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Separating Politics From Personal

Joe noticed the joke I made on Twitter about taking some Starbucks over to the Brady folks on the fairly chilly day that McDonald was heard. I did not follow through with it, because I was focused on getting in to see the case, but I thought it would be a good hearted ribbing if I could have pulled it off. Either way, I was rather surprised that in the comments people were saying things like:

I see no problem whatsoever with being rude to people who’s sole intention is to infringe upon the rights and liberties of their fellow countrymen…who have demonstrated a willingness to stoop to any level to forward their agenda including slander, obfuscation and outright lies.

These are not honorable people with whom we simply have a disagreement, their actions daily prove that they are dishonorable and are beneath respect.

Until things devolve to the point where we arrive at what Clausewitz would call “politics by other means” then they are, in fact, “people with whom we simply have a disagreement.” The entire point of a political system is so that we can air these disagreements and avoid having to enter politics by other means. To do that, it takes a certain amount of separating politics from the personal.

A political struggle has nothing to do with honesty, honor, or integrity. Those are foreign concepts to the process. Politics is not honorable, it is dirty. Ask yourself this: if you had good data that strongly indicated that gun control actually worked, and that respecting the Second Amendment cost society greatly, would you support getting rid of it? Or would you use every means at your disposal to preserve it? Would you manipulate statistics to be more in your favor? Use rhetoric that would be more persuasive to the public, even if you knew in your heart you were bending the truth? If you say yes, you’re really no better than the Brady folks. If you say no, you’re not really dedicated to this fight.

While I was in DC this weekend, I saw the Temperance Fountain, which stands as monument to a movement that was once so powerful it amended the constitution. It is maintained by the Cogswell Society, who’s motto is “To temperance; I’ll drink to that.” I would like nothing more than there to be a future tribute of this nature to the gun control movement, and I don’t care what I have to do to get there. Much like the great leftist organizers, I am not interested in honor, or having clean hands. I want to win. I am no better than the Brady folks.

I will do anything to keep the Second Amendment alive, and send the gun control movement into political irrelevance. Because of that, I don’t think it’s too much to accept them as fellow citizens, who simply have the misfortune of being on the opposite, and God willing, losing side of this political argument. Is it really too much sacrifice to be civil and magnanimous? It is really wrong to have some understanding of how it would feel if the shoe were on the other foot?

I sincerely hope if the shoe is ever on the other foot again, that I can remain as civil to them as they were able to be with the pro-gun people who spoke with them outside of McDonald. I seems to me, as long as our American Republic continues to function, we owe that to each other.

32 Responses to “Separating Politics From Personal”

  1. Its also good tactics to be a nice guy.

    If you are a gracious victor then the opponent’s followers may feel more willing to defect or surrender. If you’re a jerk then they may just fight it out to the bitter end.

  2. JD says:

    “I don’t think it’s too much to accept them as fellow citizens, ”

    I do, they’re lying scum bags as far as I’m concerned and most people I know agree with me whole heartedly. I accept no one as a fellow American that tries to usurp my rights on a daily basis.

  3. slick says:

    If gun control worked the way they claim it does when electioneering, I’d favor gun control.

    If the second amendment was bad for America, I’d fight to get rid of it.

    I wouldn’t lie or manipulate data.

    It sounds like you are saying guns are more important the people, and the ends justify the means. “I swear by my life and love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

  4. ParatrooperJJ says:

    I am going to have to disagree with you. Their position is contrary to liberty and the American way. They should be actively engaged and destroyed by any means.

  5. Sebastian says:

    I’ve never considered individual rights to be subject to the whims of statistics and data. They are, or are at least supposed to be, involitile.

  6. Sebastian says:

    ParatrooperJJ:

    I never argued they should not be destroyed politically, by any means. That’s what I said, actually. But we engage in this democratic process so that we may avoid destroying a man’s ideas by destroying the man. If that is the result of a failure of politics, then why is any tactic off the table in a political fight through the democratic process? If our Republic breaks down, and we enter politics by other means, all bets will be off. It seems to me, then, we owe it to our fellow citizen to win politically at all cost. That makes me no better than the Brady folks. Given that, no reason to hold them in contempt for what I would be willing to do in their position.

  7. j t bolt says:

    Yeah yea, I agree, we shant need to go to “politics by other means” just yet. Not by a long shot.

    Still… I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of freedom’s enemies being introduced to bathtub-warm tar, a pillow case full of goose down, and be given a free ride out of town on some convenient fencing material, sometime. No permanent damage to their personage, naturally.

    It’s a thought I’ve had. Mostly wishful thinking. Wistful fantasy. I’ve done nothing to further that as some sort of concrete goal, of course. It was once an honorable pasttime in these parts… Reminding would-be tyrants who has the actual power.

  8. Sebastian says:

    Tarring and feathering is in the category of “politics by other means.” It’s physical violence, and there’s nothing honorable about it.

  9. kaveman says:

    Respect is earned.

    What have they done to earn respect?

  10. “Tarring and feathering is in the category of “politics by other means.” It’s physical violence, and there’s nothing honorable about it.”

    You’ve already defined the political process as dirty and dishonorable. If so, then how is this a rebuke of politics by other means.

  11. Sebastian said:
    “Politics is not honorable, it is dirty.”

    Agreed. From Erol Morris’ documentary of Robert McNamara, “The Fog Of War”, this is McNamara’s Lesson #9:

    — In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. —

    Unfortunately, that is an uncomfortable truth, and not losing one’s self while engaging in that evil is the most challenging part.

  12. Weer'd Beard says:

    ‘If gun control worked the way they claim it does when electioneering, I’d favor gun control.”

    That’s exactly why I favored it, slick, and why I switched sides the moment my curiosity lead me to read about the very laws I cheered.

    I simply want the best, and freest America possible, it so turns out that a very liberal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is part of that, tho I was previously mislead to think the contrary in my youth.

  13. Sebastian says:

    You’ve already defined the political process as dirty and dishonorable. If so, then how is this a rebuke of politics by other means.

    Because killing or committing violence against other human beings is evil. It’s beyond dirty and dishonorable, although it is also those things.

  14. Sebastian says:

    Respect is earned.

    What have they done to earn respect?

    There’s a difference between respect and civility.

  15. I’ve never considered individual rights to be subject to the whims of statistics and data. They are, or are at least supposed to be, involitile.

    And that’s the issue I take with your OP. If the data showed (or changes to show) that gun control does save lives, I’d switch over to the “rights are greater than safety” argument, not lie about the data. Not only is that reprehensible, it’s a losing prospect in the long run, as Brady’s learning.

    I do think it’s unacceptable to try to build laws on lies, and that makes the Bradies–the core group of well-informed careerers, though not necessarily their casual supporters–reprehensible.

    In practical terms, I’m still on your side in this one. Treating them respectfully on a personal level is good policy. Being seen as civil “good guys” is even more crucial in this fight than in other social movements.

  16. Peter Hamm says:

    Thanks, Sebastian. You’re a good man.

    And I have met many good men and women who disagree with me over the past years, men and women who I have nevertheless been able to have warm, decent human exchanges with. I have learned from their views and I respect their American right to those views.

    I’m grateful to the heavens for people who don’t hate. When you hate people because you have a difference of opinion, I truly believe the world becomes a darker place for you.

  17. Flighterdoc says:

    Sebastian, the differences are pretty simple: We think the gun-grabbers are wrong. They think we are EVIL.

    It’s very difficult to reason with people like that. There is a large population that absolutely refuses to be swayed by fact: As my friend Larry Elder likes to say, facts to a liberal are like kryptonite to Superman… Their ‘feelings’ are more important than yours, or my, rights, or in fact the truth.

  18. When you hate people because you have a difference of opinion, I truly believe the world becomes a darker place for you.

    I don’t think “hate” is the right concept, nor is “difference of opinion”.

    I _dislike_ people who try to use law to force their lifestyle on others.

    I know plenty of people who despise guns and won’t even consider touching one, but who don’t try to force me to make the same choices. Those are good people whom I have no problem with.

    The Bradies… Well, I feel the same way about them as I do about, say, Bull Connor or George Wallace. Call that “hate” if you want; I don’t think my world is any darker for it.

  19. I’m with Sabastian on this one. Pro-gun advocates who choose not to be civil are, in my view, a big part of the reason that we have the reputation for being nuckle-draggers. If we can be civil, we can combat that steriotype and possibly win over some of those who are undecided or some of those who quietly agree but are unsure that they want to be seen as allied with us.

    s

  20. Sebastian says:

    Generally speaking, I think lying and manipulating data is an ineffective tactic, which is why I don’t advocate using it. We’re also on the winning side of this issue, and don’t really have to resort to that tactic. But if it worked, would I use it? Absolutely. What if you knew that “rights trumps safety” wouldn’t work, but another more unsavory tactic would? Say, for instance if we knew that if we floated a story about how enforcing the existing laws brought crime way down, even though the data was really sketchy, we could avoid a gun ban?

  21. Sebastian says:

    I _dislike_ people who try to use law to force their lifestyle on others.

    I dislike the act. It’s a sad fact that your average person, on some topic or another, believes in imposing his own lifestyle choices on others.

  22. Say, for instance if we knew that if we floated a story about how enforcing the existing laws brought crime way down, even though the data was really sketchy, we could avoid a gun ban?

    [sigh] I’d probably be right here saying “well, to be fair…”

    I’m probably not mercenary enough for pollitics, and I know I’d never pass the Rules for Radicals test. But you and I draw that “violating our personal integrity” line in different places.

  23. j t bolt says:

    Oh I know rails tar and feather is violence, but it is just a fantasy I indulge in my head. One I’d never act on BECAUSE it is violence. I refuse to indulge in any fantasy more severe than that, though. I don’t dream of having my political enemies killed out of vengence or for cold calculation. THAT would be beyond the pale. Just CONSIDERING it, much less putting it into action.

    You are certainly correct about ANY acts of violence, yes.

  24. Jay T says:

    My approach is to attempt to never be rude to anyone. I learned that as a child and it was enhanced in the military. Yet, to those who stand in opposition to freedom I will offer nothing more than distance.

    For me I’m not in this to gain my angel wings. I know none of us are but the opposition presents a real threat to liberty and we represent the dutiful opposition.

    Perhaps it is my age but I have the “right” to avoid those people just as I avoid anti-Americans, Nazi’s, Racists and reality television.

  25. thebastidge says:

    “if you had good data that strongly indicated that gun control actually worked, and that respecting the Second Amendment cost society greatly, would you support getting rid of it? Or would you use every means at your disposal to preserve it? Would you manipulate statistics to be more in your favor? Use rhetoric that would be more persuasive to the public, even if you knew in your heart you were bending the truth? If you say yes, you’re really no better than the Brady folks. If you say no, you’re not really dedicated to this fight.”

    Sorry, the argument is specious. I’m not dedicated to the proposition of winning for the sake of winning. If it could be demonstrated that I am wrong about the issue, I would stop resisting.

    However, this is my understanding: The right to be armed is an extension of the natural right to self-defense. There is no seperating individual rights from the good of society. The only way it could be bad for society is if we really were a collective hive-mind and individuality were a biological defect that caused violent insanity. Unfortunately, some insane people believe this to be the case on some level. Those isnane people must be resisted, helped if possible, and marginalized if they can’t be.

  26. thebastidge, I had the same thought, but I don’t think that’s what Sebastian’s saying.

    His what-if is, IF the statistics showed gun control saved lives, and IF you knew that the people in general wouldn’t support your rights on principle, THEN would you bend the truth to get the result that you know is right.

    It’s a tougher question than I’d like, and it gives me an uncomfortable perspective on where the Bradies may be coming from.

  27. Sebastian says:

    It’s a tougher question than I’d like, and it gives me an uncomfortable perspective on where the Bradies may be coming from.

    They are starting from a very poor position, and have always really been the underdog in this fight. The movement to ban handguns started in the late 60s, in earnest. It’s lost most of the battles it’s fought. It’s had only three major victories, and only two of those survive today. The data really isn’t on their side. So what to do? If you really believe handguns are a scourge you look for angles that will work.

    We all hate the fact that they mischaracterized semi-automatic rifles to get the assault weapons ban. But what other path was open to them during a period where they had a legislature and a President willing to act? The party arguing from the inferior position will always use more unsavory tactics to win. That’s just how people are.

  28. But here’s what I don’t get:

    We’re saying that even if the data show that gun control saves lives, we have an underlying ideological belief that would make us continue to fight against gun control. Because it isn’t all about safety.

    The data show pretty clearly that gun control _doesn’t_ save lives, so what underlying ideology are the Bradies so committed to that they’re prepared to misrepresent the facts? ‘Cause it sure as hell ain’t all about safety.

  29. Sebastian says:

    This issue isn’t about facts on either side. We use facts because they help bolster our case with the public at large who may not have a deep understanding of our issue. But the fundamentals of the issue isn’t fact based, its faith based. This issue is religion, for both sides.

    I use that knowing it’s a weak metaphor — we don’t have gods or anything — but I mean to speak to the mindset. This is a deep debate over a competing vision for the country, that touches on issues of life, liberty, citizenship and what our relationship to our government, as citizens, is going to be.

    Think about it, you want to don’t want Starbucks banning guns. Is it because you really strongly believe the data that shows that guns lower crime? Is it really because you’re scared that someone’s going to rob the place while you’re enjoying a venti latte? No. It’s far deeper than that if you’re honest with yourself.

  30. mikeb302000 says:

    Thanks for a wonderful post and comment thread. I agree with those who say it’s better to be civil regardless of which side of the argument you’re on.

  31. Sailorcurt says:

    Thanks, Sebastian. You’re a good man.

    And I have met many good men and women who disagree with me over the past years, men and women who I have nevertheless been able to have warm, decent human exchanges with. I have learned from their views and I respect their American right to those views.

    I’m grateful to the heavens for people who don’t hate. When you hate people because you have a difference of opinion, I truly believe the world becomes a darker place for you.

    I missed this whole kerfluffle because I’ve been busy over the past few days (spent all day today out at the range teaching boy scouts to shoot shotguns)

    It just so happens that the quote Sebastian used as his example was from me.

    Although Mr. Hamm seems to be claiming the psychic ability to look into the hearts of men, the contention that he finds hate there gives lie to any potential he may have in that regard.

    I don’t hate anyone and never said that I did. Of course, a leader of the anti-gun lobby misrepresenting the facts to score cheap political points should surprise no one.

    I don’t even disrespect all “gun haters”. I know many, including my father-in-law whom I care deeply for and respect greatly, who abhor guns through nothing more than misapprehension…misapprehension fomented, encouraged and intentionally introduced by the dishonorable people of whom I was speaking in my comment.

    It’s not the misled’s fault that there are unscrupulous people in the world who mislead them; but the unscrupulous are solely and completely responsible for their actions…and should be held so.

    If I believed for a second that this was simply a matter of difference of opinion, my position would be significantly moderated.

    I do not believe this to be the case. The misleading terms, the clear misrepresentation of statistics, the falsified “studies”, the hypocrisy, the contradictory statements, the slander, the outright lies of these people indicate to me that this is not an honest difference of opinion.

    What we are fighting is an intentional and concerted effort to deceive the public in order to forward a statist, authoritarian, tyrannical agenda.

    I repeat unashamedly and unabashedly: people who knowingly and unrepentantly engage in dishonorable behavior deserve no respect.

    I don’t hate them. I don’t wish harm of any type to befall them. I just don’t respect them…and I will continue do everything in my power to ensure that they fail in their quest.

  32. Bob S. says:

    MikeB302000,

    If it is better to be civil regardless of what side people are on:

    Why do you accuse people you don’t know of being drug abusers
    of being unable to handle anger issues, of being alcoholics?

    Why do you accuse people who own guns of being responsible for heinous crimes when you know they had nothing to do with them?

    Why do you delete comments from your blog because people dare ask questions about your personal life after you’ve asked repeatedly about their personal life?

    There is a difference being polite or mild in language and being civil.

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