What we’re fighting for

What we’re fighting for

How lucky we have had it!
How easy we have had it!
How pleasant it has been!
How docile and yet bouncy.

A safe place to stay.
Good food and clean water.
Even perks like amazingly good decaf teas and coffees, too much high quality wine, strolls in the park, restaurants and museums, periodicals and music rushed to the telephone, books and other riches delivered to the door, movies beamed into the laptop.

And so many years of never worrying about being bombed, or being persecuted for political opinions, or being jailed for no reason or without appeal!
So many years luxuriating in a well-functioning liberal democratic republic!
How sweet it’s been.

What is political evil?
Is it not true that people supporting Trump now are committing crimes against humanity?
We think they are.
Are we right?
Would telling them to please stop being evil help?

What is the task of the citizens of a democratic republic?
Is it not most fundamentally to act as a final check on madness and corruption in government?
And aren’t those Republicans who vote for Trump in the 2024 presidential primaries failing in that most basic duty?

Remember when John Goodman / Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski would go on those tirades about how he didn’t watch his friends die face down in the mud in Nam so that [whatever he was outraged in that moment] ?

Remember laughing at his character and that the movie was so clever and flowed so beautifully and with so much verve?

Did we, so young and snug in our Pax Americana and never-fail-empire, laugh too far past the poignancy?

Hard to say.

But it is true that people have fought hard and sacrificed much so that you and I and we all together could enjoy the safe harbor of a government of by and for the people.

And you, Trump voters: All you’ve been asked to do in the service of our shared nation and home is accept reality and your place in it, and vote accordingly. But you can’t even make that little intellectual/emotional sacrifice of admitting that you have a political responsibility that goes beyond owning the libs. You talk a big game about personal responsibility, but here you can’t even be bothered to get your heads out of conspiracy theories and huff-and-puff certainty in your own moral and spiritual superiority and/or the infinite, and all-justifying depth of your grievances. You can’t be troubled to prefer a realistic narrative about Donald Trump’s actions vis a vis democracy to a fantastical one. Is there not a point where willful ignorance of the reality surrounding a core moral duty shades into regular old evil? And have you not sailed past that point by voting for Trump in 2024?

One never knows everything and you can always find someone willing to claim anything. But Donald Trump, though lacking any justifiable grounds for declaring the election stolen, attempted to coerce state and federal leaders to throw the election to him, rallied a mob with the lie of a stolen election and set them to march on the Capitol while the Senate meeting to confirm Biden’s victory, exhorting them to “take our nation back”, and performed other actions meant to thwart the will of the people and undermine the peaceful, law-based transfer of power fundamental to a working democratic republic. This much anyone with any willingness to choose reality over la la land can easily know. Not KNOW in some infinite perfect sense. But know deep and well enough to know that Donald Trump, who rather than repenting of these attacks on our shared government continues to repeat well and consistently repudiated lies about a stolen election, should not be entrusted with political power ever again. Add to this how conservative think tanks and Trump insiders alike are planning how to rid the next Trump administration of pesky dissenters (not liberals, but people with enough principles to tell Trump that he’s wrong–like, for example, William Barr when he repeatedly investigated and dutifully shot-down Trumps many desperate stolen-election conspiracy theories; or like Mike Pence, who, though both privately and [with perhaps life-threatening consequences] publicly pressured by Trump to not certify the 2020 election, did his constitutional duty and certified the election), and handing the keys to the most powerful nation in the world back to Donald Trump can only be described as criminally irresponsible.

What should we do? No one’s perfect. And many Trump voters are in many ways better citizens than many Trump detractors. However, Trump voters are together pumping poison into our shared democracy, and this is a crime against themselves, us, and humanity.

Because a functioning democratic republic is a spiritual good: It is a framework through which citizens can together evolve both their shared conversation/reality and their shared government, while serving as a final check on madness, corruption, and tyranny. And in this way the citizens can create an environment that selects for ideas and actions that benefit the general welfare of the nation and her citizens, rather than an environment that selects for ideas and actions prioritizing stealing power away from the people.

Why are thugocracies invariably incompetent? Because you usually, over time, hit the target you are aiming for, and thugocracies aim not to rule well and be rewarded for it at the ballot box, but to suppress dissent and hold onto power at all costs.

What should we do?
Telling people they are being evil rarely helps.
And Trump supporters are primed to see half the nation as their sworn enemy, as traitors to America, God, family, and everything deserving of love and affection in this wide world.
But maybe if we gently point out the plausibility of our account and the implausibility of the one they are serving: Maybe a gentle but consistent reminder of and appeal to our shared humanity and the principle — without which all is chaos, nihilism, and hell — that what is true is true for everyone. Trump’s most fundamental tactic is an assault on this principle. He uses truth and facts as weapons, with the implicit claim that “reality” is just stories you make up in order to get your way. What is going on inside his supporters? Are they not at some level and to some degree bowing to the Donald’s nihilistic narrative that “reality” is nothing but a tool for getting, holding, and wielding power — that claims of “true” and “false” are to be judged not by how accurate they are, but by how well they serve the one true good of dominating other people?

Trump’s fantasy has the power to wreck this nation, since we cannot meaningfully share government if we cannot meaningfully share reality.

The counter to Trump’s basic lie is this basic truth: We are all in this together; we all share the universal values (aware, clear, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing); and we all, as citizens of a democratic republic, have both a right and a duty to seek (as individuals and in the many overlapping groups and organizations to which we belong) the active spiritual, ethical, emotional, and intellectual clarity needed to together nudge our shared government away from the worse and towards the better.

We humbly ask GOP voters to stop being evil and start voting exclusively for candidates who have not attempted to replace democratic rule with their own immortal reigns. Not because we are good and you are bad, but because we are all both good and bad, and what you are doing here and now is bad and we see it and feel it in our bones.

People always have reasons for the bad things they do. But at the end of the day, we are responsible for what we do. It is never completely clear what’s going on. But Trump’s authoritarian tendencies (see Trump’s Threats to Democracy), his concentrated and prolonged efforts to cheat his way to victory in 2020, and the lessons he’s learned about how to be a more successful authoritarian are clear enough that the wise course is clearly to steer clear of him.

“We’ve cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration, whether it’s four years, eight years or, in one case, 16 years,” he said. “Should we go back to 16 years? Congressman, can we have that extended? The last time I jokingly said that, the papers started saying ‘he’s got despotic tendencies!’ No, I’m not looking to do it, unless you want to do it.

That was Trump in 2018. There’s other examples from other years. Abusers will sometimes prep their victims. They’ll sometimes work a long time at twisting their victim’s reality until abuse to both abuser and abused alike as something reasonable, normal, deserved, maybe even good.

Okay, there’s that angle, but there’s also the way an abuser will feel a person out — see what they can get away with, gradually expanding their territory of domination. That has an element of prepping and seducing, but also an element of cautious exploration.

Or do we go too far?
We feel that Donald Trump is abusing the nation.
Why don’t his fans feel abused?
Why do his biggest fans feel safe, snug, loved, sheltered, beloved, prized, heard, exalted, ecstatically free?

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew Watson

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