William Egginton discusses his book, “The Splintering of the American Mind”, at Politics and Prose on 8/27/18.
In this trenchant analysis, Egginton argues that our current national crisis is the result of personal identity ideals overwhelming our sense of community. This imbalance is especially pronounced on college campuses, where identity politics is the norm. Along with turning institutions of higher learning into exclusive, expensive clubs for the cultural and economic elite, this focus on individualism is leading to a new kind of intolerance, degrading civic discourse, and distracting progressive politics from its commitment to equality. Showing that this trend, unlike the civil rights movement, feminism, and gay pride, will not result in positive social changes, Egginton, a professor and director of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins, calls for a return to liberal education‘s egalitarian values.
William Egginton is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Chair of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University, USA. He is the author of In Defense of Religious Moderation, How the World Became a Stage, Perversity and Ethics, A Wrinkle in History, The Philosopher’s Desire, and The Theater of Truth. He is also the coeditor of Thinking with Borges and The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy. Egginton writes for the digital salon Arcade, published by Stanford University, and The Stone, an online forum for contemporary philosophers published by the New York Times. His intellectual biography of Cervantes, The Man Who Invented Fiction, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2014.
Minorities do not consider the Republican party more religious (22 min)
Most white people don’t identify strongly as Italian. They identified as Methodist or Baptists, but now that religion is less important, political partisanship matters more.
Minorities aren’t looking to political identity for their identity.
Ep 333: Drew Dyck Disciplines Himself
If you become disciplined to pursue a self-interested, bad goal, what does that gain you.
If you think the right things, truth, it will transform their character. But why is it some of the most theologically smart people are A-holes.
Things that Deplete your Willpower:
Decision making, Conflict, Sleep
Flee temptation. If you are always relying on willpower, you will fail.
This is where habits are important
- Pick one thing. Don’t try to do 5 New Year’s Resolutions at once
- You can’t delete Bad Habits, only replace them
- Cue, Routine, Payoff
- Replace social media with Bible reading
- Jesus take the wheel
- Someone says that they will not brush their teeth unless they felt called by the spirit
- Grace is not opposed to effort. Grace is opposed to earning.
- Sanctification is often a slow transformation process.
- I am what’s wrong with the world: G.K. Chesterton
- In the long run, self-discipline is about delayed-gratification. It is easier in the long run.
Evangelicals and the 5 Stages of Grief: (30 min)
We are between anger and bargaining and this Trump Faustian bargain was out of desperation over demographic change.
Sociologists refer to the Driver’s license -> Marriage License Gap
Fewer people are coming back to the church because the gap is longer and people figure out how to live without it.
Reinforce Republican identity and threat, not from Satan or poverty, or oppression, but an enemy of Democrats
- Us vs them, mitigating our fears in the amygdala
- If fear is a big part of your life, you are not living as a Christian
- I am not a fearvangelica
- A lot of people believe that being afraid makes them Godly
- It is very hard to convince someone who is marinating in fear that they don’t need to fear.
- Phil’s Idea: inside out with fearful evangelicals
When asked recently who Republicans should fear most in the 2020 presidential campaign, two prominent GOP figures, both women speaking independently of each other, gave the same response: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
A third Republican, a male, asked which kind of candidate Democrats should want, replied: “They need a boring white guy from the Midwest.”
So, there you have it: The dream ticket of Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Case closed, cancel the primaries, on to the general election.
So if all that creates an opportunity for Democrats in 2020, here’s their dilemma: Can they pick a candidate who can blend the party’s conflicting impulses?
This may seem a long ways off, but the reality is that most Democrats thinking of running for president—and the number probably runs into the 20s—plan to make their decision over the next several weeks, so they can move out starting in early 2019.
.. The winning lottery ticket, of course, goes to somebody who can appeal to both. And that’s why Ms. Klobuchar’s name—and profile—attract attention. She’s a woman, obviously, which is important at a time when newly energized women are a growing force within the party. She pleased her party base in the hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh when she challenged him about his use of alcohol, but did so in a sufficiently calm and understated manner that she won an apology from Mr. Kavanaugh after he initially responded angrily.
.. She also won re-election this year with more than 60% of the vote in the one state Trump forces lost in 2016 but think they have a legitimate chance to flip their way in 2020.
.. The question is whether she or anyone can put together a policy agenda that pleases both party liberals, who are pushing for
- a Medicare-for-all health system,
- the demise of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement system and an
- aggressive new climate-change action plan, and more moderate Midwestern voters, who may be scared off by all of those things.
Ms. Klobuchar’s policy priorities may suggest a path. To address health care, the top priority of Democratic voters, she advocates a step-by-step approach, one that seeks to
- drive down prescription drug costs by opening the door to less-expensive drugs from Canada,
- protect and improve the Affordable Care Act, and
- expand health coverage by considering such steps as allowing more Americans to buy into the Medicare system.
.. She’s talked of a push to improve American infrastructure that would include expanding rural Americans’ access to broadband service, paying for it by rolling back some—though not all—of the tax cuts Republicans passed last year. She pushes for more vigorous antitrust enforcement, more protections for privacy and steps to curb undisclosed money in politics
.. For his part, Sen. Brown, a liberal who this year won Ohio as it otherwise drifts Republican, offers a working-class-friendly agenda that combines progressive impulses for government activism to drive up wages with Trumpian skepticism about trade deals and corporate outsourcing.
After Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election, a certain conventional wisdom congealed within the pundit class: Donald Trump’s success was owed to the Democratic abandonment of the white working class and the party’s emphasis on identity politics. By failing to emphasize a strong economic message, the thinking went, the party had ceded the election to Trump... the meantime, Trump’s administration has seen that economic message almost entirely subsumed by the focus of congressional Republicans on tax cuts for the wealthy and plans to shrink the social safety net. But even as the message has shifted, there hasn’t been a corresponding erosion in Trump’s support. The economics were never the point. The cruelty was the point... Nevertheless, among those who claim to oppose identity politics, the term is applied exclusively to efforts by historically marginalized constituencies to claim rights others already possess... Trump’s campaign, with its emphasis on state violence against religious and ethnic minorities—Muslim bans, mass deportations, “nationwide stop-and-frisk”—does not count under this definition, but left-wing opposition to discriminatory state violence does... A November panel at the right-wing Heritage Foundation on the threat posed by “identity politics,” with no apparent irony, will feature an all-white panel... But the entire closing argument of the Republican Party in the 2018 midterm elections is a naked appeal to identity politics—a politics based in appeals to the loathing of, or membership in, a particular group. The GOP’s plan to slash the welfare state in order to make room for more high-income tax cuts is unpopular among the public at large. In order to preserve their congressional majority, Republicans have taken to misleading voters by insisting that they oppose cuts or changes to popular social insurance programs, while stoking fears about
- Latino immigrants,
- Muslim terrorists, and
- black criminality.
.. In truth, without that deception, identity politics is all the Trump-era Republican Party has.
.. Trump considers the media “the enemy of the people” only when it successfully undermines his falsehoods; at all other times, it is a force multiplier, obeying his attempts to shift topics of conversation from substantive policy matters to racial scaremongering.
.. The tenets of objectivity by which American journalists largely abide hold that reporters may not pass judgment on the morality of certain political tactics, only on their effectiveness. It’s a principle that unintentionally rewards immorality by turning questions of right and wrong into debates over whether a particular tactic will help win an election... In the closing weeks of the campaign, the president has promised a nonexistent tax cut to the middle class after two years in which unified Republican control of government produced only a windfall for the rich.. Trump’s nativism, and the Republican Party’s traditional hostility to government intervention on behalf of the poor, have had a happier marriage than some might have expected.
.. But that wasn’t what Trump promised—rather, his 2016 campaign pledged both generous social-insurance benefits for working-class white Republicans and cruelty for undeserving nonwhites.
.. Republicans are scrambling to insist that they will cut taxes on the middle class, offer robust health-care protections, and protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, even as GOP leaders in Congress plot to slash all three to cut the deficit created by their upper-income tax cuts.
.. When armed agents of the state gun down innocent people in the street, when the president attempts to ban people from entering the U.S. based on their faith, or when the administration shatters immigrant families, these are burdens that religious and ethnic minorities must bear silently as the price of their presence in the United States.
And in the impoverished moral imagination of Trumpist political discourse, any and all white Americans who also oppose such things must be doing so insincerely in an effort to seek approval.
.. America is not, strictly speaking, a center-right or center-left nation. Rather, it remains the nation of the Dixiecrats, in which the majority’s desire for equal opportunity and a robust welfare state is mediated by the addiction of a large chunk of the polity to racial hierarchy. It is no coincidence that the Democratic Party’s dominant period in American history coincided with its representation of both warring impulses and ended when it chose one over the other. The midterms offer a similar choice for the American voter, in rather stark terms.