Lenz: The Coming American Political Realignment

How The Activation Of The White Identity Will Disrupt American Politics

 

What does it mean when one proudly declares that they are an American? What are the shared cultural and philosophical beliefs they are trying to communicate when doing so? What defining historical events and corresponding beliefs are implied within their prideful declaration?

America, unlike virtually every other nation they call neighbors, has enjoyed the luxury of a relatively clean canvass in undertaking the political experiment that was the American Revolution. While political revolutions are by no means the norm, the American one has been considered by its people as one free from the influence of historical conflict and Old World cultural norms. If one were to poll most Americans, they would define the American identity as one unaffected by race, culture, or historical grudge. An identity something along the lines of an American creed as follows,

“The American identity is adventurous men and women willing to leave the known in pursuit of the unknown with little more than the promise of an opportunity to build a better life. A life better than the one their current one, and entirely of their own making.” 

While not incorrect in capturing the sentiment of those who forged such a creed, what is missing, is the ethnicity and nationality of the individuals responsible for defining this creed or American identity. Without that context, the American identity would seem to have been created by a group of early settlers each born of immaculate conception. While convenient for the purposes of avoiding discussions pertaining to race and culture in American politics, the reality is, the American identity was forged by white property owning European males who were both courageous, in chasing the unknown, and wildly ambitious in their uncertain pursuit of economic opportunity.

Why is that so important to remember when trying to understand America’s current political environment?

As America’s demographic future becomes increasingly less “white” and more “multicultural”, the American identity will become stop being an “American” one, and increasingly become a “white” one. What America has long believed to be its universal identity is slowly but surely becoming one belonging to the race of those responsible for its creation. One need not attend a Black Lives Matter rally to ask for their definition of the American identity in order to see it is wildly different than the one at a retirement community in Florida.

There’s a phrase among economists that “Demographics are destiny”, and while usually used as a commentary on the economic fate of a country, it is useful in understanding the election of Donald Trump and his ability to turn the industrial Midwest’s political allegiances from one of leaning Democrat, to toss up or leaning Republican.

As the definition of the “American” identity continues to shift to the “White” identity, the demographics of the American electorate will determine its fate. While for the first time ever the millennial generation represented a larger percentage of eligible voters in the 2016 Presidential election, Baby Boomer voter participation rates, as well as the majority of their generation being comprised of white voters, resulted in an electoral upset of epic proportions.

What did President Trump do that no other Republican had been able to in recent memory? e activated the dormant American White Identity. He endlessly alluded to the Baby Boomer’s preexisting perception of societal chaos and decay. President Trump’s entire campaign was one big foreshadowing of the demographic threat awaiting their definition of the American identity.

While not singularly responsible for achieving his electoral upset, as much was due to his opponent’s arrogant and calamitous performance, his decision to message around a theme of restoration struck a chord previously unheard in American politics. A chord which activated the perceived threat of a changing national identity among elderly white Americans, who in longing for the simpler times of days gone by, decided to turn out in droves and disrupt traditional voting patterns and electoral college alignments down racial lines.

What Happens Now?

Now that the American White Identity has been activated, the question becomes: how enthusiastic will their voting block be on election day?

The answer to that question can only be offered once the wedge issues of the election in question have been defined. Were the 2018 midterms held last week, during the height of the NFL Kneeling issue, one can be certain the White Identity voter would be wildly enthusiastic to show up on election day.

When electoral wedge issues center around patriotism, gender, long held cultural norms, religion, and immigration, the White Identity will activate on its highest setting. That high setting will result in a surge to whichever party or candidate panders most effectively on a message of cultural preservation. When electoral wedge issues are less pertinent to the perceived threat facing the white version of the American identity, political alignments will return to historical norms in the short run.

However in the long run, as the Baby Boomer generation’s electoral influence wanes and Generation X and Millennial voter participation rates rise, the American Identity will increasingly shift in a yet to be determined definition.

Multiculturalism’s ascent is an inevitably, as mentioned above, demographics are destiny, and the fate of the United States electorate is one of a multicultural demographic composition. Below is a hypothetical electoral map of the 2016 Presidential election if one removes Baby Boomer voters:

 

Hard to imagine a more bleak future for Republican and Libertarian voters than the sea of blue above, right? It is one thing for Detroit to decay under years of Democratic leadership, it is quite another to imagine the United States as Detroit on a grand scale…

 

What can Liberty Movement Republicans and Libertarians do in order to avoid a completely blue post Baby Boomer electoral map?

Not to be overly-apocalyptic, but should those who oppose the Detroitification of America fail to redefine the American Identity after the White Identity voters slowly pass away, the limited government constitutional republican political experiment the United States was originally conceived as, will become little more than a footnote in American history books. The stakes genuinely are that high.

With that being said, the opposition to progressive and American Left political ideas, will not resemble the Left-Right divide as it stands today. The divide will be drawn down lines much closer to those best debated by the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

Progressive thought leaders embrace a worldview which pursues perfection. There’s is a world where constitutional limits, like the Bill of Rights, are an annoying encumbrance in their date with an egalitarian utopia. The election of President Trump has done little to cause the Left to rethink or abandon its embrace of centralizing power. Even when faced with the thought of handing over the keys of their beloved central planning tool to an unexpected Republican “monster”.

Why?

The Left is well aware demographics are on their side and, while the election of someone like President Trump is a nuisance to endure, it will not a cause them to reconsider their pursuit of centralizing federal power. One would think a Republican in charge of a centralized federal government, especially one like President Trump who seems to be impervious to shame and the traditionally reliable attacks of public humiliation, but his win has caused no such abandonment.

The American Left’s refusal to consider the downside of centralizing power should serve as a stark warning to those who favor limiting the power of the federal government through the dissemination of it to local and state governments.

While the Bill of Rights is most often pointed to as the quantum leap in preventing the abuses of government against the individual, the founders understood that while strict constitutional limitations were a radical shift in designing a system of government, the true weapon against a federal government’s unquenchable thirst for power was a decentralized system placing any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government in the Constitution to the state governments. Decentralization was the Founder’s intended weapon of last resort against the grand designs of central planners.

As the demographic destiny of American politics arrives, the true partisan divide will not be one fought over historical and cultural preservation, but the preservation of decentralized power. The progressive/Democrat movement will argue in favor of centralizing power with promises of universal health care, college, and cultural toleration. The future of the American Left resembles the ideas of Bernie Sanders more so than Hillary Clinton. Will those ideas and their endless pursuit of a egalitarian safe space utopia end up becoming the American Identity?

Or will the opposition successfully redefine the American Identity in a fashion more closely resembling its revolutionary founding? A definition premised upon a suspicion of government and preference for the uncertain, yet unrestrained pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, as originally designed. Will what it means to call oneself an “American” communicate the principles of safety through equality, or the courageous decision to embrace uncertainty in exchange for the promise of opportunity?

While the future divisions of American politics have shifted after the activation of the white identity by President Trump, the American identity grows less attached to the existing white identity. If Liberty Movement Republicans and Libertarians hope to ever live underneath a government premised upon the principles and beliefs they espouse, they cannot begin redefining the American Identity soon enough.

The battle is not one over party, Republican vs. Libertarian, it is about resistance to government’s infinite appetite in acquiring power and preventing the grand designs of intellectuals who view society as a Utopian experiment, rather than the opportunity for each and every citizen under its rule to personally determine how best to pursue happiness.

These are the terms. All that remains to be seen is who will emerge victorious. Those who pursue power? Or those who define the American identity through a lens of suspicion toward it?

Lenz: Charlottesville And The Sins Of Our Fathers

 

Why does it always seem to be the case that on matters pertaining to free speech and assembly, the situation ends up devolving into a state of absurdity? Or, as was the case in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, fatal tragedy?

Is the right to voice an opinion so absolute, that it warrants the full protection of the right to do so, no matter how incendiary the opinion, and now matter how likely its expression will instigate a harmful physical altercation?

As a civilized people, can we not all agree that freedom of speech should not be extended to hate spewing racists who oppose the removal of symbols glorifying a belief that skin color determines whether or not one was, and still is, better off as property, rather than a person? We can all agree on that, can we not?

Surely, suppressing the opinions of those who seek to preserve a monument which dishonors the courageous Americans that gave their life to defeat slavery, is a rightly earned respect owed to their sacrifice? At a bare minimum, do we not owe it to their memory to remove memorials honoring treasonous Confederates? It is the least we can do as a society, is it not?

The questions above undoubtedly seem reasonable, and to all but the most of principled of free speech defenders, seem like a worthy accommodation in an effort to atone for the United States’ original sin: Slavery.

Regardless of how much societal progress it may feel the United States has made in righting the sins of our fathers, if the death of a thirty-two year old female counter-protester exercising her explicitly granted right to peacefully assemble and protest has taught us anything, it is that the sin of slavery is one this country may never be able to fully reconcile.

Nationalism, and its fanatical byproduct: rabid patriotism protected from dissent, are viewed by most as politically toxic and to an extent, taboo. When one hears the term “nationalism”, the first image that comes to mind is usually one belonging to the extended and slightly raised right arm of Adolf Hitler.

Unlike many political movements within modern American politics, the Alt-Right/Ethno-Nationalist/Traditionalist/White-Nationalist movement has embraced the formerly taboo terminology rather than disavowing the toxic association. Why is that? For the most part, it has to do with the philosophical groundings of their belief system: ethnicities have long standing cultures and traditions, and as such, they should serve as a sort of political guidance system in the legislative formation of a harmonious state.

On its face, such a belief does not seem inherently racist or even, if one were to believe the majority of sociology professors, a terribly inaccurate description of the United States and the defining Judaeo-Christian values its legislative and judicial system reside upon. However, when a political philosophy stops being a theoretical governing framework for societal harmony, and starts being used as a cloak for racists, when they advocate and carry out “justified” criminal acts, is the same moment it loses all credibility and ceases being useful in understanding our world. Such is the current status of America’s “Alt-Right”.

The idea that a monument democratically commissioned and erected by community representatives to memorialize a Confederate General deemed worthy of remembrance, cannot also be removed via the democratic process, is absurd. That is, unless of course one opposes its removal on grounds of the legitimacy of the decision. But the #UniteTheRight rally voiced no such concerns of legitimacy in opposition to removal of the statue. Their concerns are grounded in the growing dilution of cultural and political dominance by white Americans within the political system they have grown accustomed to controlling.

The calls for cultural preservation by white voters is a relatively new phenomenon in American politics. However, it has long been brewing in Europe and other predominantly “white” nations, especially those whose history of colonialism resulted in a unintended flood of formerly colonist immigrants. As Sir Isaac Newton discovered, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Societies possess no such immunity from the laws of the physical realm. When those who dominate the power structure of a democratic institution foresee a time when they will be outnumbered, the inevitable response is always seclusion and legislation mandating preservation. As America’s demographic dominance of white Americans grows increasingly less certain, so too will the appeal of laws making mandatory that which they hold dear.

The intellectuals responsible for spearheading this movement see it as having little to do with the color of one’s skin, and everything to do with philosophical principles those of a certain skin color held and allowed western civilization to flourish. Principles starting with those taught and discussed in Athens by the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Principles such as virtue and order, as well as answers to the questions: “What is a good life?” and “What is the best form of government for one to be able to live a good life?”

What today’s cultural preservationists miss is that those Athenian philosophers who laid the original groundwork for Thomas Jefferson’s call for life, liberty, and they pursuit of happiness, is their contributions were not “right” because they were white. They were “right” because their work sparked civilization’s explosion of human freedom as they defined it. It just so happens they were white…and male, but those two characteristics had nothing to do with the importance and adoption of their work.

One cannot help but imagine that if the intellectual founders of western civilization had been in attendance at the events in Charlottesville, they would have looked on in horror as the acts of those claiming to preserve their lessons were based upon a disgusting and ignorant perversion of everything they had ever hoped to leave behind. Human freedom, protected by the democratic process, was their goal. A monument glorifying a champion of slavery, is not one they would have ever supported the construction of in the first place. Let alone oppose its democratically decided removal.

The tragic irony of the “Alt-Right” is that they are not desperately trying to preserve western civilization’s march toward democracy and human freedom, but the power to control the lives of others they believe are ill-suited to do so. As such is the case, their opposition to the removal of a monument honoring Robert E. Lee exposes their true desire, control in the name of tradition sounds an awful lot like slavery as the Southern way of life.

Slavery is America’s original sin, and while the United States has not fully overcome its lasting effects, honoring an individual who seceded in protest to its end, is owed no memory of treason or opposition to human freedom. Just as General Lee disassociated from his country, his country has every right to democratically disassociate from his memory.

In the end, the monument will be taken down with the hope of further atoning for slavery. And just like General Lee at Appomattox, the flag the Alt-Right will be forced to wave will most appropriately match the color of their preferred skin. After all, how better to honor the memory of their heroic figure, than to continue his legacy of surrender…

Lenz: Remembering Our Tie That Binds

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced into Congress a resolution, which would be adopted on July, that asserted the United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. While this resolution was being discussed, on June 11, 1776 a committee, consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston , and Roger Sherman was appointed to draft what would go onto become America’s foundational document. A document declaring the United Colonies’ independence from the chains of the British Empire.

Through the authority granted from the consent of the governed, those men would adopt the final draft of the Declaration of Independence and fired a gunshot heard around the world in pursuit of mankind’s desire for self-rule.

No longer would the restrictive chains of their colonial masters remain shackled without resistance. While the adoption of the beautifully articulated declaration of war would explode like a powder keg on the minds of all in search of self-governance, the reception of said declaration would knowingly fall upon the formerly deaf, now rabidly hostile ears of their former masters.

The signatories of the Declaration surely knew that while the self-evidence of their creator’s divinely granted right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would appear far less self-evident to King George and his empire’s military.

Especially when one considers that King George’s authority hailed from the same “God” he pointed to in ruling by the divine right of kings. From such a vantage, it is rather easy to see why what began as a simple disagreement over the correct assessment on one’s proclaimed divine right, lead to a fully fledged war, is it not?

While many a philosopher and priest have debated the theoretical origin of rights, be they natural or divinely granted, the freedoms they allow are felt in the physical world.

So while those Congressmen in Philadelphia, tasked with drafting our nation’s Declaration of Independence, put pen to paper and announced the existence of rights to which they and those they represented felt entitled, they must have known that any benefit offered by the written word, would only be felt once the United States demonstrated their ability to defend them against intrusion.

As with all conflicts resulting from adversaries in opposition to mankind’s quest for freedom, and regardless of the philosophical justification or ethical superiority of the principle said quest is premised upon, the inescapable truth remains: might determines the existence of right. Divinely endowed or not.

As today marks our nation’s two hundred and forty-first anniversary of independence, it is gravely important to remember the historical significance of our anniversary. Appreciating the significance of today is lost on most, as the majority will likely only recall the facts, such as the date and actors involved, rather than the lessons.

Such is the inevitable byproduct of America’s education system in its current state. One which prefers the recitation of facts to the application of reason. Alas, let us ignore that preference and spend the day contemplating the lessons and lasting societal impact the Declaration had upon the psyche of the revolutionary generation.

It is oft-forgotten the United States of America, in its current form, was not born until the ratification of the Constitution on June 21, 1788. Nearly a full twelve years after its announcement of independence. In considering that, one cannot help  but wonder about the lasting psychological effect created by declaring independence had upon the psyche of the revolutionary generation. Their concept of self was defined first as a united collection of independent free men and women no longer subject to the crown, and second as citizens to a unified nation.

Traditionally, the most oft-cited original American beliefs are those of equality and justice. Undoubtedly resulting from being taught the adoption of the rule of law, via the ratification of a list of constitutional protections, is our original premise. One founded upon the application of justice derived by equality under the law. Yet, that would be incorrect.

While equality and justice played a vital role in the psychological composition of how first “Americans” defined themselves, those ideals were layered atop a different foundational principle or belief. The one which bonds us all uniquely together:

Independence, or in another word: rebellion.

America was conceived in rebellion. Birthed by men and women who defined their sense of self through a lens of rebellious independent free thinking individuals.

The type of individuals who, when presented with the choice of a blanket of security provided by constrained freedoms or the promise of unencumbered, yet wildly uncertain and potentially fatal freedom gained by treasonous independence, leapt head first into the abyss of uncertainty. Despite the known risk of death by hanging for treasonous acts, they chose the dangerous adventure in their quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That choice, rebellious independence, would go on to become the cornerstone of the American identity and all the additional ideas it is built upon.

Rebellious independence is the bond which ties us all. One universally shared by those whose forefathers successfully beat back an oppressive intrusion upon their battle earned right to determine destiny. The very moment King George finished reading the finalized and adopted draft of Mr. Jefferson’s eloquent letter from Philadelphia, an independent spirit of rebellion would become forever imprinted upon each American soul thereafter.

It is our common bond. Our shared thread tying together our distinctively patched American quilt. It is the tie which unites us all. As you celebrate our Independence Day, remember that bond. Despite our toxic political environment, one in which the patches of our distinct quilt seems held together with the most frayed of thread, remember our shared history. A history defined by the freedoms gained through the courage and blood of our rebellious forefathers. Men who closed their declaration to King George with a pledge:

“We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Happy Fourth of July.

 

 

Below is a transcript of the Declaration of Independence:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Please Hide This Post: How Mass Customization Drives Mass Casualty

What Happened This Morning?

Police have reported one suspect is in custody following a shooting this morning in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. The officers responded within three minutes and, upon arrival, fired multiple shots at the gunman. In addition to the Alexandria Police officers, Two Capitol Police officers who were assigned to the security detail GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC after the attack that the officers were the security detail for GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise, adding that his presence at the practice therefore most likely prevented the incident from becoming a massacre.

“Everybody would’ve died except for the fact that Capitol Hill police were there,” Paul said. “Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre.”

“When you have no way to defend yourself … the field was essentially a killing field,” Paul later told CNN.

The FBI and police officials said they would not yet share any information about the suspect’s motivation at a press conference. The FBI special agent in charge of the Washington field office said it was too early to rule out terrorism, or whether the gunman deliberately targeted Republican members of Congress.

Scalise’s office said in a statement that the congressman is in stable condition at MedStar Washington Hospital. He was shot in the hip and is undergoing surgery, the statement said.

Rep. Roger Williams, who was at the baseball practice, said a member of his staff was shot and is receiving medical attention. A female Capitol Police officer is also reportedly being treated at Washington’s MedStar hospital. George Washington University Hospital confirmed that it received two patients from the shooting, both in critical condition.


Who Was The Shooter?

Law-enforcement officials named 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, as the suspect in the congressional baseball practice shooting on Wednesday morning, multiple outlets reported.

Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC that he had been living in Alexandra for the past two months. A Facebook page linked to Hodgkinson lists him as the owner of JTH Inspections. A Yelp page for JTH Inspections has pictures of Hodgkinson and locates the company in Belleville, IL.

Hodgkinson posted content favorable to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on his page and signed a Change.org petition for the removal of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” Hodgkinson wrote in a March 22 post.

The former mayor of Alexandria, Virginia Bill Euille, said he had spoken with the suspected congressional baseball practice shooter almost every morning for more than a month, and had discovered the man was living out of his gym bag. The forer mayor lost his reelection bid last year, but told the Washington Post he first met Hodgkinson during their morning workouts at the local YMCA. Euille said he frequently saw Hodgkins in the lobby using his laptop.

Euille said Hodgkinson approached him after hearing people greeting Euille as “mayor.”

“After the first or second week, he asked about good places to eat … within walking distance,” Euille said. “He was a very friendly person.”

“But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of his gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else is in town.”

Mayor Euille said Hodgkinson had told him he was a home inspector and asked about available jobs, but said he didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.

Hodgkinson, whose social media accounts show him to be a fierce critic of President Donald Trump and a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, did not discuss politics directly, Euille said. But when people at the gym would openly criticize Trump, Hodgkinson “indicated he agreed with us.”

According to multiple outlets, after his suspected shoot out with law enforcement, Hodgkinson died of his injuries in hospital. In an interview with Hodgkinson’s wife, Suzanne, told ABC that he had taken a trip and had been living in Alexandria for the last two months. He is survived by his wife and brother Michael.


The Most Important Question:

What caused James Hodgkinson to believe a mass shooting of Republican Congressman, who were practicing for a charity baseball game against Congressional Democrats, was an act of justice when their “crime” was daring to hold political beliefs in opposition to his own?

 

With each passing day, the American experience grows more disturbing and less familiar.

Today’s shooting is an alarming reminder that the political climate we inhabit has long since passed a state of passionate engagement and descended into one of rabid obsession. In the midst of shock, it is important to identify the root cause of tragedy before the nightly news commentariat begin the exploitative framing of the discussion with hopes of electoral and fundraising gain. Admittedly, there is little that can be done to prevent the politicization of today’s shooting, but what we can do, is uncover the true culprit responsible for our toxic political environment.

So the question remains, what drove James Hodgkinson’s enthusiastic civic engagement to develop into an irrational bloodthirsty desire?

At what point did he stop pursuing the political process in lieu of an attempted mass murder against those who held political beliefs different than his own? What was the breaking point which caused his well-incubated political beliefs to birth a lethal act of vengeance?

Clearly, his acts were not those of a well adjusted individual with a sound grasp on reality. At some point, he tossed aside any sense of civic duty felt while volunteering for Senator Bernie Sander’s Presidential campaign. What is the yet to be identified leap he made from handing out flyers to shooting up the batting practice of democratically elected Republicans?

For the purpose of understanding the motivation behind Mr. Hodgkinson’s act, it is useful to call upon the words of poet C.J. Heck,

“We are all products of our environment; every person we meet, every new experience or adventure, every book we read, touches and changes us, making us the unique being we are.”

Mr. Hodgkinson, just like every individual reading this, was entirely a result of his environment. An environment, which upon further inquiry into his social media posts, will reveal a digital experience built on algorithms designed to curate the content he consumed to his exact tastes. It is hard to understate the effect algorithms built to learn a user’s tastes and preferences have had on society. The more consumers have grown expectant of mass customization in virtually every area of their lives, the more sheltered they become from tastes and preferences they do not like.

These algorithms are designed to prevent exposure. Their very purpose is to create a perfectly curtailed user experience cocoon protecting them from any information they have expressed dislike or disinterest in the past. As the algorithm learns more, the exposure to any source of information or product, other than ones which amplify the user’s confirmation bias in the form of user preference, is detrimental to the success of the algorithm.

The technological achievements in machine learning and artificial intelligence allowing our ability to customize, has also created a human experience wildly susceptible to confirmation bias. We are constantly bombarded with an endless number of highly customized sources of news and information. Theoretically, humans have never had a more hospitable environment for diversity of thought and exposure to alternative views, but our reality bears no resemblance to the theoretical realm.

The truth, each one of us has inadvertently built a personal information silo designed to filter out the plethora of information sources available so we can reaffirm our preferences and biases with each click. Is it any surprise our political climate has grown so polarized? During the Civil War, the majority of American polarization was over slavery and state sovereignty.

In the era of mass customization, polarization is not so easily categorized with clear lines of division. In this era, even outrage is customized. Imagine if President Lincoln had to make a customized Gettysburg Address to each individual he sought to convince? Such is the enormity of the problem…

What can be done to temper the rabid hostility and polarization of our political climate?

The solution to our problem has two parts. First, we have to acknowledge the severity of the problem and admit we each bear some responsibility for not making a proactive effort in exposing ourselves to opinions and beliefs we oppose.  One would hope all are willing after the tragedy of today.

Second, we have to accept the responsibility which accompanies life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to self-governance is not enough. We must also practice self-care if we are to continue enjoying the fruits born from the tree of individual liberty. We cannot go on in harmony as a society if keep trying to force our idea of how best to live one’s life upon one another. Mr. Hodgkinson’s radicalized beliefs were a result of the self-imposed echo chamber he chose to inhabit. His acts, undoubtedly justified as appropriate because his worldview was the correct one for us all, a sentiment ironically shared by those he opposed most.

If America continues down the path of imposing the views of a simple majority upon an electoral minority, desperate attempts at mass casualty as witnessed today will increase. Such a future is far too bleak to accept. In order to prevent that fate each of us must practice self-care by exposing ourselves to, and accepting the existence of, opinions we abhor while working to reign in the absolute ability of government to impose those beliefs upon one another.

That is the lesson and the burden of today. If we are to avoid the bloodthirst Mr. Hodgkinson developed, we have to stop viewing those who have different beliefs as an abstraction and start working to understand them as individuals. While at the same time having the presence of mind to limit their ability to impose those views upon us, regardless of any vindictive urge to retaliate after electoral success.

The only question that remains, is will each one of us accept the burden to self-care in order to enjoy the freedoms of self-governance?

 

 

Courage and Conviction: Remembering The Cause

In the United States, on the last Monday of each May, Americans celebrate a federal holiday: Memorial Day. The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882. Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.

On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date, to the last Monday in May.

As one might imagine, if a government wants its citizens to participate in a universal day of remembrance in order to honor the fatal sacrifices made by those in its service, the best way to do so is by dangling a paid day off…

To the lesser observer, Memorial Day’s much anticipated arrival each year appears to be the informal declaration of the summer season. A societal ritual of sorts where Americans celebrate warm temperatures with the rare three day weekend.

“However, as has been said by Kings and Queens, I am not the lesser observer.”

The intent behind the declaration of Memorial Day as a federal holiday, as well as specifying its exact date and purpose, is not as the cynic might claim: a day of religious observation in worship of the state, glorifying its loyal foot shoulder disciples who died in its name, but rather, a day to remember and reflect upon the motivations and beliefs of our civic brethren.

What cause was it exactly, that these principled individuals decided was worth dying for?

Such is the true intent of Memorial Day. A day of gratitude spent in reflection. A day spent in contemplation.

A day, where in order to properly appreciate its importance, one must first understand the motivations and beliefs which fueled the commitment of our fallen civic predecessors. If we fail to understand the importance of the cause, any celebration in memorial of their lost lives becomes a ritualistic performance conducted out of the guilt accompanying the obligation of tradition…tradition for tradition’s sake.

The lives of those we honor today in celebration of Memorial Day were lost in service to the United States of America. However what is the United States of America but a union of states who approved its existence?

What is a state but merely the desires of the people who live within its boundaries and submit to the authority of its laws?

Is Memorial Day about honoring service for loyalty’s sake and without regard for purpose?

No, today is about honoring the sacrifice of lives lost in pursuit of mankind’s long pursued ideals of freedom, justice, and equality.

Why is it the first “Americans” risked death to come to an unknown land and willfully accepted the rule of law, rather than the rule of man?

America, despites its flaws, of which there are admittedly many, is not some abstract entity. It is the earthly embodiment of a dream.

A dream birthed from the minds of mankind in pursuit of a dream of justice. A dream of equality.

A dream where each individual could accept the rule of law in exchange for the same legal standing as his or her peers, regardless of wealth, social status, race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.

Have we achieved these aforementioned ideals? No.

Will we? Hopefully.

Regardless, Memorial Day is about remembering those who were willing to die in pursuit of American ideals, which overlap with mankind’s.

They served in pursuit of idealism and despite a fatal cause. They served knowing full well they may never enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Talk about impressive…

As Memorial Day winds to a close, the best way to honor those we are remembering, is to ask ourselves the following questions:

What cause are we in pursuit of?

What cause would we die in service to?

What fatal sacrifice would we want to be remembered for and appreciated by its beneficiaries?

Lenz: A Night At The Middlebury, When The Snowflakes Become A Blizzard

There is an old story told about Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, that could not be more relevant than at this moment in American society. When unveiling the Model T for the first time to the public, a reporter covering the unveiling is said to have asked, “Will it be available in different colors?”

To which Ford offered a tongue-in-cheek reply, “Of course. You can have any color you want…as long as it is black.”

One cannot help but think that if Mr. Ford were a millennial college student today, tasked with leading a social justice or liberal organization at a prominent liberal arts college, he would echo a similar response when asked, “Does your organization tolerate diversity opinion?”

“Of course. You can have any opinion you want…as long as it is ours.”

Such is the sad state of allowable opinion within the American Left. A truth which was more than evident after observing the act of hostility conducted by protesters at Middlebury College in response to Dr. Charles Murray’s invitation to speak by a campus student organization.

The protester’s totalitarian response to his invitation to deliver a lecture on his 2014 book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” and participate in a post lecture question and answer discussion was a perfect illustration of the Left’s complete disregard for diversity of thought, its exchange, or any sense of self-awareness about their hypocritical abandonment of “beloved principles”.

Not to victim blame, but assuming these militant Soviet-style social justice warriors who are currently carrying out their own version of a cultural Red Dawn on American college campuses, would ever support a forum for the free exchange of ideas is so patently absurd, the burden of blame clearly lies on those who extended Mr. Murray’s invitation.

After all snowflakes, when exposed to anything other than the perfect weather conditions their existence depends upon, melt into a flood of tears most closely resembling those of the “literally shaking” protesters at Middlebury College.

Literally shaking

Now, to the average American citizen, the type of outrage Dr. Murray’s invitation incited would seem more fitting for that of the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan, rather than an individual with the impeccable credentials he holds. For reference, please see the brief biography and summary of “controversial positions” below:

Charles Murray: an American libertarian conservative political scientist, sociologist, author, and columnist. Currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC.

  • He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in history from Harvard.
  • Murray’s articles have appeared in Commentary magazine, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
  • He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve (1994), written with Richard Herrnstein, in which he argues that intelligence is a better predictor than parental socio-economic status or education level of many individual outcomes such as: income, job performance, pregnancy out of wedlock, and crime.
  • Much of the controversy stemmed from Chapters 13 and 14, where the authors write about the enduring differences in race and intelligence and discuss implications of that difference.
  • While the authors were reported throughout the popular press as arguing that these IQ differences are genetic, they write “The debate about whether and how much genes and environment have to do with ethnic differences remains unresolved,” and “It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences.”
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies Murray as a white nationalist who peddles “racist pseudoscience.”

How is that for a resume enhancer? Good luck explaining to an employer your inclusion on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of racists…

Now classifications aside, when was the last time David Duke (former imperial wizard of the Klu Klux Klan) called for a radical new approach to social policy eliminating all welfare transfer programs at the federal, state, and local levels and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone age twenty-one or older, such as the one Murray suggested in his book “In Our Hands: A Plan To Replace the Welfare State”?

In Our Hands describes the financial feasibility of the Plan and its effects on retirement, health care, poverty, marriage and family, work, neighborhoods and civil society. Indiscriminately giving income assistance to the poor regardless of ethnicity? Sounds pretty racist…

In many ways, it is perhaps a good thing that the left-wing protesters did everything possible to prevent an open an honest dialogue from occurring. The American Left has always hypocritically proclaimed their love for freedom of speech, as well as their condemnation of the use of physical violence.

Yet when presented with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to those principles, they employed every possibly tactic to prevent Dr. Murray from exercising his constitutionally granted right to freedom of speech. Luckily, the administration of Middlebury College took every precaution necessary to counteract the will of the snowflakes, and after roughly thirty minutes of audience disruption by the protesters, Dr. Murray was taken to a private room to deliver his lecture and participate in a discussion over a closed circuit feed.

Dr. Allison Stanger

The post lecture question and answer session was led by Middlebury faculty member, and vocal critic of Dr. Murray, Dr. Allison Stanger. Prior to she and Dr. Murray’s necessary relocation to a private room, she tried to address the angry mob of intellectually stunted liberals, but even after voicing her support of their criticisms, the sobbing snowflakes refused to budge.

As if silencing opposition opinion were not vindication enough for those of us that have maintained the left are totalitarians in victims clothes, their decision to resort to physical violence once the event ended, serves as a delicious icing on the cake of leftist exposure.

While exiting the venue Dr. Murray, Dr. Stanger, and another Middlebury College official were mobbed as they tried to escape to a vehicle designated to take them to a private dinner on campus, unsurprisingly, that dinner had to be relocated to an off campus venue several miles away. In the midst of the storm, the protesters tried to grab Dr. Murray but missed an inadvertently grabbed Dr. Stanger by the head from outside the car twisting her neck and causing her to need a neck brace the following day.

Middlebury College’s President condemned the despicable acts of the protesters and publicly shamed them for their hypocrisy in a statement the following day. Dr. Charles Murray, instead of demanding an apology, requiring Middlebury offer a set of reforms to prevent future attacks on guest speakers, and threatening a lawsuit, acted in a fashion exemplifying the type of classy individual he is.

His blog post on the American Enterprise Institute’s website, summarizing the night’s events and adding some thoughts about its sociological and cultural implications on college campuses going forward, is indicative of the toleration which no longer exists on the American Left. Alas, it appears toleration will continue to make its home, as always, on the American Right.

While physical harm and the suppression of speech is never something to be celebrated, there are few things more sweet than the vindication which accompanied America’s introduction to campus snowflake culture and the revelation of the totalitarian face which has always been hiding underneath the Left’s mask of toleration. The events at Middlebury College were America’s first taste of the violent blizzards in its future, at the hands of Stalinist snowflakes who become violently outraged at the existence of diversity of thought.

Lucky for us, the awaiting blizzard of snowflakes will pass just like any other storm…

 

Dustin Reed: Presenting Libertarianism at Ball State University

Last year while I was working for the Rich Turvey for Congress campaign, we had the opportunity to participate in a candidate forum at a local university. During the forum, we met the director of the Political Science department, and I took the opportunity to ask if I can present to one of his classes sometime. This past week I was given that opportunity and spoke to a sophomore level Political Science Class.

Dustin Reed;
County Chairman of the Delaware County Libertarian Party of Indiana

Admittedly I was somewhat skeptical of how I would be received, especially after seeing the intolerance of leftist students on campuses around the country recently. To my surprise and delight the students were engaged, thoughtful, and respectful. For the presentation, I decided to keep things at a high-level and give them the foundation of what libertarianism and the Libertarian Party are.

Starting with libertarian philosophy I used David Boaz’s “Libertarianism: A Primer” as a resource (which is a great read and I encourage you to check it out). One of the earliest examples of libertarian thought we can find is in Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching” which is more of a moral bible than a political manifesto. In Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu said:

“Without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony.”

After touching on Sophocles, Pluralism, and Thomas Paine I ended with Robert Nozick author of “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”. Nozick succinctly said

“…a minimal state, limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, [and] fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on, is justified; that any more extensive state will violate persons’ rights not to be forced to do certain things, and is unjustified; and that the minimal state is inspiring as well as right.”

These quotes, though great, prompted me to explain that libertarianism is not necessarily the complete absence of government. I also explained to the students the difference between libertarianism and anarchy and wanted to reinforce the idea that anarchy itself is not chaos.

Party history and structure was discussed from the national to local level. I did feel it was important to include the party’s statement of principles:

(1) the right to life—accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others;

(2) the right to liberty of speech and action—accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and

(3) the right to property—accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

While discussing principle two, a student asked about child pornography and if libertarianism would allow its sale and distribution. After explaining that this principle opposes governmental abridging and censorship of speech, and that child pornography would most certainly be considered criminal and immoral, this was the perfect opportunity to explain the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). It seems that as libertarians we are expected to have a working knowledge, if not be proficient in, several areas of politics and economics. However, I believe if you stick to the principles of liberty and the NAP, you can explain almost anything.

During the question and answer session (which I considered the best part of our time) I received questions ranging from immigration, Gary Johnson, the future of the party, to libertarian economics. A common theme began to develop from the student’s questions about libertarianism and the Libertarian Party:

  • Are third parties taken seriously and what can they do to improve their image?
  • What are the Libertarian Parties plans on building on the momentum of 2016?
  • Why do you only hear about the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President? Wouldn’t it be better to run local candidates first?

These are excellent questions all of which I hope the National Party has already addressed or is in the process of addressing. Since becoming a Libertarian in 2008, it has always baffled me why we always put everything into the presidency when we haven’t even proved we can govern effectively. Though we got over 3% of the popular vote only less than 20 Libertarians were elected nation-wide and to my knowledge not to any office higher than mayor.

We have an eager audience and are at a critical time for the party. As one of the students said to me afterwards “I always thought of the libertarians as the rational ones”. Hopefully we don’t let this opportunity pass.

 

Lenz: Hollywood’s Mea Culpa to America

In a stunning act of humility, last night’s Academy Awards proved to be an exceptionally well-timed acknowledgment of, and apology for, Hollywood’s estrangement from middle America.

It was plainly evident the ceremony ‘s producers were intent on appealing to those of us in the flyover states. Decisions such as picking Jimmy Kimmel, shocking a Hollywood tour group by walking them into the live ceremony with A-listers readily available for selfies, finally honoring Back to The Future, dropping Mike & Ike’s and Lemonheads from the ceiling for the audience to enjoy, and heck, even having Jimmy Kimmel hold up the little Indian kid while the orchestra played The Lion King’s “Circle of Life”, made me think the Academy actually cared whether I watched the awards or not. In my opinion, last night’s show was the most enjoyable and culturally relevant in years.

It was nice to be able to watch the Academy Awards without the nagging feeling that, regardless of effort, I am simply unable to fully appreciate the night’s artistry and formalities without a Masters in Fine Arts & Filmography from Brown.

Many factors are responsible for America’a declining theater attendance. However, I can’t help but think the current estrangement between red states and Hollywood has driven a large chunk of theater attendees away because the narratives and themes of today’s films are of little interest and relevance to the lives of middle America.

I genuinely hope tonight is the first step toward reacquaintance. I have always believed Tinseltown is America’s most “American” city…that is up until the last few years.

It is the city of wildest of dreams in a country of wild dreamers. Hollywood is a truly unique place where talent, an appetite for adventure, and unlimited imagination, rather than pedigree or connections, determine whether or not someone can actualize their dreams. A person’s ability is all that matters, not their background.

Perhaps only in Hollywood can one leap from obscurity to the pinnacle of A-list high society in just a matter of months. Aaron Sorkin, creator of the West Wing, wrote the play “A Few Good Men” on cocktail napkins while tending bar and taking tickets at an off Broadway theater in New York City prior to fame.

Had you told him that in a little over two years after completing his literal “back of a napkin” masterpiece, he would be hired to adapt his critically-acclaimed Broadway play into a screenplay, he’d have laughed at you like a crazy person.

Had you told him his adapted screenplay would star Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Kevin Bacon, and Demi Moore as the actors tasked with delivering the very words, iconic words like, “You can’t handle the truth!”, he was currently scribbling on a cocktail napkin, he would have had you committed.

Yet, that’s what makes Hollywood so magical and so “American”. Sorkin’s rise from full time broke bartender/cocktail napkin playwright to rockstar screenwriter of the Best Picture winning: “A Few Good Men”, is the epitome of the American Dream.

His story the very proof every wild-eyed irrational dreamer points to as justification for chasing their pot of gold. Even in times when it seems as if the world is telling them not to. While Sorkin’s words will forever be a part of American history, his success is the very fuel of America’s unique “Dare to Dream” spirit.

Somewhere along the line Hollywood stopped dreaming, and when it did, it stopped captivating the minds of audiences. Slowly but surely, they quit telling tales about heroes overcoming unimaginable adversity. They stopped producing films that challenged audiences to aspire to honor, principle, and virtue.

No, instead they began tearing down heroes through the application of loosely based creative license. Rather than seeking inspire, Hollywood began its quest “correct the record” about the previously unadmitted flaws of societally-shared American heroes. Their intense desire to present these individuals as “more historically accurate”, is largely responsible for the current amount of alienation between America’s red and blue states.

Hollywood created our cultural heroes. They imagined them into existence and yet now, they seem Hell bent on turning any heroic figure into a dark and brooding, morally-conflicted, fallen idol who bears responsibility for American sins against social justice.

Is it any surprise audiences stopped coming back for more after expecting to leave the theater with lifted spirits and hopes, but instead exited with the dark cloud of Hollywood’s intentionally induced guilt?

I genuinely hope tonight’s acknowledgment by Hollywood is a sign they are getting out of the business of forcing paying audiences to confront and atone for their sins. It’s time they go back to making films about the heroic figures and principles we aspire to, rather than false idols with sins we are asked to atone for.

America needs the re-emergence of its city of dreams now more than ever. If only because this country is in desperate need of a mental health break. We need an escape from the vitriol and something that challenges us in a way that shifts our focus away from who is to blame for how things are, and toward how we wish them to be. America needs the kind of dream only Hollywood is capable conjuring up.

A dream that might allow us, if only for the briefest of moments, to collectively rediscover that our individual dreams and hopes for the the future are much closer than even the most creative minds in Hollywood could have imagined.

1.10.2017 We Are Libertarians Required Reading

 

 

 

 

 

1.5.2017 We Are Libertarians Required Reading