The Power of the Question

Regardless of who is right or who is wrong, it seems to me when victories by one faction over the other are scored in a society’s significant political events, the assault that lead to the victory more often than not has been spearheaded by the battering ram known as the question-mark.

We may debate why that is, but for the purposes of this immediate thought that isn’t too important. What is important is that when one sincerely thinks one is right, and one sincerely seeks to make “points” against one’s enemy using the question-mark, one can do this honestly or dishonestly. An example of doing it dishonestly would be the attempt to legitimize same-sex marriage. “What’s normal?” “What’s a normal marriage?” Or, to make the devastating battering-ram extra heavy and extra pointy…”who is to say what a normal marriage is?”

The honest way to do it would be to find genuine contradictions in the argument of your intellectual opponent, and use the question mark to highlight them rather than to portend a spooky other-wordly future in which an there’s an elite aristocratic layer of corrupted clergy who go around deciding people’s marriages. (Just by way of example, in our plane of reality, if you don’t trust or like a clergyman — don’t have him perform your wedding ceremony. Problem solved.)

There is a great deal of fussing…and it probably rises well above the consternation, conflict and uncertainty that actually exist where it counts…about what the conservative base is to learn from the NY23 contest this week. How is the conservative message supposed to be advanced in a way that it takes hold? Here’s an idea. Use the question mark. And use it honestly. If it is to be used honestly, the immediate task that arises is to find a crack in the wall of the hardcore liberal fortress, against which the battering ram can be used. A crack that is a logical contradiction. Need we labor long or hard to find such a crack?

Their core mission as they see it: To create a wonderfully advanced society, free of any problems or as free of problems as possible…functioning for the benefit of, and in the interest of, everyone. It sounds so nice I want to sign up right now. I’m reminded of the vision’s toxicity when I simply look upon the machinery that is put in place to deliver the utopia. Health care, for example. Sarah Palin’s death panels, far from being an urban legend, are part of a natural force like gravity. They are quite unavoidable. All programs must be managed by someone. Management is ultimately about making decisions about resources in order to fulfill the most vital tasks within the great body of work that is to be attempted day-to-day.

In this way, the dream of utopia turns into a nightmare rather quickly.

Not only that, but most of the time the American electorate realizes it. Three election cycles out of every four…or at least two out of every three. We spend more time retreating from the utopian nightmare than we spend advancing onto it.

What we realize is the contradiction. The attempt is supposed to be to make a kinder, gentler nation for everybody. But somebody has to steer our great society as it makes its “progress” toward this vision, as a single moving object on a single course. Devil’s in the details. When you get down to the real-world decisions, like does this taxpayer qualify for head-of-household status, or is that company too big and should it be forced to break up…someone has to get screwed so that someone else can come out on top.

This is the direct antithesis of building a society “that works for everybody.” As a crack in the wall, it’s a gaping huge one. And a lot of folks who are tinkering with the idea of keeping our nation’s Congress friendly to The One, and perhaps re-electing Him, would be interested in knowing that. Or being reminded of it.

So I propose going forward into ’10 and ’12, the movement be built up around this simple…honest…question:

Who defines progress?

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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