I am apprehensive. When my mind is full, I turn to pen and paper. Just kidding, it’s actually my laptop. Don’t ask me how I became an amateur writer but it helps to calm my brain.
Let me start by saying that Bruce and I were talking the other day and honestly, our families stand almost exactly the same with this election. Half pro-Trump, half pro-Biden, and each with 1 undecided, we are a divided family and a divided nation.
The United States is being challenged in a way that I fear we have not seen since the 1960s. In truth, the blame is everywhere, republicans and democrats, men and women, Americans. We have been swindled and distracted by conspiracy theories and nepotism at the highest levels of the political arena, democrat, and republican. We should all be ashamed really yet here we are, fighting about whose candidate is better, nothing more than a playground argument among children.
The other day at work colleague said, “in all my years I have never seen our country like this, it’s scary and terrifying”….and I looked at her with the greatest understanding because I literally walk around saying that same sentiment (quite incredulously), daily.
In 2 days, our country will hold its presidential election (in case you didn’t know) and the question becomes, can we accept and survive the outcome?
I am completely unsure how this will play out? A Blue wall or red one? A blue victory as defined by a toe tap across the finish line with the red within its shadow, or vice versa? And who decided blue (democrat) and red (republican) anyway? Probably better than black or white, especially with today’s racial division. 🤔
I do know this, not much that I say within this post or what is said or described in news articles or news broadcasts will change the minds of the majority of the people, minds are made up, passionately and vehemently.
For the past 3.5 years I have watched, incredulously (my favorite word when defining Trump) while Donald Trump and his administration have somehow “normalized” extremism. We have seen this before….and history cannot wipe the stain from its pages.
The tolerance to Trumps extremism mimics that of past regimes that allowed for not only the most ardent followers but eventually, the general public to become influenced and passive witnesses to vulgar transgressions. The craziest part of this, enthusiasm for Trump grew as he became more extremist.
- Expel ALL immigrants
- Ban ALL Muslins
- “Lock em up”
- “Build the wall”
- Make America Great Again
- Drain the Swamp
In truth, Trump is the result of a frayed political asylum punctuated by populist phenomena. Why then would traditionally non-extremist voters vote for an extremist? There is NO legitimate grievance to explain and identify support for kidnapping and caging children to deter parents from seeking American asylum, to extort and illicit help from frictional non-allied foreign governments to confuse or lay doubt on our election or government processes or the willful inaction of an obvious (national, global) pandemic that has rivaled human loss and DEATH when compared to wartime casualties.
Why is that scary? Nazism became the accepted word, idiom, sentence, and vocabulary because it was repeated countless times, thousands of times to be absorbed into the culture of the society both mechanically and subconsciously. Betrayal of subordinates (Gretchen Whitmer), conspiracy theories (QANON), the lying press (CNN, CNBC and every other media outlet except Fox), purity (=conservatism), heroism (“I” made this happen, “I” did this or “I” did that), are many of the idioms that are repeated again and again on an unsuspecting society that is being bamboozled. Trumpism is ALL of the above. We wake to Trump’s “tweets”, his thoughts, short, long, and often rambling, inaccurate, and false. However, his social media presence gains traction both from his support base, and the mainstream media (either positive or negative commentary) which continue to regurgitate the falsehood(s) exacerbating the social media storm thereby bringing attention to the idioms. As a society, as a media, we play right into Trumpism.
Nina Jankowowicz, an analyst, from the Wilson Center, which is a bipartisan research center that works to correct misinformation and is a pivotal think tank to stop falsehoods and exaggerated claims shared on media sources, reports that in the future, “social media platforms are recognizing that elections are an inflection point in disinformation campaigns”.
For Trump, it is always “us vs them” which becomes part of his “big lie” framework and agenda that he pushes into mainstream society. He uses the terms: Make America Great, we have the greatest: warriors, people, and then focuses on the “enemy of the people” which is a combination of media, political opponents and adversaries and then pushes the idioms of the deep state, hoaxes, traitors, human scum, lock em up, liars and traitors, Obama is bad, Biden is bad, Hilary is a crook, democrats are bad, can’t trust a politician (which is funny because it’s his current job ;). All the while ignoring and downplaying his own faults by shining consistent and vast attention to the problems “of the other side”. He has played this country well. In some ways, he is a genius, but most narcissists are.
The scariest part. Trump lost the popular vote, 46% to 48% or 3 million votes, and eked out an electoral win via our electoral college system, not found in any other democracy. Given that the U.S. has clear rules and traditions, the results were accepted and he became the President through a MINORITY vote via the electoral college system by the people of this nation. The idea of the electoral college was that the constitution (230 years old) would safeguard its citizens, and adhere to its separation of powers.
Of course, we have seen this before with Hayes, Harrison, W. Bush, and of course, Trump.
Scarier. The constitution was designed to SAFEGUARD Americans from a majority rule to impose a nonfit demagogue as president BUT there are no “checks and balances” to ensure a minority rule over the majority. As we saw in Germany under the rise of Hitler, the constitution was fractured by an extremists’ rise to power through minority rule while instituting anti-democratic means (sowing disinformation and fabrication of lies) to maintain power. A Republican ruled Senate has protected Trump’s power, the acquittal to his impeachment, and his violations of the constitution. Now to the greatest dilemma and the most terrifying fact: the citizens of this country, the majority that did not vote for this sitting President cannot even be assured that this president will abide by a majority defeat if that should happen.
Propaganda. We have already seen the beginnings of it; Trump calling out voting as “unconstitutional and unfair” and “voter fraud”, the same system that has been in place for centuries, suddenly unfair. He is fanning his base and inciting anger by insinuating that should he lose the election, it will have been because it was “rigged”. It is almost certain he will challenge the election if it is negative of him.
AND IF, once again he is reelected by the same means that he was first elected it would mean the end of our American democracy. A Republican minority in the Senate and a Republican majority would entrench minority rule with control over the judiciary system. The Supreme Court, now stacked squarely conservative if called upon, cannot guarantee a “fair and equitable” balance of power. I am still somewhat dismayed that Obama was not able to place his choice for the Supreme Court in their election-year however, Trump was able to: this solidifies the idea of a Republican-held government. In truth, the system is flawed as there should be reasonable checks and balances at the highest levels. In essence, the U.S. will have allowed an extremist to rise to power, destroy a democracy while implementing division among its constituents by sowing disinformation, oppressing constituents, flaming racial inequities, and ignoring our most pressing national threat, COVID-19.
“I will bring manufacturing jobs back”, partly true: 2018 manufacturing jobs grew at their fastest rate since the 1980s but it did not last, manufacturing output and jobs stalled in 2019, then finally plummeted when the pandemic hit, with a very slight rebound (thanks to auto and home sales).
“We have had the greatest economy in history”, not exactly true. The economy is on track to average slightly above zero in Trump’s first term, in part thanks to the pandemic. As a comparison, the economy grew (out of the 2009 recession) by 1% in Obama’s first term and 2.3 % in Obama’s second term. To remove the pandemic from the stats, Trumps’ initial 3 years in office saw a growth rate of 2.5% (.3% more than the previous administration).
“We have provided more jobs than any other administration”, sorta true. In 2014 and 2105, more than 225K jobs were added monthly as compared to 193K at the peak of Trump’s administration in 2018 (from there it plateaued and fell). Still, to give credit the growth under Trump was robust considering its decade-long growth from previous, however, once the pandemic hit that growth was nullified: there has been a 48% rebound since the pandemic hit but again that has plateaued and is also starting to fall. Caveat: we will see this seesaw effect while COVID is an issue.
“I have had the lowest unemployment rates under my watch”, some truth as evidenced by a 3.5% low in late 2019 until early in 2020 however, the caveat is that unemployment had been steadily falling since 2011, with a 4.7% unemployment rate when he took office. Most economists will say that he simply benefitted from a growing economy that was already in play from the previous administration.
“Middle-class income growth, the best under me”, false. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave big tax breaks to corporations, lowering the business tax to 21% from 35% while allowing a “pass-through” deduction, which allows them to lop off 20% of their income before paying the IRS. At the same time, the lowest-earning Americans are seeing higher pay as more states and cities increase the minimum wage (a good thing). That leaves the middle class without visible means of catching up to the top-earning Americans, while also trailing the gains eked out by the poorest workers.
“I will stop the wars and taxpayer dollars towards war”, there is just too much to digest and regurgitate but let me just attach this article and say simply. Bush, Obama, AND TRUMP ALL have blood on their hands, they have ALL contributed (and yes, continue to) to the war processes overseas with little policy to stop it. And in truth, I do not understand war overseas and the necessity for or against? I leave that to the military experts.
Immigration, it was one of Trump’s rallying cries “to send them all back” but in truth, he has done little in this area. In fact, if you look at any reputable bi-partisan sites you will learn that Obama, who earned the title of “deporter-in-chief” actually deported more immigrants with comparable time tables as compared to Trump (not that I agree with either). I believe that we do need a vetting system and in truth, none of our presidents past or present has figured out a successful immigration system.
Of course, there could be pages of comparisons, with validations for and against policies for BOTH sides, past and present administrations that were either upheld or ignored but most importantly let’s look at the state of our union. In all of my 50 years, I do not remember our country such that it is now (I agree with my co-worker!). Extremists on either side, blind loyalists, and escalating nepotism everywhere. We have somehow embraced social media fodder, conspiracy theories, racist idealism, and extremist propaganda as truth and have largely ignored our current state of affairs.
We have a society that is as divisive as it ever has been (pre-1960s). We have two “warring” government entities (Republican VS Democrat) that are simply trying to outnumber or outmaneuver the other (and YES, Trump is a politician and every bit a part of that!). We have a health crisis not seen since 1918, that is not going to “miraculously go away”.
Most importantly, we have an economy that will never completely recover or grow until COVID is addressed head-on (something Trump refuses to acknowledge).
But let’s put all of that aside and focus on just one thing: values. For me, this is what this boils down to.
We cannot and should not have a commander-in-chief who feigns conservatism, flames racism, and is ignorant to extremist factions. We also cannot condone a president who, after personally giving control to the Governor of each state to deal with COVID (because he is unwilling to) then turn on his own government official (who is trying to contain an alarming growth of positive COVID cases within her state by instituting safety measures) with mockery and condescension. And the greatest assault comes with allowing his band of merry followers to chant “lock her up” in HER own state? I also cannot imagine the knowledge that an extremist factional group with a plot to kidnap her did not encourage a more passionate display of dismay and denouncement from our sitting president. That in itself should be alarming to us as American citizens.
Yesterday in Texas, Trump loyalists and fans tried to run a Biden campaign bus off the road and instead of doing the presidential thing, which is to again DENOUNCE that type of behavior, he chuckles about it at a later rally.
No! President Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Lincoln, and so on have never been perfect, nor will any future president. However, I cannot imagine any of them standing in front of their nation as CIC and allowing the division of their nation to be sowed within its infrastructure. This is not about our (past) president(s) trying to “control us” when admonishing unfavorable national behavior instead, it is about leading and governing! People, that is NOT suppression of freedom that is honoring thy neighbor (regardless of color), showing respect, and being American.
Is Biden the answer? IDK but I hope that he can at least start to heal this country. He is not perfect. He has made mistakes of which he acknowledges (personally and professionally). In his youth, it has been said that he was “full of himself”, but age mellows a person and beckons inflection. I am hopeful that he is mindful of the task at hand. Also, Biden has lost more than his fair share of loved ones. And to the previous points, Trump has no understanding. He has never admitted fault for anything that has not gone right within his administration, it is always someones else’s fault. In fact, it’s usually (still) Obama’s fault. The pandemic, Obama should have left him better prepared (he left a playbook) and immigration (Obama built the cages (he did) that Trump left the kids in?). Not taking the blame is the first sign of a leader who has no depth.
We are not headed in a healthy direction as a nation. We are opening ourselves up to foreign opportunists that will play upon our factionalism. In fact, the greater concern is that maybe that has been the agenda and general direction of some of our opposing countries that would stand to gain from a divisive America. Why else would non-allied countries try to sow disinformation and discontent into our electoral process? Why else would extremists be allowed to openly express unlawful conduct and threatening behavior?
This post will change little for the majority who already have firm beliefs, though I do know that I believe with all my heart that we are being challenged as a nation and as a people. 2020 has been unlike any other…
IS there a higher power trying to bring us to reason as a society? To show us that without unity, we are but prey to predators? And lastly, how is it that a “superpower” among nations, once idealized by many societies has absolved into chaos and discontent?
In truth, this is no longer about policy instead it is about values; our values as Americans.