Dispatches from the Suburbs of Hell

Heaven is for the obedient. Hell is for the wrathful. What of the ones in between? We wind up in the Suburbs. Our sin is individuality. Our punishment is boredom. But at least we're in good company.

Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Open Letter to Clay Jenkinson

I'm disappointed, Mister Jenkinson. Very disappointed. Your two most recent episodes of The Thomas Jefferson Hour have left me disheartened, and frankly unwilling to continue listening. Because you have shown your true colors, and they are not the colors I wish to paint my intellectual canvass with any longer.

Your June 27th episode was particularly disheartening, in your criticism of President Obama's reaction to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. You speculated that his reaction would cost him his Presidency, for the simple reason he wasn't "feeling their pain." Granted, the President is not down there, rubbing elbows with the victims of the ecological disaster, assuring them in person that he is doing everything he can. You speculated that this lack of personal connection will distance him from voters come poll time. As if the American voting public are a bunch of attention span-challenged fools who won't believe in an elected official unless they're two feet in front of them.

First of all, you forget that when Barack Obama was elected President, he inherited quite possibly the biggest cultural, political, and economic mess the United States has seen since the Great Depression.  He's kind of busy right now. Frankly, I would rather see him in his office trying to fix things than down in the Gulf empathizing like a bandit. That's where these problems are solved. I'm not naive about Obama: I don't see him as the one who is going to save us all from our own idiocy. In fact I appreciated his honesty when he first got elected. This is not going to to be an easy road. There are a lot of problems to fix, and a lot of enemies chomping at the bit, waiting for him to make the big mistake they can pounce on. And the last thing he needs is to be second-guessed by some fair-weather Liberal.

That's the problem with the political Left. We are divided. Not diverse. Divided. We embrace variety, individualism, diversity, and we tell ourselves that that is where our strength lies. But in reality, that's why the Left keeps shooting itself in the foot. Because among a coalition of diverse individuals, there is rarely common ground. Obama's worst enemies are not on the political Right. They are on the Left, with special interests as special as the most corrupt Lobbyist. Gay and Lesbian groups who criticize Obama's religious stance. Civil Liberties groups who express their discomfort with his union ties. African-American groups who just don't think Barack Obama is BLACK ENOUGH. Those waiting with sharpened knives for the moment when their fragile alliance looks like it's just going to fall apart, so they can bemoan the state of the country and threaten to move to Canada. Assuming Canada wants them, but that's a whole 'nother essay. These are fair-weather Liberals, who will readily turn on each other in defense of their pet causes and congratulate themselves on their refusal to compromise while the monolithic Right grows all the stronger. These are the people that really block progress in America, and I fear I must count you among them now.

As for your July 4th show, well, I fear I must point out the obvious to you. You bemoan how Americans would rather trust a corporation than a government. As a Jeffersonian scholar, you don't make the connection? THIS is Thomas Jefferson's legacy, sir. A nation of petty, paranoid malcontents is EXACTLY what you'd get if we all followed Jefferson's example. Jefferson believed in the virtues of small government and private industry. That's what the opposition is endorsing, granted in a bastardized, extreme form. Can you honestly say, having studied and portrayed Thomas Jefferson for so long, that you don't see it? Can you honestly say that thing would be better if we all just lived by Jefferson's example? Not to confront problems, not to offer solutions, but to withdraw to a private fortress and surround oneself with creature comforts. That's what Jefferson did, in both his personal and political life, and that's what society is moving towards. You can bemoan it all you like, you can predict the fall of the United States like Rome before it, but you must acknowledge WHY it is falling. And what line of thought is to blame.

You have famously said on your Podcast that your co-hosts inevitably turn into "Adamsites." That is, proponents of John Adams, the philosophical opposite of Thomas Jefferson. The same is true, I think, of your listeners. It certainly is true of this listener. And I can no longer listen.


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