The Rationalist Papers (30): Harden your heart

Only the tough survive. It’s time to get tough, America. At its core, that’s the argument for Donald Trump in this election.

What’s the alternative? Bleeding-heart liberalism that wants to take what you have and give it to people who don’t deserve it.

Sympathy is weakness. To keep America great, you need to harden your heart against the appeals of people who don’t deserve it.

Just a reminder: these Rationalist Papers posts are for the group I call the deciders: conservatives, moderates, undecided, and third-party voters considering their choices in the 2020 US Presidential election.

Who doesn’t deserve your cares?

If you’re going to harden your heart, you need to be sure you know who isn’t deserving, to make sure you don’t succumb to their whines and pleadings.

Let’s start with the migrants coming up to our southern border from Central America. Once they get here, they’re going to be met by the stiff opposition of the Customs and Border Patrol, the growing border wall, and an asylum system that will almost certainly reject them.

They’re here to take advantage of America. And so are their children.

A court filing finds that 545 children of migrants who were separated from their parents are now lost and cannot be reunited with their parents. The policy separating parents and children began in 2017, and about according to the Trump administration, 2,700 children ended up getting separated from their parents; a January report by the HHS Inspector General estimates the number is much higher. White House advisor Stephen Miller originally suggested the policy and asked 11 of Trump’s advisors to approve — it passed on a show of hands.

Is this the only way to secure the border? What if it was your family fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse, and your child who was taken away?

Harden your heart. American first. We need a secure border.

When Trump became aware of Coronavirus, he took a series of actions based on hope that things would just get better. When supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators reached critical levels — and health care professionals and patients were getting sick and dying by the thousands — he said it was up to governors and had them bid against each other for equipment. When the CDC recommended masks on April 3, Trump emphasized that the recommendation was voluntary and said he wouldn’t be wearing one. (He changed his position on July 21). One estimate is that people failing to wear masks due to this attitude caused over 8,000 people to die.

Masks are annoying. Why should any of us sacrifice our lifestyle on the chance that a few will get sick? Especially if we are strong and healthy. It’s the old and obese and already sick among us who are likely to die.

Do you know any of the 231,000 people who died, or any of the countless thousands who got sick? Sure, cases are rising, but now that we can treat them better, only about two out of hundred will die. So why wear a mask if Trump doesn’t? He survived, didn’t he?

Who cares about a few old fat sick people?

Harden your heart. We can’t live in fear.

Trump’s tax cut put money in your pocket. It reduced the burden on businesses. It helped the economy (at least, until it hit the COVID pothole).

It will also add $1 trillion to $2 trillion to the federal debt. And that was before the need to pass a huge bailout bill to save the economy from a virus-created recession.

What will all that debt do? Sooner or later, it will make our currency weaker and generate inflation. Your savings will be worth less. If you have any.

If you’ve been saving up to retire, that might be a problem.

If the virus cost you your job, your unemployment benefits are running out. And if you just graduated from college, good luck getting hired. A whole generation is laboring under college debt with few prospects.

Entitled boomers. Whining millennials. Unemployed Gen Xers. But it’s the American way to somehow figure out a way to get by . . . with determination. If they can’t make it, it’s not the government’s problem. It’s not my problem or your problem.

Harden your heart. America will do fine.

And what about the Black people? How long are they going to talk about the legacy of slavery? Yes, more of them die of coronavirus than others — why is that? Why are they more likely to be losing their jobs now? Why are they so upset about getting shot and kneeled on by police?

It’s almost like a century and a half of oppression leaves people resentful.

But that’s them. They’re disturbing the peace. We can’t make protest pay off, especially if a few of the protestors are violent.

Law and order. Let them solve their own problems.

Harden your heart. Racial justice isn’t your problem.


Watch President Trump. Have you ever seen him express empathy for anyone?

When there were no buses after Trump’s rally in Omaha and hundreds of his followers were left to freeze, with some taken to the hospital for hypothermia, where was the statement of sympathy?

There was none.

Cruelty is a habit. Trump is making it a way of governing. He wants you to harden your heart and not care, as long as your team is winning. Screw everybody else.

Just hope that it isn’t you that needs help. Or you that loses your health insurance when he gets the Supreme Court to roll back the Affordable Care Act. Or your house that gets hit by one of the rising number of hurricanes. Be self-reliant!

The biggest challenges of the next 20 years will require sacrifice and collective action. Climate change. Triumphing over the pandemic. Racial peace. A healthy global economy. A responsible fiscal policy. A more robust infrastructure. A digital ecosystem that doesn’t spread toxic falsehoods. A voting system that’s actually fair.

None of this gets done in a “we win, you lose” attitude. Cruelty won’t enable us to succeed together. A hardened heart becomes a habit. In the short term, it might make you better off than the next poor slob. In the long run, it destroys the ideals of America and makes the potential disasters on the horizon inevitable.

Biden is the only candidate with any chance of uniting the nation and repairing our role in the world. If Trump keeps going the way he’s going, we’ll be at each other’s throats forever.

If you feel you must harden your heart, I understand. But please take a step back. Because hardened hearts are tearing this country apart.

Feel free to post comments about salient parts of the debate. However, I will delete comments that insult or demean me, other commenters, or groups, or state supposed facts without evidence. Vacuous cheerleading and catcalling is also prohibited; this is not a sporting event. No one persuades anyone by creating a hostile environment.

For the origin of the Rationalist Papers, see this. All Rationalist Papers posts available here.

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  1. Josh, what happens if Biden wins the popular by a huge margin tomorrow but after weeks of court battles Trump is declared the winner because SCOTUS stopped that ballot counting or some other nonsense. What’s next? What is to be done?

    1. I’ve actually read a fair amount about that.

      The Biden margin in the popular vote doesn’t matter at all, of course, except for moral reasons.

      In order for the SCOTUS to influence the election, it would have to be very close in the one or two states that hold the key — as it was in Florida in the 2000 election. The Supreme Court (or state courts) are not going to invalidate hundreds of thousands of votes. Look at what just happened in Texas — a challenge of that type was overturned.

      If Biden wins either Florida or Pennsylvania by a solid margin, challenges aren’t likely to matter.

      So I don’t think your scenario is likely. But if it does happen, there is nothing to be done — the Supreme Court is the final arbiter, and there is no appeal.