There are plenty of popular culture references that go over my head. Some of that is related to my age (a full generation beyond millennials). And some of it is related to my odd collection of interests, which frequently don’t align with popular culture. Sometimes something bubbles up to my consciousness nevertheless.
The red pill meme is one of these. I never saw The Matrix, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here’s the result:
|red pill and blue pill|
image from Wikipedia
The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are a popular cultural meme, a metaphor representing the choice between:
The terms, popularized in science fiction culture, are derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. In the film, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill by rebel leader Morpheus. The red pill would free him from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allow him to escape into the real world, but living the "truth of reality" is harsher and more difficult. On the other hand, the blue pill would lead him back to stay in the comfortable simulated reality of the Matrix.
This concept has come up in relation to yet another popular culture idea: the #WalkAway movement, which turning coming up repeatedly in my Facebook feed this past week, although it’s been going on since May. Here’s a brief summary from Erich Reimer last week at Townhall:
At now over 100,000 members in its Facebook group and widespread international media coverage, the #WalkAway movement of former Democrats telling their stories about why they left their party has resonated deeply with a core feeling currently in the American people.
Started by NYC hairstylist Brandon Straka in late May the movement has caught flame because it speaks to how the Democratic Party of today, where far-left sentiments ranging from universal socialist programs to demonizing our first responders and border control, to questioning the very goodness of America itself, are edging closer to gaining a seat at the table.
The original Brandon Straka video is about six minutes, and pretty powerful:
When I first looked up #WalkAway, in a Google search, there was something about it being a fake movement instigated by Russian bots. But that was dispelled by numerous short and long videos of actual people telling their own stories—something Russian bots, I’m assuming, could not produce. And several of them say so right in their videos: “Just so you know, I’m not a Russian bot.” Straka’s video is powerful, but also professional looking. These myriad others aren’t professional, slick videos. They’re homemade, sometimes rambling, but very real.
Scott Adams, of Dilbert cartoon fame, but also a thoughtful commentator on the culture, talked about the movement. At first he thought it must be the result of policy. It turns out the economy is doing better, or something else seems better than expected. If it were that, he said, he would assume it would pass fairly quickly. But once he watched Straka’s video, he realized it was something far more interesting. Straka didn’t walk away because of policy; he walked away because he realized he’d been lied to and manipulated.
Here’s Adams’ description:
I’ve also said that President Trump—I said this two years ago—would “punch a hole in the universe, or put a tear in the universe so that you could look through the hole and see reality for the first time.” Because we all walk around in this little bubble movie of our own making. And I said that he’s going to let you see reality—at least a little bit of it, not all of it, ‘cause we’re not able—but he would put a hole in your current bubble so you could just peek out and see what’s on the other side, and you’d say, “Holy cap! I’m in a bubble!” So really, the most you’re going to get out of this is the knowledge certain that you’ve been living in a bubble of truth that you created in your own head, as opposed to truth that exists in the universe.
And apparently that’s what happened to Brandon Straka, because here’s how he describes his thinking behind the walkaway. It wasn’t about policy. Here’s what it was about. He realized that the Democrats were using fear to manipulate people.
screen shot from video
Adams mentions the news coverage, journalists who “moved from an observer watchdog role to actual participants, trying to move the needle.” He says, “I would argue that close to 100% of the fear that people have about this president is based on non-objective coverage.” What if the president wasn’t portrayed as a crazy buffoon, ready to blow up the world, and take over in Hitlerian fashion? How would things look different with objective coverage, just of a person doing and saying things, maybe keeping campaign promises or not? What if they left out all fear-mongering?
As he summarizes, “So the Democrats, for their political benefit, have caused the entire left to be in physical and mental distress, for two years.”
That’s what this movement is reacting to.
Where it will lead depends on a few things: Whether these people walking away are going to move forward continuing to seek truth. And whether they’ll now accept those people who were previously demonized as their enemies. And, of course, whether they feel welcome and comfortable around the demonized others—us.
My guess is that they’ll find welcome. As with other things, hatred and other negatives among us has been greatly exaggerated. (See this piece by Ben Shapiro. And this piece by William Voegeli.)
Everyone being welcome what I’ve seen at local and state Republican Party meetings. I’ve taken photos from time to time of the perhaps surprising number of blacks among us—nearly the percentage in the population as a whole, even though something like 92% of the black demographic have voted reliably Democrat, so it's as if, if you're a black and conservative, you really need to get active in the party to feel supported. We get accused of hating them, but when they’re with us, they’re just part of us. And we’re not at all surprised by Hispanics among us, because they’ve always been a big part of our party, despite what you may have heard.
Here are some truths those walking away might find:
· Democrats have never been in favor of doing away with racial bias; they want to use it to convince people they are victims and then pander to them for votes. Republicans fought against slavery, fought against Jim Crowe laws, and fought for equal rights.
· Democrats have never been in favor of lifting everyone up; they use class envy to tear down and bring down the top so all suffer together. Republicans, by philosophy, let go of class envy and admire success, because that just means success is possible.
· Democrats claim to be generous—but with taxpayer money. Republicans tend to be careful about taxing and spending (at least in theory), and in reality are a lot more generous in their charitable giving.
· Democrats aren’t about tolerance; they are absolutely intolerant of anyone who doesn’t move lockstep with their beliefs; they are particularly intolerant of members of their “victim” groups who do not agree ideologically with the party line. Republicans are used to having to defend their beliefs, and, while you can find exceptions, most are willing to listen to differing opinions and discuss beliefs with true interest in what others think.
· Liberalism has nothing to do with freedom or open-mindedness. Conservatism is actually classic liberalism—freedom from tyranny. That’s what we’re conserving. While we’re doing it, we can have interests in all kinds of food, culture, fashion, architecture, music, and entertainment. Conservatism isn’t stuffy and stifling; it’s about conserving our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property.
· Progressivism has nothing to do with progress and much to do with regression. Real progress is what you get when you adhere to the principles that lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization.
· Socialism has nothing to do with being social, or being civilized, and much to do with submitting to tyranny and its associated savagery. To have a thriving civilization, you do, indeed, need a religious, and a strong support of marriage and family. But for those who are willing to live in ways that are decent and kind, but who haven’t discovered the connection between that kind of choice and belief in God, you’re still welcome among us. Civilized people are good at getting along in the playground.
If you want freedom, you need to walk away from tyranny and go upward toward freedom.
If you want prosperity, you need to walk away from poverty—or, put another way, walk away from a controlled economy and toward a free market, which has lifted more people out of poverty than any other concept in world history. You need the people who earn to be the decision-makers in how they spend their earnings. And, for those unable to earn and in real need, you need voluntary philanthropy to help them as needed.
If you want civilization, you need to walk away from savagery. As we say at the Spherical Model:
Civilized people live peaceably among their neighbors, helping rather than taking advantage of one another, abiding by laws enacted to protect property and safety—with honesty and honor. Civilized people live in peace with other civilized people; countries and cultures coexist in appreciation, without fear.
So, if the #WalkAway movement describes your journey, your awakening to truth, come join us in our real world movement toward freedom, prosperity, and civilization.