Fleshing it Out

Snapshots of Our Political Pathology

More than a Motto: “See the evil. Call it out. Press the Battle”

See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle.


“See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle”– identifies the three vital things that have been sorely missing from the response of our Democratic leaders, and from Liberal America generally, to the destructive force that’s arisen on the right. It is the absence of these three together that constitutes the woeful weakness of Liberal America in the face of this crisis.

See the evil.

Much of Liberal America doesn’t like the word “evil,” doesn’t believe there’s anything real in our world that should properly be so called. (That part of the worldview of Liberal America — and why it misses an important dynamic in the human system — has been one of the themes of this Series.)

No wonder Liberal America has not done so well at seeing the evil.

One is likely to fail to see what one does not believe can exist. And this is one of the sources of Liberal weakness in this era.

One hears much criticism of this or that policy position taken by the right. But there has generally been a failure to put the pieces together to see the dark force behind it that consistently imparts to everything it touches a pattern of brokenness that degrades our civilization.

Call it out.

No surprise, that people would not “call out” when they aren’t aware of. But there may be more than lack of awareness involved. Even the level of disgraceful, scandalous, dishonest, transgressive, damaging behavior that is perceived by most of our Democratic leaders — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and not-officially Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders among the relatively few exceptions — does not get called out with the vigor that’s called for.

It seems that many of our Democratic leaders — from President Obama on down — lack a capacity for moral outrage. That lack matters. An appropriate response requires the appropriate emotion, and moral outrage is surely part of what the disgraceful and damaging conduct of today’s Republican Party calls for.

That today’s Republican Party gets to be treated (e.g. by the press) and regarded (by the great majority of the American people) as a normal, acceptable political party is in itself a scandal. In a healthy democracy, a party that conducted itself like today’s Republicans would be outcast, its every utterance would be discounted by virtue of the long history of lies trailing behind it– not taken seriously in our national discourse.

The public would be reminded at every turn of what the picture, when assembled, shows about this unprecedented, destructive, utterly dishonest force driving the right.

Restoring health to our democracy requires “calling it out.” Health in a democracy requires dealing with the reality.

But calling it out would mean confrontation, and for this the Democrats have shown all too little appetite. Blindness compounded by fear of confrontation.

Press the battle.

The Democrats seem gun-shy, averse to the conflict their opponents insist upon. Not the symmetry of “both sides do it,” but the asymmetry of one party that makes a fight out of everything, even when the nation’s good calls for cooperation, and another that would rather avoid conflict, even when their standing in fighting is qhat the nation requires. (“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are filled with a passionate intensity.”)

The Republicans are constantly on the attack. Whatever happens, they attack. If Obama chooses A, they attack him for it; if instead he chooses B, they attack him for it. The attacks are relentless, uncalled for, dishonest, war for the sake of war. But the Democrats – and Obama in particular – do not press the battle. At best, they counterpunch. Sometimes barely that.

The Democrats should be continually pushing into the national conversation the ways the Republicans are trampling on our traditions, how they are putting their own advantage ahead of the nation’s good, how — on issue after issue — they are going against the will of the American people, how their position on virtually every problem America faces is to prevent the nation from acting to solve it.

But they are not pressing the battle. And as a result, the American people are not getting nearly the help they need to realize what’s going on.

See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle.


I’m showing the evil.

Showing the patterns. Laying it out so that people can “see the evil.”

In this series, I did it first in Please Listen to Me, where I showed the Republican pattern of destructive behavior. I continued to paint the picture in the entries describing the “Unprecedented Nature of Today’s Republican Party.”

In a democracy like ours, the only way a force like this can gain power is to deceive people about its true nature. That’s why it’s an important part of a strategy for victory over such a force to show it for what it is.

I’m calling it out.

I’m calling out the whole. And I’m calling out the pieces.

I’m calling out the sociopathic conduct of Koch Brothers Capitalism.

And in an op/ed, entitled What Kind of Christianity Is This?, published right in their back yard, I called out that bastion of hypocrisy — Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia — saying this:

When I was a candidate for Congress (2011-12), I traveled all around Virginia’s 6th District, speaking with citizens of all kinds. In the process, I was privy to a variety of strains and disagreements and antagonisms in the District’s body politic. But among all these, one stood out dramatically.

There was one actor – one power — in the District that was regarded by some good and solid citizens in a way like no other, with a kind of deep dread and elemental revulsion I’d never heard expressed in America before. The object of these extraordinary feelings was Liberty University, the Christian institution of higher education in Lynchburg, Virginia.

What does it mean for a Christian institution to be experienced that way by its neighbors. It hardly seems possible that following Jesus’ teachings –“Love they neighbor as thyself”—could give rise to such feelings.

And what does it mean for an institution built to advance Christian values to be aligned with the Party that serves the mighty powers of Mammon, and that regularly preys on the lowly and vulnerable?

A big-time calling out, I would say, to declare to the powerful right-wingers running Liberty University, in essence, “The spirit you are manifesting is the very opposite of the spirit of Jesus.”

Going after these components of that destructive (evil) force in such ways is also pressing the battle.

With your help, we can press the battle more and more powerfully. I’m asking for your help to gain as prominent a platform as possible from which I can present a clear portrait of this atrocious thing that’s arisen on the right.

The hope is that perhaps America can get to a kind of “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment, in which the truth being told leads to a falling away of the scales from the eyes, and a seeing of the important reality before us.

This is what needs to happen. And this — See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle. — is the strategy by which it might be accomplished.

4 thoughts on “More than a Motto: “See the evil. Call it out. Press the Battle”

  1. Jimiskin

    The opposite of the spirit of Jesus can be interpreted as no less than the Anti-Christ, and that properly understood, is exactly what we find ourselves dealing with here. Of course even saying that will alienate many, but really, what else should this spirit be called? Until we realize the extent and the depth of the evil we confront we are handicapped in a very major way. Thanks again, Andy for shining a light where it is needed most.


  2. Richard H. Randall

    I second Jimiskin’s comment. My Grandmother Boone in Mississippi used to say of such people, “They’d lie when the truth would serve better.” Note the draft dodger war monger (profiteer?) Dick Cheney criticizing President Obama, and racking up over 1400 comments at the NYT yesterday in no time. His misdeeds are better remembered by others it seems….


  3. David R

    I have never heard of all this evil going on at Liberty U ?

    Just curious; what do you think of Billy Graham ?

    He’s deluded ?

    A false ‘prophet’ ?

    I think he did not object to his grandson attending Liberty (?)

    Do you think he could help the cause of Christianity by denouncing Liberty U ?


    1. Andrew Bard Schmookler

      I basically have respect for Billy Graham, and I think he was in some ways a man of God. But in other ways broken, too. He’s a whole lot more whole a spirit than this Franklin Graham (his son?) who seems a very warped spirit, at heart. Billy Graham truly believed in some Christ-like things, but he also had a weakness for power, for being seduced and attracted by power, that showed something broken in him. It says a lot about there being another force within Billy Graham than that of the Christian spirit that he had the relationship he did with Richard Nixon. There Nixon was, in all his cramped and twisted ways, being Nixon of a dark spirit, who from beginning to end of his career had a penchant for the ugly and divisive. And here comes this man devoted to Christ cozying up to him, to practically any president, being a counselor to presidents who never seemed to work to make those presidents serve Christian values more. So Graham had his brokenness, as well as his godliness. Wonder also what it says about him that he raised a son who is such a schmuck as to launch a “crusade” into the world of Islam, to convert them to Christianity, at the very time that the world of Islam and the world of the West were on such delicate ground, ready to explode in a 9/11 or an Iraq war. I’ve done a lot better with my two sons, transmitting integrity and a value on serving the good.


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