Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Politics of Carl Schmidt versus the politics of Abraham Lincoln

11/7/2019--I can now sum up in a nutshell what is wrong with American public life--though this is not the same as being able to do something about it.

The Nazi jurisprudential thinker understood politics as realm of friend-enemy. This is precisely how we act today in our two "sides." And we mean it. For the right, the prospect of a Hillary Clinton Presidency made the 2016 election the Flight 93 Election--fight or you die.

Hillary Clinton?? What was she supposed to do that would lead to that? Her Supreme Court would not grant religious exemptions to believers who wanted to discriminate against gay people? Even the loss of a tax exemption is not dying. And, anyway, courts only enforce laws that legislatures pass.

For the Left, the prospect of a reelected Donald Trump is unfathomable. And he can only be reelected by a minority of the electorate. He could only be another Electoral College special. How long before the Left invites the army to take over.

The temptation is always to a politics of friend/enemy. That is why Schmidt is so powerful a thinker.

But the much greater politician was Abraham Lincoln, who said at his first inaugural, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies." And elsewhere, "Do I not destroy my enemy when I make him my friend?"

But, to look at things like Lincoln, you have to feel a common humanity with your political opponents. We do not feel that way today.

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