The Strange Limits of American Civic Involvement

I’m not writing to create a full essay on American civic behavior, but rather, to point out just a couple of curious things. I posted meme pictured here on Facebook this morning, and then had further thoughts about it that seemed worth sharing.

Let me start by repeating in my own words what a friend replied. He said that we have many rights that are worth defending, but that the 2nd Amendment protects our option to defend our rights with force if necessary. And indeed, I have heard such statements before. So I replied with something like this, which I have since amplified after further reflection:

And is force—whenever the threshhold for it has been met—the only means available for defending our rights? Do we just wait until that threshhold is met before doing anything about our OTHER rights—letting them go one by one until it’s time to get the guns out?

After further reflection, it seems to me that Americans will vote to be involved in civics, and then after that, lots of bad things can happen before they’ll do anything further. And even though they know that shooting is always an option, they generally tell themselves that that option is only to be used when the government starts taking away the public’s guns.

But this kind of thinking leaves a huge gap between the activist acts of voting and shooting. It leaves a huge gap between the right to be involved in picking a president and the right to mount an armed defense against tyranny. Just as there are many rights in between these two extremes, there are many options for activity between voting and shooting. But many Americans, it seems, take an either/or view between these three options:

  1. Either we vote…
  2. Or we shoot…
  3. or we just don’t do anything.

Even though a record number of voters opted for Donald Trump (whom I have never supported, because am a federalist/constitutionalist and Trump is a nationalist), the election was stolen from Trump, and a very dangerous regime was lawlessly installed in his place. And with this, the #1 option above was taken away from the American people. That is, they are no longer guaranteed the right to vote in a free and fair election.

But did they move to #2 in response? No. They moved to #3.

Now, I suppose that if Americans ever do move to #2, it will not only be after having waited to long to assert themselves, but after having waited far too long to assert themselves. And I don’t just mean asserting themselves by shooting, but that there are so many other things they could have tried before getting violent. So my goal here is not to start an insurrection, but to focus on how doing nothing seems to be the default response to tyranny.

If or when they do start shooting, therefore, I suppose the government had better watch out, because America will be beyond fed-up and will not be likely to put up with any more monkey business.

My question, though–to get back to my main point—is about what a strange psychology we seem to have in the aggregate. One the one extreme, many of us have traditionally believed, more or less, that voting is worth the effort. And on the other extreme, we seem to have stayed open to the possibility that somehow, someday, things could get bad enough that shooting would be the appropriate option.

One might have guessed that the latter would no longer be on the table—that Americans have since given up the notion of defending themselves against a tyrannical government. But it seems they’re at least still telling themselves that the option remains. And I wonder whether this doesn’t turn into some manner of twisted thinking in order to excuse their inactivity otherwise. That is, we’re loosing our rights daily—as well as watching the rule of law crumble under an increasingly-corrupt government. Yet while we do virtually nothing about it, we don’t tell ourselves “We’re doing virtually nothing about it,” but rather, “Well, we’ve always go the option to shoot it out if things get worse.”

Well, pardon me for pointing it out, but things have gotten steadily worse, and not only has American not done any shooting in response to it, but she has avoided lesser non-violent options as well. And this is what makes me suspect that America may be lying to herself. I can hear it now: “It’s not that bad, yet. It’s not that bad yet. etc.”

When a boat is taking on water, when is the right time to start bailing? Should we skip the bailing and tell ourselves, “Well, we’ve always got the lifeboat if things get bad enough?” Should we rule out doing any repairs to the hole in the hull because, hey, we’ve always got the life raft”?

I’d rather have a contingency plan that includes several tactics other than shooting on the lower rungs of the latter of emergency. But that doesn’t seem to be the way that many Americans think. Isn’t it pretty much a foregone conclusion, however, that if we do nothing until things get shooting-bad, then it’s going to come to shooting?

This is a curious psychology, indeed!

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