National Repentence

There is a good article on the recent election and what it means. Timothy O’brien writes:

Voters Have Broken Trump’s Spell on America – For Now

“‘All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.”

— Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

At least 74.6 million voters have rescued America from another four years on the rack with Donald Trump. They’ve spared us more of the gratuitous bile, aimless carnival barking and rapid-fire obscenities — the sheer volume of which hid some, but not all, of its danger.

We needed those voters because Trump spent years running roughshod over institutions that have traditionally helped rein in presidents. Anyone who approached Trump as a rational actor — whether members of the media, the judiciary and law enforcement, or Congress — rather than as a deeply abnormal and chaotic whirlwind got left in his dust.

The news media had trouble making sense of Trump’s capacity to dislocate the public conversation by slinging propaganda willy-nilly. By-the-books prosecutors, notably former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, underestimated Trump’s capacity to corrupt the law enforcement apparatus that surrounded him. The Republican Party didn’t know how to contend with him either, cowed as it was by its torches-and-pitchforks wing and Trump’s unvarnished embrace of racism and populism — so it succumbed.

Congressional Democrats saw Trump for who he was and eventually tried impeachment, but they were unable to remove him from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Attorney General William Barr also saw Trump for exactly who he was and used him to further their own agendas. (McConnell got more conservative courts and a deep tax cut; Barr got to help Trump shape an imperial presidency.)

An unfettered Trump wound up providing the country and the history books with a case study in the perils of riotously delinquent leadership.

Trump had no transition team or governing plan in place when he was elected in 2016. He made a parade of promises he largely failed to keep — except for two, that huge tax cut and a more conservative judiciary. He, his children and members of his administration stayed on the grift with their business interests while he sat in the Oval Office. He played his working-class base for fools. He ran up enormous public debts. He undermined America’s standing in the world. He presided over a Republican National Convention in August that had no platform. He presented no economic and policy agenda for a second term. When confronted with the Black Lives Matter movement, he chose to divide rather than unify. He failed to confront Covid-19.

In the end, voters — enough voters, at least — learned from all of this and denied Trump four more years in office. Yet the country is unlikely to fully move past Trump without taking responsibility for tolerating the forces that created him and without fixing the fundamental problems his presidency laid bare and amplified.

Trump gained power by probing and exploiting two of the country’s most glaring wounds: racism and income inequality. He didn’t invent those problems. Racism is a historic scar, rooted in slavery, nativism and oppression. Income inequality has been accelerating for decades. Trump stepped into the fissures created by economic dislocation and simmering racial hostilities and went about shredding long-standing myths about equality and progress in America.

In that context, Trump has provided a service. He’s forced us, in the roughest and most jarring of ways, to look closer at ourselves.

After all, it’s easy to blame Trumpism, a cult of personality opposed to facts and thriving on discord, entirely on Trump. But tens of millions of Americans buy into Trump’s performance art. They largely haven’t cared to know that the indefatigable self-promoter they love is in fact a dishonest, inept businessman and a cruel hustler.

When Trump’s base did recognize who he was, they were content to look away because he spoke to them. He appealed to their fears of economic helplessness and cultural marginalization, often in incendiary or manipulative ways — but, still, he spoke to them. Among many of the more affluent of Trump’s supporters, the raw appeal of a tax cut padding their wallets and smaller government staying out of their way added to his leverage.

And yet conceding Trump’s appeal is a far cry from accepting his methods or coddling the worst and most damaging instincts of his base. That’s a dead end given the challenges facing the country and the solutions needed to overcome them.

I have watched Trump closely for a long time, since 1990, and know that America could have seen him coming. That’s not to say I told you so but rather to ask: How did a country as gifted, prosperous and promising as the U.S. let this rodeo clown travel so far?

The answer: Trump is a mirror. He’s not an anomaly but a reflection of what’s gone wrong in the American experiment and of Americans’ anxiety about how best to repair it. That’s why at least 70.4 million Americans voted for him in this presidential election and why they weren’t disturbed by the issues that drove 74.6 million to vote the other way. That’s why we have an electoral map so starkly divided by geography, demography, income, race and cultural flashpoints.

The political schisms that have divided families and friendships in the Trump era are evidence of this. It’s not just the traditional differences between conservatives and liberals, the rights of individuals versus the needs of the state, that truly animate these ruptures, I suspect. Trump has forced people to take very personal stands on core values and issues — such as inequality and racism— that have been left to the side in homes and on the streets for far too long.

I also think it’s fine that these breakups are taking place. The same soul-defining clashes await both the Democratic and Republican parties in the wake of this election, and that stands to be a healthy and cleansing dynamic, too.

Meanwhile, Trump and Trumpism aren’t going anywhere. The country would be better off if they disappeared posthaste. But Trump is too needy, grasping and avaricious to just fade away gracefully. He may start a media company; he’ll continue to stage rallies; he’ll still use Twitter as a geyser of lies; and he’ll assert himself as a political power broker. And Trumpism is too rooted in the American fabric to vanish without systemic changes and a few more political and policy battles.

Everyone is exhausted, but it’s not time to take a nap just yet.

While I am still amazed that so many voted for Trump in both elections, I fully expected that Americans would have learned why not to support Trump in 2020 was in their own best interests. But they didn’t. His lies, deceits, deceptions, refusals, failures, impeachment – none of it made any difference to tens of millions. How is that even possible?

O’brien gives some hints. But he’s too kind. He doesn’t really expose the fatal flaws within the electorate, and I do mean fatal. America was on a path of self-destruction, that would have culminated in a total collapse of this country as we knew it. We would have gone the way of Nazi Germany, with a vicious suppression of individual rights, free speech, violent actions, secret police and full-blown fascism. Of that, I have no doubt whatsoever.

Trump did not stand for the individual and the principles by which this country was founded. He never has. Trump lied his way to the Presidency and co-opted the very character of the country through symbols, imagery and themes, pretending to be both a patriot and a leader. But Trump was always about Trump, a spoiled bratty aged punk who could not stand for non-loyalists, who purged his adopted party (Trump was never a Republican) and browbeat, threatened and cajoled everyone else, bending them to his will.

Trump was also a criminal and still is, facing hundreds of pending lawsuits and criminal charges that he (so far), managed to put on hold while in office, most of them due to an arcane and not challenged assumption that sitting Presidents cannot be prosecuted while in office. That is and always will be, an utterly absurd interpretation that should be challenged. Nobody is above the law. Nobody has total immunity because of office held. This explains Trump’s extreme desperation – he’s facing criminal prosecution now.

Trump intends to pardon himself before leaving office, yet another excess that has never been Constitutionally tested in the courts. But it probably will be and certainly should.

But these comments are so far just about Trump (and far, far from complete). What about the electorate? Why did so many support such a vile grifter?

Most analysis are now admitting to the character flaws within the voting populace. Trump was (and still is) a mirror for who and what we really are as a nation. And that is truly depressing.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious. Nobody twisted our arms on who we should vote for. We had the freedom to choose (such as it was). I knew, personally, that it could not be Trump under any circumstances, and I’m assuming that many other people likely felt that way too. And I also knew that voting for any other candidate than the leading Democrat would fail to install my preferred choice into the White House. And I did not want to risk that either. Not this time, we all saw what happened in 2016.

In 2016, and in 2020, my candidate was not allowed to run. So in both elections, it had to be either Trump or the “other guy”. But this doesn’t explain why tens of millions of people still voted for Trump.

Apparently, Trump really is a mirror for millions within America. Which is extremely disturbing. Trump represented everything I hate and oppose: dishonesty, narcissism, greed, corruption, misogyny, racism, poor leadership, selfishness, ignorance, rejection of science, facts, knowledge and awareness. Trump was a child, a third-grade dropout with a massive inferiority complex.

Trump’s entire life has been one of deeply offensive behavior. He’s defrauded thousands of people (and now hundreds of millions), always placing himself above everyone else. Trump was a total fraud in everything he claimed he represented. Everything Trump accused others of doing is what he was doing. Trump has the character of a cockroach, scurrying from truth, facts and responsibility every time somebody challenged his endless bullshit.

With his entire life on public display, it was easy to identify what Trump was, but we don’t have that same transparency with everyone else. We don’t know what they are until we’ve had interactions with them. But we can watch what they do (most important) and listen to what they say. Right now, throngs of Trump supporters are acting very badly, which if we’re honest, they always have. They believe in a lie, supported a liar and now intend to force these lies upon everyone else. They are showing us who and what they are. Showing up at protest heavily armed and ready for war, they think they can act with impunity and violate election laws and procedures.

Most of these morons think that Kyle Rittenhouse lawfully murdered those victims in Wisconsin and should be set free because that’s exactly what they want to do. Kill people and not be held accountable for their actions. They are reprehensible, lawless, and traitors to the Constitution, and it needs to stop, right now before more people get killed.

But that doesn’t account for the rest of the Trump supporters who are not engaging in acts of violence and intimidation. I don’t know the character of these people other then those that I have had dealings with on and offline. I know that they don’t like facts, and they don’t like being shown where they are wrong. And they oftentimes as not, practice deflection and self-deception in their discussions. I know that they inhabit information bubbles almost exclusively, refusing to read anything that challenges their confirmation bias.

Many of them do seem very deluded and engaging in both fantasies and fear-mongering, literally fabricating entire memes whole cloth. Most of them are human parrots, repeating what they’ve heard or read somewhere, with little ability to actually think for themselves apparently. It’s quite disheartening because they’re not all bad people. They’re just living in a distorted worldview that filters out everything that they don’t like. I’ve yet to have a real conversation with any of them because they refuse to do so. When their claims or statement is challenged, they shut up.

But we should not forget that many of these people support more direct actions including violence. Numerous people now languish in jails all over the country having stupidly said that they want to see non-loyalists killed. Steve Bannon just got kicked off of YouTube permanently for this very thing (yeah, that Steve Bannon). Many of them are so angry now that violence appears to be their only option (it’s not). It doesn’t dawn on them to read up on their own lies and stop spreading them. Or to change their worldview to be more in line with the rest of the real world.

Without self-education, we are in a hopeless situation. We all are, because we’re always going to bickering back and forth and insisting that our world view is the only one that is right. But one ‘side’ has chosen to reject this essential requirement. They don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to see it, and they don’t want to read it – so they don’t, which is why they abandon conversations, deflect the topics and avoid to answer. This leaves them in the dark, uninformed and unaware of what is really going on, uselessly babbling on to their own. They live within echo-chambers of self-reinforcing feedback loops, always getting the same wrong answers because nothing else is allowed in.

I definitely blame them for this self-defeating behavior and attitude. I was once like that myself – living in an information bubble and quite certain I was right with my world view, but time and experience proved me dead wrong – and I chose to change because I felt that knowing the truth was more important then my uninformed insistence that “I was right”. This is why I do not support Trump, faketriots, violence, lies, deceptions, anti-science, exceptionalism and so much more. It all flies in the face of facts, reality and truth.

If you refuse to learn, you will remain exactly where you are (or worse, you will fall down a rabbit hole of connedspiracy and disinformation). And your life will be greatly diminished. I’ve already shared links in recent articles about the self-destruction I’ve witnessed first-hand, including in my own life and that of many other people. The post-election despair that now grips tens of millions of people is very much a part of this self-destruction. Millions of people feel cheated, defrauded, deceived and disappointed. Much of this turns to anger, but the fault is actually yours if this describes you. You supported a fraud and didn’t believe it or didn’t know it. You supported a con man who was both inept and incapable of true leadership. You should have known this. It’s actually the true reason why he lost.

I doubt very, very much that the present claims of “fraud” and a “stolen election” will go anywhere whatsoever – because it didn’t happen as far as I can tell. So far, I’ve seen nothing to substantiate these claims. But if you’re still living in an information bubble that suits your confirmation bias – you will disagree. You’re being lied to. The stories circulating so far are bullshit, conflated claims that amount to next to nothing. This election was probably the most fair election we’ve had in a long time, since before the year 2000. Trump lost, fairly and even if you don’t like it, that’s the way it is.

This losing, where so many millions were absolutely certain could not happen, has deflated the expectations of millions, while elating everyone else. That’s part of the learning process – you don’t always get what you want, especially if its all been built upon lies. And those lies are what you desperately need to go look up. Find out the truth of the matter, but don’t just read your normal news sources, read them all. And when you finally realize this truth, you will be far better off then not.

Here’s what’s going to happen, contrary to the IdiotSphere of fools and liars claiming otherwise: the Courts are going to rule on every challenge, every objection, having examined the evidence and claims for actual facts – and they are going to reject the claim that this election was fraudulent. You will either have to accept this ruling from the experts on law – or you can dive back down into your despair and claim yourselves magically “better informed”. You are not. Not even close. Most of you lack the experience, credentials and research to pass judgement on the facts. That’s what the courts are for. And they’re going to rule on the truth of the matter.

You’ve been deceived, from the get go. From the very moment Trump first ran for office and before then. And if you didn’t bother to check the facts then, you should really should do this now.

Trump showed callous disregard for hundreds of thousands of Americans, soldiers, immigrants and children – and many of you feel the same way (or worse). That’s on you. We do not have little boxes and lines drawn around our lives that differentiate us as human beings, and who has the inherent right to live, and those that somehow do not. This viewpoint is disgusting and reprehensible, morally bereft of compassion, empathy and honesty. It’s evil. It’s certainly not biblical and it is anathema to everything that is just, decent and ethical.

We’re all Americans, regardless of our voting preferences, skin color, religion, race or sex. And we’re all humans, inhabiting this rock, each of us trying to make a living, care for our families and find meaning within our own lives. You need to respect all of that and stop with the hatred. You may live in a tiny little box in your mind, but not everyone else does. Nor should they, because it’s wrong on every level.

Frankly, this is the perfect time for national repentance. Not to grieve over loss, but to reconcile hearts to truth. Trump was horrible for this country and for the world, clinging to his lies is just as wrong.

Let it go. We’re all going to be much better off without him.

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