The mind is its own place

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The Republican presidential campaign is getting apocalyptic. The Bloomberg News headline on a story by Ben Brody — "Boehner Uncorks on ‘Lucifer’ Cruz, Says He Wouldn’t Back Him in Fall" — led reader A.R. to wonder whether that "fall" is merely the November election, or rather the fall of

Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Skie
With hideous ruine and combustion down
To bottomless perdition

as John Milton put it.

Maybe it'll be both kinds of fall — Milton further explained that

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.

Looking on the bright side, William Blake told us that

Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.  From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.

Though the stereotypically high-energy candidate in this campaign is someone else entirely.

And David Frum suggests that next year will see a struggle over how to rewrite Paradise Lost ("How to save the Republican Party", The Atlantic 4/28/2016):

The big internal conservative struggle of 2017 will be the fight to write the narrative of how Trump emerged and why he lost. Anti-Trump conservatives will want to say that Trump lost because he wasn’t a “true conservative.” But 2016 to date is proposing that “true conservatives” constitute only a pitiful minority of the Republican Party, never mind the country as a whole. Why should any practical politician care about them ever again? To regain respect after their humiliation by Trump and the pro-Trump talkers on radio and TV, those who regard themselves as “true conservatives” will have to mount a show of force. “Maybe we can’t win on our own … but you can’t win without us.”  And that means contributing—and being seen to contribute—to a Trump defeat.


I'll give the last words to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards:



  1. Guy said,

    April 29, 2016 @ 8:08 pm

    "But 2016 to date is proposing that “true conservatives” constitute only a pitiful minority of the Republican Party"

    I don't agree with the argument he's arguing against but I don't understand this argument either. Trump is earning far fewer votes than earlier Republican frontrunners have. Altogether, he has barely more than a third of all votes so far. Even if we assume that everyone that voted for him isn't a "true conservative", that's still easily consistent with the hypothesis that "true conservatives" are the majority in the Republican Party.

  2. Neal Goldfarb said,

    April 29, 2016 @ 11:58 pm

    Hey, I'd totally contribute to a Trump defeat. Where do I send the check and who do I make it out to?

  3. andyb said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 4:29 am

    @Guy: The "true conservative" vote isn't everyone but Trump; it's Ted Cruz, plus a few early dropouts, minus the grudging votes from moderates who chose him as the lesser of two evils. Of course it's hard to measure exactly how big that last minus is, but consider that Cruz peaked at 35% and has come way down since then; he came in third place in most of the recent primaries, even after major establishment endorsements and a hard push by Fox and talk radio. The "true conservative" vote is at very best something like 35% of the Republican party plus 9% of independents, and most likely far less than that.

    Elsewhere in the world, Cameron and Merkel have had some success in making people think that fighting against authoritarian nationalism (a la Trump, UKIP, and AfD) is a core value of true conservatism. (It was Churchill who beat the Nazis, not Atlee.) But I think that would be a much tougher sell in America, where until last year the "true conservatives" were espousing many of the same ideas they'd now need to attack, and where the nationalists consider themselves die-hard Republicans rather than being members of an insurgent party like UKIP or AfD that can be blamed for everything.

  4. andyb said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 4:42 am

    One thing that's weird to me about the Boehner/Cruz feud is the way Cruz tiptoed around the phrase "son of a bitch" as if it were far too taboo a word to be said in public.

    I suppose in a normal election year, with candidates who are won't even finish euphemisms like "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" in public, I'd expect that. But this is the year where most of the Republican candidates used the word "shit" in front of public microphones. Cruz himself quoted Boehner's use of the word "ass" not that long ago. Where did this prissiness come from?

    (Is this a calculated move by Ted Cruz, to let us know that he's happy to use curse words, but never a word that demeans women? I don't think so—otherwise, I'm sure the anti-Trump conservative press would already be talking about it.)

  5. GeorgeW said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 8:29 am

    Neal Goldfarb: "Hey, I'd totally contribute to a Trump defeat. Where do I send the check and who do I make it out to?"

    Ted Cruz.

    On second thought, please don't do that.

  6. bks said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 8:53 am

    Guy, Trump already has received more votes than Romney did and by the end of the primaries will likely have received more primary votes than any other GOP nominee.
    (Not an endorsement! And I understand that you meant %.)

  7. D.O. said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 9:21 am

    @Neal Goldfarb: Your best bet is to donate to HRC. You can easily find the address on her website, which you can also easily find. Surprisingly, though, money seems not to be a problem in this campaign.

    As for the "true conservative" percentage, as usual, the truer you want someone to be, the less of those you'll find. Probably, a simple truth of this campaign is that there is a sizable part of anti-immigration, anti-free trade people out there who finally found their champion. However salient, these two attitudes do not constitute an overarching governing philosophy and it is not helpful to look at who is true and who is not true conservative. Political commentators will do better by analyzing reality, not political labels.

  8. andyb said,

    April 30, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

    @D.O. When commentators are talking about why Trump surprised everyone and where his appeal came from, labels aren't important; it's a lot more effective to discussing the issues and personalities involved directly. But when they're talking about what the Republican Party can, will, or should do to get beyond Trump after this election, labels are a big part of the reality, so not discussing them would be silly.

  9. DWalker said,

    May 2, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

    "Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy."

    So passivity is good, and energy/activity is evil?

    Tell that to the authors of all of the "how to succeed in business" and "leaning forward is great" books! (I do like a good rest now and then.)

  10. Rodger C said,

    May 4, 2016 @ 6:54 am

    Yes, but Blake's point was that the Anglican/ Deist establishment's "evil" was a good thing.

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