Monday, March 26, 2018

The apotheosis of individualistic idiocy

Rick Santorum thinks the students should be looking to solve their problems themselves, rather than asking legislator to solve the students’ problems for them.

Among his helpful bits of advice is to learn CPR—because that’s a really useful skill for helping someone who has an internal organ that “looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively.”

There’s plenty of idiocy in what he’s saying, and he’s getting plenty of well-deserved derision for it.

But this particular exchange gets at the dead-end that American conservativism has become.
“How are they looking at other people?” host Brianna Keilar interjected. “They took action.”
“They took action to ask someone to pass a law,” Santorum said.
“They didn’t take action to say ‘How do I as an individual deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?’”
He said students should articulate “how I’m going to help the situation instead of going and protesting and saying, ‘Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.’”
Santorum’s position only makes sense if you think that government action is inherently, fundamentally illegitimate.

Some things are best solved on our own.

Other things can only be solved in cooperation with others.

And when the scale of those problems is big enough, the most effective tool for joint action is government.

Santorum wants people to have better ways to respond to a shooter. The students are looking for ways to prevent a shooting in the first place, and that’s not really something an individual can meaningfully affect.

It’s a question of joint action, on a scale that calls for a government role.

Taking Santorum at his word, he doesn’t get that. In other words, he doesn’t understand the fundamental role of government.

And to think that he was actually a senator.

Of course, it’s quite likely that he does understand the role of government, and we just have different views on when it’s appropriate to invoke it. For instance, I think abortion is a question a pregnant woman should answer on her own, potentially with her partner, whereas Santorum thinks it requires the government to step in (and in case you’re wondering, the answer is ”NO!”).

But he places such a high priority on defending guns that he has to pretend not to understand.

We all make choices, I guess.

And one more thing.

Santorum’s line here is related to what we hear from NRA & Co. after every single shooting, castigating us for “politicizing” the event.

Guns are a social problem.

Government is how we address some of our biggest social problems.

And politics is how we figure out what government will do.

Well, it’s not the only way. The alternative to settling social questions through politics is to use guns.

I’d much rather politicize the hell out guns, than shoot the hell out of politics.

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