that influence. We allow them to shape our perceptions: how we think, how we react, and how we interpret events in our world. When we the citizens actively pay someone else to spoon-feed our paradigm to us, we get the Big Media we deserve.

But that’s a whole other Oprah.

For now at least, it seems the script has been derailed.

Big Media was left — with the rest of us — standing goggle-eyed and open-jawed in the end zone, their colorful “I’m with her!” pom-poms dangling limply at their sides, as President-Elect Donald J. Trump and his team took the ball all the way back, and properly won the game, according to the way it’s supposed to be played. Maybe Hillary’s team did have more yards in total, but it’s not the ground you gain, as much as it’s the points you lose.

Every time Big Media perpetuated the concept of demographic permanent majority, Hillary’s team lost points.

Every time Big Media hyperventilated about Trump’s aberrant character and unfitness, they inadvertently cast a reverse spotlight on Hillary’s even more obviously aberrant character and unfitness. More lost points.

Every time Big Media lapdogged their way through an “analysis” of the Clinton campaign — having previously humped Obama’s leg, twice — they sent a very loud message to Middle America that Big Media had taken a side, and therefore could not be trusted as a non-biased source of information. Still more lost points.

If the job of Big Media is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable, Middle America shook its head in knowing disgust, as Big Media lined up for tony caviar parties with Madam Millionairess, while Middle America got called names, and was left out in the cold. Huge, gaping chasm of lost points.

As I have stated before in this space, Trump may be a peculiar or even terrible kind of champion, but he was the only guy — other than Hillary’s husband, ironically — to have said that Middle America was still worth a damn. Big, titanic points for Trump’s column.

Lessons learned, folks. Lessons learned.

What’s needed now — and no, I am not holding my breath either — is a wholesale Big Media cleanup. Enough with newsrooms that swing 90% Democrat. Stop coddling the corrupt who have a (D) next to their names, simply for the fact that they are (D). Washington D.C. can’t be fixed if the objective is to solidify one-party (D) rule. If ever a true permanent majority — of any kind — is achieved, the amount of corruption and abuse of power will dwarf anything we’ve yet seen. It won’t matter who has a (D) next to her name, if most of the (D)s are liars and schemers of Hillary Clinton’s cloth. Stop taking sides. Stop being a publicity machine, for either party. Hold the bastards accountable. All of the bastards. Not just the ones with an (R) next to their names. Big Media is an immensely powerful weapon, against sclerotic establishment rot. But not when Big Media is itself part and parcel of that sclerotic establishment rot.

Alas, a cleanup seems doubtful, at best. A few Big Media people have clued into the fact that they got caught up in their own mass hallucination. Those analysts and reporters who go full John Stossel — and don’t promptly return to the ways and modes of propriety (cough, progressive idea-pushing and personality-promoting, cough) — will be exiled to City Journal, Fox News, The National Review, or even (gasp) that nasty den of Faustian misogynist transphobic KKK evil Nazi sturmtrumper deplorable hate-baddery, Breitbart.

So, we know without even having to think about it, that the majority of Big Media will mercilessly hound Donald Trump. His every peep of tourettes-style thinking-out-loudness — as witnessed on Twitter — has become cause for international Big Media calamity. (One almost suspects Trump and Co. are trolling Big Media. For the lulz. Did I just see Trump tap his finger to the side of his nose, with a small smile on his face?)

But what about the next time there is a (D) sitting in the White House? Will the sweeping calls — by Big Media, for a “return to the traditional role” of Big Media — suddenly fall silent?

Moreover, Middle America might not give a damn either way.

If Big Media worry about relevance — and they should — they need to take a long, hard, overdue look in the mirror.

Trumpocalypse: the week after

The universe has now had 8 whole days to process the Trumpocalypse. Hillary is gone. Out of the picture. Poof. In one night, the inevitable trajectory of history was not just derailed, but thrown against the floor — where it smashed to pieces. A great many Americans, and other people around the world, still can’t get over it. There have been protests. Riots. Demands for the government to arbitrarily change the rules, so that Trump might be prevented from being sworn into office. Threats to assassinate Trump. Calls for California, Oregon, and Washington to secede. Not to mention a flash revival of Bush-era classics such as #NotMyPresident and #AbolishTheElectoralCollege.

Beyond the caterwauling contempt of the Hillary faithful (for Trump and his voters) there is a sobering question: how did the Democrats get it so wrong?

Granted, not everyone is willing to face the music. A small stampede of progressive pundits have rushed to reassure the faithful that Hillary did not fail America, it was America who failed Hillary. The country is even worse than Hillarists knew it was, back before the Trumpocalypse. A misogynistic, sexist, racist, homophobic hell-hole. Clearly, the solution is to get even more confrontational, more rude, more mean-spirited, call people even more names, get up in even more faces, and so forth.

But as British political satirist Tom Walker (playing Jonathan Pie) noted, hurling insults doesn’t work anymore — nor does being perpetually offended.

But Walker wasn’t telling people anything they hadn’t heard before. Way back in April, left-moderate pundit site Vox noted the so-called Smug Style which had come to typify the American progressive political landscape. And how this whole attitude — a sort of cute, clever, holier-than-thou in-crowd approach to dealing with alternative ideology — was very much driving people into Trump’s arms. Because those people didn’t see or experience compassion (for their “side”) as much as they felt like they’d become the butt of jokes. The heartland was being laughed at nightly, by Jon Stewart and his fellow media travelers. All while the middle class — lower-middle, middle-middle, and upper-middle — was being commanded to show respect, deference, sympathy, and understanding for a virtual hospital ward filled with narcissistic, neurotic victim personalities.

Quote Tom Walker, “Of course Trump f—ing won.”

Now, I didn’t see it coming either. From the instant Trump rose to the top of the Republican pile, I assumed Hillary would bury him. I was as shocked as any liberal, come 10 PM on that fateful Tuesday night, with Trump rapidly approaching the tipping point (in his favor) in such Democrat bastions as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

I’m still a bit shocked.

But some clarity has been emerging from the murk.

1) Hillary was a poor candidate. “Status quo, in a change year.” That was the NPR quick take, the Wednesday after Trump won. More than that, though, Hillary was corrupt. I know Hillary fans cannot bring themselves to admit it, but Hillary was not an ally of the little man. Hillary had spent her entire adult life swimming in the Washington D.C. shark tank, rising to become one of the toughest, most indestructible Great Whites. A documented liar and manipulator, Hillary’s chief claim to the White House basically boiled down to, “It’s my turn, dammit!” While she simultaneously labeled 1/4 to 1/2 of the country deplorable — a preposterous tactical move for any candidate to do in a tight race. But like so many of us, Hillary clearly thought she’d won the race merely because Trump was absurd, and unthinkable.

2) The Hillary loss cannot be pawned off on isms. Not exclusively. Again, even NPR was saying it, come Wednesday morning. Confirmation bias may have sent the progressive cognoscenti into a howling rage, about how America is a hopeless den of sexists, racists, and gay-haters. But this is lazy analysis. Yes, that’s right, it’s lazy. It’s the equivalent of running to a safe space, curling up on a bean bag, and sucking your thumb. It does not address the millions of women who voted for Trump, thus becoming vagina traitors. It does not explain the significant number of former Obama voters, who also voted for Trump, thus magically becoming racists. Blaming isms for the Hillary loss, pretends that Americans could not or would not evaluate Hillary on her pedigree. Isn’t that the whole idea, behind equality? That no person should have to be evaluated on gender? That it’s character which counts? I seem to recall some important guy once said something similar. The Hillary faithful should go look that guy up. I think he was right.

3) Mocking, deriding, and ignoring Middle America is a losing proposition. The Obama years led many progressives to believe that a kind of ideological and demographic tipping point had been reached, so that the Reagan Coalition was in the rear-view mirror. The corn belt and the rust belt didn’t matter, it was the tech sector kids with their skinny jeans, hipster beards, and man buns. Put down and shoved out, Middle America felt forgotten and abandoned — until some orange-haired blowhard named Donald Trump reached out his hand and said, “Come with me, I will be your proverbial fist punching Mr. Jon Stewart Man Bun in his smug little face!” Trump may be a terrible kind of champion, but he was the only guy who seemed to be saying that Middle America still counted for something. So, Middle America gave Hillary Clinton their middle finger, which was also aimed at the press, Washington D.C., and the culture of neoliberalism.

4) Neoliberalism: where taking selfies and posting hashtags substitutes for actual discourse, and it’s cool to make fun of blue-collar Caucasians, because blue-collar Caucasians are stupid and ignorant and morally backward. I mean, some of them go to church for Pete’s sake. Church is so over. Working-class values are sooooooo over. Compassion for the less fortunate? Right, only as long as they belong to a pre-agreed set of trendy victim identities. Which nobody in Middle America can qualify for. Too white. Too Christian. Too hetero. Too Republican. Soooooo Republican. Sickeningly Republican. Being Republican is uncool. Being conservative is uncool. Point and laugh, boys. Point and laugh. The conservatives’ days are numbered. The future is now Southern California Buddhist Transsexual, doncha know? F— Middle America.. Go hang out at Starbucks and talk with all your friends about how lame flyover country is. Not like the metrosexualized urban villages of Seattle, Portland, L.A., and San Francisco. Where cool people get to be cool all the time, and coolness is as much about regurgitating cool politics, as it is about wearing cool fashions and buying cool things, and living a cool lifestyle. Not feeling cool enough? Get on social media and decry others for their privilege. Make sure it gets re-shared and re-tweeted a lot. Bazinga. Coolness restored.

5) Obama’s cult of personality was obviously not transferable to Clinton — nor, probably, anyone else in the Democratic Party. Two elections of decisive Obama wins seemed indicative of a real, and permanent majority — of progressives, for progressives, by progressives. But it didn’t translate into numbers. Lots of Obama voters stayed home. Lots of Obama voters actually picked Trump this time. What went wrong during the Obama years, to make so many people sit it out, or worse yet, cross over to the “wrong side of history?” Again, it can’t be pawned off on the usual isms. People are tired of the non-recovery recovery. They’re tired of feeling like the ruling class gives only lip service to real problems. They’re tired of not working enough, not being able to get ahead, and not being listened to — by a patronizing bunch of elites who mouth the words of compassion, while swanning about in ivory towers.

Now, the Trumpocalypse by no means represents any kind of long-lasting win for Republicans either. Trump is a New York Democrat wearing the plaid suit of a Republican carnival barker. He said what he needed to say, to get the win. This is Trump playbook we’re witnessing. And neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any clue how the next four years will go. It’s quite probable it’ll be a train wreck, and then the Republican brand will be in the toilet — again. American politics is cyclical like that. The winner gets a big head, gloats, overreaches, underperforms, then fortunes shift.

Trump is the strangest kind of bellwether, because nobody really knows what it means for the future.

But the usual liberal “answers” on race, gender, sexuality, and economic class, break down against the wall of a Trump victory. Trump has been and continues to be a shock to the system. Perhaps a necessary shock — as many Trump fans insist — like two paddles to the chest, and the EMT yells, “Clear!” Only time will tell if Trump is a net good, or a net ill.

The caterwaulers are already trying to write the history books, condemning Trump as literally the worst kind of person to ever step foot into the Oval Office.

Problem is, those same caterwaulers said the same thing about Romney, and McCain, and Bush, and Dole, and Reagan, and just about every other Republican since Eisenhower. The little boy has literally cried wolf one too many times. Americans can’t be terrified into voting the way progressives want anymore, because too many Americans have been mislabeled as being part of the problem, not part of the solution, and they’re sick of the blame game. They want a swamp-drainer. Somebody to go into D.C. and take heads. Trump may or may not be that man. My money is on him being all talk, and no walk, in this regard.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t experiencing a bit of schadenböner over the great wailing and gnashing of teeth, currently running through the ranks of America’s progressive establishment. As a non-Trumper who is every inch a “deplorable” in Hillary’s book, I think the progressive establishment — the neoliberals! — have had this coming for far too long. A significant comeuppance of no small proportion.

But don’t just take my word for it. Take Piers Morgan‘s.

When a notorious progressive like Piers Morgan is taking you by the scruff and using a cricket bat on your ass, it’s time to pay attention. The days of Smug Style are done. It’s time to engage on the issues, not on the identities.

Otherwise, you’re just promoting another Trump win in 2020.

Trumpocalypse

Paradigm shift. It’s painful. to discover that your assumptions about the fundamental workings of things, were wrong. I’ve only ever been emotionally invested in one Presidential election. That was 2012, when Romney lost, and it seemed to me I did not understand my own country. I thought Romney had it in the bag. I thought there was no way the country could sign on for four more years of Obama. I didn’t sleep at all, after Romney conceded. I was in a supremely unhappy state the following day. A great many things made no sense.

I thought, “This is probably how the Kerry voters felt in 2004.”

Now, the pendulum swings again.

I wasn’t invested this time, the way I was four years ago. Mostly because I so disliked both major candidates, I felt like I’d “lost” the instant it became clear Trump or Hillary would claim the Oval Office. I still kinda feel that way, though I confess relief that a known crook such as Hillary has been denied access to the highest levers of power — bad things happen when that lady is given control. Bad things may happen, now that Trump is the man, but there is a degree of chance and uncertainty, whereas Hillary was a known quantity.

So, Tuesday night, I felt like I didn’t really have a dog in this fight, just because Hillary and Donald seemed equivalently unpalatable. But I watched with fascination as Trump did the impossible. Or, rather, Hillary’s true unfitness made voters do the impossible, and vote for Trump.

Then, I watched the unbelieving outpouring of emotion, from Hillary’s faithful. Confusion. Denial. Gradual realization of what was happening. Anger. So much anger. A tidal wave of anger. It could not be happening. It must not be allowed to happen. Who let this happen?! What is wrong with our country that this is happening??!?

Yep, I get it. I really do.

I’ve lived through ten Presidential elections, of which I was old enough to be aware. Six of which I was old enough to vote in. Out of those six, only two times did my choice actually win the Oval Office. I was very bummed when Perot lost — it was my first time — but I was a teenager, and it’s easy to move on when you’re a teenager. By my twenties I was voting Clinton (second term) and then Gore (hanging chads!) and I was bummed about Gore losing too; it’s easy to be a small-l liberal in your twenties. Not until after 9/11 did I really start taking things seriously — talk about a paradigm shift, 9/11 was a life-changer! I was relieved when Bush won the second time (we will be debating the Bush years until I die) and then I wrote in Romney/Rice for 2008; because I knew McCain would get crushed.

Then came 2012, the election I was sure would go to Romney. And when it didn’t, I was supremely bent out of shape. It took me the better part of a week to calm down. It seemed like my countrymen had been offered a clear choice between hope, and doom, and they chose doom. It also seemed like my countrymen had rejected me personally in the process. Or at least, a part of me. The part which had been all in. The part which had given a damn. When Rachel Maddow spent the morning after the Romney loss, gloating, and concern-trolling conservatives and the Republican party, it felt viscerally scalding. She was so pleased with herself and her “team” and she was so eager to rub our (the Romney fans) faces in it. Her smug cup runneth over.

Come November 9, 2016:

Well now . . . . sauce for the goose, and all that.

Probably, Maddow and Co. feel (about the Hillary loss) like I felt about the Romney loss. If the outrage and protesting I am seeing since Tuesday night are an indicator, Maddow’s sentiment is widely shared. Hillary’s fans were all in. They had given a damn. And reality chose to deviate from their expectations.

In the words of Lemongrab, it was (and is) wholly unacceptable.

I get it. I really, really do.

The thing is, American national politics is a pendulum. Every time one “side” thinks they have a permanent majority, or a mandate, or some kind of endless license to ill, or they make a raft of pie-in-the-sky promises, they always overreach, underperform, become embroiled in scandal, then the fortunes reverse. Democrat, to Republican, then back to Democrat, then back to Republican again. Liberal, to conservative, to liberal, to conservative, yadda yadda yadda. It’s probably inevitable in a Republic governing almost 400 million people, all of whom span a spectrum of belief and ideology. If the mechanisms of democracy are functioning correctly, that pendulum should probably keep swinging. Therefore, a Trump win after the Obama years is as predictable as the Obama win after the Bush years.

I know each “side” keeps wishing the pendulum would swing their way, and get stuck. Forever.

But it just ‘aint gonna happen. After living through the Reagan years, then the Clinton years, then the Bush years, then the Obama years, and now come the Trump years, I think I’ve seen this oscillating waveform enough to be certain that it’s going to continue like this for the rest of my life. Maybe, for the rest of my daughter’s life too? And beyond? Again, we’re 400 million people spanning a spectrum of belief and ideology. Barring the instituting of an autocracy, or one half of the spectrum simply dropping out of the vote, these oscillations are baked into the fabric of the country.

I probably won’t ever be all in for a candidate like Romney again. I sorta suspect I learned some things about myself and about this country, during that traumatic loss.

Hopefully, most of the Hillary faithful will learn the same things. And chill out a little bit.

Aaaaaand Hillary collapses just yards from the tape!

I don’t think Trump won, as much as I think Hillary lost.

I’ve already seen the cries of sexism and misogyny echoing around the web-o-sphere.

Really, c’mon now, progressives. Do we have to retreat there? At the risk of sounding like a concern troll, let me tell you that the amount of sexism and misogyny at work in Hillary’s collapse was a tiny thing compared to the overwhelmingly negative reputation Hillary has accumulated for herself across almost five decades in the public spotlight. At some point you have to quit hiding behind accusations, and face the reality that Hillary Rodham Clinton was a scheming, conniving, selfish, self-interested, lying, manipulative, altogether terrible candidate for President.

I know it’s gospel doctrine for everyone under 40 that the only reason anyone didn’t vote for Hillary, is because her vagina terrifies the Red Staters. But really, if people can peel themselves away from Jon Stewart re-runs long enough to examine Hillary’s collapse with a non-biased eye, it comes down to a glaring lack of credibility on Hillary’s part. And all of the most egregious wounds were self-inflicted. Nobody forced Hillary to call 1/4 to 1/2 of the entire country deplorable. That was a cute remark entirely of Hillary’s devising, because she assumed — oh yes, we all assumed — that Hillary was protected by a demographic and political bubble through which nothing about her past could penetrate.

Hillary knew in her heart she had earned the White House.

I thought for sure she’d earned it too — crookedly, and in true Clinton style.

So I confess to being utterly surprised by these results. Even more than I was when Romney lost in 2012. And I thought Romney had it in the bag.

My belief, therefore, is that Hillary — and her supporters — fantastically miscalculated. All of us did, really. Us Trump doubters and nay-sayers. We assumed that identity politics would carry the day. That the nation would be in too much of a hurry to elect TEH FURST WOMAN PRESADENT to notice that Hillary Clinton is unfit for command. She belongs nowhere near the levers of genuine power. When she is, people literally pay. Sometimes with their lives. I assumed not enough Americans saw this, to care. And I was wrong. And so were all of Hillary’s avid fans, who selectively gave themselves amnesia about all the times Hillary fibbed to them, to her superiors, to the public, and even to her own party. Trump was simply too awful to permit him to win.

Except, apparently, no. Trump’s awfulness is like the chewy center of an expired chocolate from a box of sweets. Hillary’s already been gnawed in half. Her staleness is well-known. Trump? He offers the chance of change. Of difference. Of no more same-old-same-old. And no, I don’t think I believe Trump will be any better than he is. I think Trump’s still the same hot mess I thought he was on day one. I just think Americans are choosing the New Hot Mess, versus the Old Hot Mess. Because they’re desperate for a tornado of fresh air in Washington D.C.

And that’s what I would like Democrats to understand.

It’s not misogyny. Hillary’s sins were simply too obvious to hide. And too many voters were sick of seeing business-as-usual down in Foggy Bottom. Not to mention being fed up with all the histrionic knee-jerk nuclear-option name-calling — by progressives, at everyone else.

Liberals, seriously, the name-calling tactic was shopworn 20 years ago, and it’s even more shopworn now. Americans are sick of being bashed for not toeing the progressive party line. Do Democrats and progressives understand? They cannot use these meaningless labels to dodge the issues anymore. The American public seems to have finally refused to be afraid of nuclear-option labels. As Bill Maher admitted, progressives have cried wolf too often. Americans saw Hillary for who she is, and there could be no more sweeping under the rug, of Hillary’s misdeeds — by people who cannot grapple with the fact that they lined up to support a wholly cruddy candidate.

And yes, Trump is cruddy too. It’s just that, he’s new cruddy, and he’s willing to give the name-callers his middle finger. Having been called epithets — by compassionate, caring, tolerant liberals — for years and years, Americans took a look at Trump and said, “Fuck it, why not?”

I am sure the political pundit world will be on fire for months, after the final tally is counted.

My hope is that we hear a lot less about how everyone who wasn’t a Hillary voter, is the devil. And a lot more about how or why the Democrats ever thought running Hillary was a good idea in the first place.

And yes, running (President) Donald is and was (and will be) terrible too. But in every election season, it’s the losing team that has to look hardest in the mirror.

Here’s your chance to get real, progressive America. Enough with the smug style. Tend to your house. Stop excommunicating your fellow countrymen from the human equation. Admit that there are real complaints with actual merit, on the conservative side. Force yourselves to face the fact you do not have all the answers.

Then, maybe, we can have an actual conversation.

P.S: for all the Trump fans, feel free to feed me a truckload of crow in the comments, I’ve clearly earned it.

Hoarders of rectitude

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) wrote some interesting commentary this week. How familiar it all sounds, given the SF/F storm of 2015. I agree with Scott. It’s a disheartening thing when any Presidential candidate excommunicates half the country from the human equation. That’s basically what Hillary Clinton did, with her quip about “deplorables.” She’s reading from the 21st century progressive playbook. I call it Moral Majority 2.0, which has taken all the worst qualities of the so-called Moral Majority of the 1970s and 1980s, and valorized them — with a progressive flavoring. It’s now perfectly okay to hate, despise, lie about, abuse, bully, browbeat (or physically beat!) people who are “bad” — because the “bad” people deserve it.

And who are these “bad” people, and how can we know them?

Why, they’re everyone who’s not voting for Hillary, of course.

I know, I know, it’s unconscionable — to not support Hillary. I mean, are we crazy? How can we not vote for Hillary? Even if she is a serial liar who evades accountability by buying off and/or intimidating people who might call her on the carpet? She’s going to be the first woman President in U.S. history! Why do we want to be on the wrong side?

I’ve seen and heard a lot of that kind of talk — about people being on the wrong side of history — during both the Obama years, and now the (soon to come) Hillary years. Usually issuing from the keyboards of so-called liberal opinionators who believe human civilization is on some kind of straight-line “ramp” ascending ever-upward to an idealized nirvana of economic, political, and social perfection.

To the liberal opinionators, they and theirs are on the ramp, while all the rest of us are merely hapless ideological road kill. We didn’t (or don’t) pick the right “team” therefore the choo-choo of inevitability is going to leave us behind — or run us over.

Like Moral Majority 1.0, there is a smug certainty to the declarations of Moral Majority 2.0, and Hillary’s “deplorables” comment was made precisely so as to tap into that smugness. For Hillary — and her ardent fans — the country is theirs, and theirs alone. The rest of us are just squatters. We’re going to be run off, or burned out. If not literally, at least figuratively. We didn’t pick the correct “side” so we will not be given a place at the table. We have been made “bad” according to the doctrines of Moral Majority 2.0 and there will be no redemption for us.

In other words, we are blocked from having moral validity, as well as virtue. The river of moral worth has been dammed up at Hillary Clinton. If you’re downstream, forget it. No moral worth for you. Either get with the program and be on the reservoir with the rest of the “right thinking, right voting” Hillary supporters — even the ones holding their noses — or you’re an outcast. You are cut off from the light of righteousness. Banished from the circle of humanity.

“Either you’re voting for Hillary, or you’re with those Nazi racist Trump voters!”

I’ve said in this space (before) that I am taking a Treebeard approach to the 2016 election: Side? I am on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side. Forced to swallow Fish Hook #1 or Fish Hook #2, I choose a third option.

But that doesn’t mean I think the people voting for Trump are awful. I also don’t think the people voting for Hillary are awful, even if I think Hillary herself is an awful choice, in an awful election year. I fully respect the personhood of both voting blocks, even if I think neither of them is going to get anything like what they’re hoping for — from either of the two main, miserable candidates. So, I try to be careful to distinguish between my dislike of the candidates, and the voters supporting same. I’ve got good friends and even family who are voting for both Hillary and Trump. I don’t think this makes them awful people.

But there does seem to be a significant number of Hillary supporters who aren’t willing to accord me and mine — to say nothing of the Trump supporters — similar courtesy. To them, if you’re not standing with Hillary, you’re scum.

Remember how Bush (last decade) was excoriated for declaring, “Either you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists”?

Progressives and liberals loathed, derided, and detested that sentence. They considered it proof of Bush’s retrograde, one-dimensional policy. Zero nuance.

Do any of Hillary’s proponents think twice, in our current election, before sneering about misogynist, racist, homophobic, Trump voters and independents?

If not, they probably should.

Frankly, if your first instinct is to label anyone who doesn’t behave or believe the way you do — racist, misogynist, homophobe, Nazi, etc. — I think the problem is far more on your side of the table, than not. You’re neither caring, nor compassionate. You’re merely impressed with your own moral and political rightness.

You’ve become a hoarder of rectitude. All for you, none for us. Nobody else is allowed to have any goodness. Only you — and everyone you deem worthy — gets to be good. Meaning, your monocultural opinions and ideas are the only ideas given any standing in a given conversation. Everyone else who isn’t “smart” enough to believe and think just like you, is a moral monster.

And we all know that monsters are fair game. You can vandalize their property, call them bad names, call their family and their children bad names, lie about them and spread lies to defame and undermine them, threaten their jobs, stage repeated on-line mob sessions or street protests resembling 1984’s infamous Two Minute Hate, and much worse. Because monsters deserve what they have coming to them.

Monsters aren’t on the “team” pushing this country up the “ramp” leading to the perfection of the human condition.

Therefore, anything done to or said about a monster, is perfectly okay. Even terrible, hate-filled untruths, designed to evict decent folk from the human condition. It’s all good. They’re only monsters.

When Hillary called us “deplorables” she was saying we not only do not matter, but that we’re terrible people who do not exist in the realm of individual dignity. In true Hillary fashion, everyone who is not useful to her, is deemed an outlander. We’re off the chart of civilization. We are just in the way of Hillary’s vision of progress.

This kind of thing has happened regularly throughout history. The many Moral Majorities — and their bold leaders — which have marched brazenly across every continent. How or why we don’t learn from the past, is probably explained by the fact that self-righteousness is a hell of a drug. Convince a man that he’s got the moral “right” to be terrible to another human being, and that man will do all manner of atrocity — in the name of what he believes to be correct. Or true. Or virtuous. Because he’s been given an excuse.

The various Marxist movements of the 20th century were all certain that their “way” was the inevitable — indeed, scientific — path forward. Hundreds of millions of human beings suffered and /or were killed, for the sake of the Marxist certainty that their ramp to societal perfection, was so just and so absolute, that nobody could deviate without being an obviously amoral and pernicious individual. Worthy of jail. Torture. Execution. And other heinousness.

Of course, the Marxist road to a perfect society, predictably crumbled beneath them. Because history is not a straight line. It is an oscillating waveform. Depending on your view, the present time may be a peak, or a trough; or maybe somewhere in between? The “inevitable” course of history has an uncanny tendency to swerve sharply from expected trajector(ies).

Thus it may be that the finger-pointers of 2016 — those who happily mock and abuse us “deplorables” — will learn a little humility.

Or not?

Again, self-righteousness is a hell of a drug.

The Mote in Gernsback’s Eye

I’ve said before that it usually doesn’t matter how much a conservative shouts or points at a problem with liberal behavior, the liberals usually don’t pay any attention until another liberal sees the same problem, and speaks up. This is because liberals (and conservatives often, too) — in the United States — have trained themselves to be so cynical about the thoughts and motives of the other side, they will immediately discount any information flowing from an “enemy” source. Everyone is forever on the alert for “concern trolling” and nobody wants to budge an inch, if it means admitting that maybe something might be wrong in friendly territory.

Excerpted below are the comments of the current Vice President of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America — SFWA.

NOTE: I walked out of that organization after they expelled Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg from the pages of the SFWA Bulletin, for what essentially amounted to word crime. I decided I didn’t want any part of a so-called writers’ union that would treat two of its senior members so shabbily, over a matter which can only be described as thought-policing. I haven’t paid much attention to SFWA since then.

But Ms. Hogarth’s words struck a chord with me — they should, for any conservative who’s toiled in these spec fictional prose mines over the past 25 years. I said it last weekend: the field of Science Fiction and Fantasy does not like conservatives, nor libertarians, all that much. Being a conservative or libertarian (aka: classically liberal) in SF/F, in the year 2016, is akin to operating in enemy territory. Not because you’re out to get them as much as they’re certainly out to get you. Unless you can run silent, and run deep. Showing your cards — forcing them to admit that you exist — comes with a host of potential repercussions. You’ve definitely got to make up your mind about how you’re going to sail your way through this strange little ocean Hugo Gernsback dubbed “scientifiction.”

I attended a con once where the toastmaster said that they wanted all conservatives to “hurry up and die and leave the planet to the rest of us. No wait, they can stay as long as we can have their money.” And people applauded. That person wasn’t kicked out of the convention. They were feted and congratulated while I sat in the audience, pale and trembling, listening to the people around me cheer my demise. I have never, ever forgotten that moment. Or all the threatening ones after, both generalized or intimate, like the man who leaned into my face and told me the world would be better off without me and people like me. No one stepped in to tell him that he shouldn’t say such things. The people standing around us just nodded or smiled. One of them even said before leaving, “Your time is over. We don’t need you anymore, [expletive here].”

The mandarins of SF/F expend a lot of energy wrapping themselves in the flag of tolerance. But as any conservative can tell you, that tolerance runs pretty much one-way. A tolerance conversation (liberal to conservative) in SF/F often goes like this, “Hello, I am a tolerant caring compassionate liberal, and you’re not. You will sit there and politely listen to all of my ideas and theories, and not say a word. I will sit here and listen to all of your ideas and theories, and then I will explain to you why you’re a dirty bigot and a hater and an evil human being. We will both agree I am right, and you will apologize for being bad.”

That, dear friends, is how “tolerance” works in SF/F at this time.

I’ve discussed this at length with Orson Scott Card — he being well acquainted with the tolerance charade — and he says it didn’t used to be like this before 1980. Oh, to be sure, there were plenty of fans, authors, and editors on the left-wing side of the aisle. But it wasn’t so vindictive, nor so personal. You could sit at a table with conservatives, liberals, anarchists, libertarians, and have a rousing verbal melee of competing ideas, but at the end of it, you’d still be able to shake hands, and walk away comrades in the field. That began to change (perhaps not coincidentally) about the time Ronald Reagan took his seat in the Oval Office. Gradually, in dribs and drabs, the dominant left-wing culture of SF/F has traded in true tolerance, for a kind of totalitarian double-think 1984 version of tolerance — people and ideas labeled ‘intolerant’ don’t have to be tolerated. In 2016, with tender snowflakes floating around in SF/F like it’s a mild blizzard, anyone can be labeled ‘intolerant’ for any reason, logical or not. Because anyone can claim to be a Victim (caps v) and in the new vernacular of Social Justice Zealotry, the Victim is always right and always wins. Always.

What this means is that common law assumption of innocence — the foundation for Enlightenment justice as practiced in the United States for over two hundred years — has been replaced (in the culture of SF/F) with a totalitarian law of default guilt. When a Victim says you have “aggressed” in some fashion, you are automatically at fault. In fact, if you’re unfortunate enough to possess “privileged” demographics, your very existence is an aggression. You must put on your scarlet letter P and show the world that you are willing to atone for your sin of privilege, and call out those around you for their privilege too. Again, all of this rests on a totalitarian law of default guilt.

Not surprisingly, default guilt breeds an environment where compassion and generosity shrivel away to nothingness.

I’ll say it twice, for emphasis: default guilt breeds an environment where compassion and generosity shrivel away to nothingness.

What do I mean by that? Look at Ms. Hogarth’s example. A compassionate person does not openly wish for a broad segment of the population to die — whether it was a joke or not — and a compassionate audience does not applaud such a statement. There is also zero generosity in the declaration, “We don’t need you anymore, your time is over, bitch.” Ms. Hogarth was cast in the role of villain merely for being who she is. As the villain, she was not accorded the regard even a child might be accorded. Villains don’t deserve regard. Villains deserve scorn, disdain, insults, and worse.

I have occasionally read and heard rebuttals along the lines of, “Well if conservatives and libertarians weren’t so selfish, terrible, hateful, and bigoted, we wouldn’t have to insult them!”

Again, the totalitarian assumption of guilt. It doesn’t matter how the default villain has comported herself. The villain is the villain is the villain. And villains are fair game for all kinds of atrocious and genuinely aggressive (usually, passive aggressive) behavior that tolerant liberals themselves would never countenance; if it were directed at them, or their fellow ideological travelers.

More from Ms. Hogarth:

I am all for a more civilized fandom. I am all for us being kinder to one another, and striving to understand each other’s viewpoints, experiences, and beliefs. I give people the benefit of the doubt, and because of that, I’ve enjoyed friendships with a broad gamut of people, all of whom have taught me a great deal and brought me a great deal of joy. But if we’re going to slap people on the wrists for microaggression, can we please start playing fair? Can we go after the person at the con who made knowing comments to the audience about flyover states? Can we talk to the person who was preaching radical feminist philosophy as if it was the only sensible philosophy until I said, quietly, “I’m sorry. I’m not on board with most of that.” Can we stop the toastmasters wishing that half the population would die in a fire (and leave their wealth to them)? Is my excessive discomfort also important? What about all my conservative or religious friends, and the fans who have quietly told me the only place they feel safe is in my social media spaces? What about the fans who have even more quietly told me they don’t feel safe ever?

I find this sentiment plausibly risable. It seems like the voice of grown-upness, pleading for sanity. “Can we all please just try to treat each other a little better? Please??”

I could only add that the solution to all of this, is not to police the left-wing (on matters of “microagression”) to the same degree that the right-wing has been policed. The solution is to reevaluate the entire concept of “aggression” and “microagression.” Again, what happened to common-law assumption of innocence? We need to get back to it. Do not assume intent to harm. Set the bar (for proof of harm) high, and keep it high. Good lord, do we really want twin competing blizzards of tender snowflakes, all flying into each other and running to authority figures to “fix” the issue? Like a pack of sore-faced first graders endlessly tattling to teacher?

I was raised to believe that a real grown-up can take a few things on the chin. I was also raised to believe that a real grown-up can laugh at himself on occasion. The totalitarian assumption of guilt removes vital flexibility from our interactions. Everyone winds up expecting and seeking to discover (s)he has been harmed, and everyone is on the defensive against accusations of same. This kafka-esq nightmare of human relations permits almost no compassion, nor humility. When both pride and ego have been refined to the point of glass fragility, the slightest knock can cause shatteringly overblown reactions.

So, rather than degrade the state of dialogue, we need to promote thicker skins as well as greater honesty. I don’t want liberals being too scared to speak their minds. If somebody wishes I would go away and just die, I may not like the sentiment, but at least I know where the person stands. I am tough enough to hear those words, and I know the viewpoint from which they spring. It’s the viewpoint of moral surety. Scaring liberals into never speaking their moral surety does not end the moral surety. It merely drives them into echo chambers behind closed doors, where they can speak and share that surety in safe company; people who won’t run and tattle to teacher.

And if both conservatives and liberals only ever spend their time among like minds, behind closed doors, inventing monocultural spaces for themselves where they only ever have to hear and speak the same thoughts about the same ideas . . . well, we’re pretty much there already. In SF/F and also the culture at large. Social media has allowed us to run around inside the heads of other people, and we’re horrified by what we find there. Perhaps the liberals of SF/F believe that SF/F conventions (like Worldcon) ought to be places where they can feel safe verbally wishing for the deaths of conservatives? Forgetting that conservatives, too, are part of the fabric of SF/F? Whether SF/F’s liberals like it or not.

One wonders what old Mr. Gernsback might make of the situation — he who originally intended for “scientifiction” to be a literature that interested children in STEM careers. I am not sure Gernsback had any asterisks attached to that desire, political or otherwise.

Still more, from Ms. Hogarth:

Should I discuss at length all the times I have had this prejudice applied to me, not only at conventions, but in my career? Should I tell you about the time someone told me I “belong in the Baen gutter, with all the other troglodytes?” If this wasn’t a systemic prejudice, I wouldn’t bring it up. If we didn’t belong to a fandom that claims to desire diversity, I wouldn’t bring it up. But it’s both, and I am here bringing a warning: all the moderate conservatives — which constitute the majority — who do care about the rights of their friends, no matter their identities, are being driven away. Soon SF/F will find itself in an echo chamber, without any way to build bridges to the people who will increasingly see them as enemies. I don’t want that to happen. That’s why I continue to quietly point out that we can’t foster an environment of real safety without including people we disagree with. Because without exposure to one another, it’s too easy to demonize each other.

Three or four years ago, a fellow author lamented — in a discrete conversation among mixed company — that she had to suppress and hide a significant portion of her identity, in order to avoid causing trouble in SF/F. Because she knew her religiously-couched beliefs about a hot-button political topic would make her persona non grata with fellow authors, and also editors. She was crying when she said it. She knew she was baring her soul to a potentially hostile audience. At the risk of using a shopworn phrase, I felt her pain. Quite deeply. About a dozen years ago, it became apparent to me that if I truly wanted to become a “player” in SF/F I would have to learn to mask my beliefs. Either hide them, or pretend (in the company of fellow professionals) that my beliefs were contra to what I actually think and feel. About economics. About how societies and human beings function. About God, and the immortality of human essence. About sex and sexuality. About any number of things. It would all have to be shoved far back into the closet, and kept there. Otherwise, I was going to piss off a lot of people.

A few years later, having broken into the field — and having also failed spectacularly to keep my trap shut — a trusted mentor engaged in what can only be described as an impromptu intervention. To his credit, all of his logic was business-sound: when you are open about your beliefs, you risk alienating part of your audience, as well as part of your professional cohort. So why talk about it? Isn’t the golden rule to never discuss religion or politics? Because this conversation almost always ends in disaster?

My mentor made excellent sense, then. He still makes excellent sense now. And if the field of SF/F were a field that abided the golden rule across the board I am quite sure I’d not feel the need to bang my pot to the extent that I’ve been banging it. Bless my poor mentor, I know he gets an eye-twitch now, if ever my name is brought up in conversation. He knows he’s gonna have to hear it, about me. And he’s tired of deflecting, or making apologia. I don’t blame him.

But then, that’s precisely why I can’t let it go. Why should he have to deflect, or offer apologia? Why should Ms. Hogarth have to sound the alarm, about moderate conservatives being driven out of SF/F? Why should my fellow author — who cried tears of genuine anguish — have to suppress or cloak who she is, just to get along in this field? Why should any of us have to fear repercussions simply for thinking or expressing opinions or ideas that other people in SF/F disagree with?

“Stop thinking and speaking bad ideas, and we won’t have to be jerks to you!” shout the defenders of the status quo.

Ah, yes. The time-honored excuse of all abusers: you made us do it. There was a fair amount of that talk, directly following the farcical 2015 Hugo awards ceremony. And I’ve made no bones about the fact that I think the mandarins of SF/F self-inflicted a very deep, perhaps irrecoverable wound. But even that wound is merely a symptom of the bigger problem. Of the cultural and intellectual rot which has settled over SF/F and is presently intensifying.

Nobody on the “other side” has to give a damn what I say or write.

But they ought to give a damn about what Ms. Hogarth says and writes.

This is a key officer in the field, putting the field on notice. That the rot must not continue without remedy. I may disagree with her style of remedy, but there must be a remedy. At some stage SF/F’s self-styled liberals must force themselves to look into the eyes of those whom they despise, and find humanity there.

Otherwise, SF/F is going to entirely balkanize. It may have balkanized already? A kind of ethnic cleansing, wherein the “bad people” are at last revealed, and driven from the hall of righteous purity. Leaving SF/F a shell of its former self. Unable to grapple with the most basic of all scientifiction concepts: that there are minds which think as well as yours, just differently.

If there was ever a time when that maxim was carved into the stone archway over the door to the hall, it’s since been chiseled out, and replaced by a cheap plastic placard that says: SAFE SPACE. The door itself is now festooned with blinking orange hazard lights and gobs of yellow-and-black caution tape. Abandon all differences, ye who enter here. Diversity has become a skin-deep game of demographics and Victim-identity fetishization. The totalitarian culture of guilt is omnipresent. You can’t go a week in this field without some poor author or editor being called out, shamed, shunned, castigated, and verbally burned at the stake — for infractions of impiety or heresy.

Scientifiction — the literature which ought to, above all other things, pride itself on free inquiry and the publishing and expression of “dangerous” ideas — has fallen into a spiritual and ideological gutter of same-thinkery, restrictions on speech and expression, and the routine punishing of “evil doers” who cannot or will not conform to expected orthodoxy.

Again, the left-wing side doesn’t have to give a damn what I say or write.

But if enough people like Ms. Hogarth have the courage to tell the truth, maybe things can change?

One has to hope.