July 6, 2022 Wayne Northey

The United States of Antipathy

Americans believe America is broken. Can it be repaired?

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WN: There is dire warning in the article highlighted below. I fear it is warranted. We are living through . . .

The Unraveling of America
August 16, 2020.

Please also see a milder warning from Mitt Romney: America Is in Denial: Too many Americans are blithely dismissing threats that could prove cataclysmic.. We read:

What accounts for the blithe dismissal of potentially cataclysmic threats? The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial.

I have witnessed time and again—in myself and in others—a powerful impulse to believe what we hope to be the case. We don’t need to cut back on watering, because the drought is just part of a cycle that will reverse. With economic growth, the debt will take care of itself. January 6 was a false-flag operation. A classic example of denial comes from Donald Trump: “I won in a landslide.” Perhaps this is a branch of the same delusion that leads people to feed money into slot machines: Because I really want to win, I believe that I will win.

The classic quote in this?

I have witnessed time and again—in myself and in others—a powerful impulse to believe what we hope to be the case.

That of course defines Trump and acolytes. Another expression for it is: Embrace of the Big Lie. Reality is reality. Chickens do come home to roost. A close relative and rabid Trump supporter repeatedly has told me he and I live in different universes. He is right–besides being extreme right wing. Eventually Wiley Coyote gets it–sadly always too late!

Another side to that wishful thinking, and so à propos to this moment in American history:

excerpts:

A batch of new polls came out Wednesday, showing Americans have lost faith in their country, their government, and themselves. They reveal a nation that’s divided, and despondent, but is unable to come to any kind of consensus about what exactly is wrong, or how to fix it.

This isn’t terribly surprising, in an age of bitter partisan warfare, constant toxic propaganda, and overwhelming antigovernment sentiment. 85% percent of the people polled believe the country’s headed in the wrong direction, up from 78% who believed that in May.

This is the new norm. Our national identity has fractured to the point that we no longer recognize the country we live in, or what it stands for, if anything at all. The rancor and division are increasingly what define America’s public life, in an age where seemingly no one can agree on anything.

Of course, political careers are built on manufactured rage, and unyielding tribal identity, particularly on the American right, which has been utterly radicalized in recent years. The GOP looks more and more like an extremist death cult than a modern political party.

Democrats remain rightfully disgusted with the Republican Party’s racism, violent authoritarianism, and its incessant peddling of fear and hatred. Conservatives, meanwhile, are caught up in a maelstrom of lies, Fox News propaganda, and Q Anon conspiracy, all designed to enrage and mislead.

None of this provides a formula for a prosperous nation.

The GOP looks more and more like an extremist death cult than a modern political party.

The Republican Party’s long campaign to radicalize its voters worked. Donald Trump’s spent years sewing poisonous mistrust into America’s institutions and, worse, our elections, and we’re just beginning to see the results of those efforts.

Of course, Joe Biden is himself not having a great week, or month, or year. He’s polling at a 57% disapproval rating, and a sinking 38% approval, nearing Trump’s subarctic territory.

As noted in a recent episode of the New York Times daily podcast, Biden’s presidency has disappointed almost every single constituency in his fragile coalition, from young progressives on the left who demand radical social change, to centrist Democrats eager for stability, and of course, Republicans, who loathe Joe Biden viscerally.

92% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. These numbers show a country in such profound political turmoil, that it’s hard to imagine how we might recover some kind of civility in our public life.

Conservatives, meanwhile, are caught up in a maelstrom of lies, Fox News propaganda, and Q Anon conspiracy, all designed to enrage and mislead.

Unless we begin to hold to account the criminals who executed the failed coup on January 6, conservative voters will continue to believe Trump’s Big Lie, that the 2020 election was marred with fraud, stolen from him. This is perhaps the single greatest reason to bring criminal indictments against Trump and his coterie of enablers, to restore a modicum of trust in the democratic process.

Without accountability, Trump and his sycophants will get the message that violent coups d’état aren’t going to produce any consequences steeper than a few embarrassing congressional hearings.

This would be a fatal error.

The Republican Party is very much becoming a violent insurgency in American politics, and there’s every reason to believe it will continue to evolve in that direction, absent some kind of radical intervention. For now, the government could still put the brakes on what is blatant criminality at the highest levels of the Republican Party, sending a crystal clear message to would be plotters in 2024.

Nevertheless, these polls show a country in deep distress.

Without accountability, Trump and his sycophants will get the message that violent coups d’état aren’t going to produce any consequences steeper than a few embarrassing congressional hearings.

This would be a fatal error.

Joe Biden’s presidency won’t be a transformative FDR-style program, nor will it return things to the status quo. However, the Biden administration has the ability to do something that is perhaps even more important than any of its most ambitious plans for change: protect American democracy from those that would snatch away our freedom to elect our own leaders.

That is what the Biden administration’s job amounts to. It’s that simple, and that difficult: protect American democracy from the fascists at the top of the Republican Party.

Currently, the Biden administration is involved in a deepening foreign entanglement in Ukraine, arming a young democracy that’s fighting for its existence against savage Russian invaders. It’s an effort that’s consuming what’s left of the sapped energy and political capital of the Biden presidency, even as America’s own democracy teeters on the edge of collapse.

That is what the Biden administration’s job amounts to. It’s that simple, and that difficult: protect American democracy from the fascists at the top of the Republican Party.

While the fight in Ukraine is important, the fight back home is essential.

For better or worse, this is what Joe Biden will be remembered for. Was he the president that allowed American democracy to be strangled without a fight, or was he the president who understood the high stakes, and acted decisively to save our freedom to choose our own leaders?

Ultimately, it’s the most important task of any American president. The dark forces of fascism are on the rise in the United States of America, and without resistance, they will triumph.

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