Opinion Columns & Blogs

What’s Nietzsche got to do with it?

Nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings have insightful relevance in today’s politics.

Pre-marital sex, having children out-of-wedlock, homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, same-sex marriage and lesbianism is reprehensible say the religious arbiters of morality. Sarah Palin, Rob Portman, Dick Cheney and many conservative leaders, have relentlessly condemned them in speeches and persecuted them in policy.

Former presidential candidate, Senator Rob Portman, discovered his son was gay. He did not reject his son but reaffirmed his love for him. Sarah Palin’s daughter and son had children out of wedlock. She was compassionate and supportive. Dick Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian but he still loves and accepts her. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was locked and loaded, ready to enact a similarly discriminatory version of Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) against gays and lesbians until his own son opposed it. Then he mildly diluted the law.

After having it in their families, they now see these issues differently. Have they demonstrated character in their change of heart? I think not. Nietzsche said, “Character is determined more by the lack of certain experiences than by those one has had.” What better way to say that when understanding begins only if you are personally affected by it, that isn’t character. Will their rhetoric and policies on these issues now change? Not until their incumbency, political future or post-political fortunes are no longer tied to it. They have too much invested in dogma-driven hate.

One by one, Republican governors who staunchly rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion on principle are renouncing it. Florida Governor Rick Scott, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and others with FOX news purposely silent are embracing what they claimed will bankrupt their state in the long term. Does this mean they abandoned their principles or does it mean they took an anti-Obama position to appease those to get elected or re-elected? That in itself is unprincipled. Meanwhile the platform of the Republican Party and their presidential candidates remains repealing Obamacare.

In Kansas, Republican Governor Brownback conducted his “Great Experiment,” the Reagan paradise of extreme tax cuts, deregulation and trickle-down economics. This was to unleash job creation. Businesses would expand with less taxes and freedom from burdensome regulations. Revenues would flow to the state wiping out debt. Unprecedented wealth and prosperity would ensue. Instead, Kansas unemployment increased. Kansas took in less revenue than ever. Its services and infrastructure suffered and its debt ballooned.

Oklahoma earthquakes spiked from 1 to 258 annually. This coincides with the fracking frenzy in the state. Fracking is the latest technology. It goes deep into the ground and fractures the earth to extract oil and gas from the crevices. The USGS says fracking is responsible for these earthquakes.

Despite all the evidence, calls to repeal Obamacare, calling for more tax cuts and deregulation and insisting fracking is safe still resonate with many. How do you explain this? “People want to be lied to because they don’t want to hear their illusions shattered” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Arizona Gov. Mike Pence, when asked by George Stephanopolous if RFRA, the law which allows business not to serve gays and lesbians on religious grounds, is discriminatory, he uncomfortably squirmed while denying it. “One may sometimes tell a lie, but the grimace that accompanies it tells the truth” – Nietzsche.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. He was a monster. En masse, we readily believed the absurdity of Iraq’s involvement in 9/11, Al Qaeda and WMDs. We “shock and awed” them to oblivion. Now the same bad actors, who were wrong about everything, want to do to Iran what they did with Iraq. In Vietnam we fought the Communist demon. How many died on both sides? “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” – Voltaire. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” – Nietzsche.

We have record drought in California. A ferocious tornado never before witnessed wipes out the entire town of Fairdale, Illinois. Ice caps continue to rapidly melt. Islands are submerging. The snowpack has dramatically diminished. Oceans are warming; 99% of scientists agree on climate change, yet denials by the “Merchants of Doubt” disproportionately prevail. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. Here is my feeble attempt to flatter Nietzsche and Voltaire. Doubt should inspire to seek truth not deny

Policymakers advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) to restore American leadership but an essential component is missing, ‘P’ for Philosophy. STEM makes America strong, STEMP makes America exceptional.