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Teaching Your Neighbours To Be Seen and Not Herd

Posted on July 5 2010 12:00 pm

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For no apparent reason, other than everything he has inflicted on the country, Barack Obama’s poll numbers continue their brisk slide toward “draft Joe Biden” territory. In the absence of any real mystery as to why the president is plummeting down this particular laundry chute, one is left only to ponder what on earth is going through the minds of the 46% who still think he’s doing a good job. While I fully support the freedom to push the touch-pad of one’s choice, the idea that Obama’s presidency has been anything but a tunneling disaster is akin to Monty Python’s Black Knight claiming it’s only a flesh wound.

Granted, some part of this percentage are the hard-core faithful who will continue to follow him long after he has retreated to some underground bunker to direct counter-offensives with armies that no longer exist. Arguments, pictures, charts, videos, stick drawings and/or signed confessions are useless in swaying such people and the best we can do is keep them comfortable and away from sharp objects.

For the remainder (hopefully the majority) who are either paralyzed by normalcy bias or rationalizing a spectacularly bad decision with arguments not much more sophisticated than “give the guy a chance”—some eighteen months into his administration—it’s clear we may need to simplify our arguments.

My contribution to such refactoring is what I call the Rawhide thesis, or “would you rather be a cow.” Apart from being somewhat more accessible than a dissertation on the Federalist papers, this argument is especially effective at backyard barbecues, given the nature of what’s being flipped at the time.

It goes like this:

  • Progressives believe there are two kinds of people in this world—cowboys and cattle.
  • In the unfolding future utopia all people will eventually become cowboys, but right now most people are cattle.
  • It is therefore the duty and responsibility of the cowboys —who are in the saddle by virtue of having attended an Ivy League school and embracing a particular ideology—to assist the cattle in their evolution to more perfected life forms by controlling every meaningful decision in their lives with the goal of producing outcomes deemed desirable by the cowboys.


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