Loyalty?! 🧐Loyalty To What Exactly?🤨
Loyalty To The Way It Ought To Be Versus The Way It Actually Is
The aggrieved loyalty rhetoric being tossed about as a lost virtue is nonsensical logic conspicuously used to carry on with vices that reinforce or legitimate Trumpism. It is a pattern that is oftentimes overlooked or ignored because of the loaded message that loyalty implies as an emotive.
While doing some quick research for this piece I came across John Kleinig’s problematic views on loyalty. Kleinig is a Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Law and Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. My younger sister graduated from this school with a degree in English. His latest book, “On Loyalty and Loyalties: The Contours of a Problematic Virtue” provided some reinforcement for my thoughts on the prevailing issue of loyalty by our president and the stream of consciousness that inhabits the minds of his unyielding supporters.
While Kleinig takes an overly cautious but moderate view, what cannot be denied is how problematic the concept of loyalty truly is. What stood out to me as apropos in this political climate was this tendency.
[…]loyalty has often been associated with conservative rather than liberal or progressive causes. It is often complained that the presidential years of George W. Bush were marked — and corrupted — by a culture of loyalty, one in which competence took at best a second place.
All the President’s men, whether Nixon’s or Bush’s, were expected, first and foremost, to be loyal, an expectation that led not only to poor judgement but also to secrecy and cover-ups. As a political and personal virtue, loyalty was overrated — a defense of the status quo and corrosive of good judgement.¹ — John Kleinig
The president has often used this rhetoric to great effect as he continues to abuse and blur the lines that the separation of powers under the United States Constitution has drawn.
The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments
From the New York Packet.
Friday, February 8, 1788.
The original editors of the Constitution were adamant about this concept. James Madison made it a point when he penned Federalist Paper №51. It’s purpose has been summarized in this citation from Wikipedia below.
The purpose of №51 is, according to Madison, to inform the reader of the safeguards created by the convention to maintain the separate branches of government and to protect the rights of the people and of the country. The biggest threats to the government of the United States would be the ability of one governing branch to obtain too much power over another, and of factions to cause a tyranny of the majority. — Wikipedia Commons
Why does the president continue to harass and hound his once proud appointment in Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General and head of the United States Department of Justice. Why does the president continue to wield what most certainly amounts to unchecked, and unbalanced executive privilege, and its seemingly unimpeachable power in order to obstruct justice in the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 national elections headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. By the way I am quite aware that the more recent stunt Mr. Trump pulled by calling for an investigation into this investigation is absolutely legal and is not considered obstruction of justice. However, there are plenty of attempts or actions that precede, as well as supersede, this and are considerably seen as obstruction that blatantly took place outside of this little sideshow.
But loyalty, as we are now being subjected to submit to under the Trump Administration can provide a copious amount of benefit of the doubt to the spectacle of leadership as seen incredulously, and ignored remarkably as indicated in this latest poll conducted and reported by Vox.
Only 13 percent of Republicans say that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is a “legitimate investigation.” Fully three-quarters of Republicans agree with President Donald Trump that it’s a “witch hunt.”
Meanwhile, 76 percent of Democrats consider it a legitimate investigation. That’s according to a new Economist/YouGov survey of 1,500 adults between May 6 and 8 about the investigation.
Only 76%…huh! 😕
What’s more, 61 percent of Republicans believe the FBI is framing Trump. Just 17 percent of Republicans say the nation’s federal law enforcement agency isn’t after the president, and about a fifth — 21 percent — weren’t sure.
The Washington Post provided a brief rundown of the kind of loyalty demanded and expected from President Trump.
Let’s quickly run through some of the high-ranking officials Trump has demanded personal loyalty from:
- According to James B. Comey’s sworn testimony to Congress, a week after Trump took office he invited Comey to a private dinner, at which he told the then-FBI director that a lot of people would be willing to take his job, and “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
- After Trump fired Comey, Andrew McCabe became acting FBI director. When McCabe went to the White House to meet with the president, Trump asked him whom he voted for in 2016. McCabe replied that he didn’t vote, which didn’t satisfy Trump, who “vented his anger at McCabe” over the fact that when his wife ran for state office as a Democrat in Virginia, she received donations from a political action committee controlled by Virginia’s Democratic governor, who is a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
- Trump instructed White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. According to the New York Times, “Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him.”
- Trump would later suggest that Sessions’s job is to protect him in the way he believes Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. protected President Barack Obama. “I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump said. “And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”
- Trump asked Rosenstein whether he was “on my team.”
Mr. President, I think we should use this opportunity and get into loyalty. We need to know what that entails for us as a nation under your leadership or say, rule. How do we assert this loyalty ethically and morally to a presidency marked by ill-repute from the start. Is it simply reducible to association by voting republican or voting Trump, whereby a mere vote casted constitutes an unwavering loyalty under any circumstances that are revealed in your character and competence that we were not privy to before casting said vote? Would it constitute an impending vote in the 2018 midterms for your unchecked leadership through the support of a staunchly conservative, anti-debt increasing party during the Obama administration, but is now seen increasing the national debt by leaps and bounds during your presidency? Is it this absurd partiality in governance that nullifies any faux conservative notions in lieu of liberal republicanism which is the ultimate payoff for populist loyalism?
[…]the partiality of loyalty — the fact that loyalty appears to be owed not generally but to particular people or groups.² — John Kleinig
Loyalty can, in my estimation, be fleeting and contingent upon the moral and ethical significance of factors that inspired the loyalty granted in the first place. Not only can it simply expire or be susceptible to reevaluation, it carries with it a certain degree of intensity and tolerance.
For instance my loyalties to this country are limited and I tend to think that many of my compatriots of any racial background do contemplatively feel the same. If the leadership for instance decides that it is best to reenact slavery or espouse Jim Crow era laws and tactics for the good of the country, then rationally speaking the country is no longer deserving of my fidelity.
These views are not as blasphemous as a dutifully emotive nativist might presume. Many historians would agree that disloyalty of this kind in fact spurred the minds of those European colonists who decided that unbridled loyalty to their respective kingdoms in Europe was quite unbearable due to the conditions imposed upon them ranging from religious persecution to the black plague. It would be negligent of me to also leave out that the very same conditions not did not allow for the opportunity for conquest, and self-enrichment as recorded in the history of America’s colonizations.
This loyalty trip by the president along with a cast of other ancillary characters here and there is politically seen and heard so often that it is apparently nothing but a ruse to sustain devotion or curry back lost favor. Loyalty came up for instance at the displeasure of Roseanne Barr’s cast member, Sara Gilbert, who plays daughter Darlene Connor, when she issued a rebuke of Roseanne’s racist twitter comments which prompted ABC to cancel her show.
Michael Fishman who plays her son DJ Connor, shared similar displeasure with Roseanne’s remarks, and her response was indicative of how the president has reacted similarly to the purported daily leaks of ineptitude and deprecations coming from the White House.
Let’s peel this onion some more so that we can get at the layers of loyalty that overloads our senses. There is loyalty to your family and friends — true enough, but I have seen many instances where this has its limits, albeit at the most extreme in many cases. This is evident on Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil, no!? Loyalty to your race? Until said race is seen as a stereotypical encumbrance or handicap to your physical or psychological wellbeing. Loyalty to your party? Especially when they have won the election, or is seen as privileging your political interests while uncompromisingly creating disadvantages for the interests of others. Loyalty to the president of the United States? What is being demanded with this one is fealty — no matter what is said or done — to a contrarian authoritarian who just so happens to be an incompetent but entitled narcissist.
Loyalty without restraint in this way is a pseudo-profound statement that presumes you are of good character when you simply comply and ignore or abide and excuse all the bad stuff that comes with your allegiance. Especially when the underlying virtue is being misapplied to dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors. What prevents these loyalists from being loyal to humanity first?
With this pseudo-profound loyalty that is either expected or inferred individually from a collective, or to an ideological cause, do the likes and loucheness of Trump and Barr in turn accept any shame or guilt to be shared amongst loyalists. Do they stop to consider the disappointment of some loyalists or former loyalists by association that may develop into a reputational risk or costly burden to their own wellbeing?
President Trump believes we ought to accept his irreproachable authoritarian methods which serve as a means to his own adulation, when actually the vast population of the electorate finds his administration’s shameful brand of political stewardship painstakingly cringeworthy.
Roseanne Barr seemingly has seen the shame and error in her racist tweets after receiving widespread consternation outside of her in-group.
The makers of Ambien did respond to what is alleged by Barr to be their continued complicity in all of this.
There is still the matter of the disparaging remarks made at Chelsea Clinton and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory rants behind George Soros being a Nazi sympathizer, to which she has not even addressed let alone apologized for.
If guilty by association is a logical fallacy, then your loyalties too can be seen as a misconception of such an arrangement, as well as a misapprehension of the typical impression it makes. Loyalists play a vassal role as the narcissistic supply of narcissists, and in this instance they are the egomaniacal trappings of incorrigible whiteness.
Would it really be treasonous to side with humanity instead of defending the racial hierarchy that is conspicuously behind the social construct of race?
This has been another edition of An American Potpourri Of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit Vol. 1, №8
- ¹ Kleinig, John, (2014), Loyalty and Loyalties: The Contours of a Problematic Virtue, New York: Oxford University Press. pg 8
- ² Kleinig, John, (2014), Loyalty and Loyalties: The Contours of a Problematic Virtue, New York: Oxford University Press. pg 4