Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 27, 2010

Conservatives and Reality

The Washington Post published a recent article based on their own research into the so-called Tea Party movement. According to the article, the researchers identified somewhere in the neighborhood of 1400 groups and organizations that had some sort of affiliation with or name association with the Tea Party. Those researchers then contacted the groups with a questionnaire. Approximately 650 responses came back with answers to the questions.

In the resulting article, the ‘Post reports that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of unified political system in place. There aren’t any particular leaders, there isn’t a particular political platform, nobody seems to know the other folks, and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of leadership. And yet, there is this growing “something” that’s having a tremendous impact on the 2010 midterm elections.

Tea Party “somebodies” are “somehow” entering into the primaries, overthrowing long-term incumbent candidates, putting up for election new people nobody’s ever heard of. It began with Utah’s Senator Bob Bennett failing to secure the party nomination for re-election on the Republican slate. That happened back in May, and the news media was astounded. Since then, all sorts of surprises and upsets have taken place. The Washington Post is mystified.

I have a story from many years ago that pertains to the situation. Back then, I was working with a young sales associate who was engaged to be married to his long-term girl-friend. The fella was 21, his girl-friend was 19, I think. They’d known each other for most of their school years. She was well on her way to being a political liberal, he was on his way toward being a conservative. How do I know this?

One evening they decided to go someplace on a date. She said she’d pick him up, and that she’d drive. Right on time, the girl-friend shows up, the guy gets in the car and they take off. He happened to glance over at the gas gauge (back in those days there weren’t idiot lights) and noticed the car was down to about an eighth of a tank of gas.

“Why don’t you stop and we’ll put some gas in the car, real quick,” he suggested.

The girl-friend went ballistic! “You can’t tell me what to do! I hate it when you tell me how to live my life! I can do what I want, you have no right to be so damn bossy!”

Of course the guy was astonished. All he’d suggested was that they put some gas in the car. Why? How come? What was the problem?

What it comes down to is that we, as a society are at the endgame of 400 years of philosophy. The two great arguments have to do with the nature of reality. One side of the argument proposes that reality is subject to and dependent upon the human mind (soul, heart, emotions, psyche, whatever). The other side holds that reality is greater than the human mind and functions independently from that mind.

About 100 years ago we ran into the deconstruction movement, which basically tells us that when you examine words long enough, they don’t mean anything. Using a long, complicated and convoluted bunch of arguments (all based on words, y’understand), super-smart academic theoreticians have created all sorts of “modern” thinking, educational systems, psychological principles and language problems. Today’s political correctness is yet another consequence of the theory that language means nothing.

Along the way, we had something called reality therapy shoved down our collective throats. Once again, this proposes that the words we use define our reality in the moment. We should focus on the “now,” and if we change the words we use, we’ll change all of reality. You may have noticed that in the “modern” business community nobody has problems anymore. We have “challenges” or “opportunities.”

So what’s this have to do with that guy and his girl-friend?

All this nonsense of deconstructionism, reality therapy, political correctness and so forth is founded on the same basic premise. It’s that each of us, using our own personal mind has total control over ALL of reality. Perhaps you also see the connection between this “scientific” theorizing and the concepts of New Age idealism? There too, we find that individual people can “Think and Grow Rich.” The “Secret” is to have happy thoughts, positive thoughts, and never to allow negative thoughts to change anything in your life.

Even so, it seems that no amount of happy thinking, positive thinking, or elimination of language is going to keep the car from running out of gas after it’s been driven a certain distance. No amount of hoping for change, dreaming of Utopia, and wishing that all of us could “just all get along” is going to keep that engine running with no gasoline.

So too, no amount of hope and change, dreamy idealism, compassion, love and flowers is going to overturn the fact that when you spend all your money you have no money left.

The Tea Party is only a journalistic device —- a shorthand reference phrase —- designed to make it easier to quickly summarize a growing body of previously written information. The term defines a “set” of information, regardless of whether that definition is clear or obscure, accurate or false. It means nothing in and of itself, it only serves to “group” a particular type of mindset.

That mindset is part of the overall argument that reality exists. Reality is real, it is objective and it is not a secondary consequence of the individual human mind. That being said, leading-edge experiments in quantum physics are showing indications that the connection between reality and consciousness are vastly more complex than anyone 400 years ago realized. Indeed, there may be a better commonality between today’s physicists and “primitive” shamans.

But we’ll leave magic and quantum mechanics aside for the moment and continue with Ayn Rand’s basic axiom: Existence exists.

If I know you have no more money, that you can’t borrow any more money, and you’re still spending the same amount of money you had years ago, then I can easily predict that you’re about to go bankrupt. If I then say to you, out loud, using actual words, “Hey, I think you should slow down on your spending or you’re gonna run out of money,” am I voicing an opinion?

That’s the problem for today’s journalists. That’s the deep mystery for the Washington Post. Today’s liberals (or progressive thinkers) have been told for hundreds of years that reality is all a matter of opinion. One person’s opinion is no better or worse than anyone else’s opinion. All opinions, just like all people are equal.

An academic professor will say that the statement about your running out of money is “just an opinion.” As such, it might be worth taking under advisement, but there’s no urgency involved. On the other hand, if you’re standing in the middle of a road and there’s a bus coming at you, I can shout a warning and that’s not an opinion.

To account for this bizarre distinction, those academic professors have produced zillions of words (none of which really mean anything, according to their own logic) to separate “real” facts from “opinions” about facts. One problem is that none of them understand (or believe in) facts anymore.

A liberal feels his or her way through life. Just like my associate’s girl-friend, they feel what’s real and what’s not real. The girl-friend, in this instance felt that she had enough gas to get wherever she needed to go. When her boy-friend “told” her that there likely wasn’t enough gas, she considered it to be an antagonistic opinion. He was introducing negative thinking into her sphere of illusion.

Following that logic, none of which means anything to liberals since they don’t “believe in” logic, IF the car ran out of gas it would be the guy’s fault! If he hadn’t said out loud, like a magical incantation, that the care “might” run out of gas, then nothing bad would ever have happened.

(If you don’t follow this, don’t feel badly…nobody with a functioning mind can follow it.)

This so-called Tea Party movement is made up of perhaps half the current population of the United States, which mirrors pretty much the same percentages in most of the developed nations. They’re the people who hold that reality exists independently of the human mind. They hold that effects follow causes, actions have consequences, and that human beings must work with the basic principles of reality.

Nobody in this group of people needs to communicate at all with anyone else in the group in order to understand that when it gets cloudy out, there’s a chance it will rain or snow. They don’t need a consensus to “believe” that truth is based on facts. There needn’t be a committee meeting, congressional hearings, or expensive research studies commissioned in order to understand that when you spend more than you earn, you go broke.

The Washington Post represents what many people call the Mainstream Media. These are the journalists, pundits, commentators, editors, writers, entertainers, comics, talk show hosts and “intelligentsia” who form The Narrative. That’s a term I picked up from Stephen Hunter in his book, “I, Sniper.” A great book, and an excellent term. The Narrative is that undercurrent of consensus belief that makes up our daily conversation and accepted premises.

Right now, the Tea Party is disrupting The Narrative. They’re the child pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes. They’re the ones seeing the natural consequences of actions by our political leaders. But those consequences ALL are dependent upon a foundational understanding that reality is larger than and contains all of humanity.

Reality dictates that the United States of America must have a referendum on the founding Constitution. Either we uphold that original formulation or we decide to eliminate it. From that decision, the consequence will be either the continuation of the nation as it was created, or the dissolution of that nation in favor of some different society.

We no longer have a social contract, that’s been removed and gone for years. Now, in November of 2010 we must decide whether or not to make it permanent; to tear up that original contract and come up with something else. Liberals, moderates, “undecided” voters and the apathetic voters don’t see it that way. They “feel” it’s only an opinion, and that like any other opinion, if we re-elect the current group of political leaders, so what? Things are getting better.

Conservatives disagree. Anyone who disagrees, arguing that there’s a very big, very bad, and very painful catastrophe about to arrive is just a negative thinker. They’re a crazy person, holding grudges. They don’t understand “reality.” The irony is that the very people arguing in favor of some kind of illusion also claim there’s no such thing as reality. Even so, conservatives don’t understand whatever it is.

The problem is; how can this unknown nothingness be somehow coordinating all those people in the Tea Party? How are they communicating? How do they pass their plans to each other for whatever they’re doing? It must be some sort of secret system! A mystery! A deep, abiding, inexplicable, unknowable mystery!

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