OPINION – Some of my friends think I’m being a party pooper for refusing to show any real interest in the Republican National Convention last week.
Maybe they’re right, since I don’t plan on following the Democrats in their political pageantry this week either.
I’m not trying to be rude or aloof in my disinterest. It turns out that Nancy Reagan had the correct answer after all when someone offers you something you neither need nor want.
I don’t begrudge the people who are interested in such things; it’s just that I really had better things to do with my time. That’s often the case when a guy doesn’t have a presidential candidate to defend.
You’d think in a society which celebrates its legendary freedom so often, exercising the most basic freedom of association wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Not so.
My refusal to become vested in the election cycle soap opera has earned me a swarm of angry accusations that I’ve somehow already personally elected the wrong candidate four months from now.
I’ve also been offered staggering loads of guilt for “giving up” by refusing to do what they are doing.
It’s unsettling how upset some people get when they learn that some of us are no longer willing to run with the herd.
Their fury brings to mind the quote from Scottish author Charles Mackey who observed:
Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
As someone who spent far too much of his adult life running with the herd and is still in the process of slowly recovering his senses, Mackey’s words ring true to me.
Our current political conventions are a fascinating study in group-think, compulsory consensus and Machiavellian tactics. The appearance of party unity is valued far above any individual commitment to truth or light.
Even a perceived departure from the party line brings instant howls of rage and condemnation.
The party goal is first and foremost to obtain and maintain power. All other considerations are treated as either distractions or threats.
This isn’t to say that good people or sound ideals won’t be encountered. There are delegates who attend out of a sincere desire to utilize their influence to promote sound leaders and policies.
They simply tend to get lost amid the flash and fervor that drives the quest for political power. The sense of crisis, fear and urgency drowns out the pleas for reason and principle.
Like an extremely well-financed high school pep rally, the atmosphere is saturated with a desperate need to affirm our team’s infallibility and the need to vanquish our designated foes. Unlike its high school equivalent, this particular contest is about determining at whom the force of the state will be directed when it’s over.
Again, no disrespect for those who thrive on such dynamics. It’s just a shame that they feel such hostility for those who don’t share their belief that all that ideological pageantry has any appreciable effect for good on our lives.
When enough people become hyperfixated on the personalities of their parties’ nominees, there is a tendency to develop a cult-like attachment to agendas without concern for moral truth.
Fears about this or that candidate being the “next Hitler” aren’t always hysterical hyperbole. Ambitious and wicked people have always sought to obtain power.
Historically, what brings them to power is the kind of people who unquestioningly give their allegiance to scheming power seekers who lack virtue.
They are seduced by the siren song of a promised solution to their deepest fears and wants.
The sense of safety in numbers and the delusion of moral authority in collective action can open the door to acceptance of policies and actions from which any principled individual would recoil in horror.
As Connor Boyack, founder and president of Libertas Institute, explains, most people seem to be much better at rejecting evil in hindsight:
We revile the despots of world history, and we recognize their tyranny quite readily. But few are able to apply such scrutiny in the present and thereby tolerate or support the very violations they claim to detest.
Please note that these observations have not been directed at any particular candidate. Those who come running in the belief that their candidate is under attack should take a moment to consider why that is their assumption.
The people who are begging their fellow Americans to resist the urge to run with the herd and instead hold to their principles are not our enemy. Why is it so important to some that we see them that way?
They are actually our truest friends. If we were to set aside our fears for just a moment, we’d find that we share a continent of common ground with them.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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