Nothing is True.
Everything is Possible!
David Remnick on Morning Joe made an urgent point.
Nothing is true; everything is possible. This is the witches' brew of those who will create their own reality. And true life necromancers gain vast and unthinkable powers through entrancing hordes of willing thralls who delight in the resulting grotesqueries. Remember, these dark wizards don’t need a majority. Hitler’s party never won more than 40% in even a semi-legitimate German election.
We need Joe Biden to step up! He needs to recruit help… from other serious and honorable leaders in our society and politics – if any can be found.
Somehow our responsible leadership must stop sleepwalking through history. A plague of hysteria; a plaque of cynicism, a plague of moral nihilism, and a plague of vile and vicious scapegoating is raging through our society. Witch Burnings and the Blood Libel are human cultural phenomena and history is not what is relegated to the past.
Joe Scarborough drew an undeniable line between Putin’s carnage in Ukraine through Orbán in Hungary, Le Pen in France, and trimp* in the US.
But the generative problem is that a LARGE PERCENTAGE of the American electorate doesn’t care that trimp tried to overthrow the constitutional rule of law. They don’t care how trimp scapegoats immigrants, women, and minorities. Too many of them gleefully participate in ongoing attempts to brand suburban white moms as “groomers” out to hand over our children to be sexually abused by the likes of Tom Hanks, Dr. Fauci, and Nancy Pelosi.**
For whatever*** reasons, too many Americans see little difference between trimp (with his cowardly Congressional enablers) and politicians in general. For similar reasons they’d rather support a politician who is proud to be a liar, an abuser, and a danger to the democratic rule of law than the rest who merely “pretend.”.
Can our leadership responsibly hope this plague will burn itself out like the Salem Witch Trials eventually did? Do they think they can “manage” trimp (or a more ruthlessly capable heir) the way Weimar business leaders thought they could manage Hitler?
Joe Biden has a lot on his plate. But he can learn from trimp who (luckily) spent little time attending to governing. Biden needs to spend more time speaking in churches, colleges, rotary breakfasts, and union halls. He needs to talk about how democracy and the rule of law are two different, but inseparable components of a healthy polity. He needs to talk about the importance of honor, responsibility, and pluralism in a democratic society. He needs to talk about how generosity and forgiveness must be balanced with a cold eye for human excess and frailty.
Joe Biden can’t do this on his own. Nobody could. He is going to need good speechwriters. He is going to need the help of professors and artists (poets, singers, dancers, and actors). He needs to recruit all the living former presidents. (Yes, that means Bill and W too.) He is going to need Republicans and former Republicans who care more about their country than their “base”. He should enlist others too. Not just one or more of the Adams clan or one or more of the Hemmings (who’d rather not be referred to as a “clan” even if you spelled it with a “c”) He is going to need Kennedys and Kings and Roosevelts and Tafts. He is going to need you and me.
*not a typo. (Fuggetaboutit!)
** Sounds like a grotesque joke? The human capacity for laughter can help us transcend the deepest sense of our own savagery. But laughter as a contagion can also arouse and facilitate the worst forms of atrocities on a cultural or intimate level.
*** Plenty of their reasons are actually legitimate. Human history might be viewed as a grinding struggle to formulate and maintain a lasting governing system that meets the needs of a majority of its population. (And after all, our earthly needs are probably bottomless.) The closest the US has ever come was between 1933 to somewhere in the mid-1970s. But that should be enough to help us remember what is possible if we care enough and work hard enough to take ourselves seriously as a polity. Earthly perfection is a dream, but dreams may still guide us toward better (imperfect) earthly realities. Even many who have voted for trimp and might be willing to vote for his ilk again have done so out of a justified sense of betrayal at a political system that they rightly know is not working for them. (If you listen to them, you might see that they fear being scapegoated themselves.) Blaming scapegoats might be almost hardwired into human cultural psychology and some have argued that the reaction to this, one of our most fearsome capacities, is what scourges on the evolution of our systems of law and religion. Don’t forget that before the modern era, and perhaps even well into the future, there was little notion that law and religion could (never mind “should”) be differentiated. Maleficent leaders know by instinct how to appeal to our deep-set urge to victimize scapegoats for our worst fears about ourselves.