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Trump’s Grave Sin Is…Being Impolite?

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Trump supporters are taking people to task for asserting that what some are pleased to call his “rhetorical excesses” bear some part of responsibility for the atmosphere of impending violence that led him to cancel his appearance at a campaign rally in Chicago. They have no trouble admitting that he has been “politically incorrect.” Indeed, for them that’s part of his appeal. It shows that he rejects the party line pushed by the Democrats and the traitorous GOP leaders who have been co-operating with them. Trump’s verbal punches get all up in their faces.

Indeed, it seems that for many Trump supporters his bully boy rhetoric is what attracted them in the first place. At least vicariously, it allowed them to avenge themselves against those arrogant sons o’…. well, you know.

The imaginary blows his words conjure apparently gave rise to the kind of pride and satisfaction that literally lifts people out of their chairs, at a movie theater, for example, when a hero finally emerges to deliver the swift and deadly kick in their guts the bad guys so richly deserve. It doesn’t matter if the hero in question has, until that moment, been chief among the villains. From that moment forth, no one is allowed to speak ill of the people’s champion.

This is all well and good in the movies. And it can even be an important extension of the entertainment they provide when some actor or actress becomes the focus of pride and attention because of the emotions inspired by the character they play. But when citizens are invited to make it the basis for the critical contribution they have to make to the life or death of their country—in real life, as they carry out their share of responsibility for the highest office in the land—well, that’s more than a story. It may well shape the history of the world, bringing on hope, or tragic disaster.

I hate the phrase “politically incorrect”, especially when it’s used by people who purport to be opponents of leftist social brainwashing. It is all about conformity to the “party line”. But that means that one can only appear to be “politically incorrect” to people who understand the party line, and tacitly accept its claim to be a standard for thought or action.

But long before parties and the lines they use for mental regimentation, words were understood to have a power in human affairs that required careful handling. This had everything to do with the inward nature of human life and self-consciousness, and almost nothing to do with the various competing ‘isms’ of our day, which mostly deny the true significance of both.

Words can drive whole peoples to madness, producing and sustaining conflicts that endure for generations, making or unmaking whole civilizations in the process. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine sustaining the distinction between a civil society, in which peace by and large prevails among its inhabitants, and the state of war in which enmity prevails instead, except that the power of words is recognized and harnessed to that effect.

The word “civilize” is from the Latin root, “civilis”, connoting that which has to do with being a citizen. This is the same derivation of meaning, that relates the word “politics” to citizenship, by way of a Greek root (transliterated as “politikay”) that has the same meaning as “civilis”. Why is this etymological excursion relevant? Because the Greek word for citizen has also come into the English language with a superficially different connotation, in the word “polite”.

Donald Trump’s political rhetoric has definitely been impolite. In a way, the use of that word explains why his supporters have a hard time accepting the notion that it has anything to do with violence. Impolite behavior isn’t the same as violence, is it? Indeed, if people respond to impolite behavior with violence, doesn’t the fault lie in their ill-will or lack of self-control?

It all seems simple enough, until we stop for a moment to think about the root meaning of the term “polite”, as it relates to being a citizen. In that context, impolite behavior is conduct unbecoming a citizen. That phrase naturally gives rise to the question “What conduct is appropriate for a citizen?” In the phrase “conduct unbecoming an officer”, used in the military code, it carries the sense of behavior unsuitable to the duties an officer has to carry out.

Though for reasons of their own the powers-that-be in the elitist faction want Americans to forget it, every citizen of the United States holds an office under the Constitution of the United States. As the main duty of that office they undertake, voluntarily and as a matter of conscience, to contribute their share to the formation of the will of the body comprised of all the citizens (the body politic) by which, according to the constitution of government throughout the United States, the chief legislative and administrative officers of government are chosen.

We call it the right to vote. But as with all unalienable rights, this right of the citizen to contribute his share to the self-government of the society as a whole is rooted in an obligation to do what is right for the whole citizen body. This, in turn, must take account of each and every citizen. Therefore, while each citizen votes for him- or herself, none vote for themselves alone. Each has a responsibility conscientiously to take account of the good of the civil society they altogether comprise. But what is the primordial characteristic that gives the words “civil” or “polite” society their positive connotation?

It is the state of mutual security that allows each and all of the citizens who are willing to do so to go about their lives in peace, without let or hindrance from the others, so long as they observe the rule that makes this peaceful cohabitation possible. In practical terms, that rule is deliberately to avoid resorting to forceful means in their relations with others, except when necessary to preserve their lives. They are supposed to rely instead on institutions they all have mutually agreed upon, in which the power of words, and the power of reason words can follow and convey, replaces the use of other forms of natural power.

I cannot help but have all this in mind when I deal with American politics. Whatever citizenship connotes, or has connoted, in other times and places, in the United States it especially has to do with the acceptance of this simple logic, which is at the root of both our citizenship and our social peace. But if we keep this in mind, politeness takes on a deeply serious significance. For it refers to the behavior by which, as citizens, we signify our willingness to stay within boundaries that conform to our commitment to settle our disputes with words, rather than with blows.

But there’s the rub. Some words are tantamount to blows. Why? Because human beings are not stones, moved only by material forces. We are self-conscious, emotional beings, moved more frequently and intensely by the inward forces of mind, spirit and will than by the current of material events around us. Words may not strike the body, but they can set things in motion within us that lead to deeds, deeds that can strike deadly blows against our peaceful civil life. With this in mind, serious “impoliteness” in politics is like pulling the pin on a grenade- a seemingly small move with devastating implications.

Therefore, at all times, but most especially when we act as citizens for the common good, it becomes our office to avoid words that amount, or are likely to come to, blows. This is the serious purpose of politeness. It has nothing to do with ‘-isms’ and ideological correctness, and everything to do with the possibility of our living together in peace. Others may admire Donald Trump for his risky and impolitic rhetoric. But because I see it tearing at the very roots of civil life among us, it was and will remain, among the first and foremost reasons I reject his candidacy.

I rejected it before his verbal fisticuffs began to bear the fruits reason leads me to believe they will. Now that those fruits have begun to appear, I pray God that others will awaken from their purblind, vengeful imaginings in time to realize the truth: The satisfaction Trump seems to offer is just another elitist faction snare, luring conservatives away from what has been their allegiance to self-government, onto the path well-traveled by its enemies. Along that path provocation alternates with instigated violence, leading to the dissolution that paves the way to tyranny. In this respect, Trump is not avenging the great betrayals that have angered so many. Rather he opens the way to the ultimate betrayal, of both our liberty and our peace. And that has, all along, been the purpose of the role he was sent into this election to play.



 

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