Is it class? Is it race? Is it something else? What’s at the root of Americans’ identities and political divisions? This line of thinking spun out from a discussion of Us Against Them, which I have yet to read (though it sounds fascinating), as well as conversations with others on similar topics. Matthew Yglesias offers a good overview, from back in 2012: The No. 1 book about American politics that I wish more people would read is Donald Kinder and Cindy Cam, [_US Versus Them: The Ethnocentric Foundations of American Public Opinion_](http://www.
Sometimes I wonder if I stray too far from the core purpose of this blog which is, after all, examining the “resilient constructs” we encounter in our lives. But this is a topic that, I think, drives at the heart of what this blog is about. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are a number of reasons for this, but the simple explanation is that, as a culture, we have a more punitive view of human behavior.
Labels for political ideologies can be useful, to a point, but they often don’t communicate the underlying sentiment. Liberal. Conservative. Progressive. Socialist. One can have intellectual discussions of any or all of these. But what if it was simpler? What if you could describe it in just two words that, in and of themselves, express an understandable value system? This is a post I’ve wanted to make for a while. I’ve thought about it for quite some time.
In a lot of ways, American culture is driven by emotion. The roots of American political thought in the philosophy of the Enlightenment are taught to all American students, but so is Patrick Henry’s famous decree, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Henry’s challenge is much better at stirring emotions–it engages the attention of the listener far more readily than a discussion of natural law and natural rights. Humans are emotional creatures, obviously, and it takes more of an effort to approach a situation intellectually than to read it at the more basic, emotional level.
Is Donald Trump a Fascist? The question of whether Donald Trump can be called a fascist is becoming increasingly common in public discourse. The rebuttal is usually that Trump cannot be a fascist because he is just a clown who does not have a coherent ideology. The problem with this is: The lack of a coherent ideology is one of the main features of Fascism. Fascism, unlike National Socialism, did not even try to become a coherent ideology.
Objectivity is commonly viewed as the gold standard for debate and discussion of contentious topics. Bring facts, figures, and evidence, or go home! But this obsession with evidence in human matters–and the constraining of what we’ll accept as evidence–hinders, rather than helps, our access to the truth. There is a better model, one that employs empathy, good faith, and active listening, without sacrificing the quest for truth. It may help to delve into what is meant by a quest for truth in the first place.