LET’S MAKE AMERICA’S FOUNDERS PROUD

Martin Luther King Jr. once argued that sin is buried so deep in the human soul that sweet words are insufficient to get people to give up their unjust power. “Instead of assured progress in wisdom and decency,” he wrote, “man faces the ever-present possibility of a swift relapse not merely to animalism, but into such calculated cruelty as no other animal can practice. David Brooks, NY Times, 9/4/20

I published this blog on January 30, 2017

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 the 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 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 the 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 to himself: “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 others for failures. He was a master at manipulating and exploiting the fears, losses, 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.

September 5, 2020

The big story yesterday (Sept. 4, 2000) was an article by esteemed reporter Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic about Trump’s disparaging soldiers who gave their lives in service to America. He called them “losers and suckers.” He also said he didn’t want disabled veterans at military parades. The Washington Post and Fox News confirmed the story, and the Associated Press confirmed part of it. I expect more stories will come out and more witnesses and news outlets will confirm the stories.

Trump, who lies more than he tells the truth, denied the story. Most damning was the silence of General James Mattis retired Marine Corps General and Secretary of Defense under Trump, and Marine Corps General and former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly. No support for Trump from them.

Trump spent last week inflaming violence in the streets under the guise of being the law and order president. What a joke! He’s a lawless president surrounded by many lawless punks in and out of government. Everything we see in him shows us but the tip of the iceberg: when he is out of office, investigators will need years to find all of his and their corruption and misdeeds.

Every week he ignores the Covid 19 pandemic. So far, over six-million cases and close to 200,000 deaths in six months. Tens of thousands of deaths can be attributed to his quackery and failure to lead the nation through this crisis. This is the worst failure of any president in American history.

Trump has failed to lead Congress to an agreement on a financial package to help people, cities, and states survive the financial costs of the pandemic.

The economy suffers; almost 14 million people out of work. Forty-two million citizens suffer from hunger. Meanwhile, Trump golfs and Mitch McConnell sends the Senate on vacation for weeks.

Trump is a racist and doesn’t try to deny it anymore. The protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin were about police killing black men and about racism in America. CNN reports 93% of the protests were peaceful. Some became destructive often flamed by racist groups encouraged by Trump.

We see Donald Trump’s America. We could go on and on about his failures as a person and as a president. He wants to be reelected as “only” he can fix the crisis. Really? He created this America with lots of help from Republicans. He cannot fix himself or what he has done to America. He can only make it worse.

With the conventions over, Joe Biden has gone on the offensive against Trump and his failures. His speeches touch us. He cares and models compassion. His secret: being himself. Some say they like Trump because he is authentic. The only thing authentic about him is that he models and encourages the dark side of America.

More and more I read articles about trump stealing the election and refusing to leave the White House. His words and actions show his intent. His ego can do nothing else. I am sure he will do whatever he can do—legal and illegal—to be reelected.

I’m not as worried about the military as my dream feared.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley: I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military, In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process. Of course, there is no guarantee of anything when chaos emerges.

We need a record turnout on Election Day. In swing states, you might pack your lunch and dinner and be prepared for a long day. Those who mail in their votes should do so as early as possible as Trump has destroyed the integrity of the Post Office.

Massive peaceful demonstrations for racial equality and an honest election should continue and grow. Destruction and violence only help Trump. If there ever is a time for Americans to demonstrate peacefully, it is now.

First returns may show Trump with a big lead because more Republicans will vote in person, and more Democrats will mail their ballots. It may take some days for the mail-in ballots to be counted. Republicans may claim victory to sow chaos and confusion. Remember, chaos comes to order quickly. I believe the Democratic Party will be as ready as possible to deal with many different scenarios. We each must do what we can to elect Joe Biden—the contrast between him and Trump stuns me. We can all lead and contribute in our unique ways.

But we need more.

We also need extraordinary women and men who go far beyond everyday leadership. People, who move through the chaos with courage, maintain their ideals, carry our hope, and reflect the deep potential within each of us. I learned as a child that patriotism is the love of our country and devotion to the ideals we believe in. Patriots are people who sacrifice and act courageously for their country. I loved America, but never thought of myself as a patriot—that title was reserved for those who sacrificed greatly for the rest of us—usually on the battlefield.

Somehow over the years the definition and symbols of patriotism changed for some to a narrow and shallow aberration disrespectful to true patriots: tough talk, lapel pins, polarization, empty swagger, artificial conflicts, a “my country right or wrong” mentality, and a refusal to admit mistakes or errors of policy.

Today, I  believe that each of us can be a patriot. We need patriots who love our country and believe in our Constitution to lead the way. They will be of every color and nationality. They will be from every age group. They will be rich and poor. They will be students and CEOs. Some will be well known; most will be everyday people. They will emerge from the chaos and self organize around the vision of the Great Experiment of American Democracy.

The election transcends political parties and personal wants: the election is about the idea and the soul of America.

Trump will be the loser and those devoted to him will be the suckers.

Enemies or the Opposition?

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
Winston Churchill

Hillary Clinton jokingly referred to Republicans as enemies while Joe Biden said Republicans were not enemies but the opposition in Congress.

I believe that the leading Republican presidential candidates, who appeal to America’s darkest fears, would lead the nation into accelerated decline and would revive the vilest aspects of America’s history and shadow side. And indifferent Democrats may let that happen.

Author and psychologist Rollo May defined a pseudoinnocent as a naive person who has blinders on and who does not see real dangers. Pseudoinnocents cling to childhood assumptions about the nature of the world. They do not want to acknowledge power or aggression much less use their innate power and aggression. How many indifferent Americans are pseudoinnocent and cannot see the dangers that threaten their way of life or the life they aspire to?

Author of The Denial of Death, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote: “If everyone lives the same lies about the same things, there is no one to call them liars. They establish their own sanity and call themselves normal.” I often think of Fox News, conservative talk radio and the extremists of the Republican Party when I read this quote.

The most extreme of the Republicans live in their own illusionary and shadow-filled Plato’s Cave and convince themselves of the normality of their regressive visions and black/white and either/or world. The cave-dwellers collude together to fleece the naive people who follow them. And many pseudoinnocent Republican voters seem happy to get hustled over and over again by the same false promises.

Many pseudoinnocent Democrats believe if they could get those who yearn for a return to the past to understand their vision for the future, those people would change. This was, I believe, a problem of President Obama’s: He didn’t seem to understand how serious and base his enemies in Congress and in the Republican Party were. I don’t mean people who disagreed with him on philosophy or policy. I mean those who wanted to harm him personally. He lacked the ruthless streak a leader needs to deal with those who hated him and wanted to destroy his presidency.

Early in Obama’s presidency, I wrote to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “What are you people doing? You make nice with people who want to kill you!” How did that approach work out for America with immigration, climate change and income inequality and so many other issues?

Republican and Democratic voters need to awaken and see reality as it is. Villains and injustice exist. They do not respond to argument and common sense; they respond only to power. We live surrounded by them in, perhaps, more insidious ways than ever before. Naïve and indifferent people, who make up a significant percentage of the adult population in America, allow the scoundrels to have their way.

We need to make wise moral judgments. It is wrong and irresponsible not to. We need to judge our politicians and hold them accountable with our votes.

Serious about her enemies or not, Hillary Clinton has battled the dark side of the Republican Party for decades with strength and resolve. She has gained wisdom and insight.

Americans need a battle-scarred warrior to lead them in today’s dark world.