I have one thing in common with the Trumperino. I also feel straitjacketed by rationality.
I realized long ago that reason could dominate me. Often all I’d want to do was stay in my room and stare at a wall. My friends or my parents would say, “Why would you do that?” And I’d say, “I just want to.” And they’d say, “That’s not a reason.”
At first, when I was 3 years old, I bought it. The result was I was prevented from doing what I wanted to do, sit and stare mindlessly, and instead did what they wanted me to do, because, surprisingly, they always had reasons ready for me that were good enough for them.
But eventually I saw I was being ripped off. One time I was forced by a teacher to read a short story by some dead English guy. After dutifully reading it at home I came to class and the teacher told me to write how I felt about the story “and give your reasons.”
I said that doesn’t make sense. If you want to know how I felt reading the story, I’ll tell you. But reasons? I have feelings. I don’t think them into being.
Alternatively, I could cogitate about the story at great length, but why would that have anything to do with my feelings about it?
We went around and around on this, while the other kids in the class listened in stunned silence, as if it never occurred to any of them — not one — that the correct answer to “why did you detest this story?” could be “I don’t know and I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
It wasn’t much later I stopped reading every stupid short story by dead English guys that was pushed at me. Who needs that kind of abuse?
If everything you do has to have an acceptable and allowable reason, then your behavior is limited to a menu. Worse, it isn’t usually going to work to choose one reason from column A, one from column B, etc., because those will be called incompatible. Even worse yet, your reasons today have to match your reasons yesterday.
In other words, you will not be regarded as living according to rationality unless you are predictable to the people who have installed themselves as judges of your rationality. Because if you aren’t predictable to them, you necessarily must have done something that “didn’t follow” according to any reason they understand (and they’re the judges so their understanding, not yours, is what matters).
Clearly, the Trumpster and I have the same problem. We both hate always having to have proper reasons for everything we do.
There is one big honking difference between us in this regard, though. He’s the freaking president, and I’m not.
There’s this thing on paper called the 14th Amendment that was meant to give rights to people who had been previously denied them (slaves) but went way overboard and granted due process and equal protection all over the map, and some smart judges figured out eventually that it all meant that laws and government actions had to have a rational basis! Including a lot of things presidents do, as opposed to things school kids do.
So, yeah, if the president just wants to sit in his room and stare at the wall mindlessly, he can do that, as long as no one is seriously affected by it. But he can’t sign just any old executive order because he feels like it. It has to serve a “legitimate government interest.”
And who judges whether something he does really is rational? His mommy? His buddies? His Russian friend?
No! Judges judge him. He has to let himself be judged. By judges! The ignominy of it all!
I totally feel Trump’s pain.
A further question related to the topic under discussion: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the Senate to rebuke woman and fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) when she tried to read a letter about the nominee for attorney general written by Coretta Scott King. Subsequently at least four male senators succeeded in reading some or all of the same letter without being rebuked. What rational basis did McConnell have in rebuking the woman and not the men? Hint: It’s OK to scream.