Since 9/11, I’ve been making political arguments. I believed that, as reasonable arguments, they would convince people to see things my way.
Before we tag me as a failure, as a non-persuader, let’s consider that, just maybe, reason doesn’t work. People are driven by emotion, mostly. Even the desire to be reasonable and to be governed by reason might itself be an emotion.
That leaves me to think that to make the world the way I want it, I have to have power. Take the Republicans. They are not reasonable. For example, nothing could convince them in 2002-03 that Iraq was not a threat to anybody. Republicans (and many if not most Democrats) wanted to invade Iraq, and nothing would convince them otherwise. They had the power to do it, and they did it. The war was idiotic. The war was a crime. But the warmongers started it (from a safe distance, of course) and are still happy with it. They are not being punished for it.
The only way to have stopped that war would have been to have gained more power than those who wanted it.
Given my revelation about power and reason, I’m convinced that President Obama is failing miserably. He is trying to use reason to sway his opponents. He has not succeeded to date. He will not succeed in the future. His opponents want what they want, and they have the power to get what they want, and they are using that power.
I am not saying that Obama should not use reason. He should. But he should not use it to try to convince the unreasonable. Rather, he should use it to argue for his own policies (in the sense of justifying/explaining them) and those of his supporters, and to rally these people to support his using brute power to impose his and his supporters’ will.
He must impose reasonable things on the world just as the Republicans have imposed unreasonable things on the world.
Disclaimer: I am not sure that Obama really wants to do things such as end the wars and close Guantanamo. So, those of us who want him to do those things must use power to force him to use his power to do it.
What power do we have? Stay tuned for future posts where I try to figure that one out.