Among the things I so enjoy about producing this scruffy little blog is the informed and civil discourse of readers that take the time to comment, not only on my wretched scribblings, but on the comments of other readers. At SMM, we expect, and almost universally receive, civil, intelligent and interesting discourse. I don’t imagine for a second I know everything or am incapable of error. As I’ve aged, the lesson that continues to mercilessly pound me is how very much I don’t know, will never know. When I make mistakes—readers are sufficiently kind to point them out—I always do my best to make corrections. However, finding one’s own errors is difficult business, which is more or less the topic of this little missive.
I always teach my students to put some time between a final draft and publication. This is so because when we try to proofread something we’ve just finished, our brains trick us. We don’t see what we actually wrote, we see what we think we wrote, what we intended to write. My favorite illustration of this is a student who misspelled his name in the header of a paper. I dutifully marked it in red, and when I handed it back, he demanded to know why I marked his name.
“You misspelled it,” I replied as I continued to hand out papers.
“I did not misspell my own name!” he indignantly replied.
I paused, and with a slight grin, said: “Take a look.”
His expression changed from anger to amazement as he muttered: “I misspelled my own name…” to the general merriment of the rest of the class, which gave me yet another opportunity to explain the importance of putting time between completing something and proofreading it. I routinely proofread my work at least three times prior to posting it, putting time between each reading, but even that doesn’t guarantee I’ll find every error.
But the primary issue of this article is that of pronoun use and generalities. Regular reader Doug, in responding to Tara Reade And Joe Biden: Rules Are For The Little People observed:
Ha.. yeah, Mike.. the old ‘us’ and ‘they’ of it all. If the ‘us’ is normal does that not mean the ‘they’ are either abnormal.. or.. dare I say this, some level of deplorable?
And what happens to the us.. that’s not the ‘us’, nor a member of the ‘they’? I am feeling a bit displaced.. and alone. Wait.. can I be a member of the ‘those’?
Doug was referring to terminology I have adopted as a generalization, a shorthand for more complex issues. One must always write for readers new to the site, while not repeatedly over-explaining for regular readers. Some acronyms—FBI, CIA, ASAP, etc.–are so common as to be immediately understood. Others require a bit of explanation, whether spelling them out when they’re first used in an article, or perhaps the context in which they’re used makes them apparent.
While the casual reader might think my general political philosophy conservative, I’m actually a constitutionalist. That alone might be confusing. I have thrice taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I’m no longer a police officer, nor am I any longer in the military, but having been active duty, I’m in the inactive reserve, though I’m outside the age for call up in anything but the most dire national emergency one can imagine. I took those oaths seriously, and particularly as a police officer, my daily activities were governed by the Bill of Rights.
Therefore, I judge the law and political policies on their adherence to the Constitution. I vote for politicians based primarily on who, by their records and statements, is likely to do the least damage to the Constitution. By this, I’m sure you can infer that I believe all politicians will do some damage to the Constitution, and that’s pretty much the case, though I’ve thus far been pleasantly surprised by President Trump.
I believe all politicians must be viewed with at least some degree of skepticism, and the media must be viewed with virtually nothing but skepticism. The media doesn’t always lie, but when they do, it’s virtually always to the benefit of the Left, and to the detriment of Normal Americans, which requires explanation.
I don’t automatically identify all Republicans and like-minded thinkers as “us,” nor do I automatically identify Democrats and like-minded thinkers as “them.” What do we call the Left these days? They used to self-identify as Liberals, until too much of the public caught on and began to think that a dirty word. They latched onto “Progressive,” because who can be against progress? They’re big on trying to define the terms of any debate. But again, too many Americans have come to realize the kind of “progress” they espouse will turn us into Venezuela, and they don’t think eating zoo animals for mere survival to be the kind of bold, new future into which they want to march.
On the Right, most Republicans are content to be called Republicans. After all, that was the party of Abraham Lincoln, and one can’t do much better than that. However, in constantly trying to define the terms of every debate, Leftists have coined a number of terms that have stuck, primarily due to their reflexive use in the media, which is actually the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. There are Neo-Conservatives, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general. There are Republicans, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general.
There are Never Trumpers, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general, but also, and most importantly, useful idiots. There are Deplorables, which is pretty much everyone that does not believe and praise everything the Left does, says and thinks, and the list goes on and on and evolves as necessary for temporary political advantage.
The Democrat side is somewhat less complicated. Progressives, to be sure. Liberals, never in the classical sense. But circa May, 2020, the Democrat Party is nothing like the Democrat Party of 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. The 2020 Party platform will be far closer to the pseudo constitutions of Communist dictatorships than to the US Constitution. While many members of the Democrat Party have always had socialist leanings, until recent years, they were careful to keep them under wraps, at least until they seized power and could act on them. Communists too have always been welcome, but until recently, had to keep an even lower profile. The number of Democrats taking an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution without blatantly lying has continued to shrink until now, one might reasonably think them a minority in the Democrat Party, and a constantly shrinking minority at that.
I have therefore taken to calling Americans that support the Constitution, that do not see it as an obstacle to their political policies, but rather a limitation on the powers of government and an affirmation of the rights of The People, “Normal Americans.” These are the people that believe in American Constitutionalism and the rule of law. They believe in small government, limited by the letter of the Constitution, which can be read and easily understood by the average citizen. They are the Americans who know that if we don’t take care of America and Americans first, we not only won’t be able to take care of others, but eventually, not even ourselves. They believe in national sovereignty and know money is a finite resource. They are compassionate, kind and generous people, and they spend their own money, not the tax dollars of others, to help those in need. They want mostly to be left alone, and they expect politicians to understand, always, they are the hired hands of the people who have an even greater obligation to obey the law than anyone else. We hire them to set an example. At the very least, they ought to obey the law like anyone else.
I have taken to calling those that follow leftist philosophy “D/S/Cs,” for Democrats, Socialists and Communists. I suspect the majority of that Party would fit within the generally understood limits of socialism, while a somewhat larger portion of the remainder are something that traditional Democrats, people that actually love America and Americans rather than seeking to fundamentally transform both, might recognize. And the smaller portion, for the moment, are communists, though they still feel at least somewhat compelled to travel as socialists rather than reveal their true beliefs. In any case, I suspect in using this acronym, I’m being truly inclusive, which they ought to appreciate. If a given Leftist isn’t a socialist, or at least doesn’t want to be identified as one, they can embrace the “D,” which leaves the “S” and “C” for the remainder.
When I write: “Normal Americans think,” I’m sure rational people know I’m generalizing. Not only would it be ridiculous to try to include all of the gradations of political thought within that general term, it would be tedious, make my prose unreadable—even more than usual—and would not clarify anything. We can all understand what the term generally encompasses, and further understand it’s necessary to eliminate unnecessary verbiage that would not, in most circumstances, add anything to understanding.
In the same way, when I write: “D/S/Cs think,” readers can come to the same understandings. Terms like “Flyover Country,” while intended to be derogatory by those that coined it, do generally describe a common way of living and thinking, and an easily understood, general set of political beliefs. In the same way are the terms “Left Coast,” or “the Coasts,” generally understood.
In the use of pronouns, antecedents are important. They’re the proper nouns that tell us to who or what the following pronoun refers. If we say, “Bob went to the beach and he had a great time,” “Bob” is the antecedent that allows us to know who “he” is. Done properly, the pronoun is specific, referring to one person or one group.
Providing generally descriptive and useful names for political groups and philosophies is a bit more difficult, but I trust, gentle readers, you know to who, and what I’m referring when I refer to “Normal Americans” and “D/S/Cs.” Or is it time for another correction?