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A collection of editorials written by Website Editor Jim Powers

Things as they are

Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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The Man with the Blue Guitar

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

                  By Wallace Stevens

Excerpted above is the first part of a 33-part poem published by Stevens in 1937. It was inspired by a painting by Pablo Picasso of an old man playing a guitar using predominantly the color blue. It’s a favorite of mine because in it Stevens explores the relationships between reality, imagination and how those two concepts are interpreted through art.

The guitar player’s audience is complaining that the guitarist is making things up when he plays, embellishing his tune instead of playing it by rote. The guitarist explains he could not do otherwise, as his blue guitar gives him the freedom to embellish on reality. Yet they demand that he do what he has just told them he can’t do, play a tune beyond their experience while playing things as they are.

The dilemma for those of us who write opinion columns is that we are all playing a blue guitar that changes things as they are. As I’ve pointed out many times, I cannot completely escape the bias that my life experiences have instilled in me. My responsibility, though, is to try and understand my own bias and keep as much of it as possible out of my writing and disclose bias that might color my opinions.

In the end, though, I’m stilling playing the tunes on that blue guitar, and the art is going to smear the lines between reality and imagination. But just because the influence of our unique life experience determines how we interpret reality, we can’t abandon objective truth when it exists.

I believe we no longer have a functioning democracy in this country. I say that for a couple of reasons. This country has grown too large and too diverse to achieve consensus. The political, economic, and cultural distance between us is too wide to bridge. The country has become ungovernable.

More importantly, though, in the demise of our democracy is the deliberate destruction of the concept of objective truth where it exists. It’s an unwillingness to accept things as they really are, simply because the truth is uncomfortable or doesn’t comport with our presuppositions. To have a functioning democracy, we must be able to agree on truth when we are confronted with it.

Here is one of those disclaimers of potential bias. I am politically left libertarian.  I have been very open about my views on both the democrats and republicans. I’m not a fan of either. I view the Democratic Party as feckless, and the Republican Party as authoritarian. I have no illusion that a majority in this country would embrace libertarianism, so I believe this country needs a third major party that cares about democracy and the people.

Over the last several weeks, the January 6 Commission has been holding public hearings into the insurrection at the Capitol. Whatever your political leaning, if you care anything about saving this country, you should find them on YouTube and watch them. I’ll give you the digest version, but that can’t convey the real significance of what has been revealed in the hearings.

The hearings have shown conclusively that the former President, Donald Trump, orchestrated a plan to ignore the will of the voters and stay in power by any means. That he used lies to convince millions of his followers that an election that he clearly lost had been stolen from him, then conspired with others to take control of the government by force if necessary on January 6.

Witness after witness, people that Trump hired for his administration, including his own Attorney General and people that worked closely with him, acknowledged that they had told Trump that he had lost the election, that there was no evidence of any level of fraud that would change the election’s outcome. His lawyers took his lies to court 61 times, and he lost 60 times. Yet even though he knew he had lost, he continued (and does to this day) to tell his followers that he had won, that the democrats had stolen the election from him, and whipped those followers into a frenzy.

Trump and several folks around him hatched a plot to illegally stop the certification of the electors, that failed only because the Vice-Present would not ignore the constitution and participate in his crime.

We know now, because of a leaked audio of Steve Bannon revealing the details, that his plan all along on election night was to just claim to be the winner, even though he didn’t win, and carry out the plot to undermine the constitution and stay in power by force.

The January 6 Committee hearings have laid out the truth. To believe otherwise you must believe that dozens and dozens of republicans who Trump chose to work in his administration are now lying to the Committee under oath, in telling the truth about him. In fact, to believe that everyone except Donald Trump is lying, you need an unquestioning religious devotion to Trump, which doesn’t encourage me that Christianity has a future, either.

Millions of people seem to have fallen under a spell and have chosen to deify a very flawed man. Donald Trump continues to lie to the American people and continues to sow discord among Americans. He doesn’t care about America. He doesn’t care about the truth. He only cares about power.

Jim Powers writes opinion columns. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Polk County Publishing Company or its owners.


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Wednesday, 10 August 2022