Anti-intellectualism

In my last post I explored where I think the current denigration of intellectual rigor may have come from (I think it has its roots in the American rejection of British class distinctions and a more egalitarian, personal-opportunity model). But whatever the cause, I think it’s safe to say there is a growing (and very disturbing) anti-intellectual attitude emerging, particularly in the “Red state/Blue State” political environment. People from so-called red states say that “elitists” from the coasts (New York and California, for the most part) no longer represent the values and positions of “real” Americans and should not be allowed to determine policy that affects them. This plays out in lots of ways. Right now Trump is conducting a war on “the lying media,” by which I guess he means any journalist, newspaper or TV network that disagrees with him or calls him out on his (many) lies. That’s not the saddest part; Nixon had the same siege mentality. The scariest thing to me is how many people seem to go along with him. To take one glaring example: Trump’s claim (laughably repeated by Sean Spicer) that his inaugural address was “attended by more people than any other in the history of the country, period.” When it’s obviously not, by simply comparing side-by-side photos taken from the same vantage point of both inaugural crowds. In order to believe Trump you would have to accept that one or the other photo was altered. While I’m not naïve enough to believe that impossible, that would have to mean either there are no contradictory photos (hard to believe) or that virtually EVERYONE in the media is colluding to hide “the truth.” I’m not enough of a conspiracy theorist to buy that, partly because SOMEONE, somewhere, would break silence and blow the cover. Same reason I don’t believe in conspiracy theories in general.

And yet, there are people who deny the Holocaust. In spite of the fact that there are people alive today who were in German concentration camps. There are US military personnel alive today who liberated the camps. But I digress.

I had lunch the other day with a professor from one of our local universities. He told me that in his classes he has had students who, when asked to defend their positions in class or in papers, have refused, saying “that proves his liberal bias.”

On what planet does being asked to justify or support your position constitute a bias of any kind, liberal or otherwise? Setting aside the very real possibility that these particular students were either lazy morons or smart-ass kids, the fact that, with a straight face, they would parade their ignorance and denial of even the need to provide a rational explanation for their positions, makes me just shake my head in amazement.

Imagine these doofuses (doofi?) getting into the business world and trying to use that argument. Their boss says, “You say we should pursue this or that strategy. Tell my why you think that?” And they respond “I don’t have to. The fact that you want me to explain myself proves to me you’re an elitist and biased.” How long do you think they would stay employed?

My professor friend went on to say that this was by no means the norm; maybe 2 or 3 out of a class of 40 might take that position. But even that 2 or 3 students in college would take that position is scary. The reason to go to college is to learn how to think!! (Head banging on table).

Just the other day our benighted head of EPA made his biases clear when he said that (paraphrasing) “Carbon dioxide hasn’t been established as the major cause of global warming.” Um…yeah, it has. Furthermore, it’s the consensus among scientists that it’s anthrogenic.

Is it any wonder that a few muddle-headed college students (bound for chronic unemployment) think the way they do, when our national “le

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How did “elite” come to be “elitism”?

I’ve commented in several posts here how concerned I am at what appears to be a devaluing of intellect and the loss of critical thinking skills. These are obviously not the same thing, but I think they are related, and furthermore I believe that our current political situation is a contributing factor. The fact that the terms “liberal” and “elite” have become pejorative illustrates my point. I don’t think that “conservative” is (nor should be) a negative; it is simply a non-judgmental descriptive term. Additionally, I believe that most people’s beliefs are complex and varied; to label a person exclusively conservative or liberal is an inaccurate oversimplification. Although most of my positions on social issues are more liberal, I do also have conservative views in some things; most of the people I talk to are like me in that a single label doesn’t define them, or even describe them well. How those terms became epithets is the topic of another post, but for now let me say that’s one of the tragedies of our ever-increasingly polarized political climate.

In this and the next post or two I want to explore the growing anti-intellectualism I see, and try to figure out what’s driving it. I mentioned above the terms “liberal” and “elite;” I see them conflated and used in a dismissive or even contemptuous fashion in the “alt-right” and far right world. While I understand that “elite” can carry the connotation of snobbery (particularly as the term “elitism”), I have argued that we should value our elite. Elite athletes get that way by a lot of hard work and continual practice. Elite scholars are lifelong learners, constantly challenging their notions and refining their understanding of their chosen field. How is that a bad thing? And why, when it’s applied to a political ideology, should that become a negative? World class athletes recognize that they are good at what they do, but those that garner the greatest respect show humility as well. “I’m part of a great team,” or “Yeah, I had a good day but my teammates and coaches are incredibly supportive” coming from Michael Jordan causes us to respect him even more. Of course, if a person begins to think of themselves as superior to all others then that crosses over to arrogance or snobbery (when applied to scholars, for example). When that happens those people should rightfully be called out. But the terms that should be used then would be arrogance or snobbery in my opinion, not “elite” as a pejorative.

As I think about this it occurs to me that “unearned” may need to be part of this discussion. For example, consider the class distinctions associated with Victorian England, where those born into a particular family of landholders were considered inherently superior to the “commoners” just by right of birth. This attitude has largely disappeared (at least publicly); it’s hard to imagine anyone today really thinking that simply being born into one family rather than another actually imparted any superiority in and of itself; far more important is what one does with their life.

Americans rebelled against this attitude in our Revolutionary War against the British as much as we rebelled against taxation without representation, forced billeting of British Army regulars in civilian households and the other stated issues of the time. The ability and freedom of Americans to “rise above their birth” (another anachronistic phrase representative of the attitudes of the time) and through hard work and persistence, make of ourselves whatever we chose is one of the hallmark characteristics of American culture (and pride). And I think justifiably so.

It’s a shame to me that this attitude has been extended to intelligence. The ability to think clearly, to critically evaluate information and arrive at a reasoned and thoughtful position and not be ruled exclusively by emotion, should be sought after and valued, not disparaged.

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Small talk and mutual respect

I’m not especially good at small talk. No, that’s not right; I suck at it. It’s not that I find it boring; it’s that I can never think of stuff to say in casual conversation if I don’t know the people. When I was (a lot) younger I was awful at picking up girls in bars because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say. Or at least I couldn’t think of anything that I thought was clever when said at the top of my lungs (frequently the only way to make myself heard. I guess that gives you some idea of the bars I’d go to try to pick up girls.) I always admired (or at least envied) guys who had that ability, but I truly sucked at it. Still do. (The small talk part. Not the picking up girls part; I haven’t tried to do that for nearly 30 years!)

Now that I’m long past the bar scene (thank heaven) I still find party-chatter to be a challenge. I’d like to say I’ve grown beyond that kind of banality, but I think I’m being charitable to myself; I still feel awkward at dinner parties if I don’t know the people and am trying for casual conversation. And the fact is, if I have the opportunity I much prefer in-depth discussions.

I have a couple of friends I like to get together with when our respective travel schedules allow. It’s always a stimulating conversation; they are both really smart guys and well-read to boot. Doug Gaynor was a pro athlete (QB for the Cincinnati Bengals and others) grew up in the California’s Central Valley, and Todd Parker was from Newport Beach. I met both at work, although both of them have left my company and are now in other companies, but we’ve stayed in touch.

I was in Manhattan over the last few days and it happened that Todd was also there. Not as big of a coincidence as it might sound; Todd now works for a vendor to our industry so he attended the same conference I did. He confirmed that I would be there and suggested dinner. He brought one of his colleagues (Bruce) and I invited Deanna, a good friend of both of ours who also happened to be free. While it would have been nice if Doug could have been there, we still had a very lively and wide-ranging conversation.

I find that one of the main things required for a stimulating conversation (besides having some knowledge of the topic) is a variety of opinions and perspectives. I’m of the opinion that, in business meetings, if there are two people there who always agree on everything, one of them is redundant. I don’t mean that people need to disagree with each other to have a good discussion, but one of my goals is to examine what I believe to be true; even challenge it to see if I’ve really thought it through. I frequently find that I modify (or sometimes even abandon) a belief after these conversations, or at the very least have a greater appreciation for other viewpoints.

Anyhow, dinner on Friday evening was that kind of stimulating conversation. None of us exactly agreed with the other three, but it was a respectful disagreement with lots of nuance. Well, except for the state of our current White House administration; we all thought that was a huge cluster f**k and freak show, but frankly, I’m having some difficulty finding anyone who doesn’t. Even those I know who voted for the Orange Clown with Tiny Hands are less than impressed with what’s going on.

I guess where I’m going with this is the observation that it’s not only possible, but maybe necessary for a stimulating discussion to have respect for one’s co-conversationalists, to be sure that a variety of perspectives and differing positions are represented, and (maybe most importantly), to be open to the possibility of being wrong.

Now all I have to do is find some people whom I can respect that continue to think Trump is doing a great job, and who can help me to understand what they see in him.

Gonna be difficult, I think.

 

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What would it get you to change your mind?

the-thinkerI’ve written a lot here about critical thinking, and how we seem to have lost that facility in our society. Or maybe not lost completely, but it sure seems to be in pretty short supply. It seems to me that I hear lots of opinions related as fact. People seem willing to restate what they’ve heard without thinking it through; without stopping to see if it makes sense. I know I’ve done that. Of course sometimes it’s benign or trivial, but other times this lack of critical thinking can cause significant problems.

A prime example is illustrated in our just-past election. I heard lots of people talk about how they hated Clinton, but when I asked exactly why it got murky. “She’s the most corrupt politician EVER!” was one I heard fairly often. When I asked what evidence they had sometimes I got “Everyone knows it.” Which of course is both nonsense and a gross exaggeration. I’d say “No, seriously. I want to know specifics.” It would usually degenerate into emotion and opinion very rapidly. The fact is that she has been subjected to intense scrutiny by some very hostile groups for 30 years, and literally nothing has come of it. Oh sure, you could take issue with her judgement, and I’m certainly not going to try to convince people of her likability, but that’s not the issue. Lots and LOTS of people have reached the conclusion that she must be corrupt because so many people say she is. Hardly an example of a well thought-out position.

So what is critical thinking, anyhow?

There are lots of different ways of defining it; dictionary.com says it is “disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.” There is a Foundation for Critical Thinking with a more detailed and nuanced definition (and lots of resources for anyone interested in learning more); a Google search for free online courses on critical thinking just now got me something over 12 million hits, including what looks like a pretty comprehensive treatment from Oxford University (and it’s free!)

Most of the definitions boil down in one way or another to a process for evaluating information that is based on facts and evidence, and free of emotion. It is not meant to be confrontational or argumentative; in fact for the most part it can be done silently, inside your head.

I found one site (unfortunately it’s a pay site, so you’ll only see a teaser of the whole course) that included a very helpful description that pointed out the importance of humility in this process. This goes to the heart of my thinking for this blog entry: we all have ideas that are near and dear to us; our views on religion, politics, family relationships and the like come to mind, but we should be asking ourselves “What would it take for us to change our mind about something?” I think this captures at least part of the core of critical thinking:  if facts conflict with our preconceived notions or beliefs, are we willing to modify our positions, or will we deny the facts and stick to our beliefs? It takes real humility to be able to change a strongly-held belief.

There’s a fair amount of evidence that indicates people today will dig in their heels if confronted with facts, and the more facts they are presented with, the stronger they dig in.

So back to my leading question: “What would it take to change your mind?” I think it’s a valuable exercise to think about those things that I “know” to be true, and what would happen if I were confronted with clear evidence that those are not true.

I hope I would go with the facts.

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I’m with Stupid

I wrote a few posts ago that what made me disheartened with this recent election is the apparent willingness of voters to embrace stupidity and lack of critical thinking, even to the point of making ignorance an asset rather than a liability. I simply cannot understand that.

I’ve written that facts just are. They are not open to opinion, interpretation or “that’s just your way of seeing things,” they are the foundation of thinking. While we may not like where they lead, that’s too bad. Of course, one’s interpretation of facts can be incorrect, but the facts themselves are what they are. My sister Kathleen tells of a play she saw where a set of facts are used to build a picture of a historical event, which turns out to be completely inaccurate when compared to the actual events. She uses this to illustrate that it’s possible to misinterpret facts and come to wrong conclusions, which is of course something to be considered when building a story around observations. One good example of that (which may seem trivial but it is illustrative nonetheless) is the observation that college entry test scores are strongly correlated to shoe size. That sounds like the bigger the person the more intelligent they are (good news for me; I’m 6’5” tall and weigh in at 260 pounds, with size 12 shoes. But one important additional fact changes things: when age is also factored in the correlation disappears (kids are smaller and obviously don’t do so well on college entry exams; when their scores are included it creates a false correlation between shoe size and test scores). But scientists are very much aware of the potential for these false correlations; the very term “coincidental” used in scientific studies means that two separate points share a relationship but that doesn’t establish cause and effect.

So while we can argue about what facts mean, there should be no argument about the facts themselves. Scientists are in agreement that our planet is getting warmer, and that the primary contributing factor is human activity. Yet Trump is allowed to say that global warming is a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese for their own economic advantage.” How can rational people allow him to get away with such a ridiculous statement?

Sarah Palin has spent a lot of time railing against “elites” since she came to national attention as McCain’s choice for VP. I’m not sure what she meant specifically by that, but historically “elite” has meant above average or superior in ability or intellect. Think of “elite athletes” or “elite scholars.” The best of the best. For Palin (and the Republican Party at large) to make this into a pejorative is a travesty. Now to call somewhat elite is the same as calling them a snob. While I can see why if one calls themselves elite it would carry a connotation of snobbery, but for someone to refer to another as elite should be an honor. I want people leading this country who are above average. I want those providing advice to our government to be the best of the best. I want elites making policy decisions.

So how did we get to the place where we don’t trust experts in their field? Where we think that facts can be made to mean whatever we want?

It’s tempting to say this all started with the mantra I heard as a kid in the 60’s to “question authority.” But I don’t think that’s correct; I think that attitude was to encourage skepticism, not to honor ignorance. Skepticism is at the heart of critical thinking skills; just because someone in a position of some authority says something doesn’t in and of itself make it so; the whole point is to critically evaluate what you hear, even (especially?) if it’s from an accepted “authority figure.” That is a very different attitude than to take pride in being ignorant, which is what I hear from Palin’s diatribe against “the elites. I think when the Republican party realized after the 1964 election that they had to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and went after the religious vote, part of that was to position themselves as relatable to the common man. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, unless it means trying to be something you are not. Having been the party of the privileged class, becoming relatable to the common man meant downplaying a big part of who they were. I think they went too far, to the point that a significant majority of the Republican party now views facts with disdain and intelligence with distrust. Maybe it’s because they’ve been so successful at convincing people that they’ve been duped by “the other side,” combined with a general lack of critical thinking, that now simply being smart is a negative.

Whatever the cause, it sure seems like we should be trying to be smarter, not dumber.

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“He will never, ever, let you down.”

At the Republican convention, we heard Trump’s wife Melania say that about her husband in her speech (that, by the way, shamelessly plagiarized Michelle Obama). The full quote from the transcript of her speech is

“He will never, ever give up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever, let you down.”

I am guessing it was meant to make Trump more personal and seem less like a demagogue, coming from his wife. I presume it was hoped that she could provide some sense of who he is from someone who knows him well, but to my ears it came out sounding like a convicted criminal’s mother pleading for leniency from a judge prior to sentencing. A little bit too hard of a sell. And from someone who could hardly be called unbiased.

Now, I suspect that the irony of her words was completely lost on her. I obviously don’t know her nor do I have any sense of her level of self-awareness (let alone her intellect), but stop and think about this for a minute, as she (or her speechwriter) obviously did not. She is Trump’s third wife. He had an affair with her while married to his second wife, with whom he had an affair while married to his first wife. He was rightfully pilloried for bragging about sexual assault, and she was one of the people calling his words unacceptable. Yet here she is in front of the entire world asking everyone to believe her when she talks about how trustworthy this creature is. I wonder if she helped him lie to the woman to whom he was married while Trump was sleeping with her during their affair? And she’s asking us to believe her when she says how trustworthy he is?

Let’s dig just a bit deeper here. He’s been involved in literally thousands of lawsuits, most of them over breach of contract. He’s well known for refusing to pay the people he contracted for jobs in his building projects, and then fighting them in court when they try to get the compensation they both agreed to. So I doubt if very many of those people view him as trustworthy.

He is strongly opposed to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, all the way back until 1999 when he was for it (or at least he said he was on “Meet the Press”). He was a great friend of the Clintons, right up until he decided not to be (presumably when it was politically expedient). He stated in 2014 that “the biggest problem confronting the US was Russia’s Putin”, right up until he realized he was “so smart, such a strong leader.” And on and on.

And at the Republican National Convention Melania tells us “he will never, ever, let you down.”

Until it becomes convenient for him to do so.

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My Christian friends

On Facebook the other day I saw a post from an acquaintance that started out talking about how in the Bible, rain is consistently referred to as a blessing. I guess in a desert culture such as where the ancient Israelites lived that makes some sense, until we recall from Genesis that it was also this same God who killed everyone in the world but 8 people in a global flood following 40 days of an uninterrupted “blessing,” so I’m not sure I get that bit of reasoning. But that wasn’t the part that made me sit up and take notice; it was the comment that followed, indicating how fitting it was that God would be blessing his people today, on the inauguration of a new president who presumably would be bringing God back into the public arena, by raining on the inauguration (and also here in California, where we badly need it).

Let’s set aside exactly which version of Christianity was being described here as “God’s people” (since there be dragons), although knowing my Facebook Friend I doubt he was including Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, since he’s made it clear to me in previous conversations that those two groups (at least) aren’t really “Christians” as they’ve not been “born again.”

So let’s just go with face value with this and examine his observation that God is blessing us (or someone, at least) at this inaugural freak show with a nice rainstorm.

His exact quote:

”Our country has been in both an environmental and spiritual drought. It is no coincidence that the heavens opened up and showered us today. As believers we have prayed for a cleansing of our nation, let’s not miss the opportunity to both fear the Lord’s sovereignty but speak boldly and with confidence the truth of His word. Thankful for our friendship and praying we can be encouraged this year.”

In fairness, he later clarified that his wife (who actually wrote the above comment) was talking about “cleansing ourselves from hate” since we’ve been a divided nation and implying that this new administration allows us a clean slate. But a close reading makes me suspect that that may be a bit of after-the-fact rationalization; it seems pretty clear to me that she felt the country’s “spiritual drought” had at last come to an end with Trump’s swearing in.

How exactly are we to interpret this? If it’s true, and Donald Trump is the answer to the prayers of the faithful (instead of, oh, the Russian government hacking DNC emails), it must mean that somehow God approves of Trump’s election; maybe even tilting the playing field a bit so The Donald would get to sit in the Oval Office.

Maybe God’s been busy elsewhere in this vast universe and missed a few important points here. Trump earned himself “four Pinochio’s” more than two hundred times during his campaign for telling blatant and obvious lies; he’s a serial adulterer (even if we pass off his bragging about committing sexual assault as “locker room talk”—a disgusting lie in itself—he’s had two very public marriage-ending affairs including with his current—and third—wife Melania); he’s broken contractual agreements literally thousands of times, leading to having to defend himself in more than 3,500 lawsuits, and on and on. And lest we say “Oh, that was during the past; he’s a new man now…don’t you believe in forgiveness?” please note that just yesterday, during his first actual function as president, he lied twice (to the CIA, of all places) about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and then claiming that it didn’t rain during his inauguration. Both blatant and easily-refuted lies.

I find it pretty difficult to believe that the God who wrote the 10 Commandments would send as an answer to prayers a doofus who is practically the poster child of commandment-breakers everywhere.

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It’s starting to become more clear, but it still doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve posted several times that I simply don’t understand why anyone would vote for Trump to be President. He’s unqualified, both experientially and by temperament. He’s never held political office and yet he’s going to be taking charge of the most important political office in the United States (and arguably the world) in a few days.

Turns out that it’s precisely his lack of qualifications that his supporters were looking for. I heard “He’s an outsider politically. He’s rich, so he can’t be bought by the wealthy or by special interest groups. He’s going to fight for the little guy and get things done because he’s not beholden to any political group. He’s his own man.” And he said he’s the only person who can fix the problems the US is facing.

It’s clear that the people who voted for him (and were not part of the “Anybody but Hillary” crowd) wanted an “anti-politician.” OK, I can understand that; the perception was that politicians were the problem. Following the Recession, the only people who seemed to really recover were the wealthy. Middle class is shrinking, and the American Dream seems to be getting farther and farther from reality for most people. So I see why people want an anti-politician. But that’s only half of the need. Wouldn’t you want someone who has the potential to be able to turn that around?

Instead, what did we get? The guy who was going to “fight for the middle class” has appointed some head-scratching doozies, if his goal was to protect the middle class. To “oversee” Wall Street and presumably to rein in the greed that led to our crippling Recession, he’s appointed his uber-wealthy cronies, who came from the very institutions blamed largely for our economic collapse. To care for our environment, Trump selects for the head of the EPA someone whose career has been made suing that very department to ease regulatory oversight. (Remember that environmental laws are there to protect citizens from the damage to our lands, water and air caused by those whose only interest is profit.) This gem of an appointment has the added “benefit” that he refuses to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that our climate is being changed by human activity. Trump has appointed a woman who believes in a voucher system to run the Department of Education. On the surface this sounds like it should work, but in practice vouchers hurt the poor. Wealthier parents move their kids to private or religiously-supported educational systems because they can afford to make up the difference between the value of the voucher and the cost of the non-public schools, which poor people cannot afford. So money that would have paid for good schools in the inner cities is syphoned off. And don’t forget, a good education is the foundation of a healthy middle class.

By his early choices in his cabinet, Trump has made it clear that he has no intention of “fighting for the middle class.” So back to his other “qualifications.” Yes, he’s rich (how rich is in some question), and he’s said over and over how he’s the only person able to fix what’s wrong, but in what worldview does wealth and arrogance make someone appropriate for the Presidency? Turn it around:  how likely would it be for a career politician to succeed in running a large company? Or would you expect the head of a prestigious university to be able to run an airline? Or a construction company? The experience and knowledge a leader brings to the position is exactly what make them the right candidate. A little over two years ago my company announced that our then-CEO was leaving and we would be searching for a new CEO. We were told it would take at least 6 months, probably closer to a year to find the right person (it took just under a year). And this is a fairly small company with a couple thousand employees and sales under a half a billion. Not insignificant, but our annual budget is dwarfed by every single Cabinet department, and would be a rounding error in almost any governmental budget. Anyhow, our search was for someone who had global experience, in the nutrition field, with a deep understanding of the market (not just “nutrition,” but specifically the doctor who would use nutrition as a therapy.

We took a year to find just the right person, because understanding our market and product was considered essential to success. Our new CEO is a very bright and capable man, but he also recognized that he needed to understand our particular niche so he brought in experts to help him. He is a fast learner, and humble enough to listen to people who know their trade. Trump doesn’t understand government (and doesn’t care to, by all evidence). He refuses to consult experts, nor even believe them when they talk about their area of expertise. Right now he’s warring with the Intelligence community, impugning both their motives and credibility following their report that Putin’s agents hacked into DNC email servers with the express intent of influencing our election. (I think the reason that threatens him is obvious.) He says “he knows things the generals don’t” when it comes to conducting war in the Middle East (this from the draft-dodger who used “bone spurs” to get four consecutive exemptions from military service). And on and on.

So while it’s clear what people were upset about, it still makes no sense that they would turn to Trump as their solution.

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New Year’s resolution

I was asked by some friends last night what New Year’s resolutions I made for 2017.

I’ve always made resolutions with each new year (at least once I got old enough to understand what it was all about); frequently they were the same as the previous year’s list when I took the time to go back and check, so I guess that shows how well I kept them. My resolutions usually last a month at the outside, so by the next year when I get motivated again they feel like new resolutions. I suppose it’s good that what was important a year ago is usually still important, but my lack of commitment isn’t especially commendable.

But I’ve always been curious why we make such a big deal about New Year’s resolutions in January; after all it’s a day like every other. As a society we’ve selected that date but it could just as easily (and reasonably) be any other day; why January 1? Oh, I know that’s not the point; it’s like changing the smoke alarm batteries when we reset the clocks for Daylight Savings.

But still.

Anyhow, I told my friends that my 2017 resolution (and I have only one) is that I’m no longer going to allow an arbitrary point in space in the earth’s annual trip around the sun to dictate any facet of my behavior for the coming year.

So I guess I’ve already violated my 2017 resolution. Glad I got that out of the way early on.

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I won’t be “coming together” to support Trump

Just shy of 8 years ago, on the night of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the leaders of the Republican Party met to discuss their strategy for the upcoming administration. Recall that they had just lost the Presidency to Obama, and they were faced with a Democratic House and Senate as well. The results of their discussion have become abundantly clear over the last 8 years:  they decided to do everything they could to prevent Obama’s administration from being successful. Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Seriously? The single most important thing?? Not, oh maybe helping people get an education so they could improve their lot in life? Not ending institutional racism? Not helping to fix health care? What about taking some kind of action to help end what turned out to be the worst recession in 80 years, that was the result of their poor oversight of banking policies? And let’s not mention doing a little to extricate us from the longest and most costly war in American history? Nope; his one and only mission was to obstruct Obama from getting re-elected. And he and his cronies did everything they could to prevent anything President Obama proposed.

How did that work out for ya, Mitch, ol’ buddy? Remind me again…didn’t Obama get re-elected anyway? And didn’t he have the highest approval ratings of any outgoing President in history? And didn’t you preside over the collapse of the Republican hegemony, allowing a buffoon like Trump to get elected? Remember, he defeated something like 30 other Republican candidates, every one of whom had more of the backing of the Republican party, right? (True, now you’re crowing about your phony “mandate,” but remember that Trump actually lost the general election by 3 million votes, or 49% to 51%. But that’s another rant). And in contrast to President Obama’s historically high approval rating, your Congress (controlled by the Republicans, remember) had the lowest approval rating in the history of the country.

Anyhow, against all predictions (including from Republicans themselves), Trump won. And now the very same people that he viciously mocked during the campaign are falling all over themselves to march in his parade. Marco Rubio seems to forget that Trump called him “little Marco” and implied that his father had something to do with JFK’s assassination. He called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” and said that Carson was too boring (or low energy) to hold office. And on and on. But they’re all slobbering over themselves in support of this moron, because they think they can get a place at the trough. Even Romney, when Trump dangled a Cabinet position in front of him, gave a speech extolling the guy he called “a phony” during the campaign.

And now we’re hearing the calls from this same Republican leadership that it’s time to “come together” in support of our new President-elect. When I hear that I think of the 70-plus times the Republicans voted to appeal the Affordable Care Act (which, lest we forget, was patterned after Massachusetts’ plan, a Republican creation). I think of their refusal to do their Constitutionally-mandated job and hold hearings (and a vote) on the President’s Supreme Court nominee. I think of all the ways they refused to do their job, let alone work toward a consensus (or any agreement at all). I think of all the ways they obstructed an honest, decent man and see nothing but hypocrisy. And now they have the hubris, having lost the election by 3 million votes, to ask for the majority of the voters to get behind this ludicrous buffoon.

And I think, “Nope, I won’t be coming together with them.”

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