Sunday, November 24, 2019

Redux Reflux

I've said it before and I'll say it again: forget the abstract, only the concrete is real.

Putin is the leader of a foreign country.  He is abstract, and his assault on the American electorate is abstract.  Yes, the conspiracy theory is straight outta St. Petersburg.  Yes, it's the rankest bullshit, as certified by American intelligence agencies.

No matter.  It's an abstraction.  Trump is concrete.  Trump is here, not way over there.  And Trump is an American politician, not a foreign leader (since when did Americans care that much about the rest of the world, especially after Vietnam?).

Likewise the Constitution.  Yes, Senators and Representatives take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.  What political ever got re-elected on that platform, unless it was a promise to preserve, protect, and defend your right to arm bears?  The 2nd Amendment is concrete (and wholly misunderstood).  The rest of the Constitution is bafflegab and moonbeams.  It may provide for impeachment, but what political under investigation ever got drummed out of office for calling the investigation "unconstitutional"?  The common and accepted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is actually unconstitutional.  Even Scalia's opinion in Heller doesn't do what many NRA loonies think it does.  But it matters not:  that interpretation is concrete, the Constitution itself a mere abstraction.

So politicians don't act to preserve, protect, and defend an abstraction.  They act to get re-elected, and to represent (aye, there's the rub!) their constituents.  I could throw a rock in Louisiana and not hit someone who disagreed with Sen. Kennedy.  No doubt they exist; but you'd have to hunt for them.  Of course, what politicians say when they campaign is abstractions:  but they are taken as concrete.  The media may want candidates to pontificate on arcane foreign policy issues; the voters want to know what tax breaks they can expect, and what the government is going to do for them.  Constitutional issues like "abuse of power" or even bribery or treason are abstractions; literally.  What is concrete is how any particular voter feels tomorrow morning.  Always tomorrow morning, in fact.

Putin is an abstraction.  Trump's tweets, which can bring ignominy on their targets in a GOP primary, are concrete.  The Constitution is an abstraction.  That there was no bribery because Ukraine got the money, is concrete (it's wrong, but it's concrete).  What people say is an abstraction, especially when you can take a post-modern stance that:  "Words?  What do they really mean, anyway?"  Which, according to Lewis Carroll, isn't all that post-modern after all.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'
We have met the master, and we are through the looking glass.  Honor and duty and oath have always been empty words in American politics; good for using in speeches, bad for living up to.  Here the British constitutional monarchy has one up on us (not much of one, granted).  When a politician is caught in scandal, the Queen is the exemplar of governmental behavior (the royal family is another matter) and, compared to her, the politician is shamed and driven from the Queen's government (it's all her government, in idea if not reality).  We re-elect our scoundrels, and consider them bad people but at least they're our bad people.  Your people are much worse.  That isn't going to change anytime soon.  Sen. Kennedy is merely doing what politicians before him have done since the founding of the Republic and the Presidency of Adams proved the Presidency of Washington was a one-off and the eternal exception that proved the rule.  Kennedy is just dancing with the ones what brung him.

And most of those people aren't on Twitter.  With any luck, they won't be the majority of the electorate next November, either; along with disappointed Bernie backers.

Maybe we can spend more time interpreting "Jabberwocky."

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