Republicans Vote Values, Not Color

The Left sure loves their identity politics.  That’s what made Milo Yiannopoulos such a compelling figure during his 2016 heyday:  he was, for the Left, a walking contradiction, a creature that, according to their theories of intersectionality, should not have been.  As a flamboyantly, peacockingly gay power bottom with a penchant for black studs, Milo’s staunch populist-conservatism and devout Catholicism shocked the progressives (and earned him the stern finger-waggling of the noodle-wristed neocons).

Such is the case with black Americans, who Democrats and progressives (but I repeat myself) see as their exclusive political property.  That’s why it’s refreshing to read this article about Caleb Hanna, a nineteen-year old black man who was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates.  This makes Mr. Hanna the youngest black elected official in West Virginia.

Lest I fall into the same identity politics trap as the Left, allow me to clarify my point here:  I could care less what race or age Mr. Hanna is (although it is delicious that the aging congressional Democrats are so fixated on youth and race).  What’s interesting is how little these factors matter to voters in a Southern-ish State (as I detailed in another post relating to West Virginia, it’s not quite the South, but, hey, close enough).

As the benighted region of the country, we’re supposedly way more racist than everyone else.  Yet, as Professor Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University explains in this popular Prager University video, the South votes values, not color:

I can’t help but note that it’s the South—where black and white Americans have lived together in large numbers for the longest amount of time—where blacks and whites get along the best.  Most white Southerners could care less about race (as, I suspect, most black Southerners could care less about it).  That doesn’t mean people always get along, but go into any barbecue place or gas station fried chicken joint in the country and you’ll see a checkerboard of people chowing down.

Consider how much race relations have improved in the South since Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus barred nine black students from attending Little Rock High School in the 1950s.  That’s not that long ago, as I hear people say, usually in the context of “it could come back at any moment.”  But consider:  it wasn’t that long ago.  Isn’t anyone else impressed with how quickly race relations improved?

Regardless, congratulations to Representative Hanna!


E.T.A. Hoffman & Romanticism

As a Roger Kimball fanboy, I appreciate the cultural commentary at The New Criterion, his publication dedicated to covering high culture.  Kimball proves that you can appreciate, understand, and analyze the best of Western civilization’s cultural output while still supporting Donald Trump.  If these “artistic” types on the Progressive Left were truly tolerant, they’d read The New Criterion.  Yes, Executive Editor James Panero sounds like someone you’d want to give a wedgie, but he’s a bonafide cultural conservative (side note:  check out that link to his lecture on Russell Kirk’s ghost stories).

Regardless, Hannah Niemeier wrote a charming piece about E.T.A. Hoffman, “The man who made Romanticism“; it is well worth the read.  Hoffman is a somewhat forgotten figure whose literary works inspired (and were inspired by) some of the great composers of the classical and Romantic periods.  For example, Hoffman wrote the short story that served as the source for Tchaikovsky’s beloved The Nutcracker.

His life eerily mirrors one of his most famous devotees, Robert Schumann:

Both were reluctant lawyers, right-brained men in a left-brain profession, with personalities subject to extreme moods that bordered on mental illness. Schumann’s music famously spans the creative continuum between mild and wild, and in his compositional method, he was like Hoffmann’s Kreisler: “sometimes mad, sometimes lucid.” He wrote the eight-movement Kreisleriana, a representative work of Romantic-period piano music, in four days in 1838.

Yet both men were aware of the dangers of artistic passion. Schumann was a genius, but an unstable one. He often went into creative depressions in which he could hardly function, let alone make music. Haunted by the idea that creativity and madness came from the same place, he said his greatest fear, which increased along with his musical mastery, was of losing his mind. But it was a fate he couldn’t escape; in 1856, at the age of forty-six, he died of syphilis. In a coincidence that seems to belong in one of his “uncanny stories,” Hoffmann had died at the same age, and of the same disease (though more than three decades earlier).

That moody artistic temperament is distinctly Romantic.  It no-doubt influenced some of the cultural instability of the 1960s counterculture, with its emphasis on the individual as his own god, ironically a slave to his inner emotional turmoil.  But it also served as a powerful counterbalance to the cold, mechanistic progress of the Enlightenment, reminding us that we have deep connections to God, to the land, and to each other.

Like the Romantic period his work inspired, Hoffman was a man of contradictions and tensions; a fascinating, brilliant individual.

Reblog: The Falling Down Revolt

Blogger photog of Orion’s Cold Fire has written a trenchant, insightful essay about the political and cultural revolution occurring in the United States now.  It’s called “The Falling Down Revolt,” taking its name from the 1993 film Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas.

In that film (as photog explains in a follow-up essay, “I’m the Bad Guy? How Did That Happen?“), Douglas plays a disgruntled private defense contractor who, despite obeying all the rules and following the script that was meant to guarantee a decent life, has lost his job, his family, and, ultimately, his sanity.  After facing numerous obstacles and inconveniences of post-modern life—gang violence, traffic jams, fast-food bureaucracy, etc.—the protagonist snaps, going on an intense, cathartic killing spree.

For photog, the film serves as a metaphor for average Americans who do everything they’re supposed to do—work, support their families, pay their taxes, obey the law—but are, in turn, rewarded with scorn, derision, and indifference (or even hatred) from political and cultural elites.  Those elites don’t see these Americans as the backbone of the country, but as “backwards” rubes who cling to outmoded, bourgeois and traditional social values.

Neither photog or myself are suggesting that working- and middle-class Americans should erupt into a bev-rage this summer; rather, the frustration many Americans (including ourselves) feel is that of being hoodwinked.  Instead of the beautiful cheeseburger in the picture, we got a squishy, shriveled mess.

In a comment on photog’s essay, I drew a parallel to the 2018 remake of Death Wish starring Bruce Willis.  To self-indulgently and arrogantly quote myself:

[T]his guy [Willis’s character] that did everything right was screwed by an elite indifferent to and incapable of addressing a rising tide of criminality and violence. He finally broke and took matters into his own hands. I’m not endorsing vigilantism, but he realized he was a chump.

I think (metaphorically) the country has woken up to the chumpitude our elites foisted on us for so long. Tucker Carlson’s monologue diagnoses this malady thoroughly, as you and I have both written about.  (Hyperlink added)

The “Falling Down Revolt” is an excellent name for this movement of normal, traditional Americans who just want a fair shake—and who are tired of being blamed for everyone else’s problems while their own are steadfastly ignored or ridiculed.  Kudos to photog for coining and applying such an apt metaphor.

Put Your Money Where Your Poll Is

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 16% of Americans said they want to leave the United States permanently.  Not surprisingly, you can guess who most of these borderless, loyalty-deficient Americans are.

National Review reports that “Those who said they wanted to leave the U.S. tended to be members of groups that lean Democratic, such as women, youth, and low-income people.”  Indeed, 20% of women told Gallup they want to live permanently in another country, compared to just 13% of men; 30% of Americans aged 15 to 29 want to move.

So, young radical feminists, why don’t you put your money where your poll is?  I’d wager less than 1% of those who indicated they want to leave will actually do so.

The most generous argument, of course, is that relocating to another country is expensive and a lengthy process (the result of properly enforcing a nation’s immigration laws).  Also, American citizenship is, despite cheapening from birth-right citizenship and massive immigration, a golden ticket, one that people are willing to move across oceans and deserts to gain.

The real reason is that no person with a shred of common sense would ever give up the sweet bennies and lavish standard of living the United States provides, or at least not for merely political reasons.  Remember all those progressive celebrities who vowed hollowly to leave the country should Trump win?  Why is Lena Dunham still here?

What this polling boils down to, then, is a reverse of the “Trump Effect” from 2016 presidential polls.  A major, compelling theory for why those polls were so wrong is that Trump voters were afraid or embarrassed to tell a pollster they intended to vote for Donald Trump.

In the case of this Gallup poll, the opposite is occurring:  progressives are eager to virtual-signal their disdain for their country and president; thus, the inflated numbers.

Let’s put this out there for consideration:  the government could purchase cheap plane tickets for anyone who wants to relocate.  I’m sure Justin Trudeau will take in these “refugees.”  This policy, while initially expensive, would drain off some of America’s Leftists (they’d find plenty of jobs in Canada’s multicultural, social justice bureaucracy), and would be almost as beneficial as erecting the border wall.  Leftists would love getting free, permanent travel to another land, with the added benefit of feeling cool and sophisticated.


Reblog: The Normalization Of Ugliness Inevitably Becomes The Denigration Of Beauty

A piece demonstrating the virtue-signalling of our techno-elites, c/o Chateau Heartiste

In short, Facebook rejected an ad because it either idealized a healthy body type, and/or portrayed flabby abs and belly fat in a negative light.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to be sure, but there are certainly qualities broadly accepted and recognized as beautiful—so much so that we could reasonably assume these qualities to be universal. The “body positivity” movement, like most such Leftist sacred cows, has a sympathetic appeal at its heart, but is otherwise a potentially lethal lie.

The appeal is simple, and good: we shouldn’t be needlessly mean to people based on their appearance. The lie, however, takes that appeal to good-natured sympathy and twists it into a forced acceptance—indeed, a celebration—of habits and lifestyles that are inherently unhealthy (and, dare I write it, ugly).

As a Formerly Fat American (FFA), I’m not unsympathetic to the difficulty of losing and keeping off weight. I understand that, for some Americans, glandular issues, or weight-gain stemming from other conditions, make losing weight harder than normal.
But these are the exceptions, not the rule. Healthy habits are difficult to maintain, and require self-discipline—a quality once considered virtuous. Now, rather than urge people to stop overeating or to go for a walk, we applaud them for their poor health, or try to make excuses.  I can also safely assert that I was fat for so many years because I lacked the discipline and willpower not to be—it was my own fault!

Beyond physical beauty, I fear this “normalization of ugliness” is prevalent in the arts, notably the visual arts, but also in music, dance, poetry, etc. Any sense of objective standards, of an understanding of and appreciating the great masters that came before, is abandoned for politically-correct drivel. “Art,” in the truest sense of that word, should not be willfully, knowingly ugly. We may produce bad art in the pursuit of learning our crafts, but we shouldn’t set out to create more ugliness (and, by extension, chaos) in the world.

These are some off-the-cuff reflections. Again, my goal is not to get some clicks at the expense of chubby Americans. Rather, we should be willing to recognize that obesity, like many social maladies, should be treated seriously, and should be gently but firmly discouraged, rather than celebrated as a “lifestyle choice.”

Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis

A recent monologue from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program is blowing up the right-wing blogosphere, and understandably so.  Carlson has been a vocal critic of the neoliberal deification of economic efficiency at all costs.  I used to be a member of this cult, until the candidacy of Donald Trump (and lived experience) knocked the idealistic scales from my eyes.

Normally, it bugs me when people send me video clips to watch.  If they’re cutesy videos of the variety that drive clicks—think cats playing piano, or Goth versions of Christmas songs—I usually ignore them, no matter how hyped they are.  That’s not some virtue on my part; I just don’t want to take the time to watch them, especially on a cell phone (a pet peeve:  someone making me watch a video on their cell phone; I will refuse).

That said, I’m indulging in some hypocrisy:  you must watch this video as soon as you’re able.

For those of you that don’t want to take the time, here are some highlights:

  • Elites care only about maximizing economic efficiency, regardless of the human costs to individuals, families, and communities
  • That lust for efficiency drives income inequality, particularly benefiting the technology sector/Silicon Valley
  • “We are ruled by mercenaries, who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule”—a key idea; I’ve read a similar analysis from controversial blogger Z-Man, in which he argues that leaders in a democracy are, inherently, renters rather than owners, and therefore are heavily tempted towards asset-stripping while in office, rather than building and maintaining a nation:
  • Because of the hollowing out of American manufacturing and declining wages (again, due in part to the quest for efficiency), men struggle to find employment or to improve their wages
    • Because of that, rural parts of the country are dominated increasingly by healthcare and education, female-dominated fields
    • While better wages for women is fine, Carlson claims that—whether or not they should—women are less likely to marry men who earn less than them, therefore

These are just some of the most interesting insights, but Carlson sums up in fifteen minutes what would take a legion of hack bloggers like me hours or weeks to explain.

Again, I urge you to watch this video

America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Scott Rasmussen, writing for Ballotpedia, reports that 62% of American adults say their dream job is owning their own company.  That’s encouraging news, as it suggests that, despite decades of welfare state decadence, Americans still possess our entrepreneurial spirit.

That spirit has been with Americans going back to the colonial period.  Textbooks tend to focus on the Puritan planting of the Plymouth colony, which was certainly important, but the first permanent settlement in colonial British North America was Jamestown.  That settlement, and the entire colony of Virginia, was founded as a commercial enterprise, the efforts of joint-stock company in England.

French aristocrat and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in Democracy in America (1840) over two centuries later (during the height of the Jacksonian Era), noted Americans’ keen interest in commercial matters, and the pulsing energy and enthusiasm of always hustling.  He also noted the positive effect of trade upon liberty:

Trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions. Trade loves moderation, delights in compromise, and is most careful to avoid anger. It is patient, supple, and insinuating, only resorting to extreme measures in cases of absolute necessity. Trade makes men independent of one another and gives them a high idea of their personal importance: it leads them to want to manage their own affairs and teaches them to succeed therein. Hence it makes them inclined to liberty but disinclined to revolution.

Despite enthusiasm about the idea of starting a business, Rasmussen’s findings show that only 5% of Americans are “very likely to start their own business” in 2019, while 11% are somewhat likely.

Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see that the desire to hustle is prominent among Americans.  The economic mojo of the Trump economy no-doubt improves Americans’ optimism (although I should note that many Americans started businesses during the Obama stagcovery, albeit for a different reason—they couldn’t find work).  That optimism likely fuels some desire to get in on the action.

On a personal note, I will say that even I, a high school teacher—teaching being a job uniquely suited to the risk-averse in general—have caught this bug (don’t worry, loyal readers—I’m not going to try to sell you massage oils with untested healing properties).  I’m excited to expand some of my side-hustles in 2019, including writing, performing live music, and teaching private lessons.

Regardless of how those pan out, the thrill of applying effort towards ones passions is exhilarating.  What could be more American?

How the Reformation Shaped the World

There’s a video up on Prager University called “How the Reformation Shaped the World” (PDF transcript for those who prefer to read).  Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary gives an adequate, broad overview of the impact of the Protestant Reformation (albeit with some noise about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, which, while accurate, smacks of throwing a sop to politically-correct hand-wringers).  You can view the video in full below.

I’ve written about the influence of Christianity (and it was, notably, Protestant Christianity) on the founding of America, and I’ve discussed how shared Protestantism helped create an American identity.  Indeed, I would argue that, without Protestantism, there would be no America, as such.

I would also argue—perhaps more controversially—that America’s commitment to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism allowed the nation to avoid the anticlerical upheavals seen in France and other predominantly and officially Catholic countries.  While there were official, established churches at the State level into the 19th-century—which I wrote about in “The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding“—the lack of federal establishment, and the general movement towards greater religious liberty, ensured a proliferation of Protestant denominations in the early Republic.

Catholicism inherently insists upon a top-down hierarchy of control.  Luther’s view of man’s relation to God is horizontal, as Bishop James D. Heiser argues in his extended sermon The One True God, the Two Kingdoms, and the Three Estates (one of my Christmas gifts, incidentally, and a good, quick read for just $5).  That is, every man is accountable to God directly, and is responsible for accepting Christ and maintaining his relationship with God.  That horizontal, rather than vertical, relationship infuses Western Civilization with a sense of individualism, the effects of which have been far-reaching and both positive and negative.

Regardless, the impact of the Protestant Reformation is staggering to consider.  The Catholic Church in the 16th century was an increasingly sclerotic and corrupt institution, one that had fallen from its great height as the pacifying influence upon a barbaric, post-Roman Europe (of course, the Counter Reformation reinvigorated and, in part, helped purify the Church).  With the advent of the printing press and translations into national languages, conditions were ripe for an explosion of religious reform in the West.  The ripple effects of the Reformation still pulse through Western life and culture.

That said, I’m not anti-Catholic, nor is that the intent of this post.  In today’s political and theological climate, committed followers of Christ must band together, be they Catholic or Protestant.  I don’t “buy” Catholic theology in toto, but I respect the Catholic Church’s longstanding traditions and consistent institutional logic.  Thomas Aquinas’s cosmological argument in the Summa Theologica is pretty much what I learned growing up as an Evangelical Protestant.  And I’m broadly sympathetic to the traditional Catholic argument that the Reformation busted up the orderly cosmos of medieval European society (see Richard Weaver‘s various essays for further elucidation of this idea).  A side effect of the Reformation naturally includes many of the cons of modernity.

Ultimately, too, Christians face the double-threat of modern progressive ideology and radical Islamism.  I’ve written about the former in detail, but not so much the latter.  For the moment, suffice it to say that the two are temporary, uneasy, but powerful allies against a traditionalist, conservative, Christian worldview, and both are deeply antithetical to Western values and culture.

These are some broad and slapdash thoughts, ones which I will gradually develop in future posts as necessary.  Any useful resources or insights are welcome—please share in the comments.

Happy New Year!

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico