My husband Steve taught social studies for thirty years. One thing his students had a difficult time grasping was the destruction wrought by rioters. “Why would they burn down their own houses, their own neighborhood stores?” the kids would ask semester after semester. “They are only hurting themselves.”
Steve would go on to explain that when a person reaches a level of anger that is so overpowering, so all-encompassing, and so frustrating, that person will lash out with one of the few tools at his or her disposal, the end result being that sometimes they burned down their own house.
On Nov. 8, we burned down our own house.
Some voters were so angry with their concept of what is happening to this country that they chose for a president a man who is demonstrably unstable, a man who is filled with hate for the disabled, for women, for immigrants … in short for anyone who is not just like him. He is a man who claims to love America but hates Americans. I wonder how any man with a wife, with a daughter, or with a mother who voted for Donald Trump is able to look any of those women in the eye and confess that he, too, thinks it is okay to grab women by their genitals, to judge them solely by their appearance, to consider a woman’s working outside the home to be “dangerous,” and to treat them as mere objects and second-class citizens. As a female who has always believed in America, I am physically sickened by level of misogyny revealed by his election.
Here is a man indulging in a mutual admiration relationship with Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, whose method of ruling consists of oppression of the masses. Here is a man with no government experience, which was apparently part of his appeal. Voters wanted an outsider, someone who has not been a part of the political process in this country. These same voters re-elected 96 percent of the incumbents in Congress, so that conceit is inconsistent at best and short-sighted at worst. They rejected the presidency of a smart, strong, qualified, capable person with years of government service in favor of a man whose reaction to citizens’ dissent is to tell them to go f**k themselves, whose reaction to a free press is to physically threaten reporters, and whose solution to international strife is to “bomb the hell out of them.”
If Donald Trump’s bombastic exterior were peeled away, what would we see underneath? Is there any integrity there? Any honor? Any sense of the huge privilege and awesome responsibility he has just been handed? His rhetoric was like balm to his true believers’ burns. But is there anything beneath the veneer of rhetoric? He is convinced his wealth and bullying technique will cow anyone in his path. He has made the most outrageous claims, told the most outrageous lies, (repeatedly and on tape) and taken the most outrageous stands all while playing to an audience that didn’t demand substance or substantiation. As a result, our country is edging ever closer to fascism. The world is an uncertain place. There is nothing as dangerous as a voting populace that desperately craves the illusion of certainty and that wants to believe a lie because they will elect a liar.
An infamous man from history once declared “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
The speaker worked for a man who has much in common with Donald Trump. This man found himself on the cusp of power in a country that was floundering in turmoil and dissatisfaction with its government. The bossman, like Trump, found he could garner support by proclaiming who people should be afraid of and who they should blame for all their problems. The speaker was Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minster in Nazi Germany. His boss was Adolf Hitler.
Trump has found his own Goebbels in Steve Bannon, an anti-Semite, xenophobe, misogynist, white nationalist. Bannon has been named chief strategist and senior counselor for the Trump administration. Bannon hosts a web site that asks questions such as “Would you rather your daughter be a feminist or have cancer?”
Two entirely predictable things have happened since Trump’s election. He has already begun backpedaling from his campaign promises and he is appointing racists, homophobes, xenophobes, misogynists, and anti-Semites to key government posts.
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill said that and Winston knew. He knew democracy was hard. We hold elections that don’t always go our way. The people of American have spoken. (Well, the Electoral College has spoken. The people of American actually elected Hillary Clinton by well over a million votes.) I myself am speechless.
(Oh, by the way, American has always been great.)
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.