Illusion


Reading time – 3:40  .  .  .

Blanketed with frustration and anger over this ongoing spectacle of an election, disappointment haunts me, but it isn’t about Trump. I want to hug my ancient 48-star flag, not to disrespect Alaska or Hawaii, but to touch what I used to believe. Underneath it all, my heart is breaking.


The people of North Dakota have spoken. A majority of voters in that state made the clear and unambiguous statement that they want Donald Trump to stay in the White House for another four years. The challenge for all of us is to understand why they would do that.

Perhaps for these folks voting is simply a reflex action: voting for a Democrat is simply unthinkable. Grandpa was a Republican and Daddy was a Republican, so these voters are Republicans, even as the meaning of “Republican” isn’t remotely what it used to be.

Perhaps they believe the demeaning caricature of Democrats that Fox News and the president have painted for them. They’re convinced that socialism, crippling taxes, rule by fanatical anarchist mobs and high rise ghettos invading their suburbs would be certainties if Joe Biden were to become the next president. It’s just another episode of The Big Lie, but the tactic seems to have worked.

Multiple domestic and international studies have shown conclusively that the horrific infection and death rates from Covid-19 in the United States have been made far worse by the lack of national leadership to combat it. A minimum of 75% of the deaths are due to Donald Trump refusing to provide assertive, positive leadership.

If North Dakota were a stand-alone nation, it would have the highest rate of infection in the entire world. Hospitals are overrun with sick and dying patients. By now nearly everyone in the state must know someone who has suffered and perhaps someone who has died of it.

Nevertheless, North Dakotans voted to keep in office the very person who allowed that to happen. In other words, they had the choice of life or death and they chose death.

And that’s just North Dakota.

In Kentucky voters gave Mitch “Big Hypocrite” McConnell a double-digit win. In South Carolina they gave a similar margin to Lindsay “Spineless Hypocrite” Graham. Maybe I remember this incorrectly, but didn’t it used to be a bad thing to be a hypocrite?

Our former allies, the ones who were our friends before Trump insulted and abandoned them, had been waiting for this election to show that Trump was just a mistake of our democracy, an aberration that we would set right at the first opportunity. Now, even if Biden wins after the mail-in ballots are counted, they will know that they are only one election away from destruction of the stable order that protected us all and provided prosperity for 75 years.

We’ve told our allies plainly that they can no longer count on us and, if they have any sense of self-preservation, they will be forging new alliances and moving steadily away from the U.S. All of this will happen as Trump cedes more of our democracy to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. And all of that will happen because a huge percentage of Americans voted for it.

The cleaving of Americans from one another surely can be traced to Richard Nixon and his Southern Strategy. Reagan stoked divisions, too, with his lies about welfare queens and more. During the Clinton years Newt Gingrich became Chief Congressional Flamer and a Republican Congress unleashed junk yard dog Ken Starr to poke into the underwear drawers of both Clintons in what really was a witch hunt. They framed everything in self-righteous biblical certainties.

Obama’s presidency gave fuel to racial divisions and the unleashing of frothing senators and congressmen. And Trump is a never ending font of victimizing, demonizing and calls to hatred and violence. We’ve always had differences and Fox News deserves much credit for stoking them, making fine clarity about who the “bad guys” are so hatreds can be fed. Clearly, we have to give a lifetime achievement award for divisiveness to the Republicans.

And now here we are with our clear, unambiguous and heartbreaking election statement of who we really are.

Thomas Jefferson told us plainly what we need in order to sustain our democratic republic:

“An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”

And roughly half of all Americans perversely insist upon being low information voters. They refuse to be educated sufficiently to exercise oversight. Instead, they watch Fox News and listen to the haters deny reality and incrementally allow our democracy to be stolen from us.

We are led by the world’s greatest circus sideshow barker, drawing into his tent the rubes who believe his grandiose lies about what’s inside. Abraham Lincoln was right, that you really can fool some of the people all of the time. I never dreamed that “some of the people” meant half the voters.

I had a picture of what America is. Regardless of what we find to be the final counts from this election, it turns out that my picture was an illusion and I have become dis-illusioned.

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Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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6 Responses to Illusion
  1. Amy Tucker Reply

    Pop, as you and I talked about this morning, I am dis-illusioned as well. And because of that, I am so sad and I am feeling kind of homeless right now. I’ve flippantly said many times in the last four years that I am picking up my family and moving to another country. Now, I am actually considering it. Since last night, every time I have looked at that very red map on the television screen, I have felt sick to my stomach. I had no idea this was how so many people in this country felt. I cannot support Trump or what he stands for in any way. Even if he took some steps that I agreed with (which he has not), his character and the way in which he “leads” make me sick and I cannot get behind that. How can I live among so many people who support that hatred and the lies and the alienating behavior, and the craziness? A Biden victory will not erase what is actually out there in my country.

    My children have been wandering around the house and not sleeping these past two days. What kind of country am I raising them in? It’s not what I had once believed. Was everything I was taught as a child misleading propaganda? Where can I take my children so that they are not faced with the mess I am about to leave them with if we stay here? Who is going to take care of us? It is not our government. When will my children be able to engage in theater and football and playing in the pool with friends? When will they have a day that we do not have some conversation about “the virus?” Why is this the way of life for over 20% of my youngest’s life so far?

    I am heartsick.

  2. David L. Lindgren Reply

    A number of my “friends” who are Trump supporters were sure in that many of their cohorts purposely did not participate in polls which then skewed the results in Biden’s favor. Thus, the Trump vote coming on strong at the election time. The polling results were “off”.
    It’s pretty difficult to defeat an incumbent President as one can notice his meetings in the White House and Air Force One flying him around the country for rallies. If Biden can pull it off, like it seems he will, it is a dramatic underdog victory;
    Thanks for all of your fight, Jack!

  3. John Calia Reply

    If you’re looking for someone to blame, it’s not Trump. It’s Bernie Sanders. All the Democrats had to do is to be NOT crazy. But they couldn’t manage that.

    • RON KUROWSKI Reply

      Your response to Jack’s deeply felt statement on the state of the body politic in the country is embarrassingly simpleminded and speaks volumes to the lack of any intellectual grounding in what passes for political discourse among Trump’s supporters.

      Ron

  4. Jim Altschuler Reply

    The mirage of an oasis called ‘democracy’ has, as you implied, been warped into a dust storm blinding most within the country’s borders. The winds whipping up the dust are as indicated, Fox News, McConnell, Graham, and most of all, Trump. They create revisionist history and paint false pictures of the future. Why, then, should any other nation, friend or foe, believe in the U.S. when many of us don’t believe in ourselves or our democracy.

    • David L. Lindgren Reply

      Jack, we need to find pathways to return to trusting our democracy. It is potentially the best form of government for us. I have faith that if Biden gets in, he can persuade former supporters of Trump to be his pall bearers. I can see Biden inviting Republican leaders to the WH and developing a working relationship. I don’t know if Bernie can be there at the same time.