Competing Blue commitments
We ended last week with a Blue on Blue showdown between Kaepernick’s expressed values and the expressed values of Kaepernick’s opponents. I’d like to dwell on this troubled Blue image for a moment.
We’ve heard talk of a “constitutional crisis” looming. Technically, that describes a situation in which the constitution fails to offer clear direction on a contested issue of governance. Yes, many established political/social norms are being damaged in the Trump era—the constitution offers no remedies for that besides the vote. Still, we’ve no constitutional crisis, yet. What we do seem to have is a situation in which this president is willing to try and to test the outer limits of executive overreach. Thanks to President Donald J. Trump, our (Blue [DQ] values) system of order, norms, and the rule of law is under a severe stress test. Many wonder, “Will Blue hold?”
It seems rather plain that President Trump is willing to test and try the farthest, uncharted reaches of executive power. His firing of A.G. Sessions the day after the mid-terms, and then his subsequent appointment of Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was an extremely unorthodox move—see articles NYTimes – Slate – Vox – Axios & Atlantic. The legality of the move is in serious question, but even if technically feasible, nothing quite like this has ever been tried before, probably because it is so unseemly. This week in The New York Times, prominent D.C. lawyers Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III write about Mr. Whitaker’s ‘fruit from a poisoned tree’ problem in their Op-Ed piece:
“It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.”
In an Axios story, “Why Trump could face legal challenges over Whitaker,” Stef W. Kight and Alayna Treene write:
Even John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley who helped the George W. Bush administration draft its expansive claims to executive power, says the Whitaker appointment may be out of line.
Conflicted going in…
It is no small wonder, then, that many question the suitability of Whitaker as interim A.G.—never mind the irregularities with regard to the routine order of succession. He is a former partisan news commentator who has publicly ruled on the Mueller investigation claiming there was no collusion with Russia in the Trump campaign or any obstruction of justice for that matter. During one CNN panel discussion in which he participated as a conservative voice, Whitaker said that he could imagine how one might ramp-down and dismantle Mueller’s investigation by starving it of funding. Was this a loyalty pledge made to Trump by Whitaker in plain sight?
So, given Whitaker’s public rulings/comments on Mueller’s investigation, there’s obvious conflict here. Seemingly, Whitaker would need to recuse himself from anything to do with Mueller’s investigation. However, one thing we can be quite confident on is that Trump wants to pick someone who will not recuse themself. Trump is loath to risk a repeat of his ‘betrayal’ experience with former A.G. Jeff Sessions. Then, too, Whitaker’s ‘interim’ term may be rather transitory as his utility may be seriously limited given the intense press scrutiny of this past week.
Trump is challenging, actually daring his opposition to try and stop him with Blue. As DQ rule of law is a process (order), unless we’re talking about a game with very clear rules, a sport with an umpire or referee, or something relatively simple, often Blue is not terribly agile at real-time management in an emergent reality. Trump seems to be pretty opportunistic, often cynically so. We’ll see how far he is willing to go in flaunting his very selective regard for the rule of law.
Testing Blue elasticity…
Arguably, Presidents Clinton, Busch, and Obama all abused Blue [DQ]—as unhealthy expressions of Orange [ER] & Green [FS] are prone to do. Further, and on a far higher order of magnitude, we’ve watched President Trump spend the last two years selectively applying pressure to discount/devalue the rule of law and many Blue [DQ] institutions/norms—e.g., continually attacking the free press, certain laws (even dismantling environmental regulations), certain courts, the Dept. of Justice, the FBI, et al.—that support order, accountability, and stability. Trump, by his own admission, does this so that when it comes down to his accountability, he can tap deniability and big-time lawyers to blunt, delay, or even eliminate effects of the control dimension of Blue. So, the pressing question is: Will Blue hold? And, if so: Whose Blue?
Unpacking Blue a bit…
“Blue [DQ]” is the Spiral Dynamics [SD] designation for a set of values, or animating energies around ‘order.’ We are blessed because DQ values are expressed in the speech and behaviors of most people and organizations in U.S. society. In historical, mythical terms, the story of Moses bringing the tablets down from the mountain marks the cultural adoption of Blue [DQ] formal order and the rule of law among the Hebrew people [cf. ‘Confucius’ in the East].
Four dimensions of Blue [DQ]:
- Mythic-membership ~ This values set is based on a mythic founding narrative that forms identity in the members. In the case of the Hebrew tribe, God chose a nation (the people of Jacob/Israel) and in due course, through Moses, formed them (in relation to God) based on the rule of law. Blue values are communal and offer the individual (Red [CP], ego, ‘power‘ values) a community of greater, common good that’s formed/found. Blue [DQ] brings measured order/discipline to impulsive Red and tames the destructive chaos often attending the person whose dominant expression of values is CP—”Nobody tells me what to do!” Basically—grounded in an animating, myth narrative—Blue introduces a ‘system’ of deferred gratification to tame impulsive Red.
- Conversion ~ Technically, each ascent in the spiral is a new conversion, an antidote to previous absolutism. Blue, however, is the first conscious ascent in our journey. DQ ‘order‘ really requires assent. Each individual (Red ‘ego‘) sacrifices exclusive identification with ‘self’ and assents to the group-narrative and the rule of Blue ‘order.’ Sacrifice individual self for a greater, communal self. Early tribal examples of the Purple [BO](family/human bond) dimension of belonging really took the sacrifice part seriously—the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22) is the mythic telling of the divine banning of human sacrifice in the Semitic tradition.
- Convention ~ Blue requires the assent of each individual in the community—be it religious. cultural, or nationalistic. DQ forms the first values space that is created in the conventional sense of assent to membership. Blue opens the space for conventional identity.
- Content ~ Blue energy is about establishing order. There are times when order requires control. Zealous Blue is often willingly authoritarian. Some form of ‘sacred text’ grounds and orients Blue be it religious scripture, cultural manifesto, or a nationalistic constitution. —Sorry, we must turn to close; ‘content’ continued later.
So, last week I outlined “protest” in very general, basic terms:
Obviously, in the most general sense ‘protest’ involves the objective expression of subjective dissatisfaction.
Going a bit deeper, protest is also the demand to be acknowledged. It’s the expression of an unwillingness to allow the privileged to continue in their blindness. When circumstances are untenable, those effected by the injustice become those who are compelled to protest. Next week we’ll pick up on [Blue ‘content’ and] the role of protest in bringing light to shadow.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: I know it’s ambitious trying to introduce a big picture idea in a blog format, so I’m using a serial approach. Introductory post (here). First in series (here).
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