Who Lit This Dumpster on Fire?
So this is where we are at as a country, huh? Well, that precipitous decline into moral bankruptcy and societal anarchy sure didn’t take long, now did it? What we witnessed last Wednesday was the tragic demise of American exceptionalism (if such a thing ever really existed) and the all-but-certain fall from our standing as an exemplar to aspiring democracies. Like many of us, I have so many different emotions in watching this all unfold before us, but as a writer, I have a bevy of words to choose from. I am outraged, disappointed, frustrated, angry, and disillusioned. I am despondent, fearful, tired, antsy, impassioned, and upset. And let’s face it, I’m downright fucking pissed. But what I don’t have a word for, what I will never find the words for, is the sinking pit in my stomach that this just might be the beginning of the end of American democracy.
Now let’s get one thing straight right here and now: There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of widespread voter fraud. Period. Over 60 lawsuits filed by the Trump administration, including his appeal to the US Supreme Court, have been laughed out of court, often by Trump appointed judges. Trump’s own attorney general William Barr investigated these claims, and though Biden’s victory meant that he would soon be out of a job, declared vehemently that there was no evidence of any illegal votes that would have impacted the election. Chris Krebs, the Trump-appointed head of election cybersecurity declared this presidential election to be the most secure election in American history. And even Lindsay Graham, a devoted Trump sycophant, declared that he was “out” on these false theories of voting irregularities after begging for examples of widespread voter fraud only to find a spattering of incidents, many of which actually favored Trump. And when you lose Lindsey Graham, you know you have a credibility problem. Oh and just in case you forgot or just didn’t really give a damn, Trump also claimed that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 except for 3 million illegal votes, establishing a commission headed by Kansas Republican and huge Trump ass-kisser Kris Kobach to investigate it. Despite spending nearly two years and millions of taxpayer dollars trying as hard as he could to support Trump’s claims, do you want to know how many cases Kobach’s commission found before being disbanded in 2018? I’ll give you a hint- it wasn’t 3 million. In fact, you could count them on your hands, one hand if you were the 6-fingered man from Princess Bride. So either Trump is downright delusional or he is willfully feeding his supporters misinformation in order to erode their confidence in our country’s elections and foment an anger that he had to know and hope would erupt into an incident like this.
But we’ve always known Trump was a narcissist and a psychopath, so what did you expect? Of course he was going to go to any lengths necessary to hold onto the power he so desperately craves, riling up an angry mob to incite an insurrection against the very government he is supposed to represent. So let’s forget about Trump for a moment and ask who really is to blame for this assailing of American democracy. While Trump’s largely uneducated base may be prone to accepting Trump’s outlandish claims without merit, elected representatives are supposed to be smarter than this. And of course, in most cases, they are, The Republican Congressional leaders who kept pushing debunked conspiracy theories they knew were untrue all to undermine confidence in our free and fair elections, just for their own political advantage, should be held accountable by voters for putting party before country, even at the peril of societal chaos and the very dismantling of our sacred institutions. They know this is bullshit, but they couch their unfounded dissent on the notion that “many of their constituents have voiced concerns over the election’s integrity”. The problem with that assertion is that THEY are the ones that have precipitated these voting integrity concerns among their constituents by consistently spreading the same misinformation coming out of Donald Trump’s ever-widening piehole. This is akin to a home security company hiring thieves to go rob your house and then offering their services to protect your home, saying something like, “Nice house you have there. Shame if someone came in and robbed it. Oh, they have? Well, have we got the answer for you….”
Equally repugnant and culpable are the right wing “news” outlets who have been disseminating misinformation for years now, but have ramped up their lies into a bullshit crescendo that has flung more manure regarding this election than a John Deere fertilizer spreader. Pandering to an audience that seems remarkably low on critical thinking skills but replete with a willful suspension of disbelief, these media outlets continue to abuse the public trust by purporting to be sources of fair and balanced journalism when they are really no more than right-wing propaganda machinations. Want to know how to tell your “news” source is completely full of crap? They are forced to air retractions of numerous false claims after being sued by a voting machine company that wasn’t even used in the states in question. Due to fears of being bankrupted by defamation suits from Dominion Voting Systems, Fox, Newsmax, and America One all had to air lengthy retractions of their claims, publicly acknowledging that they had deliberately misled their viewers into believing that widespread voter fraud had taken place even though they knew there was no evidence whatsoever that that was actually the case. But still somehow people tune into and believe this nonsense? Well, as H.L. Mencken once said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”
Together Republican leadership in Congress and their allies in right wing media have fomented the outrage that led to last Wednesday’s dire events. Although they have lit the match that sparked this potent conflagration but now want to slink away into the recesses of the night, it is imperative that we hold them accountable for their acts of sedition and their betrayal of the public trust. To be honest, I’m not sure if American democracy is even salvageable at this point- I really don’t. But what I do know is that if these two entities are allowed to go forward with impunity from their acts of treason, that our divide will only amplify as the right retreats further and further into their echo chamber of misinformation. And that might well prove to being the undoing of the great American experiment.