Tag Archives: anger

Why Winning the Presidency is Bad / Is probably bad

5 Dec

Why It is Bad to Win the Presidency.

My friend Geoff Skelley recently researched the ill effects the presidency has on a Party’s local races. That and a comment I made last weekend has had me thinking about how I don’t want my side to win the presidency. So I am writing an “avoid writing graduate papers blog post.”

Let us begin with this observation: Anger is ugly. 


Anger is necessary to motivate many people to do many necessary things but it never makes them think clearer. Winning the presidency is like winning, through a vote, who is morally right about what values America should hold to. Obviously this is a simplification, but there is something to it. Under Bush, conservatives all over could speak out in opposition to gay marriage with confidence. After all, they shared that view with the President. Their ideas were the majority opinion. They weren’t “going against” what was normal. Under Obama, the opposite is the case. Now, voicing such opposition is being weirdly backward when everyone else has moved on.

More evidence for my simplification, and here is where you really see the ill effects of anger. Under Bush we heard the following inanities spoken with absolute confidence. “If you don’t support the war, you are anti-American.” “If you like homosexuals, you hate God.” Under Obama we hear similarly un-nuanced statements. “He hates women.” And – “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay. Christian Fascists Go Away” was recently chanted at a bi-sexual academic, whose work stresses the importance of heterosexual parenting. He was giving a talk at CUA… VERY RARELY do these stupidly simplistic statements do justice to the person or situation. However, it is my opinion that whichever side is in the presidency is emboldened to act this way.

Not only does this affect how your side is perceived, it affects how rigorous your side is in thinking out its positions. Being in power makes it dangerously easy to ignore the need for a thoroughly persuasive position. Being out of power does the opposite. As your side seemingly becomes more and more marginalized, you desperately seek the truest and most persuasive justification for yourself. Now, “truest” and “persuasive” are not necessarily coincident. But, being sick and bemused by the simplistic rhetoric that is crushing your view you seek what is impregnable. At the very least, you seek it for yourself. If you are going to live in the margins, you have to feel justified or else your solitude is a mark of your own depravity.

The ideal would be to grab and maintain power without relinquishing intellectual honesty or ability. But this is rare, if not impossible. It is especially difficult in a democracy where winning a national majority equals getting what is basically a simple majority (when compared to the House or Senate, whose majorities are complex and varied.). i.e., winning the presidency means winning at least a large proportion of the lowest common denominator.

So, to conclude, I see conservatives doing a surprisingly (take that word literally) good job of thinking and, at the very least, they are doing a much better job of arguing from higher ground than they did under Bush. Obviously I am on the Right when it comes to these things. So I hope Republicans lose in 2016. Or, if they win, I hope they focus more on maintaining their sobriety more than anything else. You know, really, I just wish whoever won would do that. I just don’t think it is possible to pull it off. And while I am playing the wishing game, I wish we would force presidential candidates to have debates for hours at a time, without a moderator. Just one on one, like Lincoln v. Douglas. … And eliminate soundbites! Not through a LAW (Michael Hamilton/Jake Crabbs) but let’s have everyone who is anyone shame any politician who runs commercials with soundbites.

Ok. back to paper writing.