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My political blogging inspiration and idol Charlie Pierce has never been especially idealistic about the workings of government, but this post today is a particular extreme of unvarnished realism, even for him. And what’s worse, he seems to be right. Read on, and find yourself becoming depressed…or validated.

Watching the administration’s momentum fade on this issue is to see a president presented with the final, practical refutation of the speech that made him famous. It turns out there is a red America and a blue America. It turns out that there is a conservative America and a liberal America. It turns out that the things that divide us are stronger than the things that unite us. Or, at least, that the things that divide us are more politically salient than the things that unite us. The failure on guns is the last, final refutation of what Barack Obama said he believed about the people of this county.

It always depended on the notion that we were all together in the creative process of self-government. The fact is, most of us aren’t. Most of us have checked out. At the encouragement of two generations of ambitious politicians, we have accepted the notion that “government” is something alien, and therefore that it is something we cannot influence. You tell me that 91 percent of Americans support background checks. Wonderful. Put them on the ballot. They’ll pass, but only 40 percent of the eligible voters will bother to go to the polls, so where’s the danger to anyone in acting contrary to the expressed public will? Who does Mitch McConnell really fear in this particular controversy? He knows that there is a solid, active core of support behind the work he’s doing frustrating the expressed public will.

Read it here.

founding-fathers

“Future citizens will need muskets to assassinate their oppressive viceroys,” James Madison might have hypothetically remarked during the intermission of a slave auction. “In fact, this is probably the second most important freedom any of us will be able to come up with. Somebody should write this shit down.”

Everyone knows Thomas Jefferson’s “tree of liberty” quote – at least, everyone who has ever studied American history, perhaps in school, or for fun or profit. What it leaves out, and what I think is important to realize, is that we, as American citizens, do not have merely the right to overthrow the government – the Right of Revolution, as political philosophers have so eloquently named it. Having the right, the ability, did not go far enough in the minds of our forefathers, a group so violently and vehemently revolutionary that they have yet to be matched in the eras since (which is partly the point, but I’m not there yet). Nay, they embedded in us the duty of revolution, and described it as such (emphasis mine):

[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.

Giving us the option was not enough. It did not reliably ensure action. We needed to be compelled to overthrow the government, should the need arise. Compelled how, you ask? By our founding and indoctrinating documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, from which the above excerpt is taken. We are obligated to throw off the yoke of our tyrannical monarch, should it begin to weigh heavily upon us. Our founders insist on it, rather than simply allow us to.

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From Tom Junod in the December issue of Esquire magazine:

By the very terms of American exceptionalism, the greatest American invention of all time is American exceptionalism. It wouldn’t be exceptional if it weren’t American, and it wouldn’t be American if it weren’t exceptional, but since it’s both, it has to be the greatest by definition.

America is the greatest country in the world because it is America, and Americans are the greatest people in the world because they are Americans. It doesn’t matter what they do as long as they do it, and as long as they do it, it doesn’t matter what they do.

American exceptionalism might not be a religion, but all genuine American religions preach American exceptionalism, so American exceptionalism trumps and subsumes religion by offering its own form of absolution. The Constitution declares us to be a free people, but American exceptionalism declares us to be an innocent people whose sins turn, over time, into rights.

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From an email I wrote to a friend last week, who, in the words of Mitt Romney, is “severely conservative,” in a way that Romney himself never actually was:

So I read your articles, which wasn’t a problem, since reading articles is what I do with a large amount of my time lately [the articles he sent me are here, here, here, and here.] I don’t have any interest in or support for a particular candidate, though, I’m more interested in the machinations of politics, the strategy and tact that goes into elections and governing. I myself would of course never run for anything – just imagine that for a minute, what the attack ads against me would look like. Which brings me to my first point…

I am not an Obama supporter. I’m not. I voted for him, but I am not the person who thinks he has all the answers, or that liberalism and progressivism are the only paths to enlightenment. I was in 2008. I bought in to the whole hope and change, let’s-elect-the-first-black-president, history-making craziness of it. Not that my support was a whole lot of help, as I spent most of my time at that point trying to figure out if I could, in fact, ingest my own body weight in, uh, jelly beans before my liver gave out – 2008 was not a good year for me – and was just generally a worthless human being. I actually saw the final election results in Troy, where my dog-man dwelleth, rather than at home, and I never actually made it to the polls to vote for anyone. But I am not a supporter now. I think he’s made a lot of mistakes, that there are a lot of things he could have done better, that he is not an infallible individual (when he got the Nobel prize I thought that was RIDICULOUS). I think he has no where near lived up to the hope and promises he made in 2008.

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8ea3d_this-guy-boehner-constantly-se

Tensions over the fiscal cliff debates reached new heights today as Speaker of the House John Boehner’s blood pressure exceeded his doctor’s recommendations upon receipt of a White House proposal to, among other things, implement a $1.6 trillion tax increase. The Speaker’s apparently frazzled state rose past miffed, passed quickly over piqued, completely skipped disturbed, soared over pissed, perturbed, and confounded, crow-hopped distraught, and landed squarely on…

“I was flabbergasted,” Boehner said.

John Boehner: single-handedly bringing the term “flabbergasted” back for America.

(Full story here.)

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