This election is no longer really about Democrat vs. Republican or left vs. right. It has become a much-needed referendum on two lifestyles: Learner vs. non-learner.
Non-learners are just too tired, bored, anxious, fragile or proud to tolerate ever having to learn anything ever again about the big picture, in particular the correct way forward. Under the guise of faith, principle, commitment, steadfastness and confidence, they pronounce themselves graduated know-it-alls. They pack themselves a little bag of cheap tricks for deflecting all challenges and float out into their own realities, their paths never to be corrected again.
One can become a non-learner out of arrogance, but as easily just by being out of one’s depth. Some are born non-learners, some achieve non-learning, and some have non-learning thrust upon them by overwhelming circumstances.
The difference between learners and non-learners isn’t in the beliefs they hold but how they hold them. Since the non-learners’ priority is self-certainty at all costs, their beliefs are secondary, a thin rationalizing layer they wrap around their core belief that they’re right.
Non-learners rationalize by means of any convenient doctrine. While debate rages about whether to call ISIS Islamic terrorism, the better solution is to call it Muslimized terrorism, extreme non-learning under thin cover of Islamic doctrine.
There are Christianized, spiritualized, atheisized non-learners. There are conservatized, progressivized, ecologized and libertarianized non-learners. There are also learners who lean toward each of these belief systems while remaining influenceable.
Non-learners proudly demand their freedom, which to them means freedom from doubt, from ever having to rethink anything. They declare that they have seen the light and that anyone who disagrees with them is still in the dark.
It’s much harder to be a learner than a non-learner. It requires that you learn how to stand corrected, your dignity intact even while admitting that you are wrong. It requires that you be able to change your mind, which is taxing work for any of us. It means living with doubt.
The non-learner lifestyle is much easier. Learn a handful of cheap shot “I know you are but what am I?” tricks, and rationalize using them because your cause is so virtuous or because life is just a dog-eat-dog competition to be fought without reservation. Non-learners are spin doctors for one cause only: Their right to claim to be right always.
Politics isn’t one skillset but two, first making difficult political decisions—which requires learning—and second, selling ones’ decisions, which requires a steadfastness that appeals to non-learners.
Donald Trump is the most devout non-learner ever to run for the presidency. Some people (for example Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert”) describe him as a communication genius. But that’s inaccurate. The test of a communications genius is adaptability, an ability to learn what works with different audiences, definitely not a genius Trump displays.
Vote learner this election. These are very uncertain times. Non-learners have given up on adapting to them. We will only survive if we keep on learning.