What Clarence Thomas says is true, but he doesn’t address some key problems with our bloated, unconstrained government.
Conservatives will agree with a lot of what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says in this video, but it doesn’t really get to the bottom of why DC is “broken.”
Thomas was speaking at the Heritage Foundation at an event celebrating his 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court.
What he says is true enough.
But Clarence Thomas says things that aren’t the real root of the problem. Yes, it is bad to “annihilate” people who disagree with you and it is good to use “logic” to persuade others.
So why aren’t we behaving better?
I wish Thomas had addressed why the behavior he thinks is “undermining our institutions” has become so common.
In my opinion, this leaves out of the picture two major issues: deep beliefs and money.
Justice Thomas acts like we can settle issues like “gay marriage” or abortion by civil dialogue. That is obviously false. People have ultimate commitments and either they convert at some point in their lives or they don’t. They are not persuaded by arguments because they don’t accept a premise that is contrary to their ultimate commitment. Nevertheless, the government is supposed to decide between groups with opposed ultimate commitment.
This can only result in personal attacks and yelling as those with incompatible commitments try to get the government to take their side against others.
The people of the United States used to share more ultimate commitments. Thus, the disagreements weren’t as deeply felt and they could be discussed.
But the idea that a more completely divided population can get better government by following rules about “civil discourse” is delusional. Washington, DC, is broken, as Clarence Thomas says, because the American population is fractured.
The other issue is that Washington, DC, sucks up massive amounts of money from the rest of the country. The idea that they are going to be subject to reasoned dialogue to convince them to let go of that revenue stream is naïve. People would rather get rich than be reasonable. People would rather stay rich than be reasonable.
No one wants their livelihood to disappear. They don’t even want it to shrink. Often, they want it to expand. There have been plenty of reasonable arguments made that it would be better for the country if Washington, DC, shrank in size and power. No one who has power wants to listen to those arguments. Think about Obamacare as an example. It was obvious it couldn’t work. It is obvious it is not working. But many are defending it anyway.
Furthermore, those with money at stake can hire clever liars to construct arguments for what they want. The arguments aren’t sound, but those without the same wealth are at a disadvantage. Thus, the fake imitation of reasonable discourse and logical discussion (like National Public Radio) makes people lose faith in the ability of those things to settle disagreements. They realize they need a fighter, not a consensus builder.
Thus, Donald Trump.