By Bob Gaydos
There is a light at the end of this tunnel called a presidential election campaign and, if the gods are not playing a cruel trick on us, that light is not on an engine with TRUMP emblazoned on its sides. In any event, the end is near and I am as weary of writing about this ugly affair probably as you are of reading about it.
The problem is, that’s all most of the mainstream and social media care to talk about these days. In case you missed the other news: 1) The Cubs and Indians are in the World Series. 2) Heavily armed police in North Dakota attacked hundreds of protesters who joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe trying to block construction of a pipeline they say threatens water supplies and sacred sites. And 3) Tim Tebow is apparently just as good at baseball as he was at playing quarterback in the NFL.
But really, the only thing the media want to talk about are Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election is rigged and that the press — meaning all the news outlets who report accurately on his words and actions — lie.
These are claims that losers and demagogues resort to when everything else — lies, threats, lies, threats, lies, threats — fails. Honestly, it is disheartening to feel a need to point out to, apparently, millions of Americans, that Trump’s claims are nonsense. It is even more disheartening to realize that many of the people who still support his candidacy don’t seem to care. There is a major issue to address some day soon in that.
Meanwhile, as to his two claims:
- Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in America. You can check this with any legitimate news provider. The real threat is voter intimidation — keeping some people from voting through excessive (illegal) regulations and perceived threats. Suggesting rigged elections is a serious threat to the very foundation of a free, democratic society — an orderly transfer of power. This is something about which Trump knows little and seemingly cares less. As far as he’s concerned, if he doesn’t win, the powers that be must be against him.
- The press. Ah, the press. “They can say anything they want,” he complained the other day. No kidding, Sherlock. You just noticed? He says if he’s president he’s going to change that and strip the major media companies of their power. He can try, of course. It won’t be easy though. You see, Donald, those same forefathers who were so wise as to guarantee Americans the right to bear arms in that Second Amendment you and your followers are so fond of spouting and shouting about thought the idea of a free and unfettered press was so important to a functioning democracy that they wrote it into the First Amendment of the Constitution. That’s one ahead of the guns amendment, which some might say suggests it is more important. Since a civics lesson is apparently in order for Trumpers, it should be noted that the First Amendment also guarantees everyone freedom of religion. Which is also to say, freedom from your religion.
But these are mere facts and Trump and the folks at Fox News have demonstrated the power of repeating false news over and over again until listeners — like the inhabitants of Orwell’s “1984” — simply take it for fact. We have always been at war with Eurasia. We have never been at war with Eurasia. Love is hate. War is peace. I know Putin well. I never met the man.
We are told that many Trump supporters — virtually all of them white and the majority male — are angry and frustrated with their lives. Somehow, goes the argument, all those black, brown, Muslim, Mexican, gay, Jewish, Arab, Asian people who don’t belong here — and some pushy American women as well — have prevented these Trump fans from realizing the American Dream. They took all the jobs and live on welfare. Love is hate. Up is down. Bigotry has nothing to do with it. We just want to make America great again, like before all those other people said they wanted to enjoy the American Dream, too.
Enough already. At some point in a person’s life, if he or she is lucky, the opportunity presents itself to take responsibility for one’s actions. To take stock of how things are going. Not materially, but really. It can be frightening. It can also be rewarding. Among other things, this look in the mirror allows one to say — if one can be honest — “I’ve made some mistakes. I sincerely regret them. I hope to do better from now on.” A lot of people never do this.
With that runaway train called Trump menacing the trust and tolerance that are the pillars of our, yes, already great nation, I’m thinking that a lot of people — a lot of white, Republican people — have a date with a mirror. It’s far too late to undo the damage Trump has done or to deny any part in it, but it’s not too late to admit the mistake of supporting him in spite of all the hateful, false things he said. It’s not too late to admit to acting as if he didn’t say them because, well, maybe because you were angry or confused or frightened or thought it would be disloyal. Maybe you feel you were lied to. Or maybe you just wanted to believe the lies.
Republican politicians who have stuck with Trump have no such out. The McCains and Ryans and Cruzes and Rubios knew Trump was bad news from day one. But he was their bad news and his lies became their lies even when they disagreed with him, because they never had the courage — the humility, the simple decency — to look in the mirror and say: “Enough. This man is obscene. He is an insult to our party and our nation. We made a grave mistake in pandering to the worst instincts of some of our party members in order to get their votes. Our pride kept us from admitting this. Fear drove our decisions. We allowed him to make fools of us. Indeed, we made fools of ourselves.”
Speaking, if I may, for the rest of an angry, resentful nation, that day of reckoning can’t come soon enough.