America is in a period of great transformation. That is a grand statement to make but for this post I’m focusing on politics. What used to be a somewhat boring subject has now become a major part of the identity in the American populace. I’ve written many times that political affiliation for the majority of citizens is no more complex than sports team affiliations. This is especially true for the Republican party. To sum it up, ‘to be Republican’ has become Fox news telling them what to think and they will go along with it on every single issue. Thinking people will consider the issues and deviate from the party on individual issues they don’t agree on but not Republicans and yet they’re the ones calling people sheep. The topic reminds me of an article written in 2004 by Louis Menand called “The Unpolitical Animal” from the New Yorker. I had hopes the US voter was getting more intelligent with the election of Obama but with the election of Trump and the power of influence held by Fox I realize my hopes were naive.
In the current state, it doesn’t even matter how low or disgraceful the Republicans stoop, their followers blissfully ignore it. Just take any week of the Trump presidency and you’d be able to pull out a handful of examples that would have driven any other politician out of office. It is almost as if the Republicans have been put under a malicious spell from which they actually enjoy, kind of like being on meth. It makes them feel good although it is causing themselves and society incredible damage. I’d say the worst example off the top of my head is simply the lies they spread about COVID. Here is a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and this blood lies squarely on Republican hands. They said it would be gone by Easter (2020! full churches!), it would magically disappear, it isn’t that bad. They said they both created the vaccine but not to take it. They don’t like to wear masks. They are largely responsible for the anti-vaccination movement. It was them who put a muzzle on the CDC. To sum it up, this is one of the largest failures of leadership in the history of the United States. But the Republicans still dance to the Trump tune hoping their supporters and base are dumb enough to keep dancing along with them even though they are dropping dead due to Republican COVID policies. This is the reality and the truth which they like to call “fake news.”
The title of this post is a book by Sinclair Lewis which seems to eerily foreshadow what has actually happened with Trump. The MAGA crowd has crowned Trump the King of America: Trump is America, America is Trump and the two cannot be separated; he cannot lose an election if he is king so the previous results do not count (stop counting the votes!); see how Trump has 42 American flags behind him when he speaks, see, he has many flags, he IS America! Any who do not agree with them are not “un-American” or not “true-Americans.” This way of thinking has gone so far off the rails that the January 6th mob who attacked the United States Capital are “Patriots!” It is incredible to think that real events are occurring which even Sinclair Lewis may have thought too absurd for his book.
But what spurred this post is not the Sinclair Lewis book but rather an excerpt I recently discovered which also seem a perfect fit for the times.
But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the “German Firm” stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course that isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D……..They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45
And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses in all at once, and you see that everything, everything has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in- your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, non one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
Determining a specific point for when politics really started to go wrong in America is not possible. Some articles will say Newt Gingrich, some will go with Reagan, some will point to some event in history such as the Civil War, Puritan influence, you name it. I think you could take any event in American politics and make a case for how its influence continues to reverberate to the present. I’m not a political historian so for me, I’ll point to Newt Gingrich as when I started to see things become abnormal. I had just entered college and was starting to pay attention to politics. It seemed to me that Gingrich didn’t want to govern so much as stop the government from doing anything at all. I didn’t know a government could completely shut down but thanks to him I learned it could! I thought that political parties would usually reach a compromise, even though they disagreed on many subjects they would still find a way to govern the country. Well, since then I’ve seen that the government is completely dysfunctional and have become what people call “disillusioned.”
The Republicans however have had a very powerful illusion cast over them evidenced primarily by two things: their ravenous support for overturning American democracy and their idiocy in regards to COVID. It is ironic that perhaps the main pillars of what it means to be “American” is democracy yet they call themselves patriots while trying to overturn this very pillar America is supported upon! Nothing makes sense anymore in Republican land. Just throw a pretty woman up as spokesman, call truth fake news and when your mob attacks the Capital building just blame it on the other side. We’re living in the dystopian future Sinclair had described.
For me, the quote above really resonates as “all the forms are all there.” We still have our houses, go to the stores, celebrate the holidays and aside from the occasional MAGA hat and “Go Brandon” car sticker our daily lives and routines seem untouched by politics. Sometimes however, very clear examples show themselves such as Thomas Massie and his Christmas card with guns or this moron saying “Go Brandon” on a Christmas program for kids!!
*Side Note: The very nature of Christmas in America is peace, love and joy, not a “fuck you” and not with weapons designed to kill others. Now you see why I compare Republicans to meth addicts.
Even though we can go about our daily lives without politics infecting it, and if we ignore the examples above, the menace is there; a black darkness in the background which like night slowly strengthens until it has overtaken everything. As the quote mentions it is hundreds of small steps before you realize everything has changed completely. Newt liked to shut down the government and now we have that same party attacking the US Capital building AND DEFENDING THIS DOMESTIC TERRORISM!! Trump is just the latest iteration of a sick society with a broken political system. I for one do not like the Democrats much either with the latest letdown being Pelosi defending insider trading. What is insider trading you ask? It isn’t hard, it is simply trading stocks when you have insider information, information that isn’t available to everyone else. If Congresspeople trading stock isn’t the very definition of insider trading then I don’t understand anything.
These steps away from an America I used to know continue and now everyone waits with bated breath until the next election. If Trump is elected all is lost and America will no longer be itself. It will be a demagogue wrapped in 42 American flags and American politicians and society itself will continue to fragment until we will just be called “The American States” as “United” is no longer applicable.