Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 1:58 pm | Overcast with Haze 67º


Randy Alcorn: Ideology the Solace of Stupidity as Supreme Court Battle Is About to Prove

​The sudden death of arch-conservative, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has Republicans frantically rushing to plug an unexpected breech in the dike holding back the sea of liberalism.

With Scalia’s corpse still warm, Senate Republicans defiantly vowed to reject any replacement President Barack Obama might nominate.

Viewed through the standard left/right ideological glasses, the Supreme Court had been tilted right, 5-4. Now, with Scalia’s passing, the court is evenly balanced, which portends deadlock until a new justice is sworn in.

Republicans are vexed that with only 11 months left in office, Obama could tip the ideological seesaw to the left.

The poor, beleaguered Republicans, as if they don’t already have enough troubles with the carnival of clowns seeking the party’s presidential nomination. Now they face the threat of having a Supreme Court throwing left jabs that could KO their dreams of returning America to a mythical past in which Americans were self-sufficient churchgoers stoically accepting their free-market fates as divine providence, and where the boundaries of women’s rights could not exceed their function as breeding units, and where homosexuals quietly hid in closets.

The Republicans’ desire to delay filling the court vacancy until after Obama leaves office carries the hope that the next president will be a Republican. But, unless the vast majority of American voters have descended into ideological idiocy, they will not pick a president from the pack of snarling dogs in the Republican kennel.

The next president will likely be a Democrat, and if Republicans retain their Senate majority after the next election, the Supreme Court could conceivably be short a justice, and in possible deadlock, indefinitely.

I hope that by now most Americans have exhausted their patience with this political pissing contest. Every lamp post and fire hydrant in Washington, D.C., reeks of ideological urine, and our government has been reduced to rancorous gridlock.

Historians tell us that this is nothing new, that since the founding of the nation American politics have often been acrimoniously polarized. Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean that it must be tolerated today.

Although today’s rabid Republican conservatives have taken partisan politics to a new low, both liberals and conservatives work to rally people around branded ideologies that boast noble principles and catchy concepts purported as ethically and effectively superior to the opposing, “errant” ideology.

Enabled by enough lazy-minded voters who confuse intelligence with ideology — or worse, with theology — we get a dysfunctional government filled with peevishly obstinate crusaders dedicated to marking their territory rather than compromising or, God forbid, objectively addressing pressing issues.

Ideology is a smoke screen that has credulous citizens wandering around the political landscape convinced they know where they are going. The trick is to rise above the ideological haze and see clearly where to go to solve problems and benefit the nation.

Labels like “conservative,” “liberal,” “capitalist” and “socialist” are handy, and we all use them, but they do not always facilitate objective thinking and clear judgment. Rejecting or accepting an idea or a proposal because it is consigned to a particular ideological label is a kind of syllogistic thinking that limits possibilities.

For instance:  the premise is socialism is undesirable because government owns and controls the means of production and the distribution of capital and land. National parks are owned by government and so is the national highway system. Is socialism always undesirable?

The premise is free-market capitalism is desirable because the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by private individuals and corporations. In their quest for profit, individuals and corporations have often despoiled the common environment, bilked investors, and endangered customers. Is free-market capitalism always desirable?

When possibilities are limited by ideological absolutes the baby can get thrown out with the bath water. The viability of any political candidate or the wisdom of any proposal is not predicated on the ideological categorization people may assign to them.

In spite of what ideologues may believe, the entire universe of human thought is not divided up into two diametrically opposed philosophies, liberal and conservative.

Paring down bloated government and paying down the national debt would benefit the nation. Ensuring that all Americans can afford a college education and health care would benefit the nation.

Preventing the forces of greed from preying on the public, wrecking the economy and gobbling up most of the nation’s wealth should be something most Americans support. Clean air, clean water and border security are also things most Americans support.

These are neither liberal nor conservative, and rational Americans don’t care what you call them, just get them done. To do that America needs impartial, reasonable people throughout government, not ideological zealots.

To that end, Obama should find and nominate an independent thinker to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. It would be interesting to see how Republicans justify rejecting such a nominee.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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