Friday, December 2, 2016

What We Want to Hear

I turned on the TV last night and of course, there was that ugly face with the tiny mouth.  Surrounded by gullible people hanging on every ridiculous word.  I was only able to watch for less than five minutes.  I had heard it all before, in various forms, many times over the past couple of years, but not by someone who had the authority of the presidency behind him.  So, nauseated, I turned it off and watched a movie.

The thing that is hardest to grapple with, and I am being brutally honest with myself here, is that the words coming out of the mouth are words we all want to hear.  Jobs are going to come back.  We are not going to let corporations push us around.  We are not going to have to suffer low wages anymore.  And all in that calm and sonorous voice that he has rehearsed, so that he doesn't break into the rhythms and bellicosity of the madman that he really is.

And so, he tells us what we want to hear.  And then he tells magnificent, appalling lies.  Millions of illegal votes.  Lying media.  People who are going to try to stop him from fighting for us, and to prevent us from getting what we deserve.

This is the world of the dictator.  This is how it happens.  Convinced that we should be afraid, that our secure lives no longer exist.  And the germ of truth is that, yes, our way of life has been threatened, our quality of life drastically reduced.  But the bait and switch is that those who have caused this to happen -- greedy corporations, right-wing millionaires and billionaires, power mad religious leaders and arms dealers -- are the ones who will be given greater power in the years to come.  Job security, health care, safety in our homes and in the streets, they will continue to die.

If Trump does his job well, the blame for the failure to come will be placed solidly in the laps of those who are trying to right the wrongs:  liberal democrats, the media, progressive leaders, responsible and knowledgeable judges.  He succeeded so well in turning reason on its head during his campaign, it stands to reason that these falsehoods will continue to work.


...except if the media continues to expose the lies.  They need to continue to learn to stop focusing on the wizard and get behind the curtain to expose the carnival barker.  And they need those of us who can to pay for their product, the hard won facts of the investigation.

...except if those lawyers and legal systems that have fought against discrimination and hate continue to make public the evil that turns us one against the other.  Who have run on a shoestring budget under the best of times, and now need more staff and greater publicity, and who need us to give what we can whenever we can.

...and except if each of us will fearlessly defend each of us.  We need to be united in the face of bigotry and scapegoating, because turning us against each other is the clearest path to the success of a dictator.  This is not just trying to correct lies and misleading information when our family and friends repeat it, although this is important.  We need to see each of our causes as our own.  I am a white-haired white woman who will never be stopped and frisked; I am not going to be forced to register my existence based on my religion.  But my daughter's reproductive freedom, and her privacy and right to the best medical care and advice will be threatened.  I will never have laws made that will monitor my use of a public restroom, or will tell me who I can marry.  But I may well lose the admittedly minimal financial security provided by social security, and like others of all ages, my health insurance.

Our right to live where we want will be jeopardized, especially if the Kochs or Trumps decide they need an oil pipeline or a luxury hotel or golf course where our homes are located.  We will be excluded from ever more places in our own country.  We will be denied access to information, as well as the right to speak our mind (as I am doing now) or question the words of others.

We -- most of us -- have lived under the assumption all our lives that we were free.  Free to talk, free to move around, free to believe as we choose, free to associate with whomever we want.

Imagine those freedoms gone, because they may be.  The "law and order" candidate will soon be in charge.  Those who thought that was a good idea may soon find that they are also on the wrong end of the law, especially if it conflicts with the special interests that will be running the country.  People who thought "religious freedom" meant that they were free may be shocked to find that some of their beliefs are no longer able to be freely expressed.  Chances are, every one of us could be on the wrong side of the "law" in these years when might will make right.

Yes, that has always been true.  But some of us were safer than others.  And most of us could feel secure in the knowledge that our own little differences weren't the ones under scrutiny.  But in a dictatorship, the tides can turn in an instant.  We have seen the man coming into power contradict himself within the same sentence.  He holds to no moral code, his only consistent value is his own importance.  He will and has attacked a perceived enemy and then welcomed him as a brother; likewise, he has thrown partners to the wolves and will do so again if it serves his own ego.

So who can trust Donald Trump?  Not any of us.  But today he is the most powerful man in the world.  Today it is us against him.  When he tries to tell us what we want to hear, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves.  If we can do this, and if we stand together, we can fight the tyranny.

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