Latest entries

What will you do when ‘electing the right people’ doesn’t change things?

by David McElroy

DeMarco-campaign sign

Government would work great if we could just elect “the right people.” Right?

If we had honest, intelligent, principled people who believed “fill in the blank here” — whatever you happen to believe — the politicians would work for The People. Government would work for all of us. We would restore the Constitution and the meaning of the Republic. And on and on. All we need is to elect “the right people.”

Have you heard this song before?

As someone who makes the case that the existing system is broken by design — and is immoral by design — this is the response I hear most frequently from well-meaning patriotic people. Whether they’re on the progressive left or the social conservative right or some other position, they honestly believe the majoritarian system will produce what they want — if we can just elect “the right people.”

In the Republican primary here in Alabama’s sixth congressional district, voters have a chance this year to elect someone who is exactly what they always claim to want. Paul DeMarco is a two-term state representative with a spotless conservative record, and he’s a candidate for Congress following the retirement of the man who’s held onto the spot for years.

I know Paul well. Nine years ago, I worked as a consultant for his first campaign for the Legislature, and he became one of my favorite clients ever. (I dug up an old piece of his literature to show you the logo I designed way back then, although the colors are off in this snapshot. It was really PMS 200 and reflex blue, just in case anyone cares. The typeface is Folio, which was my trademark typeface at the time.) Paul is very intelligent, honest, principled and level-headed. He’s willing to listen to people who disagree with him, and he wants to understand other positions and come up with solutions that make everyone happy. He’s a problem-solver. He’s exactly what a civics textbook would dream of as the ideal politician.

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Diversity scam is part of hypocrisy that comes with being a human

by David McElroy

diversity scam

Diversity is one of the holy pillars of modern secular thought. It can’t be questioned or ignored. You will bow down to it and worship what it represents — just as long as the elites approve of the “diverse” people in question.

Human beings are hypocrites, but most don’t even recognize their hypocrisy. One of the key examples was on display this week as progressive left advocates of diversity proved how much they love diversity by hounding a man out of a job because he had dared to make a political contribution they disagreed with.

Brendan Eich invented the JavaScript scripting language, which is essential to the operation of the modern web. You wouldn’t be reading this page or pretty much any of the websites you read in the same way without his work. Eich was recently hired as CEO for the open source Mozilla browser project, and he seems like a perfect fit.

But as soon as he was hired, the advocates of diversity started whining, first as a low rumble and then louder and louder. Nobody alleged that Eich wasn’t qualified for the job. Nobody alleged that Eich had mistreated anyone. Eich’s only sin — in the eyes of the progressive left people who screamed — is having donated $1,000 six years ago to the political campaign which sought to pass Proposition 8 in California, the measure seeking to define marriage as something only between a man and a woman.

This isn’t a popular opinion today, especially among those who consider themselves the political and technological elite. In fact, it’s pretty much on par with the allegation decades ago that someone might have been a member of the Communist Party. It’s enough to make someone a leper in the eyes of people who otherwise preach diversity.

On Thursday, Eich was fired from his new job. We’re told that he resigned, but anybody with a brain knows he was forced out. He was purged for having a political belief that the elites don’t find acceptable.

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Dying Fred Phelps’ anti-gay cult is vile and wrong, but I don’t hate him

by David McElroy

Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps is dying. That news has touched off rejoicing among many people who are angry and hurt about what Phelps has done with the anti-gay cult he founded in Kansas.

Phelps was the founder and former pastor of the group which calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. But his story is complicated. The Mississippi-born Phelps was an award-winning civil rights lawyer early in his career. How do we reconcile that with the subsequent career of the man who’s best known for preaching that “God hates fags“?

On Facebook, I saw many angry comments after the news came out Sunday that he’s dying.

“I hope it’s an awful and traumatic death,” one woman wrote in what was typical of the attitudes I noticed.

I disagree with Phelps and the group he founded. They’re wrong theologically and in every other way. They’re full of hate and anger. The things they say and do are vile and mean. And they’re terribly arrogant.

But I don’t hate Phelps or the others who are still part of the cult. Despite the terrible things they’ve done — and the hurt they’ve inflicted on many people, including some I care about — I’m not going to bring myself to their level and hate them in return.

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Silly controversy over Cadillac ad reminds us we want different things

by David McElroy

Cadillac commerical-stuff

There’s a new Cadillac ad that has some conservatives and progressives sniping at each other. That’s right. Cadillac is back in the national discussion — sort of — just by virtue of making a television commercial that some people hate and some people love.

Watch the one-minute spot for yourself below and see what you think. The character in the commercial — who drives a fancy new Cadillac electric car — talks about how Americans work harder than the rest of the developed world because it helps us get all the “stuff” we have. He obviously thinks this is a great thing. He struts through his expensive house and ends up in his Cadillac at the end, touting the value of working hard the entire way.

Oddly, this has become a political debate, which seems odd to me. The progressives of ABC’s Good Morning America didn’t seem to care for it. You can see their brief discussion of it in the other video below (in a clip provided by a conservative organization called the Media Research Center). The organization’s NewsBusters site takes aim at the progressives’ distaste for the ad, and I’ve seen outraged people on both sides talk about it on Facebook.

Conservatives see the ad as promoting American values of hard work in exchange for material goods, and progressives see it as promoting American exceptionalism and working too hard. They’re probably both right, but which sides you see depends on which values happen to matter most to you.

I see it as a simple personal choice.

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Lesson from U2: Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to give up

by David McElroy

U2 rejection letter

Giving up when you’re rejected is easy. I’ve done it before. You probably have, too. The four members of U2 didn’t give up when they rejected, though. They’re wealthy, famous and successful today. But they wouldn’t be if they had given up in 1979 when a major record label rejected them.

U2 formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1976 as a band called Feedback. After a couple of name changes, they ended up as a four-man band called U2 by 1978. They were able to release some music just for the Irish market, but nobody seemed interested in taking them seriously.

One of the best-known music labels of the era was RSO Records. We found out this week that U2 submitted a tape to RSO — and on May 10, 1979, the label gave the band a polite brush-off.

“Thank you for submitting your tape of ‘U2′ to RSO, we have listened with careful consideration, but feel it is not suitable for us at present,” said the letter that was addressed to Paul Hewson, who you might know better as Bono. “We wish you luck with your future career.”

I can imagine Bono finding the envelope from RSO in the mail. I can imagine him opening the envelope and pulling the letter out. I can imagine his disappointment at being rejected.

So what do you do when you’re rejected? Do you talk yourself into being “realistic” and accepting that it’s time to move on? Or do you have a kind of hope and faith that’s willing to ignore the empirical evidence of rejection?

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Think ‘Tea Party’ will change D.C.? Do you remember the ‘New Right’

by David McElroy

The New Right-We're Ready to LeadYou might remember a few of the names associated with the “New Right,” even if you don’t know much about them. Jerry Falwell. Ralph Reed. Richard Viguerie. Phyllis Schlafly. Pat Robertson.

These were names who were a big deal in the late ’70s and early ’80s as a new political movement rose up to challenge the Establishment in Washington and in the Republican Party across the country. They were socially conservative Christians and they were determined to change politics forever.

I still have a copy of Richard Viguerie’s 1981 book, “The New Right: We’re Ready to Lead.” (He was a brilliant pioneer of conservative direct mail fundraising.) I was a conservative Republican at the time and I was also a theologically conservative Christian, so it seemed natural to me that the two would come together in a powerful way and change politics.

I guess you could say that I was young and idealistic enough to be a True Believer.

I was only on the periphery of this movement, but I remember others who were convinced we were going to change the country in a positive way. We were passionately organizing and we were driven from the grass roots. We were disgusted with the cynical “politics as usual” that we got from government and even from our own Republican Party. There were so many of us involved that we were sure we were going to end the ability of the Establishment to continue running things as its members always had.

So what happened?

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Unity sounds nice, but truth is we need freedom to go our own ways

by David McElroy

I disagree with you

We do a very poor job of disagreeing in this country. You’d think we would be experts at it, because we do so much of it. But we’ve developed a culture in which most people are far more eager to tell everyone else why he’s wrong than to understand why there’s a disagreement — much less what to do about it.

I’m never sure whether to be amused or frustrated at the extent to which some people are outraged when I outline a position on a controversial issue that doesn’t stick to the accepted framing of the issue. Some of the nasty email I received about my Monday article concerning the moral right to make your own choices — even if they’re the “wrong” choices — are perfect examples.

Look at comments from two different emails and tell me whether you think these folks read the same article:

“Your just a homo lover,” one person wrote. “You make me sick the way you want to hurt my rights, God not approve the fudgepacker lifestyles and I don’t either. Quit bowing down to the gay agenda and stand up for liberty and religion.”

“It’s obvious you are simply trying to find an excuse to justify bigotry because of your own homophobia and hatred of gay men,” another reader wrote. “Unless the law requires those in the LGBT community be treated with dignity and respect, none of us will live in freedom.”

Try to put aside your own feelings about the issue for a moment and look at the bigger questions. How have we gotten to the point that people such as these can be so certain that there are only two possible positions that they each assume I’m on the other side of their (obviously correct) position? How could both of them have missed my point so badly that they’re angry enough to write this sort of email to a total stranger?

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If you aren’t free to to be a bigot if you choose, you’re not really free

by David McElroy

Jack Phillips-Colorado cake maker

Jack Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, and he doesn’t want to make wedding cakes for gay couples. In my mind, that makes him a bigot and a lousy businessman. But as a free man, he has the moral right to be a bigot, even if I believe he’s wrong.

It’s easy to support individual freedom when the individual in question is sympathetic and says all the right things. The real test of whether you support freedom or not is whether you support people who want to use their freedom to do things you don’t approve of.

This issue is at the heart of a controversy that’s raging in this country today. The battle lines are generally seen as gay people and their allies on one side vs. social conservatives and some religious people who object to homosexuality on the other side. Those on one side say that business owners must be forced to do business with gay couples against their will. Those on the other side say religious freedom is at stake and that they should be able to decide not to do business with gay and lesbian couples. But framing the issue this way misses the point.

The only real issue is whether human beings have the right to make their own choices about who they want to voluntarily associate with.

If a person has the freedom to decide who he wants to associate with, he’s free to choose to associate only with left-handed green-eyed ex-convicts if he wants. He’s free to choose to associate only with beautiful people. He’s free to choose to associate only with people of his own religious group. He’s free to shun religious people entirely. He’s free to shun gay people or Asians or people who he thinks smell funny.

In other words, a free man has the moral right to make decisions that neither you nor I agree with.

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Drug warrior claims weed killed 37, but you and I can be just as blind

by David McElroy

Michael-PristoopWhen the Maryland state Senate was considering a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop had the perfect rebuttal to this “outrageous” idea.

Pristoop testified to a Senate committee that marijuana is so harmful that 37 people died in Colorado on the first day of legalization there.

Many of us were immediately laughing at Pristoop, because we recognized the story of the 37 dead people as satire making fun of the crazy claims and fears of the drug warriors. Only an idiot could be blind enough to fall for that, right?

Although I laughed at Pristoop, too, I quickly started thinking about something else. What happened to Pristoop happens to all of us at times. We might not embarrass ourselves as publicly as Pristoop did. We might not fall for such obvious satire as he did. We might even be a lot smarter than he is.

But I’ve noticed that we all have our own blind spots. We all have assumptions we’ve made that we can’t even consciously identify. We all have beliefs that are so deeply held that we don’t question them. And as a result, we can all be fooled by anecdotes that support what we’re already inclined to believe.

Pristoop has spent his career as a cop in the context of the “war on drugs,” so he’s inclined to believe that recreational drugs are evil and dangerous. So every story of someone abusing drugs and paying a price resonates with him. He believes those stories — whether they’re true or not — because they reinforce something he’s already certain about.

He’s completely sure that Colorado made a horrible mistake legalizing drugs. Since much of the focus of police work ever since he’s been a cop has been arresting people who use and sell those drugs, he has to maintain his belief or else admit that he’s spent much of his career doing something pretty evil. No normal person wants to believe that. It’s easier to simply stick to what he’s been taught.

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Head and heart don’t agree about love, including Valentine’s Day

by David McElroy

Heart vs. brain

I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day. It’s artificial, manipulative and commercial. It’s a “holiday” that’s manufactured by the makers of cards and candy and other gifts. It’s meaningless. Really.

Except when it’s not meaningless. Maybe when you wish you had a chance to say — in a sincere way — what the mushy cards and saccharine sentiment of the day says. Do I actually hate it? Or do I miss the chance to say these things to someone who feels the same in return?

In many ways, love is a conflict between the head and the heart, especially when it’s not clear what the right direction is. I’ve faced this conflict many times. If I didn’t know that other people experience it, too, I would feel crazy because of the ways in which these conflicts pull me in different directions.

One thing can seem to make so much logical, pragmatic sense, but leave me feeling cold. That’s the head talking. Another thing can seem to be as necessary as air and water just to continue living. That’s the heart talking.

For me, fear has been the thing that’s spoiled everything — fear that I might marry the wrong person, fear that something I see inside of someone might be dangerous long term, fear that I might disappoint someone. And on and on. So many fears. So much regret.

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Do you have a love/hate relationship with politics? This is the beginning of a community of people who are looking for ways to say “no” to politics and say “yes” to real life. If you stick around, you’ll read about the futility of the state and you’ll also be subjected to the strange brand of humor that lives in David McElroy’s head, as well as random links and pictures of cute cats (and the occasional drooling dog). If you’re ready to move beyond politics, join our tribe. Read more.

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