How Are Colin Kaepernick and Bill Kristol Alike?

By | September 5, 2016 | 0 Comments


Colin Kaepernick

Bill Kristol

Offhand one would say that Colin Kaepernick and Bill Kristol have nothing at all in common, except that they are both human beings. Kaepernick is the 28-year-old quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who gained notoriety not for his football skills, which may result in his being cut from the team, but for his refusal to stand up for the National Anthem. Kaepernick explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Which multiethnic country is more friendly to blacks and people of color he does not say.

Kristol, in contrast, is the 63-year-old editor of The Weekly Standard, a moderately conservative magazine and website. His smiling face frequently adorns talk shows on Fox News. But he recently gained notoriety for his passionate “never Trump” stance, which continued unabated after Trump earned the Republican nomination for president. Which candidate would make a better president he does not say. But there is only one other electable candidate: Hillary Clinton.

On closer inspection, however, the similarity between these two becomes obvious. They both compare the object of their criticism not to actual alternatives, but to some ideal fantasy that exists only in their imaginations.

● Kaepernick is unable to name another country were blacks are better treated or more able to achieve their potential – as he in fact has. But he compares America to some theoretical utopia where racial and ethnic strife are nonexistent.

● Kristol is unable to name another candidate who would be more suited to be president. His dislike for Hillary Clinton is obvious. But he compares Trump not to Hillary, but to some theoretical candidate who embodies all the positive qualities and none of the negative ones.
Both Kaepernick and Kristol, unlike though they are in many respects, are similar in one key respect. They exemplify this maxim:

The best is the enemy of the good.

We are taught to strive to be the best we can. This stimulates us to try harder. But the operative phrase is we can. Carried to the extreme, admiration for the best squelches ambition. Very few can be the best at anything. For the rest of us, being pretty good is difficult enough. If we overemphasize being the best, many people – especially young people – will simply give up.

This principle applies to many areas of life.

Personal best.
How happy would we be, if we insisted on dating – and marrying – only the most beautiful, the most handsome, the most intelligent, the most talented person we had ever seen or heard of? How many women would be happily married, or married at all, if they constantly compared their husband’s looks to the latest film or TV star, and his income to the most flamboyant billionaire? What woman would remain in a committed relationship, if she continually compared her partner’s intelligence to a nuclear physicist, his sense of humor to the most popular comedian, and his physical prowess to the extreme fighting champion?

When it comes to men, the problem may be even more acute. Virtually every heterosexual boy and young man looks at “girlie” magazines, if not porno videos. What man could maintain a physical relationship, if he constantly compared his wife or girlfriend to the latest Playboy centerfold? Many men are addicted to pornography, and this can cause serious problems in a marriage. What woman can feel good about herself, if she believes her husband is comparing her to Miss September?

Educational best.

It’s one thing to motivate young people to study hard and do well in school. It’s quite another to demand perfection. Parents apply to nursery schools when their child is still in the womb. Then comes pre-school and elementary school – the “best,” of course – so the child can get into the “best” high school, the “best” college, and often the “best” graduate school.

Why? So young people can be well educated? So they can gain wisdom? Are you joking? So they can make more money, of course – and pay off huge student loans, which were needed for the “best” schools. (Talk about circular reasoning!) Might students be happier in a community college? Might they be more productive in a computer or other technical school? Might they benefit from time off to travel, work, or perform public service? No matter – only the “best” will do. The young person is not seen as an individual, but merely as an extension of the parents, destined to give them prestige – like their BMW.

All this might be justified to motivate a brilliant student. But what about ordinary students? The subtext is that if you haven’t graduated from the “best” schools with the highest honors, you are a failure. As a result, most kids are condemned to think of themselves, to a greater or lesser degree, as failures.

Professional best.

In business or professional life, why should we try to better ourselves, if we can never hope to make as much money as Bill Gates? We might as well continue in our dead-end job. Why should we do research and advance human knowledge, if we can never expect to win a Nobel Prize? We might as well become sales clerks. Why should I continue writing for my website, if I can never win a Pulitzer Prize like a “real” columnist?

Ambition is a fine thing, but like anything else, it can be carried to the point of being self-defeating. Setting goals that are too low, or having no goals at all, leads to lack of accomplishment. But setting goals that are impossibly high can have equally destructive effects. Goals can challenge the individual, but they must be realistic.
Political best.
Instead of comparing Republicans to what Democrats actually do and say, the mainstream media and “progressives” (as if there were any difference) compare Republicans to some sort of ideal beings who can see the future and advocate policies that are always proved correct. Instead of comparing Republicans to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, critics compare Republicans to mythical beings who know how to defeat homicidal fanatics by nonviolence and diplomacy.

Even the finest horse can’t compare to a unicorn. But unicorns exist only in our imaginations

The bottom line.

It’s not easy being a wife, if your husband compares you not to real women he has a chance to attract, but to plastic-surgery-enhanced, photoshopped Miss September. It’s not easy being a kid, if your parents compare you not to your classmates, but to ideal kids who get straight A’s while being varsity athletes and volunteering in homeless shelters – in their non-existent spare time. It’s not easy being a husband, if your wife compares you not to your peers, but to flashy billionaires or to stars on movie-magazine covers. It’s not easy running a war against fanatics who want to kill us, if the media compare you not to your opposition, but to a vague concept of the ideal leader.

Voltaire had it right. If by some rare circumstance the best were available to us, we wouldn’t deserve it, or probably even recognize it. In the vastly more common circumstance, we must choose between imperfect alternatives. The ideal is something we keep in mind as a distant landmark toward which to strive. The ideal is not something we expect to reach, at least not in this world, and certainly not something we insist that others achieve in order to gain our support.

Only ideal husbands deserve ideal wives, and only ideal wives deserve ideal husbands. Only ideal parents deserve ideal children. Only ideal bosses deserve ideal employees. Only ideal citizens deserve ideal leaders. The rest of us must choose between less-than-ideal alternatives that exist in the real world, not in our imaginations. Our future, and that of our children, depends on our choosing wisely.

If I insist on having the ideal spouse, the ideal house, the ideal job, the ideal food, and the ideal car, I am likely to wind up an unmarried, homeless, unemployed, hungry pedestrian. Let Colin Kaepernick, Bill Kristol, and their crybaby buddies moan and groan because America does not measure up to their fantasies of perfection. The rest of us have a solemn responsibility to deal with the realities of a dangerous world.

We can either play the cards we were dealt, or throw in our hand in a  fit of self-righteous pique – and let our enemies take the pot. But make no mistake: the deed to our home is on the table.

Author’s Notes:

Note to Colin Kaepernick:
One-third of a million white men and boys died in the Civil War to end slavery. If all that blood soaking into the earth didn’t wash away America’s sins in your eyes, nothing ever will. More Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If that didn’t vindicate the Republican Party in your eyes, nothing ever will. You were born in America, raised in a good family, given a college education, and blessed with outstanding athletic abilities. You won the lottery of life, yet you are angry and dissatisfied. Sore losers are annoying; sore winners are worse.

Note to Bill Kristol:
Why did I include you with Colin Kaepernick? After all, he disrespects America, while you disrespect only Trump. But Trump didn’t hire a bunch of thugs and seize the nomination by force. He didn’t hack the computers and steal the nomination by fraud. He bested 16 other contenders in debates and convinced people to vote for him. When you disrespect Trump, you disrespect the democratic process. You disrespect American voters. As much as Kaepernick, you disrespect America. And at more than twice his age, you should know better.

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