An American Nightmare

Only Americans can hurt America.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

I tossed and turned. I thought I was awake. I was lost in the dark movie in my mind. An inner voice told me I was dreaming; the images in the darkness told me the nightmare was real. Everything in my dream was dark. Hollow men came and went in the shadows. I felt angry, scared and sad.

It was Friday, October 30, 2020 just after the television national news and just four days before the presidential election. President Trump, fearing the loss of the election to Democrat, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, broke into television coverage and announced that due to massive voter fraud and terrorist threats he was postponing the November 3, 2020 national elections. He called on his followers to stay alert for subversives.

To defend against terrorists and keep order in urban areas, he nationalized local police departments and the National Guard. He filled the police departments of our largest cities with law enforcement “consultants” to keep order—primarily by suspending civil rights of citizens. He named Fox News, the only reliable source of news other than Trump himself, as the network of the White House. Citing the dishonest and subversive media, all other networks were taken off the air and guarded by the thousands of border patrol agents, added to protect our borders and now Trump’s personal police force. His generals, now leading all Cabinet departments, took charge of the government and military. He long ago gained control of the fossil fuel industry through bribes and threats. Oil and natural gas would be rationed—to distract and control people–until further notice. Congress, led by moral cowards and Trump enablers Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, would report to deplorable Vice President Mike Pence who would continue to lead domestic policy against women, nonwhites and the LGBT community–anyone different from old, rich white men.

The hijacking of Democracy in America—led by Republicans and long in process–was over by 10:00 pm Eastern time. Newt Gingrich smiled—he started it all long ago. Rudy Giuliani jumped, waved his arms and screeched like a crazed chimpanzee. Sarah Palin lapsed into her best Tina Fey impersonation. Chris Christie, long forgotten, thought: “That could be me.”

America fell from greatness because citizens went to sleep.

Everything was so obvious in hindsight. The images filled my dream-state.

The pattern had become obvious and routine: Trump went off on someone on Twitter, wrote outrageous things, people responded with outrage and then calmed down until the next time. He ranted and raved against the dishonest and corrupt media daily. Over and over he lambasted phony polls and voter fraud. He lied about successes and blamed other for failures. He was a master at manipulating and exploiting the fears, loses and anxiety of followers. He made everyone who opposed him into a scapegoat and blamed them for his bad behavior. His ego grew, bigger and bigger. His fantasies—stoked by alt right forces in the White House–grew more grandiose: only he could lead America.

His followers believed everything he said. He had invited them to feel better by harming others and they felt important and powerful. Many citizens had become desensitized to Trump. Or maybe they were tired from the constant chaos of Trump or just couldn’t care anymore. Few people demonstrated against him anymore and those who did risked jail, assaults, beatings and even death from roving bands of Trump followers.

I woke up, cleared my head and realized that I had been dreaming—a dark night of the soul it was.

Thank God, nothing like my dream could happen in America.

The Worst is yet to Come

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That’s up to us. President Obama

 

Soon Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. I still find this reality difficult to believe. I wonder over and over again: “How could people vote for such a man?”

Republican policies—many anti-human—threaten tens of millions of Americans. Few believe Republicans can govern the nation effectively. Trump promises a return to a romanticized past in American history–a time that never really existed. To be sustainable, our human community must continually evolve to greater consciousness and complexity. Efforts to return to earlier, more primitive, immature and unconscious states are not sustainable for humanity or for a vibrant planet. Many fear a deep and dark decline. Adding to these dangers, Trump brings something new to the presidency: He exposes his dark side—his shadow side—openly for all to see but he himself appears unconscious—without self-awareness or ability to mature. He is not a normal person. Our fears are appropriate. And he has not yet taken power. The worst is yet to come.

Trump almost daily takes us down many slippery slopes of “not normal” personal behavior. And each time he does, his “not normal” behavior becomes more common and desensitized people begin to consider “not normal” as ordinary options to consider for their own behavior. For example, corruption becomes the norm, wishful opinion becomes fact, lies are inseparable from truth, bullying becomes okay; hate crimes are deserved, sexual assault is boys being boys and mocking the disabled becomes normal activity. A president should model behavior we aspire to; not behavior we descend to. An abnormal man will not be a normal president. For perhaps the first time in our history, the majority of Americans abhor the essence of the man elected to lead us.

In his farewell address, President Obama put the responsibility for our democracy squarely on the shoulders of the American people. His address called us to engage, get involved and be responsible. He warned of the threats of closed minds, economic disparity, a racially divided country, not living true to our values and allowing democratic institutions to decline.

I am painfully aware of my own lack of influence and my feelings of powerlessness to effect change. I like to say, “I do what I can,” however small, to consciously evolve my life and impact those around me in small ways. Each of us can choose to become more conscious of ourselves and the world around us. We can strive to “wake-up” and become more mindful. We can offer our talents and skills to the world around us. It is imperative that we awaken and act together if we want a good life for future generations: “Learning how to relate sanely with our chaotic world is no longer a luxury. It’s our responsibility,” wrote Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart.

Such conscious evolution is difficult, painful and frightening. M. Scott Peck, MD wrote that stress tests our goodness. We tend to become small-minded and often regress to earlier states of maturity when our fear, anger and anxiety overwhelms us (see Trump rallies). But we can also become aware of our impulses and choose to act differently than what we feel or how we acted in the past. We can choose conscious evolution over unconscious degeneration.

How American citizens engage with Trumpism in Washington D.C. and in our communities will define us as people. In standing against the everyday darkness of Trumpism, we stand for the deepest, most noble values of America.

We can choose to go through the difficult angst we feel and walk into the unknown living true to our purpose and values. We do not withdraw or run away from difficulty. Together we can be the courageous role-models for America and healers of the spirit that lives within all living beings: kind, inclusive, cooperative, compassionate and increasingly conscious. And our everyday choices—doing what we can– will make a difference. In doing so, we live noble lives.