In Navy boot camp we learned a lot of rules, including detailed rules for how to fold and stow every item of our clothing. The white hats posed a special problem: it was physically impossible to fold them in the prescribed manner. It couldn’t be done. As soon as you let go of them they flipped back open. We had “lockers” that consisted of a few small shelves and one drawer that could be locked, and we were subject to lots of locker inspections, some by surprise. Our company commander, a first class Bosun’s Mate named Richard Passion (no lie!) had a simple solution to the white hat problem. We had only two, and one was always with us, and we were told to keep the other one in the drawer at all times. I consider this a simple lesson in the nature of rules.
Rules, let’s face it, are meant to be bent, broken or ignored. (Bent, in the case of the white hats.) But how? When? What are the rules when it comes to breaking the rules?
Some time later I attended a good Tae Kwon Do school for a couple of years. Great exercise, that. Our teacher was a very accomplished Korean gentleman who had lots and lots of rules. Rules of posture, form, sequence of muscular contractions, rules for attendance, rules, rules, rules, and you broke them at your peril. If you weren’t careful, he’d use you to demonstrate a new technique. So one day one of the bright lights makes the observation that the teacher often violates the rules of form and posture when he is demonstrating something. “And when you have a sixth degree black belt,” he said good naturedly, “so can you.” So having a license to know better is an excuse for breaking the rules.
My favorite rule-related-rule is, “don’t get caught.”
Rules can get you in trouble though, sometimes following the rules can land you in a world of shit. Sometimes rules are contradictory, and following them can lead you down the rabbit hole to the land of impossible situations.
Like the Republican primary. I’m not a big fan of the whole primary process, but the Republican primary just seems crazy. Any Republican running for president must prevail in the primaries, but if they follow the rules for getting the nomination they will probably find that they have rendered themselves un-electable in the general election.
The rules for the Republican primary require that the candidates be against lots of things that the American people are clearly for. For example:
They must be anti-Gay: most Americans just don’t give a shit who someone wants to kiss. “My cousin (or nephew, or son) is Gay . . . so what?” Or, you hear a lot of, “if they want to get married, it’s their funeral!” Not an issue for most people.
They must be anti-abortion: most Americans by far think that this should be a private matter. Don’t listen to the big mouths. They’d have an abortion anyway if they got raped, or if a doctor told them that the baby would only live a month or two and in pain, and probably even if they were forty-three and got pregnant by accident. They’d keep it quiet though, and that’s the whole fucking point! It’s private!
They must be anti-pornography: the American people have spoken most eloquently on this point, with their credit cards, and they are clearly in favor of pornography.
They must be anti-immigrant: most Americans are not overly concerned with immigrants. And definitely most Americans don’t want to start picking their own fruit. Unless your name is “Running Deer,” your people are immigrants.
Alert the media! The new thing to be anti- is contraception! Amazingly, some of these Republicans think that they can score points by being against contraception, because after all, contraception is anti-life. Obviously, they will lose the good will of most Americans on this issue.
So the Republican candidates alienate most of the electorate on their way to the nomination, which in my estimation is not a good plan. And that’s only the “Social Conservative” stuff! Along with it comes the “bomb Iran,” the “return to the gold standard,” the “jail Federal judges who step out of line,” and a host of other weird stuff that Americans don’t want.
Worst of all, they must be against Socialism, or what passes for Socialism in America. Here they are even more out of step with most Americans. Americans love their government’s small gestures at Socialism. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, and even the new Affordable Healthcare Act, Americans love that stuff.
As regular readers may have noticed, I hate the Republicans like the Inquisition hated heretics, so for me it’s all fun, all the time, watching them fall all over themselves to paint themselves into a corner in this primary season. Most often referred to by rational people as “the Republican clown car,” this group of candidates has set new low water marks for common sense and common decency. Later on this year I will thoroughly enjoy watching them try to explain “what they really meant” when they said these things.