On Writing of Wrongs

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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40 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    To Right the Wrongs, one must Write the Wrongs.

    Nice, I like it. It’s apt. Too much, we are all so wrapped up in making sure the other guy doesn’t win, that we refuse to face our own failings.

    Politically, morally, we have all stared too long into the abyss.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a bit because it’s my turn this week to check in on my parents. In reality, my sister and I both check in on them each week, but she lives in South Korea and I’m in Canada, and it can be expensive, since neither parent has grasped the concept of zoom.

    Also, both of them are really angry about potlicks- like constantly and obsessively angry. It’s like the poisonous gas that has expanded to fill every corner of their lives. They’re both right-wingers, but it’s pretty much the same with my left-winger friends- in America that is. They obsess constantly on the topic that makes them the most unhappy. It’s enervating. And it’s not easy to call mom and dad and listen to a tirade about how liberals are starting a race war every week.

    Jaybird has the line about political struggles ending in divorce, and it feels like Americans are in the last days of marriage counseling now. They say that divorce is a process of replacing one shared story with two competing stories. Americans seemingly want to be validated in their anger- told the “other side” really is dysfunctional and corrupt and irredeemable. They want to tell their story constantly. I think what gets enervating is just what happens in a failing marriage- everyone is waiting for the other person to fix themselves and it doesn’t work that way.

    Sorry to say an even darker metaphor has come to my mind, I’m afraid to say: Der Weg ins Freie- the Arthur Schnitzler novel about being a Jew in Vienna at a time in which nationalism and antisemitism were at a peak, but so were art and psychology and literature. It translates to “The Road into the Open” and what he was describing was a situation where there was no road into the open- the Jews couldn’t assimilate or remain unassimilated without being despised either way. He thought it would end in a large bonfire. This was written in 1908.

    No, I’m not saying anyone in America is in the same situation as the Jews in Austria. What I’m saying is there is something irreconcilable about the political situation in America. Y’all can’t live together, but you can’t exactly expel a third of the country either. There has to be some way out that isn’t a huge fire. I feel like writers, like marriage counselors, are there to help us understand what is human in the other. Not to bring kindling.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:

      There are lots of problems with “divorce or war” a la Jaybird:

      1. It has happened less than we think;

      2. The United States is a combination economic union (like the EU.) and military union (like NATO). There is an often cited fact that California would be a G10 country if it were an independent nation but this neglects the fact that California does not have to pay for its own defense and still gets some money from the Federal Government (especially for disaster relief). Likewise, a lot of red states are going to discovery they are in for a world of hurt if they are suddenly cut-off from easy access to coastal ports and blue-state dollar flow;

      3. The United States is just as much divided by census tract as it is by red state v. blue state. Joe Biden received 11 million votes in California (63.5 percent of the total). This still means Trump’s 34.3 percent equaled just over 6 million votes. That is more than he received in Texas. What happens to these 6 million people in the case of “divorce” if California goes to the blue nation?Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Loose talk of divorce or war also has the anesthetizing property of conjuring up Hollywood science fiction scenarios- Plucky teenager Katniss Evergreen shooting helicopters or something.

        By being so otherwordly and alien, it has the effect of seeming unreal and un-possible and therefore soothing.

        But a more likely scenario is just the long gray cold war struggle of other nations; Less violent than Beirut or Yugoslavia, but maybe something like Northern Ireland in the Troubles.

        The show Derry Girls on Netflix does a good job of showing how normal life can be during Troubles; Where the recurring patter of shootings and occasional car bombings just fades into the background wallpaper of daily life, and going on holiday means passing through numerous checkpoints of armed military vehicles.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I wouldn’t even go as far as the Troubles. Another big issue is that the United States is a very big nation and this allows for the census tract division. Both of us might as well be closer to Mars than we are too conservative Bakersfield. Northern Ireland is small, very small.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Hey, I’m just gaming this stuff out.

        The game is iterated.

        Keep gaming it out. Where do you see it ending up?Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

          America, circa 1920 would be a suitable example.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            A Red Scare, Prohibition, a Wall Street Bombing, and a Harding-style Presidency?

            I guess I can see that for 2021.

            Keep iterating.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              The Tulsa Massacre, the Matewan Massacre, the US Army taking control of Gary Indiana and declaring martial law, a lynching almost every week, the Klan virtually running the Indiana state government.

              Point being, American history is astonishing violent from the viewpoint of us who only experienced the post WWII prosperity.

              And yet the 1920s are looked back on with nostalgia. Claire Briggs certainly didn’t think he was living in a nation beset with Troubles or civil strife, but he did.

              We don’t have to game this out or use our fortune telling prognostication powers. America has already experienced convulsions of polarization and violence on a large scale.

              The good news is America survived and became a better place.

              The bad news is the victory wasn’t inevitable and the outcome could have been much worse.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Does that not sound like war to you?

                Well, maybe we’ll get to the other side and look back on the 2020s with incredulity that the people who made the 80s, 90s, and oughts were capable of creating a generation that ended up with a country as awesome as the 30s are likely to end up being.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

          It has never led me to divorce or war which as Chip notes as the quality of being a numbing opiate.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        That’s what Domestic Terrorism Laws are for.

        I certainly take your point that Divorce is very impractical… maybe impossible. Are we sure the ruling out Divorce means we’ve also ruled out War? I’m not so sure. Not that we’d start it… they would start it, of course.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Now that I think about … we’ve always been at war.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Stillwater says:

            Maybe we’ve always been at War with varying degrees and terms of Truce.

            Except I don’t think there’s any coherent “we” in that sentence. But I do think there’s a coherent Truce.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

              This is the point I’m making above, that America has always been in a simmering cold war between its factions, and the peaceful transfer of power has always been precarious.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m not sure I agree that transfers have been precarious. In my lifetime maybe 1968, if we squint? Then off the top of my head I could see Jackson, Lincoln and Hayes… maybe with a few lesser knowns? Otherwise a remarkable run, really.

                I guess I’m suggesting sort of the opposite, that the Truce mostly holds, not that War almost always nearly wins.

                What I’m noticing is that America isn’t really using the language of Truce and Plurality anymore. I don’t think we ever had Unity, if that’s what you mean… but strangely calls for Unity these days strike me as calls for war… a Unity of elimination.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I’m not sure what you mean by the “language of Truce and Plurality”.

                When was that, and what might be some examples?Report

      • There is an often cited fact that California would be a G10 country if it were an independent nation but this neglects the fact that California does not have to pay for its own defense and still gets some money from the Federal Government (especially for disaster relief).

        I think your accounting is wrong here. California has a state GDP now, of which roughly 19% gets sent to Washington, DC and 12% goes to Sacramento (plus locals). As an independent country with that same GDP it would no longer send money to Washington, and could spend a portion of that 19% on its military. That’s quite likely to cost less than its current contribution: the US spends ~3.5% of GDP on the military; most European countries seem to get along fine on ~2%. The details might be interesting. Currently, California’s “share” pays for something over one full carrier strike force. I don’t think an independent California would have much interest in one.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

          But Sir! We must not allow a carrier gap with Greater Portlandia!Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            As if metro Portland could afford a carrier strike group. Or would want one :^)Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Sure, and be at the mercy of the Antifa hordes on the commanding heights of Capitol Hill to sap and impurify all of their precious bodily fluids.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Portland doesn’t want a carrier strike group, they want a well-disciplined Marine expeditionary unit. Who can be told, “Clean out the Antifa camp.” Or “Clean out those people at Malheur.” At least, listening to my long-time friends in the Portland suburbs, that’s what they want.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I’ll say it now, on the record: I don’t want to live in any state that doesn’t want its own carrier strike force.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

          If they go down the rabbit hole of having their own army then they also need walls and control over their borders… at which point their economy would rapidly shrink because they wouldn’t have unlimited free trade with the rest of the nation.

          For example they currently “import” 25% of their power.

          The link below showcases to what degree we tend to rely on a few states to produce the bulk of specific products. So Arkansas produces more rice than every other state combined and sells it to them. The other examples here are hogs, eggs, and cattle.

          California-a-nation either needs free trade with the US to a crazy level by international standards or they lose a huge amount of their GDP.


          • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

            Exactly, which only points up the silliness of any secession talk.

            Any independent state or even group of states could only survive by developing a greater degree of cooperation and reciprocity with its neighbors, not less.

            Seceding because you can’t stand Those People is absurd when suddenly Those People now have the power to shut down your economy.

            Divorce is a game you win by not playing.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              The good ol’ US Free Trade Zone!

              Seriously though, it’s a political dispute, not an economic one. People don’t want to stop trading with CA, they just want CA to stop telling them their car needs an expensive catalytic converter, or that they can’t have guns, or whatever else they think those crazy liberals in CA want.

              Likewise, CA would not want to be forced to enact whatever laws a deep red state finds acceptable that those crazy liberals would find offensive.

              If we are going to keep on with the marriage analogy, lots of folks have healthy marriages by having personal spaces (Man-Caves, She-Sheds, whatever…) where the other does not have much sway.

              It’s not no-sway (I can’t be letting the garage be such a mess it attracts vermin, or the like), but it’s a limited amount.

              So really it boils down to how much federalism folks are willing to tolerate. I think, for the far-left/right, tolerance for federalism is crashing. And I think it’s a natural result of the information age. The world seems far too small.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Federalism is limited by Constitutional rights, and the modern marketplace demand for uniform markets.

                The Constitutional guarantee of rights doesn’t come in fifty flavors and Ford doesn’t want to sell fifty types of pickups.

                Various states can tinker around the edges of the Second Amendment or Roe, and add this or that doohickey to the emissions system of cars, but only in very limited ways.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Generally speaking, the issues that are in dispute are…

                1) Constitutional Right #1 vs Constitutional Right #2

                2) Who pays for a Right

                Something we tend to see is people insisting that the Right they favor is absolute while other Rights are not.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                And yet, those edges are a raging source of dispute…Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Or we can have states split into two groups of approximately equal size, one which holds that voting is a privilege and people expected to jump through hoops, and one which holds voting is a right and should be as easy as possible.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                But mail in ballots are so susceptible to fraud! Even though no one seems able to explain exactly how said fraud is committed without the entirety of the states election apparatus in a conspiracy to do so…Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    We are but imagine this: a very bad day happens and Ordinary-Times goes down.

    The main documentation of my life and thought processes and how I thought about this versus that within hours of it happening will be, poof, gone.

    Every time Twitter does one of those things to improve your user experience by making it impossible to scroll back more than a (whatever duration) into your own timeline? Your documentation is gone.

    We live at the precipice of an Eternal Now.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      I just checked. My twitter stops at October 28th, 2020.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

        well. Twitter Advanced Search lets you put in your @ and a date range, and you can get all the tweets from that range. You’re right that it’s not “click Profile and scroll down” but they are there.

        Of course, there’s people out there who have this thing where they routinely delete all their tweets older than five minutes, so half my tweets are either quote-tweets of nothing or responses without context.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

          There’s a way to request your entire twitter history as well. Get it emailed to you a few hours or days after you put in the request.

          But it’s a pain to do.

          Easier to live in the now.

          (Though you can do a search from:@name “keyword or phrase” and find out if the journalist who wrote a story about a guy saying something bad a decade ago said something bad 5 years ago.)Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

      Your comment led me to look at what I wrote here in January, 2020. Then I cringed at some of the writing and rewrote some of it and hit “update”- in spite of the fact that almost no one will ever notice.Report

    • Grandpa Simpson in reply to Jaybird says:

      I write my thoughts and experiences down in what we used to call a “journal”, with a good old fashioned fountain pen that has lasted me ten years while wearing my bowler hat and an onion tied to my belt.

      No hornswoggling consarned tech company will ever delete my journals dadblastit and by cracky if I wanna go back and look at them.[ed note: the rest of the authentic frontier gibberish was truncated]Report