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Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The The Rhino Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card July 31, 2014

The American Disease

A century ago, tuberculosis -- "consumption" -- was a terrifying disease. It killed slowly -- but it killed.

The sight of someone growing more frail, coughing their life away, was a familiar one, and lent realism to the story of Mimi in La Boheme, Marguerite in The Lady of the Camellias, Violetta in La Traviata.

If someone had a persistent or productive cough, the fear that it might be consumption immediately caused loved ones to look at the handkerchief into which they were coughing. Blood in the handkerchief was an almost certain sign.

People would go to sanitariums (or, with a later name change, sanatoriums) hoping for, if not a cure, then at least a prolongation of life, but there was no actual treatment beyond rest, good food, cleanliness, and "good air."

The disease simply ran its course.

Though the cause of the disease was not understood, nobody was so naive as to think that if you washed the blood out of the handkerchief, you would cure the disease.

When I hear people speak longingly of January 2017 as if the end of Barack Obama's presidency were going to cure what's wrong with America, it makes me sad.

Barack Obama is not the cause of America's ills. He is only the most visible symptom.

We think that because he has spent his term systematically weakening the power of the United States in the world, his removal from office will make us strong again.

Not likely. When I look at the clowns lining up to try their hand at the job, it's hard to feel much optimism.

The disease is already so deeply rooted that washing out one handkerchief is not going to cure anything.

Everything that Barack Obama has done arises from widely held beliefs about how the world works. He didn't invent any of the ideologies he is following.

He is acting out the script he was given by the "intellectual" elite that will continue to rule in American universities, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and the Democratic Party.

When Barack Obama is no longer President, our children will still be taught that America is the source of all that is evil in the world -- that if we weren't so aggressive and arrogant, all the other nations would be nice.

That this is obviously false, after six years of Obama's "nice," apologetic foreign policy, will not change the ideology.

Since there was never either truth or evidence supporting this belief, contradictory evidence will hardly make a dent in it, any more than twenty years of global cooling has made a dent in the "climate change" panickers.

Their faith is not based on evidence. Thus they're sure that a widening gap between "rich" and "poor" is a hideous evil that must be corrected -- by taking away from the "rich."

Never mind that the ones they call "rich" are usually just hard-working people in late middle age, finally reaching their peak earning years, and that taking away their "excess" income will merely impoverish them in their old age.

The dogma will be believed in and acted on, regardless of proof.

This attitude pervades our whole society. Education professionals still keep attempting some variation on "new math" and "see-and-say reading," even though we have acres of proof that both methods are pedagogical failures.

We keep putting in charge of the cure the very people who caused the problems in the first place, and they invariably think that the solution is to apply more of the very approaches that led to the current disaster.

We now have conclusive evidence that the best predictor of educational success is to grow up in a two-parent household. But our universities are still demanding that graduate students in family studies repudiate the family.

If you believe in the two-parent family, you aren't getting tenure at most universities. Because it's about faith, not science.

Ditto with global warming. The only "evidence" that human activities have caused global warming outside the natural fluctuations of the past ten thousand years was pure fakery.

Scientists don't fake evidence if they have real data to support their views. The UN climate change lobby keeps issuing reports that show there is no evidence for dangerous global warming caused by human activity, but then in their official conclusions they bear testimony to the very thing their report proves is not happening.

Because the dogma must be affirmed. Because real science in the West has committed suicide but keeps insisting that it isn't dead.

Right now in America and throughout the West, you do not become an "intellectual" or gain a reputation for being "smart" by being rigorous about evidence and logic.

If you question dogmas and insist on proofs, you are denied tenure at universities and are not invited to speak or lecture.

Yet these "smart" people still give themselves credit for being "rebellious" and "questioning," though they are utterly conformist and they run in terror from anything that looks like a serious question.

The sad truth today is that being regarded as "smart" in our society comes, not from demonstrating intellectual prowess or achievement, but from complete conformity with the list of Official Smart Beliefs.

The result is that our "intellectuals" are as dumb and frightened a bunch as we've ever seen.

Barack Obama has spent his whole adult life being told how "smart" he is -- not because he's actually smart, because we have no evidence either way on that question, but because he has learned all the correct opinions.

The tragedy is that he is the first President to actually try to govern by those policies.

Carter and Clinton did slash defense and weaken America's capacity, but they did not damage the economy to the point where we could not recover our strength within a few years of a responsible person occupying the Oval Office.

Obama, however, because he is ideologically pure and never compromises, has actually succeeded in much of the project of gutting the American economy. He is demonstrating that, powerful and resilient as our economic engine has been in the past, it is possible to break that engine.

The Leftist ideology does little harm to the economy -- as long as it's just talk, and business is left alone to do its job.

Thus someone as deeply ignorant of economic laws as Barack Obama and his entire administration think that they can fiddle with the economy and redistribute it "fairly."

No, they can't. Their "fairness" is, in fact, sabotage -- literally, putting a wooden shoe into the machinery so it grinds to a halt. The irony is that when the whole thing crashes, the people who are hurt the worst are the very poor people whom the Left meant to help.

It's understandable that many people believe that when Obama and his clown convention are removed from the executive branch, all their damage can be undone.

But their true believers are still half of Congress, and they will block any efforts at repair. The media are still true believers, and will treat all efforts to undo the damage as horrible attacks on the poor, or women, or minorities, or peace, or the global climate, or ...

But the worst problem is that when Obama's clowns are gone, who will replace them?

Another set of ideological clowns who are every bit as divorced from reality as the group who are now running things.

There are smart Republicans who understand the economy, the process of government, and foreign policy, but they are constantly and savagely attacked by the fake "Tea Party" Republicans as RINOs -- Republicans In Name Only.

I can imagine one of these Right-wing clowns getting into the White House and immediately trying to conduct an old-style foreign policy, not realizing that our ability to project power and influence throughout the world was based on real strength and a system of trusting relationships that took generations to build.

Obama has brought all that crashing down, and it will take many years to rebuild our military strength, our economic strength, and the trust of leaders and people in other nations.

If a new Republican President starts throwing our weight around, trying to create the opposite of Obama's insanely weak foreign policy, he will find that it doesn't work.

Speaking loudly while armed with a noodle is the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt's formula: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Roosevelt's was the policy of a great nation. Neither party today knows what "greatness" even means.

And at home, every single Leftist program that damages the economy has a constituency that will scream at any attempt at repeal. As I warned years ago, ObamaCare cannot simply be erased -- it now has to be replaced with something.

And Republicans will learn that, despite all their insistence that they can govern by "pure" conservative principles, in the real world they will have to compromise or they will fail.

They reject officeholders because they have compromised in order to pass any portion of the conservative agenda. What the new "pure" conservatives will discover is that instead of getting "pure" results, by refusing to compromise they'll get nothing at all.

And, unlike the Left, which has Hollywood and the mainstream media cheering them on, covering up their disastrous mistakes and pretending they're doing a great job, Republicans in power will have the same people savaging them constantly -- especially the few times they actually do something right.

They will be punished for their successes, while their failures will be rejoiced over. It's very hard to stay in power in such a climate, when the opinion-shapers are hellbent on destroying your reputation.

But I'll go further: The Republican Party deserves to fail, has chosen to fail, and this deathwish continues in full force.

They could have elected Mitt Romney in 2012 and stopped the national nightmare by installing in the White House the most competent man to be a major party nominee since Dwight Eisenhower.

But the evangelical Christians stayed home in droves rather than vote for an evil Mormon -- thus remaining "pure" but refusing to govern.

The irony is that these very "Christians," so determined to be pure, now have as their single most important test of purity the most unChristian dogma in present-day politics: No Amnesty!

These "Christians" would do well to read chapter 18 of the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells his exact opinion of those who demand "no amnesty, ever!" for other people's sins -- while they expect to be forgiven for their own much greater ones.

In practical terms, the "no amnesty" litmus test for Republican candidates is a political mistake: Poll after poll, election after election, shows that this anti-immigrant stance does Republicans far more harm than good.

But I think the harm it does is far deeper. It's a hypocritical, hateful attitude, that the poorest of the poor should never be forgiven for the crime of going wherever they had to, regardless of risk, in order to feed their families.

It poisons the Republican Party the way support of slavery poisoned the Democratic Party before the Civil War.

Illegal immigrants are the poster children for a free market economy -- they wouldn't have come here if our economy didn't need them and have jobs for them at wages only they would accept.

When our economy staggered and the jobs dried up, they stopped coming.

But the desire to punish those who came before continues unabated in the dark hearts of the most unforgiving, unChristian segment of the American body politic.

But because you can't get the Republican nomination without pledging to be unforgiving, unjust, anti-free-market, and unwilling to compromise on anything, Republicans will prove themselves incapable of governing a free nation.

Barack Obama is the symptom of a deadly disease. The ideology of the Left denies reality, ignores laws of human behavior, and has led us into a far more dangerous world than the one George W. Bush left us.

But the Republican Party, though it has a few leaders capable of governing, can't nominate any of them because they have compromised and because they will not make pledges that no decent, intelligent human being should make -- never to compromise, never to forgive.

These are the choices being placed before us in the election this fall, and probably in 2016 as well.

Not the choice between a dire disease and its cure, but the choice between one fatal disease and another just as damaging.

The Democratic Party drives out anyone who is not ideologically pure, and so does the Republican Party.

Both ideologies are insane, self-contradictory, and destructive, and we give power to either of them at our peril.

The best we can hope for at this moment is to lurch back and forth between two insanities. The problem is that neither our economy nor the good order of the world can be maintained in such a condition.

There is a cure for our current ills. It's for one of our political parties to grow up and decide to govern for the public good, seeking, not purity, but consensus.

Why not try democracy? Why not see what the people care about, and stop trying to ram down their throats policies that they find either offensive or irrelevant?

The Republican Party has Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, and others who have shown themselves capable of intelligent compromise when appropriate, and tough stances when the other side won't compromise.

But when every compromise that leads to good government is treated as an indelible stain on a candidate's record, how can the Republican Party nominate anybody with the capacity and wisdom to begin to repair the damage to America caused by eight years of the disease of which Obama is the symptom?

The Democrats are poised to offer us the proven incompetent, dishonest Hillary Clinton. The Republicans are selecting from a menu of people crazy enough to pass their purity tests.

No wonder most people just keep their heads down and hope the storm blows over.

Where is the party that wants to govern from the center?

It can't exist -- because all the money to run campaigns comes from the fanatical fringes of both parties. The great center of the country doesn't open its pockets to fund centrist politics.

Or ... maybe they would, if any party or candidate made a serious effort to speak to them.

But who tunes in to the "moderate politics radio hour"?

Who puts "Compromise!" or "Bend a little!" on a placard and waves it in a demonstration?

So we will continue to watch as Putin wins great public support for his Hitlerian policies, while America's Symptom-in-Chief says, "Tut-tut, play nice, please, or no cookie with your supper."

We will watch as China decides that now, with America's military deliberately weakened and a spineless President, it's time to take back Taiwan. One can imagine how stern and solemn Obama will look as he makes another "smart" speech and then goes back to his golf game.

The fall of Taiwan will be the end of the world economy as we've known it under the Pax Americana since World War II. No President will be able to bring us back from that abyss without a slow, laborious climb that can only succeed with steady leadership and the support of a united country.

And since both Parties are grimly determined to purify their faction rather than unite the nation, we have no reason to hope for any improvement.

Cough. Cough. Blood in the handkerchief. Doomed to die of self-consumption, slowly at first, then rapidly as the body weakens.


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