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Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think he does, not in the philosophical sense. We're talking here about using history to recognize principles, of which at least Obama understood some of. But that's really besides the point, the important point is that understanding history is necessary.

 

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Yes, but my problem is that Obama did recognize a principle, the principle of American exceptionalism - it is just that in the same breath he praised other countries' 'exceptionalism', too! In other words, he negated the concept. Not everyone can be equally exceptionalist, by definition. In that, he exposed his basic relativist, egalitarian principles, I think. Whereas, Trump (by intuition, some might say) does have a clear idea of what exceptionalism looks like, or has looked like.

Not trying to be too down on Obama - except for his terrible foreign policies - in retrospect it is too easy to criticize a presidency and I was fairly favorable to him in the beginning.

But I was puzzled back then by the "Yes, we can!" slogan. We can --what?

I believe it has emerged that means "we can ... be just like everyone else". (i.e. Europeans, and so on). This narrative is what the Obama supporters responded to. We Americans aren't so special, after all. To some, anything but.

Edited by whYNOT

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On 5/5/2018 at 7:47 AM, whYNOT said:

Clearly, in this discussion it emerges that I have a lower expectation from leaders than do others here. I am opposed to and wary of "leaders" anyway, intellectual or not, and think their Executive powers, everywhere in the world are excessive. (Even in the USA and its superior system of government). My low expectation is best summed up by that adage that the right man/woman for the job of President wouldn't want or take it. (Being a little facetious, can you imagine a President Galt...?)

Yes, I could image a President Galt. Of course, this would be utter impossible under our current situation, where the majority support socialism, religion, and in general, altruistic solutions to complex problems. We live in very anti-intellectual times. While I may admire Barak Obama for his intellect, I wholly disagree with his conclusions. While I might recoil in confusion at the success of President Trump, I have to admire his understanding of the anti-intellectual collective that makes his success as our national leader possible. 

Leadership toward a more Objectivist America would need to begin with a shift in consumption of more Objectivist intellectual products. We would need to see more Objectivist themes in our movies and TV shows. Presently, we have a crisis of literacy in the US. This results in the identity politics, the tribalism, and the worst aspects of democracy, which the Founders wished to avoid. One of the worst presidents (in my opinion) in American history, Woodrow Wilson, succeeded with his "progressive" agenda, because universities, newspapers, and other literary periodicals supported his "progressive" solutions long before the common man had ever heard of Woodrow Wilson. Education and the media lay the groundwork.

After perhaps a generation or more of emphasizing  the Objectivist values of individualism, capitalism, and reason, the "imperial presidency" may diminish. Taking this fantasy a step further, perhaps the rest of the world may seek to emulate the "new" American paradigm. I doubt if I will live long enough to see this transformation, but the idea of an American president leading almost entirely as the ideological leader is certainly possible, if a bit improbable. He/she would lead less as the commander-in-chief, or the temporal spiritual guide of Americans, which is what our current crop of Americans seem to favor ( as well as a power-drunk congress gorging on political pork.) Perhaps only then would a majority of enlightened Americans favor a President Galt, who would be the celebrity of the cerebral, the chief administrator of justice, and the one who spends the most time playing golf with other global leaders of a competitive and free global economic system. Wouldn't that be a great story to tell your great-great-great grand children.

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On 5/2/2018 at 8:09 AM, whYNOT said:

A most cynical summation. For all his faults of method, is this how Trump's purpose and goals are seen? It has been clearly the sidelined ordinary American whom your President has recognized and upheld over the Leftist intellectual elitists, or 'the powerful".

Thank you. Cynical, by definition, means believing that people are motivated by self-interest and concerned only with one's own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.  The Donald isn't a difficult person to read, by tweet or otherwise, and anyone who believes he upholds a significant portion of the "flyover" electorate as anything other than a political stepping stone is denying the obvious.

But yes, he is my president, again by definition, and I appreciate the collateral effects this capricious bull is wreaking in the china shop of increasingly socialist ideals.

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22 hours ago, Repairman said:

Yes, I could image a President Galt. Of course, this would be utter impossible under our current situation, where the majority support socialism, religion, and in general, altruistic solutions to complex problems. We live in very anti-intellectual times. While I may admire Barak Obama for his intellect, I wholly disagree with his conclusions. While I might recoil in confusion at the success of President Trump, I have to admire his understanding of the anti-intellectual collective that makes his success as our national leader possible. 

Leadership toward a more Objectivist America would need to begin with a shift in consumption of more Objectivist intellectual products. We would need to see more Objectivist themes in our movies and TV shows. Presently, we have a crisis of literacy in the US. This results in the identity politics, the tribalism, and the worst aspects of democracy, which the Founders wished to avoid. One of the worst presidents (in my opinion) in American history, Woodrow Wilson, succeeded with his "progressive" agenda, because universities, newspapers, and other literary periodicals supported his "progressive" solutions long before the common man had ever heard of Woodrow Wilson. Education and the media lay the groundwork.

After perhaps a generation or more of emphasizing  the Objectivist values of individualism, capitalism, and reason, the "imperial presidency" may diminish. Taking this fantasy a step further, perhaps the rest of the world may seek to emulate the "new" American paradigm. I doubt if I will live long enough to see this transformation, but the idea of an American president leading almost entirely as the ideological leader is certainly possible, if a bit improbable. He/she would lead less as the commander-in-chief, or the temporal spiritual guide of Americans, which is what our current crop of Americans seem to favor ( as well as a power-drunk congress gorging on political pork.) Perhaps only then would a majority of enlightened Americans favor a President Galt, who would be the celebrity of the cerebral, the chief administrator of justice, and the one who spends the most time playing golf with other global leaders of a competitive and free global economic system. Wouldn't that be a great story to tell your great-great-great grand children.

Indeed, "President Galt", at a time the American people are ready for - and deserving - of him, will exist and he'll step forward for the job. Cause and effect must be observed. The dog wags his tail, horse draws the cart, etc., and Americans who by vast majority demand their individual self-responsibility, neither desiring to 'own' other people's bodies -nor their minds, and blocking government interference in their lives, can bring about reduced government, individual rights, and so on. I keep emphasizing self-responsibility, since this quality alone is well-known to Americans and already acceptable and necessary to many, as the pathway to that end and I theorize, its fastest means of implementation.

A simple but critical point to clear up for newer O'ists - I think - an Objectivist society, as such, will not have to be the prerequisite for that outcome. While of course it will be Influenced strongly by Objectivist ideas. Clearly all through Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, a general society, not exclusively Objectivist, was envisaged by Rand

I concede that an exceptional leader has some power to change opinion within a populace, but I think the most objectively principled president, who ~somehow~manages to come to power in today's climate, still can't lead where his supporters and opponents won't follow. 

Your thoughts of world "emulation" are true, but it carries both the bad - and the good. One needs to see and know 'concrete' moral exemplars of e.g. freedom, individualism, reason - if one is rational. But too, I am seeing here, in RSA, the vaguely-held, notional ideologies of Socialism and neo-Marxism on the rise, fed by power hungry politicians, miscomprehending average people - and the immoral intellectuals (who do understand the ideas). Those essential altruists, who blindly and dependently copycat social -economic, and political trends in Europe, Africa or Latin America, have to be shown (yet again) how they don't work, but spell disaster for people and nations. Beating back the bad ideas in western nations might change the perceptions in other countries. In this important respect you there are an example to us. If the section - mainly represented by 18 - 30 year olds, I read somewhere - which is the extreme Socialist Left in the US gradually gains ground, that will sanction Leftism in many other places. Sort of, "America(!) condones this, why can't we?" 

Edited by whYNOT

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This is off topic but I think some of you guys think that the democrats are for diversity when that is not true.  The only reason democrat politicians appear to like blacks and immigrants is because masses of blacks and immigrants vote that way.  If there were more immigrants who didn't believe in handouts then best believe the democrat politicians wouldn't cater to them as much.    Democrats aren't for diversity they are for spreading their socialist policies... if you come out as a black, Asian, gay capitalist/individualist they feel that you are pro-white and they want to ruin you and your reputation.  The latest example being Kanye West.  Somebody need to give him Atlas Shrugged.

 

Edited by dadmonson

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6 hours ago, dadmonson said:

The latest example being Kanye West.  Somebody need to give him Atlas Shrugged.

If the guy wants to learn how to read, there are easier materials to practice on than Atlas Shrugged.

 

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12 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Indeed, "President Galt", at a time the American people are ready for - and deserving - of him, will exist and he'll step forward for the job. Cause and effect must be observed. The dog wags his tail, horse draws the cart, etc., and Americans who by vast majority demand their individual self-responsibility, neither desiring to 'own' other people's bodies -nor their minds, and blocking government interference in their lives, can bring about reduced government, individual rights, and so on. I keep emphasizing self-responsibility, since this quality alone is well-known to Americans and already acceptable and necessary to many, as the pathway to that end and I theorize, its fastest means of implementation.

A simple but critical point to clear up for newer O'ists - I think - an Objectivist society, as such, will not have to be the prerequisite for that outcome. While of course it will be Influenced strongly by Objectivist ideas. Clearly all through Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, a general society, not exclusively Objectivist, was envisaged by Rand

I concede that an exceptional leader has some power to change opinion within a populace, but I think the most objectively principled president, who ~somehow~manages to come to power in today's climate, still can't lead where his supporters and opponents won't follow.

whYNOT:

In general, I think we have common ground for agreement, but I have to question your commentary hi-lighted in bold above. If I read it as I believe it intended, you seem to suggest that this objectively principled president could rise to the presidency without the requisite majority. I would assert that the exceptional leader need not be a political leader, but rather a high-profile spokesperson with a great deal of "buzz." Nothing personal against the current leadership at ARI, but I don't see those 18-to-30s flocking to see Yaron Brook. If a pop-culture celebrity were to emerge, and some how effectively convey Objectivism to the larger and younger audience, others might follow. Don't think it will be Kanye. (By "follow", I mean that they would take on the challenge of questioning the anti-intellectual norms of our times, and learn to think for themselves.) A vast number of young Americans supported Bernie Sanders, a socialist. Many others continue to support President Trump, a national-socialist. This does not bode well for their future. Nor the future of the world.

Trying my best to stay on topic, "America at its best," is a concept that can be only fleshed out after one identifies "what is best." Democracy, rule by the majority, is not a great system, especially if the majority are ignorant and angry. On the other hand, we're not having sectarian violence, such as the early settlers of the Colonial age. We're not committing national resources to the sort of destruction that led to African-American emancipation, as in the Civil War. And the threat of transforming the US into a full-fledged communist state has never been a real concern since the Great Depression. Our First Amendment is largely intact, as are the rest, (excepting for #18). It's not too late to turn this in another direction. But just as Woodrow Wilson was ushered in with the aid of so many "progressive" journalists and literary authors, our future "President Galt" will need to be proceeded by an Objectivist vanguard. 

9 hours ago, dadmonson said:

This is off topic but I think some of you guys think that the democrats are for diversity when that is not true.  The only reason democrat politicians appear to like blacks and immigrants is because masses of blacks and immigrants vote that way.  If there were more immigrants who didn't believe in handouts then best believe the democrat politicians wouldn't cater to them as much.    Democrats aren't for diversity they are for spreading their socialist policies... if you come out as a black, Asian, gay capitalist/individualist they feel that you are pro-white and they want to ruin you and your reputation.  The latest example being Kanye West.  Somebody need to give him Atlas Shrugged.

dadmonson: I'm not sure what prompted this statement. I made no references to diversity. If it helps to understand the shifts in party platforms, allow me to explain a bit about "progressive" President Wilson: He was a racist Southerner, opposed to women's suffrage, very anti-immigration, and based on that, the leader of the Democrats had little if any concerned for diversity. But that was "progressive" then, and this is now; if that helps any.

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Keith, I am a little confused about which paragraph of mine you meant to highlight and discuss...? Individual rights not requiring an Objectivist society -  or the qualities needed, or not, from a leader?

The position I maintain, simply, is that a leader is the result of millions of value-choices by individual people, their implicit or explicit identifications, self-identities and evaluations - which means a huge aggregate of mixed people's beliefs, morals, aspirations and purposes, (etc.) right down to their personal fears and hopes. A good leader today may identify and purportedly try to answer to some of that, but he is ultimately the elected official.

AR: "To be free, a man must be free from his brother" (all they who 'democratically' elect a particular Party and a leader, so dictating everyone's futures). Democracy per se, "rule by the majority", is inherently flawed because a majority are often wrong; it generalizes ('averages out') into a mass that which is individual, and will favor some groups over others. The best that I think can be said for democracy is - Presidents come and Presidents and parties go.

Of course, Rand's individual rights and the view of mankind by the Framers of the US Constitution transcends the flaws.

Who the President would be under a future dispensation, declines altogether in significance; then, the individual thinks for himself and looks for his own just desserts according to his rationality and efforts.

Saying that, and what you already you know about the faults of democracy, how possibly could the "Constitutional Republic" have devolved to "a Democracy" for many Americans, and further descend to a "Social Democracy", the goal for some of them?

Reminded here by what I read of Barack Obama's speech he made yesterday at some function. Very correctly he bemoaned "values ... not being upheld". Rightfully he pointed to "facts" avoided. Sounds good. But which "values" can he mean - and what "facts" ... when he referred a couple of times to the USA as "our democracy"? That's "a fact" I object to, especially by an ex-president.

I've often taken exception to anyone forgetting or degrading the USA's identity of Constitutional Republic, equating it with every pretender to "Democracy" in the world.  

 Finding common ground, one remark of yours took me aback.

President Trump , "a national-socialist"?!

A Nazi, you say?! Surely not...

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3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

President Trump , "a national-socialist"?!

A Nazi, you say?! Surely not...

Otto Von Bismark was a national-socialist, not a Nazi. A Nazi, by definition, must be a national-socialist, a national-socialist need not be a Nazi. I am unwilling to label Trump a Nazi, although his style of strongman leadership does trouble me. It sets a bad precedent. I hope we can stay on point.

I think we're in agreement that an exclusively Objectivist society would not be desirable; freedom to choose one's beliefs must be protected. Some people will hold on to their beliefs regardless as how discredited those beliefs may be. But the majority would have to make the connection between the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests for holding public office and the integration of reason, so essential to Objectivism. The majority need to understand the benefits of secularism, over religion, when constructing new laws. Presently, winning a seat in Washington is nearly impossible for anyone openly atheist, (unless their district is in California.) If the voters aren't opposed to atheism, they insist on socialist, bent on expanding the social welfare-state, egalitarianism, and waging an anti-industrial revolution. I believe this broad generalization sizes up the battle over America's future. 

Back to the "President Galt" scenario, there would need to be a substantial number of voters familiar with the larger scope of the ideas and philosophy of Ayn Rand. To site an example, my congressman, Paul Ryan often spoke very openly of the influence Atlas Shrugged had on him, until someone pointed out that Ayn Rand was atheist, and he immediately did a reversal on AS.

America is in one big shouting match. Substance and reason are boring. Argument by intimidation works very well in today's anti-intellectual climate. While I have ideas as to how to change this, I don't see the proper changes happening very soon. I'm sure the change will need to bring with it an elevation of civility and objectivity in the public polemic. Civility and objectivity need not be boring.

Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."

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On 5/6/2018 at 6:09 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

Thank you. Cynical, by definition, means believing that people are motivated by self-interest and concerned only with one's own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.  

But yes, he is my president, again by definition, and I appreciate the collateral effects this capricious bull is wreaking in the china shop of increasingly socialist ideals.

 

Hi DA,

That's not a definition of cynicism I know of (or understand), much better is the account of a cynic in Wilde's words: a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Rational "self-interest" or rational selfishness, has everything to do with (objective) value, of course, so I don't get the connection.

I'm more in favour of the "draining the swamp" metaphor for your president's actions. 

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Tony,

Definitely draining the security of my country by massive continued deficit spending. All President Trump had to do was veto that spending bill, send it back to the House, and promise to sign a bill with the exact same internal proportions and with the total amount allocated reduced to expected revenue. That would drain a swamp, or more precisely, a real definite threat to our country (USA). That would be serious leadership. Time to stop so many metaphors, other words of vagueness, and name-calling, and replace this President with someone not anti-intellectual. Politically, this is not a great time for our country, due to the anti-intellectuality riding so high.

Edited by Boydstun

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11 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Hi DA,

That's not a definition of cynicism I know of (or understand), much better is the account of a cynic in Wilde's words: a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Rational "self-interest" or rational selfishness, has everything to do with (objective) value, of course, so I don't get the connection.

I'm more in favour of the "draining the swamp" metaphor for your president's actions. 

Hello whYNOT,

Google "cynical".  I generally use Merriam-Webster because words matter in this forum, and the one provided by Google remains consistent with that source.  A common definition is of people acting in their own self-interest, which means one thing to an Objectivist and another to the Donald.

"Draining the swamp" wasn't coined by the Donald, but the candidate appreciated the crowd's reaction to that phrase and quickly added it to his speeches.  What is amusing to me is that he candidly admitted to being part of the problem as a lobbyist, which apparently provided him with the credentials to make everything great again in that regard too. In practice, he is simply draining the swamp of competition from other lobbyists

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1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Hello whYNOT,

Google "cynical".  I generally use Merriam-Webster because words matter in this forum, and the one provided by Google remains consistent with that source.  A common definition is of people acting in their own self-interest, which means one thing to an Objectivist and another to the Donald.

"Draining the swamp" wasn't coined by the Donald, but the candidate appreciated the crowd's reaction to that phrase and quickly added it to his speeches.  What is amusing to me is that he candidly admitted to being part of the problem as a lobbyist, which apparently provided him with the credentials to make everything great again in that regard too. In practice, he is simply draining the swamp of competition from other lobbyists

Right. I getcha. You mean the common or garden 'selfish' cynic, who in our terms is subjectivist, egotistical, predatory. And sure, valueless.

One way I have of seeing "the Donald" is of the poacher turned gamekeeper. On balance, I'd say, good -- while a-principled. Again, he openly admitted to "being part of the problem", so I view that as honesty. I didn't believe he originated the phrase, btw.

Add: I looked it up in my ancient Concise Oxford: 1. Of, characteristic of, the Cynic philosophers; 2. philosopher of sect founded by Antisthenes, marked by ostentatious contempt for pleasure; 3. Sneering fault finder.

Interesting how the word has completely been adapted into a modern connotation. I'll still go with the insight of Oscar Wilde...

Edited by whYNOT

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