A democracy can of course be divided–opposing parties, differing opinions, strong arguments for and against various positions. A free, vibrant country thrives on such dialogue and discussion. But when the discussion gets down to the meaning of the truth, itself–what is true? what is reality? what is sanity? what is insanity?–then we’ve got major problems, i.e. a democracy cannot really survive when those questions are in dispute. For example, we now have a sizable number of people who believe that Democrats are evil child molestors who drink the blood of dead children and call for Donald Trump to regain the presidency so he can “round them all up, bring them to trial, and execute them publicly.” There’s no arguing with this QAnon crowd, which now includes Donald Trump himself. Yes, he too “believes” he is this Savior-like choice of QAnon and many Christian evangelicals to eradicate these “enemies of the state.” Before my retirement as a mental health professional, I heard many of my psychotic clients, duly diagnosed, espouse similar delusions about how they were Christ or that the CIA was after them or how they were indeed President of the United States working undercover. Such delusions and hallucinations, in effect like these, are now considered sane and true and part of the mainstream, agreed upon by a former actual President who thinks he won the election, in a landslide, despite definitive and legal evidence to the contrary.
As in Orwell’s 1984, the truth has been and is being redefined and installed in the hard-drive brains of a large group of people who also think the 2020 election was “rigged” and a “fraud.” That’s what a fascist government does as it dismantles the political and cultural infrastructure of the country it wants to control. We’ve seen that in the Germany, Italy, and Japan of yesteryear, and the China and Russia of today. And “guess what?” (as Joe Biden likes to preface many of his remarks), we’re seeing it increasingly in the America of today as well.
Democracys are not guaranteed to continue indefinitely. A number in history have crumbled when not properly cared for and nurtured. Ours is 246 years old, which is good but no world record. In the beginning, there was a commonality of purpose. But around 1860 there were major disagreements and fissures, again, over the truth and how it was defined. We fought a bloody civil war over slavery and whether it was true or not, whether it was moral or not, whether it was right or not, whether it was fair or not. Black-skinned human beings were defined as less than human by some Americans and fully human by others. Some assigned more civil rights to whites, to men, to the rich. Some stated that all men, and ultimately all people, were created equal, endowed by their Creator to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our very democratic ideals and principles, as defined by our Founders were under attack, literally in a life or death struggle that killed and uprooted hundreds of thousands of Americans and eventually assassinated one of our greatest Presidents (John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate sympathizer).
At the core of what is true in our country, we are not much removed from where we were in 1860. Fortunately, we had Abraham Lincoln as our leader then, a President who knew what our country stood for, who knew what was true and would “not suffer fools gladly” those who claimed differently. Lincoln fought that war with gusto, eventually freeing the slaves and making them full citizens of the country that brought them here. He and the Army of the Potomac knew what this country stood for, what was true, and were willing to risk everything for our democracy.
We approach a critical election–after 2020 perhaps the most critical in our history. 2020 closed the coffin. 2022 will either put the nails in or leave the lid ajar like Pandora’s Box. I needn’t elaborate. If you’re at all informed you know what I’m talking about. In the county I live in, the official Republican candidate for the U.S. House is a Trump-endorsed, 2020 election-denying, Neo-Nazi, white-supremacy sympathizer. He defeated our former Republican representative in a primary because she had voted to impeach Donald Trump and the voters here punished her for it. There are many such Trump-endorsed candidates running up and down the Republican ticket throughout the country, from election officials to Congressional representatives.
A political civil war is upon us, with a demonic Roger Stone echoing his former battlecry of “F…k the voting. Let’s get to the violence!” Our fragile democracy hangs in the balance as we await the outcome. Do we do the right thing and turn towards the truth, towards morality, towards sanity, towards democracy, as Lincoln did? Or do we go the way of Stone, of Bannon, of Trump, of the Confederacy?