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 who doesn’t feed his ego with their subservient praise?
- Elect a president who compulsively lies — not only to everyone else, but most dangerously, to himself?
- Elect president who knows NOTHING about governing a nation like ours in today’s world and whose “advisors” are fawning toadies?
- Elect a president with a life-long disregard for the rule of law and the demands of justice?
If somehow, the presidents enshrined on Mt. Rushmore could speak today, what would they say?
- “We fought and died fighting the tyranny of King George just to finally end up with King Donald? I’m heartbroken.”
- “We’ve lost the faith that all men (well, I’d now say ‘all people’) are created equal. And only faith can sustain us in dark times. I fear for our nation.”
- “I crushed the power brokers only to see them rise again, stronger than ever? What happened to American courage?”
- “I weep to see the government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ perish from the earth.”
I listen to Trump supporters who solace themselves in comforting fantasies: “He just did what he had to do to get elected. He’ll be different once he’s in the Oval Office.” “OK. He IS a colossal dope, but he’ll have the sense to surround himself with competent people who will get the job done.” We’ll all see how that turns out soon enough, won’t we?
And if these comforting evasions turns out to be just whistling in the dark – if like every other human being, Donald Trump’s past behavior is an accurate predictor of future actions –what then?
Hope and faith are the only antidotes to the sickness of hate and fear: Hope that we can rise above our individual fears to work together towards shared goals. Faith that the ideals on which our country was founded are not empty promises.
The place to start courageously, resolutely acting on hope and faith may be in our local communities. We know how to do this. America was born. 240 years ago, in small town halls and churches throughout the colonies. The job hasn’t changed: find, and then elect and support men and women of integrity to govern — who are committed to “establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
[If you don’t know the source of the words I just quoted, Google them.]