Class Therapy

Half of my feed is profs/grad students explaining how instead of teaching they conducted group therapy sessions with their students. Seriously, GTFO.

First, your students need to grow up–no participation trophies for losing elections. That dumb sticker is all you get. In the words of Joe Rogan, “this is what happens when you give kids participation trophies for getting their asses kicked in soccer.”

Second, most of the things they “worry” about are talking points from the campaign that the Left themselves made up to get Clinton elected. Your students are simply believing their own hype. What is it that they actually think Trump is going to do, install the leadership of KKK as the Supreme Court? Maybe remind your students that we do not elect a monarch to reign over us but a chief executive to run the government.

Third, if your students really are that traumatized, you should send them to an actual counselor, not try and handle it yourself just so you have another virtue-signaling post to put on Facebook.

Frankly, the truth is that your students are 18-22 years old and this is their first election and their first loss. It sucks. But it sucks for everyone to lose. But they will get over it and they will live just as everyone else has with every other election. Your students just don’t know that yet and you should help them to understand it. It is contemptibly self-indulgent to wallow in their misery to reassure yourself that you have been wronged and to validate your own feelings. You are the adult. Act like one.

When you participate and encourage such political theater in your class, you are taking the excesses of hyperbolic and inflammatory political campaigns and teaching your students that they are deadly serious and real. That is inexcusable. In the heat of the campaign when we want to persuade people to vote for our candidates, we exaggerate our opponent’s faults and amplify our own fears. We get caught up in the moment, the excitement, the longing, the fear. We sort our fellow citizens into those who are for us and those who are against us. We then follow the crowd–our own crowd. It is human weakness, not the product of calm reflection. When the campaign is over, we need to transition back to a healthier and more sober state of mind. We do not need to move into a continuous 24/7 campaign cycle that dominates every minute of our lives.

But of course, maybe you have students such that it really is hard for them to get over this loss. That’s fine, we send students to college to grow. Help your students grow instead of feeding off of their emotions to validate yourself. Instead of feeding fear and hysteria, try instead to help them grow and become more resilient by telling them this:

1) The best thing you can do to promote actual change is get to know someone from the demo that voted Trump, like people who are >50 and white. Perhaps befriending someone will affect their attitude but it will likely affect yours too–a risk we all take in civil society. If you do not regularly come into contact with numerous people outside of your age group, you are socially deprived.

2) Don’t make your life depend on politics. Find a way of going about life seeking the normal goods of it that does not require changing things you have no power to change. Don’t make your well-being so fragile that it hangs on your favorite political candidates holding office. Find the greater and transcendent goods and stake your well-being on these rather than on those that corrupt politicians can destroy. Otherwise, you are going to make yourself miserable and those around you too.

3) Don’t use politics and the activist life to fill other voids. Be critical of your own motivations. Don’t engage in politics to find affirmation because you have low self-esteem. Don’t engage in political performances on social media because you are lonely and need friends. Don’t use the ups and downs of politics to find excitement in your life. Don’t allow politics to become a medium to express the normal emotions and insecurities we all have that are mostly unrelated. Let politics be politics.

4) Go to church! Try going to church if you are not sure how to get started on the three items above.

Remember above all things that there can be no justice in society without justice in the soul.


From out west comes the philosopher Ragnar, a keen student of the western political and moral tradition and eager champion of Christian thought. He finds the canons of western civilization to be rich and fruitful resources for moral reflection that have withstood the test of time. With a solid footing in reason and a firm grasp of human nature, their wisdom plants the standard for future political inquiry and critique. Versatile and adaptable, we are far from exhausting this inheritance. When not doing philosophy, Ragnar enjoys feats of strength and contests of skill.

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  1. Good thoughts. I wonder how the narrative would be played out in the media and in academia if conservatives and Trump supporters were engaging in the same behavior as the leftist Hillary supporters?

    The world will never know.

    • You’re describing a world that is not like this one, given the nature of the entities involved. It’s like if I began a hypothetical with, “If Ayn Rand were a socialist, …”. (E.g., if Ayn Rand were a socialist instead of a staunch capitalist, would the left-leaning academy do a more careful job of understanding her actual positions – not just in politics but ethics, epistemology/method, aesthetics, etc. – rather than caricatures of them?) Problem being of course that this hypothetical socialist person would not be Ayn Rand with her experiences (e.g. association with Isabel Paterson), superb thinking processes, etc.; it would be another person altogether. I can’t think of any scenario where Ayn Rand would have ended up a socialist. She was too intelligent and socialism too stupid.

      If the example of Ayn Rand makes anyone uncomfortable, substitute Ludwig von Mises and then try to make sense of how the author of the monumental and exhaustive 1922 book on Socialism could possibly have been a socialist in his mature years. (He was a socialist of sorts in his youth, as was Hayek. Leftists tend to studiously ignore or caricature Mises and Hayek. Now, imagine a world where leftists and socialists weren’t intellectually lazy and sloppy and overcome by their emotions. But then we run up against the same problem stated above; such a world doesn’t match up with the nature of leftism/socialism or with the nature of intellectual honesty and rigor. In *this* world, capitalism raises billions of people out of poverty, because that’s what capitalism *is* and does and that’s what people are and do. Leftists/socialists shift the goalposts in response, focusing on ecological impact or wealth inequality in the developed economies. There’s a reason leftism/socialism are in or headed toward the dustbin of history.)

      OTOH, there is something of a test case for the other, GOP side: the enthusiastic nomination for VP of one Sarah Palin back in ’08, a person quite manifestly unqualified for the highest office. The response of the GOP enthusiasts was to charge the critics with coastal elitism toward a red state rube. Not just the true believers at the Weekly Standard but even the venerable Thomas Sowell got in on this act. Chief Palin critic Andrew Sullivan was accused of hysterics. (His post-Trump-victory article *is* actually full of hysterics, more amped up in tone than the more reasonable things he was saying prior to that about Trump’s un-conservative temperament.) Subsequent political history has of course consigned Ms. Palin to the dustbin of political history. Of course Trump for all his faults is way more qualified than she was, even if neither of them read books. (Actually, if you google it you’ll find that Trump has read books, a good number of them on China. And apparently also The Fountainhead….) But what was the underlying intellectual or other pathology(s) that led to the GOP enthusiasm for this unqualified individual? Identity politics would be one good candidate; in the case of the Red/Blue divide it’s something along the lines of God-fearin’ gun-bearin’ bitter clingers (as identity-politics-monger Obama described them, and Palin basically fits that bill to a T) vs. the out of touch coastal and university elites (e.g., Obama, the crybully campus leftists and their enablers).

      This here blog is doing an adequate job identifying the pathologies of the other (Left) side; the fevered over-the-top imaginings among these campus therapy-needers about What Trump is Going to Do is a product of such. But take a sincere look as well at the pathologies of the Right, e.g., the birtherism or the fevered “Obama-gonna-take-our-guns” narratives, and how those might be fixed. (Might I suggest the libertarian alternative? Once we sweep aside the usual sloppy caricatures, just how *does* the libertarian or classical-liberal alternative supposedly fall short? Having studied libertarian ideology for some 2 decades I’ve yet to come up with some serious problem with it. Of course, the capital-L Libertarian Party is a joke for the time being, as evidenced by its unqualified presidential candidates. Actually, is William Weld not qualified?…)

    • I think the Palin phenomenon was mainly because the other neocon chics were mostly butch and physically unappealing, whereas Sarah said most of the right things and was easy on the eyes. Sort of a Cosplay thing for policy wonks and political geeks.

    • “I think the Palin phenomenon was mainly because the other neocon chics were mostly butch and physically unappealing, whereas Sarah said most of the right things and was easy on the eyes. Sort of a Cosplay thing for policy wonks and political geeks.”

      Perceptive. I couldn’t agree more, CRD. Palin is/was a babe. More power to her (as they say).

    • “Libertarian ideology” is pretty vague. The problems would depend on how extreme your version is – the more extreme (anarcho-capitalism) the more problems.

  2. You should all try running a business. Hiring snowflakes is an eye opening experience. I avoid it at all costs, but a few have slipped through during the past few years.

    I’ve taken all of 48 hours off over the last three years and some demanded to set their own hours. The concept of adding value to an organization in exchange for a paycheck is foreign to them.

    Thankfully, the ones that wanted part time hours at full time pay were disappointed and no longer work here.

    It’s a shame they wasted their money on such a poor education. But I think they will come around 🙂


    I emailed them and responded thusly:

    The advice in your NAMI link seems pretty maudlin and self indulgent, (not to mention partisan, but of course the latter is par for the course, and one reason the election turned out the way it did.) Regardless, may I suggest another bullet point?:

     Expand Your Cognitive Frame:  More than 60 million American voters disagreed with your point of view. Many of them are hard-working, tax-paying, smart, good, people. Don’t dismiss them with stereotypes and tired ad hominems. Stretch a little. Log out of Facebook, venture out from your “safe spaces”  and circle of like-minded peers,  engage with people who have different points of view than you do. Have an actual “conversation.” Don’t just lecture them. Listen to their concerns, anxieties, hopes and fears. It is a big world out there. You never know, you might actually find lots of things you agree with or have in common. Dare I say, you might even like them or make friends with them? Or if you are more introverted, take a class in political philosophy from our venerable educational institution. Learn the variety of philosophical positions on these issues, and examine the arguments for and against them in an open-minded way. By expanding your cognitive bubble, it is much less likely to burst in the face of the dissonance of election results you don’t like.  That way tax-payer funded mental health resources, therapy sessions and hotlines can be used by people who really need them – by actual victims of mental illness, abuse and violence.

  4. I am very puzzled by the idea that I should make my life not depend on politics, and that it doesn’t matter who wins elections. Governments do things. People die because of them. This isn’t hyperbole, this is an obvious fact. If my student is concerned that they will lose their health insurance, or be deported, or suffer violence at the hands of newly-emboldened neo-Nazis, you think I should tell them to get over themselves?

    • Perhaps that’s a problem with government doing so many things, maybe it’s not a great idea it’s involved in so many aspects of our lives that you think that way. Also, maybe you should get out of the leftist circle jerk for a few minutes, catch some fresh air.

    • I’m here, aren’t I? I wouldn’t call this place fresh air by any means, but it’s closer to that than to a leftist circle jerk. I say there are real reasons why people are concerned—a topic of direct engagement with the content of the post—and you say, what? That government is bad and I have poor perspective?

    • Hi norm,

      Of course people die because governments do things (current example: the innocent children who have been killed by the Obama administration’s authorization of drone strikes). I didn’t see anywhere where Ragnar denies this, did you? There is a big difference between being concerned over possible policy changes that haven’t even happened yet, and being so traumatized that you curl up and sob for hours, as many literally did after learning the election results.

      I come from a conservative background. I never once saw any of my conservative friends cry or protest the results of the election when Obama was elected, despite their *firm* belief that Obama’s policies would bring about greater suffering. Indeed, many of my friends were extremely disheartened by it, but they did not react in this absurd way, even though I’d wager they felt just as badly about Obama being elected as the leftist students feel about Trump being elected.

    • I never said government was bad. See, this is why you need to get out more, you’re full of cliches. It reminds of how leftists equate belief in limited government to being anti-government, which aren’t the same thing. Or how my coworkers couldn’t fathom why anyone would vote for anyone besides Clinton since she was so great.

      As far as poor perspective, maybe that’s one way of putting it perhaps. I mean, shouldn’t people breaking the law be concerned? If you have students worried about being deported, they’re not in the country legally, correct? Unless you’re all thinking that we’ll have a return of The Alien and Sedition Acts brought back by TrumpHitler.

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