Decent Democracy

My friends have a teenage son. You know the type: for years, he kept coming in late at night, after curfew, leaving his marijuana paraphernalia around the house. He was always having parties when his parents were out of town. The police had responded to several noise complaints over the years because of his antics. They were cordial and did not press charges. Despite multiple requests, my friends were hesitant to punish their son, which led to him being worse and worse. The last straw was when my friends had a dinner party and their son lit a joint in the living room in the middle of it. Finally they made a symbolic punishment – they stopped paying his cell phone bill and told him that he was just going to have to pay it himself if he wanted to keep it.

You’d have thought they had just asked him to undergo internal surgery without anesthesia. 

“I am being silenced,” he screamed, waving his (unusable) phone at them. “I thought we lived in a democracy but you’re censoring my rights to speech!” He couldn’t believe that his selfish actions had consequences. Why? Because nobody had asked him to be considerate before. He was used to doing what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it. 

He immediately got on social media and started to tell his friends. “I’m being suppressed! My inherent rights to behave like a teenager are at stake.” His less intelligent friends bought it. Everyone should get to be a teenager, they agreed, dutifully liking his posts. We ARE victims. Teenagers should get to do anything they want! The smarter ones kept quiet. You’re definitely a teenager, they thought, but you’re also kind of an asshole.

That’s what Adam Lange reminds me of.

With all the sturm and drang of a teenager, his United Cape Patriots page rants about “freedom of speech” and “cancel culture” and “freedom of speech”. There’s lots of government bogeymen here, folks, and its all unsurprisingly free of lucid thought. It’s much easier to be angry at government (or your parents), because at the end of the day, you don’t have to address your own behavior. You can stick your fingers in your ears and wrap yourself in the comforting fiction that you’ve been wronged. “Listen to me”, the Adam Langes of the world say, “WE are the victims here! We should be able to do whatever we want in this house!” Like most GOP messaging, Lange’s catchphrases are carefully crafted by big oil industries, then massaged at think tanks like the Hoover Institution, then passed down to the Ben Shapiros, where the Adam Langes of the world hear it, think it’s a revelation, then decide they’re the next John Adams. 

Let’ be clear. Adam Lange isn’t angry at government. He’s running for a government position! He voted for Trump and so heartbroken when Trump lost that he joined a group of murderous seditionists who defended on Washington DC. He then supported overturning democracy to reinstall his dear leader – not very John Adams of him! No, Lange isn’t angry at the government, but he is furious at the idea of “decent democracy”. He’s furious that more people than not think being considerate to others is a valuable trait for our community. See, being furious at “decent democracy” is makes life simple. You don’t have to change your habits when you’re furious at decent democracy. You’re also allowed to use magical thinking (“If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist”). For example, you don’t have to pause and think that your consumer privileges might affect people on the other side of the world. You can use plastic bottles all you want. If you don’t see them in your back yard, then it’s not a problem. You can fill up your tank with gas and not worry about how that gas got from the ground in the Middle East and into your vehicle, or who may have suffered along the way, or whether it’s having a detrimental effect on the environment (“Nyah Nyah! I cant see it! It’s not happening!”). Don’t see examples of overt racism in your town, on your street? Then it doesn’t exist. Ultimately what being angry at “decent democracy” does is allow self-involved people like Lange to not give a shit about other people, under the plausible deniability of politics. Objective observers can be forgiven for not immediately seeing that all the verbiage about “liberty” and “patriotism” and “my freedoms” are the truisms of a soul bereft of all social responsibility, no different from my friend’s teenage son. And because this shitty, childish instinct coincides with the interests of big industry, the latter is happy to support any candidate who promotes this ethos. 

No, Adam, your rights and freedoms aren’t being restricted. As Americans, we enjoy more rights and freedoms than any culture that has existed in the history of the world. If you want to see what repression is like, check in with the twelve million Uigars in China, a minority community of Muslims who are literally being experimented on by the Chinese government. And your culture isn’t being “cancelled” – just ask the Native Americans what that’s really like. As a white male in the United States, your freedoms are so vast you can’t even see them. To pause and reflect on whether those freedoms come at someone else’s expense doesn’t make someone part of the “liberal woke mob”. It makes them a decent member of a community.

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