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The end of empire

Arrogance works

20 February 2004 —

"Preemptive strike" — the other American Republican-party shoe dropping...

One thing that I am learning from American Republicans is that arrogance can pay off.

I see a quality there that my more liberal and sensitive brothers and sisters could use more of. Arrogance — that's the only way I can put it into one word. Self-assurance, belief that one is right. Republicans are good at this — and if it seems that there is just beginning to be a frosty shimmer of irony to my words, that's alright. There is, though, an important quality within arrogance, and there must be a lesson in the thinking of our rightist politicians.

I do not like rightist thinking, do not like the results of the rightist arrogance, and do not admire people who are vicious or ignorant. That's my disclaimer, and I'm not going to belabor it.

And I'm not being ironic about this; that's my other disclaimer. I really think that there is something about arrogance that can be useful.

Okay, let me get specific and back up a couple of years. Election 2000. The infamous presidential election-count debacle. All those "dangling chads" and dodgy balloting devices and recounts in the state of Florida — and the non-recounts; the ones that were thrown out, there in that good state of Florida, where Jeb Bush was governor.

Republicans, and those of the right-swinging political class, insisted that it was proper and fair that the election favored the victory of George W. Bush. They worked and argued and prayed together into the night, and likely pretty much believed that their effort was right and righteous, besides being rightward. They believed it. Or, at least — and more to the point — they behaved as if they believed it. This was no bother to them. They were apparently untroubled by second thoughts. Untroubled by doubt. No matter that their case was flawed and criminal.

George W. Bush's people were arrogant — and that did win the election.

Unfortunately for the cause of arrogance, it is often closely associated with ignorance. I do not admire this. You see it everywhere — in religious intolerance, racial hatred, sexism, and feelings of cultural superiority.

But there must be something of the self-confidence of some narrow-minded people that can be distilled out, and that can be useful. I don't know how. It's just a thought.

  — February 2004, Nijmegen the Netherlands