I had no plans to write a post tonight. It’s late, I’ve had a long day, and I am tired. Plus, this isn’t a political blog. My power to influence anyone’s opinion is null. But I can’t sleep, and these are the words rattling around in my skull.
Ever since Trump got elected four years ago, I feel like I’ve stepped into a very poorly written political thriller. Trump has always been, in my eyes, a comic-book villain. His antics, his stupidity, his clear disregard for common decency, has always seemed too over the top for the real world. I would call him unrealistically bad if I’d read about him in a novel. But it’s not Trump keeping me awake when I should be in bed, it’s his supporters. I am forty-six years old, and what I am reading from Trumpers on a daily basis makes me question everything I know about good and evil. I have always maintained a naive, Romantic notion that human beings are generally moral, wanting to do the right things. Yes, I understand that for his voters, Trump is the good guy, but how any rational, thinking human being can witness this president’s behavior and say to themselves, “Yes, that’s the guy I want to follow,” is too far beyond my comprehension. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around it. As an author, it’s my job to reflect different points of view. I work hard to put myself in the minds of strangers, no matter how alien, inept or cruel, so that I can better portray them in my fiction. That evil character who maims and tortures his victims? Well, he had a terrible childhood, his parents didn’t love him, he was bullied at school. Back in the nineties, I remember sympathizing with the Columbine shooters. Well, of course they shot up their school, I reasoned. They were bullied mercilessly, made to feel alone and isolated. Murder was the only way they could feel empowered, consequential, like their lives mattered. No doubt, Trump’s father never hugged him. But seventy-five million Americans? Did their parents all fail to teach them compassion? No. I cannot bring myself to understand that. For the past four years, I have been shocked by Trump’s actions, and then it seems like I am experiencing the white-gold/blue-black dress dichotomy all over again (the dress is gold and white dammit!) as an army of his right-wing fanatics find ways to justify his behavior, twisting and turning and spinning reality in support of their leader. Making fun of handicapped people? That’s Free Speech. Trump says it like it is! Sexually assaulting women? They were asking for it. Trump is a man’s man. Not paying taxes? Cheating the IRS? He’s smart! He works the system! Taking us out of the Paris Climate agreement? Global warming is a hoax, by the Chinese government, no less! Putting kids in cages? Separating small children from their families? But who built those cages? Obama did it first. Bribing the Ukrainian president for dirt on Joe Biden’s son? Didn’t happen. And if it did, it’s not technically illegal. Downplaying the Coronavirus and holding maskless rallies? Claiming it’s a Democratic hoax that’ll go away after the election? Nah, COVID is just like the flu, and those 300,000 deaths could’ve been due to anything. And Obama would have done worse. Everything is fake news, fake news, fake news! Don’t believe the reporters, or the scientists, or the doctors, or anyone who disagrees with Dear Leader. Up until recently, FOX was the only media outlet that could be trusted, until they reported the simple fact that Biden had won the election, and then suddenly, they too became fake news. Honestly, how dumb do you have to be to swallow this nonsense?
With each new Orwellian headline I read about, I am forced to ponder: WHAT THE FUCK DOES TRUMP NEED TO DO TO LOSE SUPPORTERS?
And the answer is, I think, nothing. The man can do absolutely no wrong. I am confident that if Trump were to pull a cart full of children out to the middle of Times Square, rape them and murder them, his supporters would find ways to excuse it. Those were evil children! They had it coming! Obama would have raped and murdered MORE children!
What WORLD am I living in? Where seventy-five million Americans witness this shit everyday and still find it acceptable? Do facts even matter? Have we already entered into a 1984 dystopia where truth has become entirely a matter of political expedience?
And now, finally, we’ve reached the point of an attempted coup, an attempt to literally takeover Congress and topple our democracy, and our country, through violent insurrection. This was a level of depravity I never imagined I would see. This is cheap, political thriller territory. A Tom Clancy novel. A Dan Brown book. This shit doesn’t happen in real life! But again, what I’ve sadly come to discover is that ALL of the authors of this kind of storytelling were wrong. Because in all of those stories, when the villainous plot is revealed, the villain’s hoodwinked followers come to their senses. They realize the errors of their ways and admit to their faults. But that’s the fantasy. That’s not how real people behave. In reality, the villain’s followers NEVER admit to wrongdoing, because as history has taught us time and time again (a lesson I never learned or never wanted to learn) people will rather die than admit to being wrong. Even now, Trumpers are furiously hacking away at their keyboards, spinning this ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY in a way that favors dear leader. Those people who broke into the Capitol building? They were fighting against a fraudulent election! And besides, the BLM protesters did worse!
Now, I’ve watched The Social Dilemma. I understand how the information bubble works. I realize that the liberal news I get differs from the news they get. But here’s the thing: FOX reported NO fraud. Tucker Carlson, a radical right-wing pundit, confirmed there was no fraud. Eighty judges, many of them Republican, stated there was no fraud. The Supreme Court, including three Trump appointees, confirmed there was no fraud. Republican governors, who were in charge of the elections in their states, insisted there was no fraud. And Bill Barr, who has been supporting every insane thing Trump has done, agreed there was no fraud. So how is it possible that tens of thousands were confident enough that there was fraud to storm the capitol in an attempted coup, killing four people in the process? No, this kind of willful ignorance cannot simply be a matter of the information bubble. This is a cult that worships Trump. The lunatics screaming for the heads of Democratic senators, preparing nooses and zip ties for Vice President Pence, frothing with hatred and rage, were under a Jonestown-like spell. We’ve seen this kind of behavior in the past. History provides repeated examples of people surrendering their freedom in allegiance to ONE man. We saw it with Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin, and now we can add Trump to that list. Why was I under the impression that America was any different? Immune to the frailties of human egotism and judgment? It was only a matter of time before someone like Trump would come along, to add another paragraph to our children’s textbooks, another warning for deaf ears about the next would-be tyrant.
I may never understand how people can get so swept up in love for an individual, in admiration for a narcissistic madman, that they forget their oaths to the Constitution, to democracy, and to America. But I have learned a valuable lesson in all this: there are times when trying to understand the other doesn’t work, when reaching across the aisle will only get your arm blown off. Biden urges us to deescalate. To learn to see our political rivals not as our enemies, but as fellow citizens.
You cannot find common ground with someone who wants to destroy you. You cannot find peaceful resolution when the other side craves only violence. You cannot rationalize with people who have rejected rationality. You cannot find humanity in people who see you as inhuman.
I am disgusted by these American traitors, who compare the Black Lives Matter movement to what happened in Washington. There is ZERO COMPARISON. Yes, people died on both sides, and property was destroyed, but this isn’t why we are outraged. We are outraged because of the REASONS people were killed. If all that matters is the number of dead, then we should be outraged more so by the over 300,000 deaths and counting due to Trump’s negligence—but taking that aside—the TERRORISTS and TRAITORS who broke into the capitol building were actively seeking to subvert democracy, and effectively, to topple America itself. This attack was NO DIFFERENT than if we had been invaded by Germany or Japan. What we fought and died for in the two World Wars was the same thing we continue to fight against when it comes to Trumpism, our way of life, our freedoms. Comparing THIS to the damage done by BLM is patently absurd. What we fight FOR matters. Democracy and freedom are worth fighting for, dying for, and sometimes even killing for. There comes a time when good people have to stand up and say, this is wrong, this is evil, and you are the enemy. Keep in mind, I am not calling for violence against individuals. We are not there yet. But we must be prepared to destroy the idea of Trump, the worship of Trump, any and all support for Trump.
How we go about this challenge is unclear. It may simply be a matter of shame and shunning. But for future generations, there is no greater remedy than education. If we are to survive this world of information pollution, we must make it of paramount importance to teach civics, to help tomorrow’s voters understand why democracy matters and just how very frail it is. Ultimately, we must teach our children that TRUTH is the greatest virtue of all. We must learn how to determine truth and how to defend it.