Choose Ye This Day

Donald Trump elicits the inner fundamentalist in all Americans. A recent expression is a drive-by blog post at Commonweal on Senator Ben Sasse:

Well, that didn’t take long. Ben Sasse, Nebraska’s energetic, open-minded, publically engaged Republican senator has been Trumpified.

Citizens expected him, as an outspoken and popular #NeverTrump-er who was relatively uncorrupted by power, to be part of the intraparty resistance to the new president’s ethos, tactics, and character traits. Surely he would have respect for the norms of the Constitution and engage his critics with reason, not mockery. This is, after all, a senator who gives encomia to the Constitution on Twitter and casually banters with his constituents and naysayers about politics and college football.

Sasse was at least critical of last week’s executive order. But this week, with the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, he has showed how quickly the new executive’s behavior can be imitated.

Last night and this morning, Sasse gleefully mocked both protestors and Sen. Minority Leader Schumer.

So the idea is that Sasse should have been sympathetic to protesters and not to President Trump’s nominee for SCOTUS. A sitting senator is supposed to choose unhinged American citizens — and it’s not like we haven’t seen many of such moralists the past 6 years — over the leader of the free world (for now).

And for Mr. Peppard to act as if the protesters to Neil Gorsuch’s nomination are not risible but serious is almost as risible as the recent spate of convulsions over President Trump:

just as worrisome, the fact that he publicly mocked peaceful protestors — which he did again on radio this morning — is an eerie warning that he’s been Trumpified. The new president has shown that he loves to “punch down,” something the old Sen. Sasse would not have done. But executives have a way of modeling behavior that those seeking advancement find difficult not to emulate.

Mocking in juvenile manner (pussy parade anyone?) the duly elected executive of the federal government is not worrisome? And you wonder why Trump is POTUS.

22 thoughts on “Choose Ye This Day

  1. Steve,

    I agree with you that there are channels better than protest, but remember too that right to assembly exists for a good reason( would you rather it weren’t included in Amendment I?), and is not always intent on illiberal subversion of law( Berkley), but is actually trying to be a voice for those whose right just to live are being denied.
    Question: If your desired rights aren’t recognized under the existing law, how else do you get awareness of the violation of them to be recognized by the majority? And I’m thinking of the right not to be the property of another, and of the right to vote regardless if their skin is dark or if they are not male.


  2. Susan, but at what point do you recognize certain methods just aren’t working and maybe they are exercised more for the cathartic effects on the exercisers than the real world results for the alleged victims? Seems to me that no matter the cause marching, marching, marching has very little actual effect. I have no issue with the right to assembly per se, rather the wisdom of those who think it does much more than signal virtue, which doesn’t strike me as very conservative at all.


  3. Well, I don’t buy into the idea that marching is only virtue signaling( or simply being cathartic) and not accomplishing a show of support for another’s cause( actually not another since I am my brother’s keeper), an awareness of numbers for or against an issue, as well as possibly opening up a door to rational dialog. If all that people did was march while ignoring avenues that could accomplish the protection human rights through legislation then that would certainly be an unforgivable oversight; There is a lot more that goes on throughout the year than a once a year march, I assure you.
    But, to me, it seems awfully apathetic for swaths of people who support a cause not utilize assembly for whatever leverage/awareness it can give since it seems to be part of our nature to unite. It’s even a better endeavor for the side that really does have the moral high ground. It doesn’t do any harm, right?


  4. @ Susan: If you have $300 and 8 hr to spend, is it better to put it into giving an expecting mom some help, or into a day’s march for life?

    The answer is not absolutely clear, but certainly the first option is not “apathetic.”

    The point is that resources are always limited; choices must be made.


  5. Hello there Jeff,

    I didn’t think economy was the thing we were discussing, but rather if marching did any good and therefore worthwhile. But if I found myself with one, the other, or both(or set aside time and money both for those purposes}, I would be able to accomplish both. I certainly could stand to squeeze out a little more from my resources for doing more.


  6. Susan, but if I march are you going to then also make me wear the red ribbon? But the harm you seem ready to gloss over is in your own signaling that a side really does have the high moral ground. Isn’t self-righteousness harmful? I may sympathize with life-marchers on the moral and political questions at stake, but I can take issue with assumptions and methods that are less than conservative and arguably harmful to “the cause.” I get where the other side is coming from, but when I march claiming the high moral ground I fail to see how that will help to persuade them in any meaningful way. Doesn’t it just help deepen the divide (same question to any marcher for any cause, by the way)?


  7. @z What’s wrong with catharsis? Don’t our confessions say something along the lines “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”? Or was that a pop song… I can’t keep ’em straight.

    More seriously, one thing to ask is whether what we are doing is working. I think the answer is yes. Now what that thing that is working is, is unclear (makes more sense if you read it out loud). Is what is working that we are making IUDs more plentiful (most abortions are performed on moms who do not want additional kids evidently and IUDs are a much more reliable way of avoiding oopses), that access to abortion is more restrictive, the wider spread use of ultrasounds, the effect of protests…? Perhaps some combination of these things?

    Given that polls indicate little movement on public sentiment, I’m going to assume that protests don’t have much of an effect one way or the other. The dearth of downs kids among older moms suggests that whatever people claim, abortion is something they are willing to consider when they are bearing a child they don’t want. I suspect that making access to abortion harder while making longterm birth control more reliable are working together to make abortion much more rare. We are now pretty close to where we were pre-RvW, so I suspect that we are closing in on the floor that we could possibly expect if we were as great as we were in 1972! MAGA


  8. Steve,

    The avenues available for political activity are limited for some causes( the reason for mass mobilization and grassroots lobbying and why it can potentially act as gas in the carburetor). I can write a check to my local alternative pregnancy center, and I can buy diapers to add to the diaper collection at my church and I am doing something concrete to help as well as showing my kids the importance of caring for others, but abortion is still killing over half a million people per year, just in the U.S. If my daddy had been a slave owner, I would have made sure they had food, shelter and clothing, but I still would have wanted slavery outlawed.
    And I disagree with your idea that the march is only a claim to moral high ground when objectively being pro-life is taking the right side morally speaking. There shouldn’t be any uppitiness and you should know where your opponent is coming from, but you can’t be wishy-washy; if you one is then they need to review what exactly abortion does to human life and quit worrying about the possible cynical interpretations of others.


  9. sdb, if the answer were yes then why all the marching? To wit, Susan’s comment. She sees improvement but wants the golden ring which is a legal banning in every nook and cranny of the union (hell, world while we’re at it). Until then, the claim of the high moral ground is completely obvious to her.

    Susan, wishy-washy? But my point rattles your cage. Were I wishy-washy then wouldn’t I wring my hands at your apparent presumption to tell me how my moral and political opposition to abortion should look like? What, I’m not pro-life enough for you because I won’t get on the bandwagon and wear the red ribbon?


  10. Steve,

    I never said that your action or inaction was a sign of how strongly you opposed abortion. In fact, am I wrong or wasn’t it you who called pro-life activism merely virtue signaling? I only said that if a person thinks he doesn’t have the moral high ground when he defends the life of his brother but is rather only advocating for equality under the prescriptive law, then he is disposed to be wishy-washy. Laws change, the law doesn’t.


  11. Susan, so you find reasonableness wishy-washy (not a term of endearment). This must be what it feels like to be pro-choice in a room of lifers.


  12. @z Well marching is part of what the pro-life movement is doing, so perhaps it fits in the causal chain somewhere? I dunno. One way to tell a story where the marching matters is that the college kid who goes to the DC march sees all her fellow prolifers and is inspired to volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. Another is inspired to get involved in a get out the vote drive to pass an ordinance requiring sonograms. Another pushes for free IUDs for those on medicaid. In this scenario, the march inspires fruitful action among a few people who wouldn’t have acted otherwise. Or maybe not… Like I said, I don’t see the marches do much to sway public opinion, and until you move the needle there, forget about changing the law (again the dearth of downs children even while the average age of mothers continues to creep up suggests that whatever people say about the legality of abortion, the fact of the matter is that most women will use the option to abort an unwanted baby if given a choice). If marches inspire productive behavior, I don’t see that the marching actually does any harm even if such activity is not for me. I’m not a rah-rah kind of guy, but lots of people are… is that a problem?


  13. sdb, sure, it’s a free country, takes all kinds, liberty on things indifferent, etc., etc. My only point is that there seems to be a wisdom and discernment element here, not to mention consistency. Why do so many lifers get rankled about the very existence of Women’s Rights marchers but not Pro-Life marchers? The former are often characterized by the latter as having a bad methodology, when what they seem to mean is that they really have a fundamental disagreement about cause. After all, why adopt the methodology if it’s so problematic? In which case, it begins to sound like activism is bad when it’s the other guy’s, but not when it’s mine, not too unlike what many do with social gospel. But if there really is a categorical problem with activism or social gospel, then maybe it’s worth re-considering some behavior? But I know, a hard sell when the catharsis is so effective.


  14. “Why do so many lifers get rankled about the very existence of Women’s Rights marchers but not Pro-Life marchers”
    Because prolife marchers aren’t dressed up like genitalia? Not all marchers are the same. But I get it… people are opportunistic, inconsistent, and employ double standards – even prolifers. That’s not so good – especially when one takes on the mantle of righteousness.


  15. Don’t forget about pussy hats on little girls. But also don’t forget grotesque images of fetuses. But my point has in mind even the most tepid of protesters–still fundamentally misguided.


  16. Wealth and offspring (our children taking a bite of interest from those not our children). Some re–branding as the times change–but you never have to choose to change the substance because the “judicial natural law” varies over time from Geneva to the exceptional unique Constitution now evolved in America

    “Sasse started off as a complete unknown but used his Washington connections and Fremont loyalties to raise more money than any other candidate—he also got six-figure support from a super-PAC exclusively funded by his great-uncle. Working hard to present a down-home image, he toured the state in a beat-up RV he called the “Benebago,” helping home-school his three kids between stops. In his first commercial, he proposed moving the US Capitol to Nebraska and talked about detasseling corn as country music strummed in the background. …Just a few months after he entered the race, National Review, the conservative weekly, anointed Sasse, running a cover showing him standing in a field wearing a blue and orange Midland University windbreaker, bathed in golden light.”

    “After Yale, Sasse headed off to Washington for a quick succession of jobs in the Bush administration. He took a post helping to run the Justice Department’s in-house think tank, served seven months as “start-up” chief of staff to a newly elected Nebraska congressman, and was later tapped as an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Service.. Two foundations close to his great-uncle helped the cash-strapped Midland College afford Sasse’s salary….As in the corporate world, where the jobs of longtime employees are often the first thing to go in a restructuring effort, Sasse got rid of tenure, forcing many of the professors who had been there longest into early retirement. He downsized the board by eliminating the seats belonging to the Lutheran Church, and reconstituted it with a smaller group of allies that included his college roommate.”


  17. Hamlet senators fake indecision about if they are going to choose for or against what Trump wants.

    Hauerwas— “I am a cat person all the way down. Crary may object that she does not ignore cats because she does use Cavell’s report of his daughter’s learning “kitty.” But I think it is undeniable that Crary is more attuned to the ethics that are “inside” dogs than she is when it comes to how cats understand us. I believe her argument would have been stronger if she had attended to those intelligent creatures called cats, particularly Siamese cats, who
    clearly do not need, as dogs do, the constant affirmation of their “owners.” It turns out that cats own us.


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