May 11, 2021 Wayne Northey

Mass Psychosis May Follow Cheney’s Ouster

During the Obama administration, Cheney was a Fox News regular who, as was the fashion at the time, insisted that the president was secretly sympathetic to jihadists. She enthusiastically defended the use of torture, dismissed the constitutional right to due process as an inconvenience, and amplified the Obama-era campaign to portray American Muslims as a national-security threat.Adam Serwer, Staff writer at The Atlantic

WN: There have been many voices that point to Trump as a would-be despot, tyrant, totalitarian leader. The  article below turns specific in discussing how that might play out/is playing out right now in the United States. I take it very seriously.

You may wish to first view the video the author cites, produced by the Academy of Ideas. (The video below is part of a series. There are many others.):

 

 

 

 

 

Then you may view Liz Cheney right after her ouster May 12, 2021 baldly stating the real and present danger America is in:

“Thou shalt not speak ill of Donald Trump” is the party’s new commandment, Russell Berman writes. (It’s still selectively enforced, he points out.)

You may also wish to read: Liz Cheney’s ousting proves the ‘big lie’ is the Republican party’s religion, by in Washington–@smithinamerica. We read:

Tara Setmayer, a political analyst and former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, says: “All of the political winds are at the backs of Republicans to take the House again so they’re catering to the most rabid supporters. These are the folks who pay attention in midterms. It’s a numbers game and they are so close to taking power back in the House.”

Ousting Cheney proves that Republicans are committed to trying to win elections by any means necessary—even by inciting violence, as Trump did on January 6. They don’t stand for anything but that. It’s a very scary moment.Joan Walsh, The Nation, May 12, 2021

Which is where things get very dangerous. If Trump is the new church where all must worship, the big lie is the new religion that all must incant, whether with evangelical fervour or at least by showing their face in the pews every Sunday. Cheney’s likely replacement, Elise Stefanik, is actually more moderate (a lifetime rating of just 43.64 by the American Conservative Union, compared to Cheney’s 78.03), but her refusal to denounce the big lie is apparently all that matters.

So Republican state legislatures will continue to use the false claims of fraud to justify new voting restrictions that disproportionately affect people of colour. And come the next presidential election, there is reason to doubt whether a Republican-controlled House would certify the win of a Democratic president. The near miss of 2020 could become a full-blown crisis in 2024…

“The ‘big lie’ is the Republican Party right now,” the former Republican National Committee chair [Michael Steele1] said on MSNBC Wednesday. He pledged to stay inside the party to “fix the stupid,” but I have to say to my old friend: It’s more than just “stupid,” and it can’t be fixed.Joan Walsh, The Nation, May 12, 2021

It is easy to assume that Trump was a one-off anomaly and that Biden represents the democratic norm running on autopilot. But what if Biden is the one-off, merely delaying a slide into autocracy? Cheney’s demise is a reminder that though Biden won his “battle for the soul of America”, the war never ends. Complacency is the enemy; vigilance is all.

excerpts:

The Trump Creed: The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.–Groucho Marx

Color me naïve, but when I first heard that Rep. Liz Cheney was in trouble over in the Republican Party, I had an instinctual sense of alarm. It wasn’t based on anything with regards to any affinity to Liz Cheney, much less any of her beliefs in policy; rather, it was borne of a sense of the actions of the GOP appearing, at least to me, unprecedented. I’ve never witnessed either of the major U.S. political parties behave the way that the leadership in the GOP is currently behaving. This is less a novelty than an abnormality, an anomaly so aberrant that it seemed to warrant said alarm. But what message, ultimately, would the GOP send with its decision to send Cheney packing?

Liz has committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth . . . The truth is that the election was not stolen . . . It’s important for our party to take inventory of that and go out and win the next election, instead of continuing the Big Lie.–Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

As I consumed article after article, I chanced upon a short series on YouTube under the auspices of Academy of Ideas.  The channel over the years has explored such topics as philosophy, history, and the nature of the individual versus that of society.  Not knowing exactly what this newest video would concern, by the time I finished it I already had overlaid a mental map of the current state of the GOP upon the outlines of the video-essay’s argument.  I realized that Liz Cheney was the proverbial canary in the Republican coal mine, and that her demise might signal the demise of the GOP as a whole—perhaps even the extinction of the entire American experiment.

I do not mean to be hyperbolic, nor do I intend to catastrophize.  The drama unfolding right now—the disposal of lieutenant who dared to deny a lie—is nearly Shakespearean, and we ignore its importance at our peril.

[Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)] told Global Translations that the Republican Congressional delegation is now a “cult of personality” around former President Donald Trump, and “has no tolerance if you don’t support the Big Lie” around election fraud. “In the drive to push out Liz Cheney you can see in microcosm just where today’s Republican party is, and it’s very dangerous,” Schiff said.RYAN HEATH, Global Translations, 05/12/2021

Trump has demanded that the rest of us accept his claim that he won the election, but there is no evidence for this.  In fact, there is all evidence to the contrary.  So what Trump demands is that his followers deliberately believe something contrary to reality.  Members of the House GOP seem to be aware and alert enough to see that Trump seeks their corroboration—that is to say, they realize that they are being asked to lie.  However, for some of the rank and file, Trump is more or less infallible and so they accept his word as true.  Both of these populations, in their own way, have swapped reality for irreality.

This irreality exemplifies what Academy of Ideas frames as a symptom of mass psychosis.  “A ‘mass psychosis’ is an epidemic of madness, and it occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions” (Is a Mass Psychosis the Greatest Threat to Humanity?, 1:36). Notable examples of such a phenomenon would be witch hunts in Europe and America as well as 20th-century totalitarianism.

This is an open disavowal of democracy by one of only two major political parties, and the danger is growing right before our eyes. If a 7 million popular vote margin, and huge electoral college win, is not accepted, then what – if any – future Democratic win will be accepted?–by Community, May 12, 2021

Again, mentioning totalitarianism may seem like raising too high of an alarm.  However, look at how observers have characterized Trump’s behavior in the last few weeks:

But acknowledge, too, that right now the Republican Party is a grave threat to American democracy—not the only one, of course, but a grave one—and unless and until Republicans summon the wit and the will to salvage the party, ruin will follow.– Peter Wehner, The GOP Is a Grave Threat to American Democracy

The GOP crusade against Cheney offers yet another vivid example of the party’s descent into authoritarian madness — and sends an ominous message about the future of American democracy. (Washington Post, emphasis added)

For the activist base of the Republican Party, affirming that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential contest has become a qualification for membership in good standing.  […] The GOP is increasingly defined not by its shared beliefs, but by its shared delusions. (Washington Post, emphasis added)

These days, you must bend the knee to delusion to be a Republican in good standing. (Miami Herald, emphasis added)

Please click on: Mass Psychosis and Totalitarian Trump

Footnotes
  1. See the video:

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Wayne Northey

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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