• author
    • Matthew Najmowicz

    • July 5, 2014 in Columnists

    Do you have principles you can’t explain?

    Yesterday, I had a Facebook conversation with a Rhode Island Tea Party member.  Like any conversation with someone who is into politics, I like to ask them what they stand for and what they believe politically. Then I ask them to explain why they believe what they do and all hell breaks loose.

    I had this conversation with this person who is parroting what he heard from FOX News or other websites he follows, and I asked a simple question.

    What are your principles?

    He replied in a snarky tone, “American principles.”

    My reply: What are American principles?

    Then started the avalanche of extreme sarcasm and cynicism that makes these conversations even more excruciating and a waste of time — just what I wanted.

    His reply was “American principles are the principles that you learn in the third grade.”  I asked him to just simply tell me what are the American principles that he believes in, and I was told to go back to the third grade.

    Then he started regurgitating the Declaration of Independence.  By the way, I’m sure he was cutting and pasting his ass off as he was holding his truths to be self-evident.

    Truth is never self-evident, President Jefferson (the man who penned the Declaration of Independent).  Truth must be confronted almost violently and relentlessly. It wasn’t a letter to the king that made England decide to leave the colonies — he had to confront the truth of rebellion with bayonets and musket rifles.  Piles of bones and blood were left as an acceptable sacrifice to the altar of truth, not a bunch of words.

    In other words, Mr Tea Party guy, it’s wonderful to be a smartass to your friends and try to be intellectually impressive with your orations (or lack thereof).  Just simply show me what your principles are.  You need to sit, think, and type your way through a very simple and unassuming question that wasn’t riddled with pretext or subtext. I thought I was being direct, and I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough for your highly evolved mind.

    Come to think of it — why couldn’t he simply tell me what his principles were?

    Did he just want to impress his Tea Party and Libertarian friends by verbally dressing down someone who dared to ask what he believed in?  Maybe.

    Is he just a jerkoff?  Perhaps, but for the interests of internet civility, let’s assume that he’s not a jerkoff.  If he isn’t an asshole and he isn’t trying to impress his friends, then why can’t he answer the question?

    Because he doesn’t have the first clue as to what American principles are and/or he doesn’t know why he believes them.  To complicate the situation even more, let’s say he understand what he thinks American principles are — he can’t tell me why he believes them.

    That’s how ideology works, ladies and gentlemen.  All day long, he listens to news, reads books, listens to podcasts and or radio, and speaks to other people who are politically like him.  Ideology works as a social mechanism that absolutely disciplines people’s thinking.  It does the thinking for them, motivates them, and then they see themselves in the trenches screaming at those who oppose them.

    He can’t tell me why he thinks immigrants are ruining the country, all he knows is that immigrants piss him off and make him afraid.  By the way — same thing for liberals.  On a nice sunny day, a Liberal could be jumping up and down that climate change is happening and we need to do something now.  Everyone can believe in climate change, but do we know what to do about it?  Do we even know the true ramifications of said climate change?  Should I just turn up my air conditioner?

    Meanwhile, do they understand why they think that way?  Do they honestly believe it, or is it because Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher says so?

    My point is that on occasion, perhaps we could all use a soul-searching session as to why we think the things we do.  Are we even aware of what’s truly going on?  Is there a deeper reason in our society and culture as to why it seems like our government and politics fail us?

    Or should we just blame everything on politicians, immigrants and GMOs like usual?

    More thinking and less believing, please.

    • “By the way, I’m sure he was cutting and pasting his ass off as he was holding his truths to be self-evident.” I’m SO PISSED that I didn’t write this line!!!! Excellent column. It’s why I no longer belong to a political party. I can figure out what my own principles are, and am not swallowing Red or Blue or any other color Kool-aid.
      I have had the same lament… when you really push some conservatives to explain themselves, and then they can’t, the conversation de-evolves into “You don’t support the troops!” and “USA! USA! USA!” I no longer waste my breath on people who don’t have any reason to believe what they do, other than that they fear “something” and belong to a group that gives the something a name.

      • You can belong to a political party. Just tell me what you believe in and why. Simple. And thank you Deb for your support.

      • Maya North

      • July 5, 2014 at 10:12 am
      • Reply

      Matt, this is deliciously and perfectly brilliant work and I am so proud of you! I also have column envy. I believe in mindfulness, and these people’s “check your brain at the door” kneejerk reactionary philosophies don’t merely enfuriate me, they terrify me. These are the people who become the ravening hordes should it all go to he’ll in a handbasket.

    • Well done. Why is it that the tea party types obfuscate what they believe in by using umbrella nouns and generalizations. “I believe in Freedum, the constitution, Umarika.” What they often mean is, “I pledge allegiance to Fox News and Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter.” But they can’t say what they value in concrete terms.

      Ask a liberal. I believe in equality for all people without restrictions to medical care or prescription medicine. I believe in a strong, federally structured education system from pre-K to University. I believe in social programs to help people better their lives; this includes food stamps, welfare, social security, school to work programs, and programs that I can’t recall at this time. I believe the minimum wage needs to be raised. I do not support trickle down economics or value corporations over people. I believe taxes need to be raised on corporations to 1960’s levels. I believe in a streamlined immigration system that helps hard working people become citizens. These are concrete.

      • Remember, the “stand by their principles.” So no compromise with anyone. Probably no compromise with their spouses and kids too.

    • Waste of time to me and my time is more valuable.

      • Kelvin Wade

      • July 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm
      • Reply

      Excellent. I love this! I loathe this phenomenon of identifying oneself as a conservative, Tea Partiers, liberal or progressive and then adopting the slate of beliefs that said label dictates. It requires very little brainpower to listen to a radio host and regurgitate his sentiments as your own. I once watched two of my friends argue and one guy started quoting something I wrote in a column. Now I wrote it so obviously I believe it’s correct but it irked me that this guy just adopted and parroted my views without thinking it through himself! Great column,Matt!

    • And what are YOUR principles?

      • Well whatever Matt’s principles maybe *Wytchfawn* he doesn’t hide them behind a fake name with a link to an untraceable website. CLEARLY whatever principles YOU carry you really are not all that proud of them. Be mindful. You are henceforth on the radar.

        • I know Wytchfawn. Her and I go back a bit. Thank you, Kathy. You are too cute.

        • Really? My link is untraceable? Crap… I was hoping to advertise my blog. Read my blog and you’ll KNOW what my principles are. Pfft.
          BTW, I think maybe you best mind your internet “p’s and q’s”. Matt’s a big boi who can fight his own battles.

      • I will write a thousand word talking about my political principles. Ok, Fawn? Hell, I’ll even dedicate them to you. Not being an asshole, Just saying, you asked and I will answer.

    • I am so enormously proud that you are my friend. You have your voice. SCREAM IT!

    • Wytchfawn is Matt’s friend. I make an effort to not have the same principles day from day. It helps shake things up, I get bored easy. Great column Matt. Thanks for the cookout invite. 😛

      • I told you that Kathy, Hannah, and yourself should come over for the first ever RI IPinion cookout. You are invited over, anytime. With your parents permission of course.

    • Nope. No principles here. Don’t need em, never did.

      • Heather Alani

      • July 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm
      • Reply

      I have lack of principles I cannot explain. Nor do I want too. I was brought into a world that force fed me principles…I even once at maybe four recall saying to mother ” cause its the principle, that’s why.” However, I quickly got bored with all the hoohah and raaah raaah, worst of all the waaaah, waaaah and said to hell with principles, I think I will dance on this table.

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