The Victory of Fear and Hate Over Hope and Faith

  Trump’s supporters love to chant “Time to Drain the Swamp!”   They have, now, and what do we find rotting at the bottom? A festering mass of hate and fear. The catalyst was our fear and hatred of an utterly broken  political system. Bernie Sanders’ solutions may have been unworkable, but he was 100% right about how big money has corrupted American democracy. This election cost $7,000,000,000. Think how else that much money might have been invested for the good of this country. Hatred is the lie we tell ourselves repeatedly to hide from our own guilt. WE elected the thieves and political fanatics who cripple Congress — with the support of the mega rich and their lobbyists. But there is deeper hatred behind Trump’s victory:  hatred against black, brown, yellow, and red-skinned people, hatred of “foreigners,” hatred of assertive women who seek to rise above subservience, hatred of those with “sinful” sexual preferences and religious beliefs.  It’s a big list. At the root of hatred is fear: fear that America has lost its preeminent place in the world, fear that the American dream has died for us and our children, fear that we have lost the power to shape our own future, fear that “democracy” no longer works and can’t be trusted. And unrestrained fear turns us into mindless creatures trapped in a cycle of panicked fight or helpless flight.  We lose our minds. How could we: Elect a president who eagerly welcomed the support of a Russian dictator bent on conquering Europe and restoring Soviet tyranny? Elect a president who detests, mocks, and seeks to harm anyone...

America’s New (un)Civil War – Part II

The furor over Donald Trump’s increasingly pitiful, dangerous insistence that the election is being “stolen” from him by the evil forces of tyranny abetted by a corrupted media, should be an early warning call.  The spirit of violent rebellion is rising again against the injustice and corruption of a government that has stopped listening to, serving, and respecting its people. Rebellion is deeply woven into the fabric of America’s existence. We are, as the ancient Romans would have understood, Janus-faced: one part of our instinctive, permanent character is loyalty, the other rebellion. But our survival as a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” depends on our ability to manage that inner conflict without ripping ourselves apart as a nation. It’s a daunting challenge. We were born in an act of rebellion against the legally-constituted government of Great Britain. But it was also a civil war between “Loyalists” (or Tories) against “Rebels” (or Patriots). It divided families and, pitted brothers against brothers and friends against friends. Eighty-two years later, the tensions that divide us erupted again in a frightful, tragic civil war. In my family on my mother’s side, it was called “The War Between the States,” or, more bitterly, “The War of Northern Aggression.” The Thomas family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1651 and settled in Virginia. My great grandfather, Lovick Thomas II, lived in Decatur, Georgia. He served as Colonel of the 42nd Georgia Infantry. I’ve read the diary kept by his wife, Jane Peeples Thomas and the letters they exchanged during the war. What emerges, roughly 150 years later, is a...

Living in Crazy World

Living in Crazy World JoAnn and I were on our way home yesterday from a gathering with friends when this news feed showed up on her IPhone: “ABC reports that President Obama has just signed an Executive Order outlawing the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.” I almost drove of the road in shock. “How could he do that?” “Why would he do that?”  “Has his mind been taken over by Extraterrestrial Aliens (or the Koch brothers?)” That was followed by the conviction “This is crazy, President Obama wouldn’t do that.” Of course it was crazy. When I got home and raced to fire up my laptop to find out what was really going on, I discovered it was all a hoax.  But tellingly, my first reaction was to treat this report as “news.” I think about this hoax now, which might be just an irresponsibly stupid prank but could as easily be a malicious attack of politically-driven misinformation. I can easily imagine Obama’s and Hillary’s detractors repeating it as gospel. “Have you heard what they’re doing now!  We need to put both of them in jail!” We have  serious drug problems in this country. But the most dangerous, in terms of the largest number of existing and potential addicts, is the narcotic of fear.  We shoot up every time we turn on the “news,”  respond to “anti-Social Media,” or pass along rumors with people who share our beliefs.  “Trump is going to destroy American democracy and turn us into a dictatorship.” “Hillary is in league with the World Bank, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group to destroy...

Time to Break up the Washington Hog Trough

We know our government’s broken.  Congress does nothing except ensure its own privileged perpetuity. Every four years we elect a president whom half roughly half the voting population (those who still bother to vote) distrusts — regardless of which party wins. We’re turning from a democracy into an oligarchy — which now has really become a kleptocracy. For just one example, check out this story about how the very wealthiest (Republicans and Democrats) shield billions of dollars from taxes while the rest of us get hosed. And they’re the ones whose lobbying and contributions create the “laws” that continue to protect them.  Now add the billions of dollars spent by corporations to ensure that congress passes laws that favor their interests and not those of their customers or their communities. Asking Congress to fix the corruption they engage in is like asking the fattest pigs to move from the front of the trough to the back.  Getting caught up in the election attack frenzy of “Democrats vs. Republicans” and “Liberals against Conservatives” only ensures that the same self-serving people in both parties continue to live High on the Hog. What we need is a voter wake-up call followed by a voter revolution leading up to November.  Demand that the candidates you vote for can actually articulate a plan and demonstrate a commitment to stop a fraction of our population from running the country through their paid servants in Congress. Last November 63 percent of Americans didn’t vote; 80 percent of young people didn’t vote. But giving up isn’t an option.  Neither is turning to a political leader who claims...