Nietzsche on Party Politics

Apart. — Parliamentarianism — that is, public permission to choose between five basic political opinions — flatters and wins the favor of all those who would like to seem independent and individual, as if they fought for their opinions. Ultimately, however, it is indifferent whether the herd is commanded to have one opinion or permitted to have five. Whoever deviates from the five public opinions and stands apart will always have the whole herd against him.

— Nietzsche, The Gay Science (Kaufmann translation), §174

This seeming independence of partisan allegiance — the stance of the mere individual-in-appearance — is the defining moral position of late modern democratic man. And whereas Nietzsche spoke of five permitted opinions, in today’s world, that is far too wide a berth. In America, for example, the nation that determines the fate of freedom in our time, only two opinions are permitted.

“My party right or wrong” is the self-expository declaration of cowardice and moral collectivism, but in our democratic age that very sentiment, expressed continuously through the daily machinations of political life, is mistaken for a righteous cry of the soul — unless, of course, it is said by members of the other party. All political opinions in our “advanced” world are pre-approved and assigned, rather than investigated and earned. The reward for nuance, or for a simple adult refusal to sell one’s mind to a faction or leader, is a heresy charge, social exile, denial of admission, or disinvitation. 

Mitt Romney, the Republican establishment’s presidential candidate of choice in 2012, immediately before the party elders got wise and co-opted the despised “grassroots conservative movement” by pulling off the greatest fraud in American political history, has been uninvited from this year’s gathering of the laughably named Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), mere hours after he voted in favor of hearing impeachment witnesses, in opposition to his senate leadership.

Romney’s disqualifying crime? Not agreeing one hundred percent with everything his party was telling him to think today. Being a man with an independent mind for once. Acting as an individual in a nation built on the principles of ethical individualism. For that, he is damned, hated, “apart.”

True to recent form, Romney’s fellow Utah senator Mike Lee, who has exemplified the absence of every virtue Romney has just displayed, has nevertheless tried to salvage a little of his own pride by sending out a condescending tweet “defending” the honor of Romney, his better by spiritual miles and a man who certainly needs no defense today from the likes of Lee, who squirmed like a worm under the threat of disapproval and party rejection.

I have never been a fan of Mitt Romney. But I will say this: Contrary to the wishes of his tribe, I would bet he feels quite grand today, stronger and more independent-minded than he has likely felt in a very long time. Today, unlike all those who are burning him in effigy, and all his senate GOP colleagues who voted the party line, he can look at himself in the mirror and unequivocally like the man he sees. In spite of everyone else hating that man. Or rather, because everyone else hates him.

Today, at least, he is free, as modern democratic man almost never is, and has indeed forgotten how to be.

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