Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sorry, but I can't take it anymore...

I never wanted to inject politics into this blog; there are far too many blogs out there dedicated to that topic, and far too many nut jobs with opinions who are far too eager to share them. But the behavior of one particular candidate, that candidate's campaign and supporters, has become so infuriating that I just had to bring it up.

Put simply, this candidate's behavior reminds me of petulant teenagers and their parents, making up the rules as they go along and changing them to suit their desires, even when they agreed and understood in advance to a different set of rules; deciding for themselves what is right based on what is best for them in that particular moment, not on any objective sense of fairness or propriety. In their minds, only a rule or procedure which leads to their desired outcome is "fair" or "right." And their solution to an undesirable outcome is not to address the behavior that led to it; it's to complain, argue, seek the intervention of another authority, and in some cases flat-out lie, to get it reversed. Parents and students spend inordinate amounts of energy trying to overturn grades and disciplinary outcomes, to un-do reality and re-make history, to do whatever is necessary to obtain the outcome they desire and to which they feel they are entitled. (See, e.g., CELL PhONES 4 JESUS; Hypothetical, infra.)

This candidate's words and actions are thoroughly despicable, and infuriating to me as a teacher who has spent my career trying so hard to dispel the notion that students are somehow entitled to the outcome they desire in both academic and disciplinary contexts; indeed, that anyone is ever entitled to a desired outcome. This candidate and campaign are reinforcing this abhorrent kind of self-indulgence and sore-loser narcissism by continuing to insist that the rules should be whatever will suit their present interests, or that the rules are whatever they say they are because they say they are; that only the results favorable to them are valid and/or meaningful (like a student claiming that only the high grades should count, not the F's and zeros for the work that wasn't done); that they should be declared the winners even if their opponents actually win; that anyone who denies this or disagrees with them is unfairly and arbitrarily mistreating them, doing so out of some horrible, sinister ulterior motive.

What irks me even further is that this candidate is a lawyer, and therefore should understand legal principles of contractual agreement and estoppel. Under both contractual (promissory) and equitable principles of estoppel, a person cannot agree to something in advance, allow the thing to happen and allow other parties to act in reliance on that agreement, then afterward change one's original position to benefit oneself to the detriment of those who have already relied. Every campaign (including those of the candidate in question and all the others, not just the one remaining opponent) agreed in advance to a set of rules and procedures that would determine the outcome, and every campaign and every voter in those disputed states, including those who voted and those who stayed home, acted in reliance on that agreement and made their choices based on the knowledge and understanding that things would be a certain way. For this candidate, now that things are done, to change positions and endeavor to un-do the agreement upon which everyone relied is completely and patently unfair to absolutely everyone except that candidate.

I just can't stand listening to this anymore. I hear this sort of nonsense every time I argue with a student or parent over a grade, and it sickens me. I can't stand listening to people argue at the top of their lungs that they must get their way when any definition or understanding of logic, reason and fairness demands that they must not. With respect to the campaign, someone has got to put a stop to this. Someone has to call this campaign out on its indefensible, self-indulgent behavior. It has gone entirely too far; this candidate is becoming more unhinged and more irrational by the day. I can't stand it. Please make it stop.

UPDATE: About 5 hours after posting this article, I read the following online, by Guy T. Saperstein at The Huffington Post:

"[The candidate and campaign] are not acting like leaders, they are acting like self-absorbed adolescents, thinking that if they whine loudly enough people will accommodate them. This is not leadership, this is petulance."

Guess I'm not the only one.

1 comment:

f.x. said...

Yikes!!! you really went on a "tear" with this one...must admit, however, that i do do agree your just can't change the rules in the middle of the game (or contract)...otherwise, there is no structure, continuity, logic, or even rationale to human interaction... yes, it would be nice if life were like a giant etch-a-sketch that one could just "shake" to remove those things that one no longer likes; but this is life, not a toy!!!

the concept of "entitlement" is an interesting one...nowhere else in nature does such a construct exist except when one segment of humanity claims that another owes them something...this may seem "hard-hearted" but then again, so is reality...

while hardly a fan of the huffington post, i have to admit that saperstein's quote was a gem!!! so now there are at least 3 of us on the same wavelength!!!