How’d We Get Here and What We Can Do About It.

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The Holidays are over, and so we must now face what is coming our way.

As a year-end gift to my fellow liberals and progressives, I wanted to share with you some of my non-fiction reading I’ve been doing to understand this crazy time we’re in, and to prepare for what’s coming!

Semper Paratus!

The Coast Guard Motto (since we are a Coast  Guard Household) is my inspiration here.

There is a superb website and guide about how to realistically face the next four years, created by ex-Congressional Staffers: https://www.indivisibleguide.com . It’s the victory manual to resist the Trump/GOP agenda insofar as possible.

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In addition to this, we must follow Bernie’s rallying cry to be present in every County in this Land, and with our humble deeds and work, show that we are on the side of the Blue Collar workers, and that the GOP sells them out every time.

We are the Maccabees, and the abomination of desolation is on its way.

Now, let me re-affirm to my Conservative friends: if Trump and Co. do anything good, I will applaud and support it. The transition period has not left me hopeful, however.

What does a Just Society look like?

This is the classic work on Justice. It should be in everyone’s reading device. I revisit it often:

John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971). We read it in Alexander Bickel’s Constitution Law class at Yale Law School.

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Why is America the Way it is?

The classic, but very lengthy, history/sociology tome on how we were formed as a several Nations is

Albion’s Seed (1989) by David Hackett Fischer:

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If you don’t have time for its 972 pages, and for more recent updates, try Colin Woodard’s work:

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (2011)

  • This is essential reading!

…and

American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good (2016)

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Both books are more than history. Woodard has some excellent insights into how we got here, and how to get out of the mess!

How Stupidity became a Virtue in America:

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (2010) by Charles P. Pierce

Hints (from the book):

  1. Anything that moves units in America is Good
  2. A Fact is what enough people believe
  3. Truth is how fervently they believe it
  4. The absolutely worst thing to be on any subject is an actual expert

This work is hilarious and infuriating at turns, and is a must-read!

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How White Supremacy is one of the Dominant Themes Running though American History:

By James W. Loewen:

 Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007)

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (2007)

Loewen has many other hard hitting and revelatory works on race in America:

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… and:

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (2016) by Carol Anderson

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The End of White Christian America (2016) by Robert P. Jones

 

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Two Caveats:

  1. The theses of these last two books are right, I believe, but the authors—as we now know—were a generation off. To paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “They’re not dead yet!”
  1. By “Christian,” Jones mostly means “Protestant.”

How Movement Conservatism, which dominates the GOP, has Conquered All through its Web of Lies:

As we prepare for the term of the Liar-in-Chief, his Billionaire Boys Club and his Movement Conservative GOP Congress, we need to know how the lies became part of our National life.

Hint: It started with Big Tobacco!

The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America (2008) by Jonathan Chait

 

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Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics (2016) by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters for America

Hint from this last book: We live in a Pseustocracy, or more commonly Pseudocracy — Rule by Liars.

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Here is an excellent academic paper on the subject:

“When Did We Start Just Making Shit Up? Origins of U. S. Pseudocracy”

Why the American Blended Economy Worked so Well, and Why ours Today doesn’t:

American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (2016) by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson

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My Upcoming Reading in this area of study:

The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted (2013) by Mike Lofgren (Yes, I know who he is!)

Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses (2016) by Lawrence Ross – A former student of mine at Loyola High School in Los Angeles… very proud of him!

Here’s his Website!

How did We get into this Mess: Politics, Equality, Nature (2016) by George Monbiot

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism (2016) by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2005)
by Thomas Frank

God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (2006)
by Jim Wallis

How did I come to be one of the Demonized “Coastal Elites”?

Refer to the map below from Woodard’s American Nations to reference my narrative, and also compare to the electoral map at the bottom of the blog.

upinarms-map

I was born to parents who grew up in El Norte (El Paso), and who had moved to one of the capitals of the Far West, Phoenix. However, my Mother’s half-Hispanic heritage, my Catholicism, my Father’s family ties to Yankeedom (Illinois), and very frequent visits to my Grandmother’s house in El Paso, tempered me, orienting me toward El Norte culture.

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El Paso – Juárez Borderplex

A liberal Catholic and Jesuit education inspired me at St. Matthew’s and Brophy, and then I was thoroughly initiated into the ways of Yankeedom at Yale, since New Haven is one of the two capitals of New England culture. (Boston is the other.)

Yale Reunion

A very exclusive club: Brophy ’72 and Yale ’76: Bryan Murphy and me at our 40th Yale Reunion in 2016.

Novitiate in Santa Barbara (El Norte) continued the liberal influence. Then I went to Fordham and learned the tolerant, liberal and competitive ways of New Netherlands in NYC.

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Keating Hall and Edward’s Parade at Fordham Rose-Hill in the Bronx. 

From there I taught in Los Angeles, one of the capitals of El Norte. After Regency at Loyola High School, I returned to  Yankeedom, studying in the other capital of New England culture, Boston/Cambridge.

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Chapel of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline MA, where I studied while in the Boston area, in addition to Weston, Harvard Divinity, and the Melkite Seminary

 

Following Ordination, I was posted to the cultural capital of The Left Coast, San Francisco, and have been here ever since. The Left Coast is a cultural extension of Yankeedom.

San Francisco, CA, USA

My coalition is Yankeedom and her allies. The whole history of the U.S. can be seen as a struggle primarily between Yankeedom and the Deep South. The other nations change their allegiances. Yankeedom preaches “Ordered Liberty.” The Deep South was influenced by Barbados, the most horrific Slave Colony of its day, among other influences.

In this election, most of Yankeedom and her children stayed blue, New Netherlands did too, and Colorado and New Mexico of El Norte joined. Tidewater came with us (Thanks Tim Kaine!).

California—since the majority of the population lives in either The Left Coast or El Norte—and its sometime ally Nevada, went blue. Hawai’i stayed Blue.

We lost pretty much everyone else.

It’s a bit eerie how close the Electoral map is to Woodard’s map of the Eleven Nations!

upinarms-map

map

 

Happy New Year!

 

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

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