If you’re not going to “bet the milk money” on Donald changing, you American Christians find yourself in an interesting situation.
As you may remember, we shared our epiphany about your crazy love crisis. It was an epiphany that had us scratching our heads at most of you Christians in America. Are you living out what McKee calls a minimalist story? Do you want what your God wants you to want? Or, to put it in McKee’s “story triangle” terms—are you occupying with your very lives the minimalist story corner?
This baffles us since occupying the minimalist corner doesn’t fit with the best stories at the top of the story triangle. Remember, we discovered that the Christian story is an archplot story, the kind of story everybody wants and loves, the kind of story that fits with how they think of their very lives. And it’s the very kind of story your God invites you to live, going on a “skin in the game” relational adventure with him.
Your ongoing love crisis is a major, major focus of our team. In fact, we ask ourselves, each and every day, will you change? Will you make a crisis decision to make an exodus out of that minimalist corner?
Why do we care? Why do we ask ourselves this question every day?
Please understand, if you don’t change we believe it’s possible to persuade the Central Military Commission that China can continue to win against you without fighting.
But, Shih Tzu keeps mocking us. “How will we know if they are going to change?” he asks. “Give it up, you idiots! Let’s put some happy into our trigger finger!”
He knows we are in a practically impossible position. We need to be able to show the Commission that you will not make the major choice before you and exit the minimalist corner. We are struggling to evaluate that possibility. We need to show them that the minimalist corner you occupy is like a sleeping drug — so hard wake up… so hard to find the exit… so hard to climb up into the archplot story that your God intended for you to live.
But even fully awake, it’s a difficult choice. So risky, for it may cost you everything.
But here’s a crazy question for you—what if you are actually sharing the stage with Donald Trump now in the story of America?
What if your God, the Great Storyteller, is putting you Christians on stage toward the end of the story, at the highest point of suspense?
What if he’s calling on you to make a crisis decision in America’s story?
The crisis moment, in story terms, is critical and suspenseful. We covered it in some detail in Volume 1 of our report, but we’d like to show you some of the material Paula found from McKee and Coyne about the crisis moment in the story to help you understand this special time you are facing.
Stage Seven of story is about crisis…
Stage Seven brings the story to its crisis, the highest level of tension and suspense.Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace
Let’s say, for our purposes, American Christians are the “protagonist”…
The protagonist pursues her object of desire action by action, turning point by turning point, until a moment arrives near the end of the telling when the most sharply focused conflicting forces in her life now block her path. This is the obligatory scene the audience has been waiting for. At this crisis point, she has exhausted all possible tactics, save one. This powerful moment calls for a major decision. Faced with an array of possible actions, she must choose one last tactic in a final effort to put life back in balance.Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace
What is your “object of desire”? You can see now why we are always asking you throughout this report— What do you want?
And now — what will you choose to do?
Crisis is the third of the five-part form. It means decision. Characters make spontaneous decisions each time they open their mouths to say “this” not “that.” In each scene they make a decision to take one action rather than another. But Crisis with a capital C is the ultimate decision. The Chinese ideogram for Crisis is two terms: Danger/Opportunity — “danger” in that the wrong decision at this moment will lose forever what we want; “opportunity” in that the right choice will achieve our desire.
The protagonist’s quest has carried him through the Progressive Complications until he’s exhausted all actions to achieve his desire, save one. He now finds himself at the end of the line. His next action is his last. No tomorrow. No second chance. This moment of dangerous opportunity is the point of greatest tension in the story as both protagonist and audience sense that the question “How will this turn out?” will be answered out of the next action.
Are you getting a feel for this?
The crisis is the time when your protagonist must make a decision. And the choice that he makes will determine whether or not he’ll get closer to or further away from his object of desires (both external and internal).Commandment Number Three, by Shawn Coyne
Compelling Crisis questions and the way they are answered are the way to reveal character.
Commandment Number Three, by Shawn Coyne
Is This Your Esther Moment?
Because Paula saw how stressed out I was from Shih Tzu, she showed me a famous story in your Bible which looks like it is very relevant to your crisis moment in America’s unfolding drama.
It is the story of Esther.
And in the story, there is a famous moment – a moment of decision we’re calling the ‘Esther Moment’ – when Esther’s cousin Mordecai calls on Esther “to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people.”
And he takes this action because Haman, the villain in the story, had persuaded the King to grant Haman his object of desire… which was “to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom”.
But Esther hesitates in her reply, so he responds …
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
So, are you Christians in America now confronting your Esther moment?
Os Guinness didn’t call it an Esther moment, but it sure sounds a lot like you are in such a time in your country…
Continuing the present course of the culture wars spells disaster for the United States and a historic failure to seize the moment and demonstrate to the world the significance of the American experiment. Equally, it would be folly to presume that the country is merely experiencing another swing of the pendulum, or that it will simply muddle through somehow, or that this is just the latest of America’s periodic surprised discoveries by journalists and commentators of “how extraordinarily religious the American people are,” or that “things are really not that bad because the election of 1800 was worse,” or even that despite everything, according to the old adage, “God will always take care of babies, drunks, and the United States.” Against all such characteristically American kinds of drift and complacency, it must be said firmly: the facts are on the table, the stakes are high, and the moment of opportunity is closing. Unless the present generation restores civility in public life, the American republic will decline.Os Guinness, The Case For Civility
So, shall we call it your Esther moment of opportunity?
After he wrote the Case for Civility, he wrote another book called A Free People’s Suicide. We’re not sure if he would say that your Esther moment of opportunity is still open. Maybe it has already closed in his mind. Because he went on to write about America’s decline leading to…America’s death…
Will an equally severe accounting be demanded for America’s equally brazen denial of the Declaration’s promise of life for all and a myriad of other contradictions of America’s declared commitment to freedom? Will there be a moment when the inner contradictions of American republicanism, democracy and capitalism are revealed simultaneously? At least let there be no doubt about the stark alternative to renewal. If there is no American renewal, American dominance can be followed only by American decline. America has reached the point where, apart from restoration, there is no other choice. So let there be no dodging or denial: as America stands before the grave wisdom of Lincoln’s “This too shall pass,” this is her moment of truth.
Yet even the word decline is too gentle. It suggests only a slow, painless slippage, whereas in reality, for empires as well as individuals, though not for nations by themselves, decline is always linked eventually to death. In other words, decline by itself may be a long time coming, so much so that no one believes it will ever come and therefore does not matter. But as the story of empires from Rome to the Soviets demonstrates, the end when it comes is often sudden, shocking and irreversible.Os Guinness, A Free People’s Suicide
There you have it again—Guinness is into moments, and now it’s a moment of truth. Is it your Esther moment of truth?
Is it your “proper time and just way”?…
[T]he wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.
Are you America Christians open to considering the unique time you are in, the unique moment in your country’s story? What if your God has put you in such a spot?
One of the things that those closest to me are so tired of hearing me say is that we are living in the midst of a Queen Esther moment. …. Fellow believers, God is not surprised by anything that is happening in 21st Century America. Like the Master Chess Player, He has been prepared for our cultural rebellion from the beginning of time. And the way he prepared for it was to position you and me right here, right now, for such a time as this.Peter Heck, Strangers
Right here, right now, for such a time as this.
So, recall the story of Esther. When did she blossom into a hero, saving all those lives of her Jewish brothers and sisters? It was her moment of decision, her decisive action, her ‘skin in the game’ sacrifice which turned that amazing story.
A crisis doesn’t ‘make a person’; a crisis reveals what a person is made of.Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Prophets
Esther risked her neck when she asked to see her husband/king. But she was willing to do it because her object of desire was to save the Jewish race. Risk is a key factor in a compelling story.
We measure the worth of the object of desire in terms of risk: the greater the risk, the greater the object’s worth. What would you risk your time for? What would you risk your life for? What would you risk your soul for? The most compelling objects of desire come with the highest price tags, and the greater the object’s worth, the greater the involvement. Contrariwise, watching a character pursue something of no real value is the definition of boredom.Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace
Maybe you’re tired of my asking this, but what is it you are pursuing? Is it something of real value?
And given that you are now in this moment of crisis, we are also wondering if your God is putting you on stage in order to reveal who you are really loyal to?
Hazarding destruction may be an extreme case of what loyalty entails, but only as a matter of degree. The measure of loyalty has always been the most acidic of tests, a matter of proving how much one will endure to remain true. The great biblical study of loyalty-the book of Job-is an exercise in just how much misfortune can be piled on a man before his fidelity fails. Job passes the test, praising God even when ruined and despairing, but the whole point is that the only true test of loyalty is fidelity in the face of ruin and despair. “Loyalty,” G. K. Chesterton mused, “implies loyalty in misfortune.” Or, as the philosopher Josiah Royce put it, it is an “obvious truth of human nature, that loyalty is never raised to its highest levels without such grief.”Eric Felton, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue
And notice how the revealing choice fits with what Nassim Taleb wrote of “skin in the game” …
Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game
So it appears that the church founders really wanted Christ to have skin in the game; he did actually suffer on the cross, sacrifice himself, and experience death. He was a risk taker. ore crucially to our story, he sacrificed himself for the sake of others. A god stripped of humanity cannot have skin in the game in such a manner, cannot really suffer (or, if he does, such a redefinition of a god injected with a human nature would back up our argument). A god who didn’t really suffer on the cross would be like a magician who performed an illusion, not someone who actually bled after sliding an icepick between his carpal bones.
So, given that the great danger facing America is internal –
your divided house – who are you going to put your skin in the game for? Donald
or your God and country?
Your Binary Clock Test
The months leading up to the 2016 election must have been so strange for many of you Christians who are – or were – in the Republican Party. That wide field made it look like there were so many good candidates to choose from.
And in the beginning Trump was just one among many. You must have thought, “Surely he won’t survive with so many excellent candidates.”
But then he employed his skilled arsenal of verbal actions and began picking off all those excellent candidates, one by one. And one day you woke up to find that Donald Trump was the candidate for President, representing your beloved Republican Party.
How strange it all must have felt. And that’s when the pressure really kicked in, right?
You didn’t ask for it, but your evangelical leaders put you on a ‘binary clock’.
And it sure looks like that may fit with this story insight from Shawn Coyne…
Now, the next scene, which is sort of the end of the middle build is what I call the point of no return scene. This is when the lead character has to make a choice. They have to make a best bad choice or a irreconcilable good choice. There’s just no going. It’s irreversible. They’re not going to be able to go back in time.Shawn Coyne, Q&A with Shawn – Part 1
I’m sure it all felt to you like a powerful train came barreling your way. But, were you even aware that Trump could have been stopped by socially conservative Christians? In early 2016 the choice door was still open, according to Doug Geivett…
Socially conservative Christians have long complained that their cultural influence has been compromised. But today, on the eve of Super Tuesday 2016, they have it within their power to stop Donald Trump in his tracks overnight. This is because without them he wouldn’t be where he is in the polls. And as long as they are with him, as long as they zealously trumpet his persona and uncertain promises, they are responsible for his meteoric rise, and they will be responsible for whatever version of America he considers “great,” if he wins the general election. Christians have never been better positioned to make a difference—for better or for worse.Donald Trump and the Nationalist Christian Movement, By Doug Geivett, February 29, 2016
See that? If Christianity is the story we are in, there is an example of your God putting you in the driver’s seat. Because without his Christian supporters – and especially people like the man we are so grateful to, Jerry Falwell, Jr. – it looks like Trump could not/would not have become the candidate.
And maybe you were among the many Christians in America who ended up supporting Donald Trump because they were told they were faced with a “binary” choice…
If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, Donald J. Trump is likely to become the next president of the United States. Paul Ryan’s little Kabuki-theater piece demonstrates that the GOP establishment either has made, or is about to make, its peace with Trump.
The organization I work with, the American Principles Project (APP), is now pro-Trump. Many good people, faced with what one of them called the “binary choice” between Trump and Hillary, have no problem choosing Trump.
The past few days have featured hectoring demands of Never Trump people to “get over it.” These have come not just from the more bullying precincts of Trump fandom, as in “Get on the Trump train or get run over,” but also from party regulars and office holders suggesting that failure to endorse Trump now is a kind of stubborn self-indulgence. “While you sit out, Hillary gets elected,” huffed one of my critics, for example.
Yes, if there is a binary choice (not completely clear as of this writing) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it is possible that voters in swing states who decline to support Trump may be assisting Clinton. This is not a secret. Some Never Trump voters may have to live with that miserable outcome rather than violate their consciences by voting for an authoritarian ignoramus.
The genuflection to party loyalty that has spread like a rash in the past two weeks has more of the quality of a salute than a clear evaluation of the stakes.Should Never Trump People Get Over It?, By Mona Charen, National Review, May 23, 2016
Do you believe that Hillary Clinton has a finer character than Trump? For the record, I believe his character is superior to hers. And the choice in the 2016 was between Trump and Clinton. A Republican who voted for anyone else or didn’t vote voted for Clinton.WHY EVANGELICALS VOTE FOR TRUMP. A CONSERVATIVE DEFENSE, By DENNIS PRAGER, Newsweek, February 8, 2018
But Charles Sykes opened our eyes to something we were not aware of. Many of your evangelical leaders who shared your concerns about Trump went silent…
Pollsters found that when evangelical leaders spoke out against Trump, they weakened support for the mogul. But, pollsters also found that ”few Americans are hearing about the presidential candidates from their clergies.”18 Indeed, only 9 percent of white evangelicals said they had heard their clergy speak about Trump and only 6 percent heard them discuss Clinton. Four political scientists who examined the numbers concluded that support for Trump remained high among evangelicals “in part because local religious elites are not regularly talking about his candidacy. Were those discussions to occur, it’s possible that they would highlight concerns that many evangelical leaders might have about his moral character.” To test that proposition, evangelicals were read portions of editorials that raised questions about Trump’s character and compassion. One Suggested that Trump’s appeal is “dangerously close to Satan’s offer to Jesus in Luke 4:9: ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me. The study found that after being exposed to that argument, white evangelical voter support for Trump dropped sharply. But for the most part, evangelical clergy did not speak up and their flocks did not have to confront the problematic nature of the choice before them.Charles Sykes, How the Right Lost Its Mind
Of course, there were Christians like Jerry Fallwell, Jr., the head of the largest Christian university in America, who pushed away the clock…
Falwell had endorsed Trump in January 2016, long before the campaign had become a binary choice of Trump versus Clinton.Charles Sykes, How the Right Lost Its Mind
We understand that life is full of choice…
And our lives must be told in the form of stories involving accidents and choices. Our lives are not as deductions from some universal form of what it is to be human.
In this sense, no human life, in its living out, is dull. It is a drama played out for the highest stakes against the background of the cosmos itself. The story that each human life reveals in its living out is never dull. It is just not accurately told. Both the beginning and conclusion of any human life reach into what brought forth and sustains its existence.On the Dullness of the World, By James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic Thing, August 15, 2017
And look what Paula Wong showed us…
Every story in the Bible, Hebrew and Christian, is the story of a choice to be made freely in the often hidden will of each individual. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden choosing whether or not to pick and eat of the apple on the one tree reserved to God, to King David choosing in one chapter to be faithful to his Lord, and in another not to be, the suspense in every book of the Bible is: What will the individual choose next? In other words, in the mind of the Creator, the arena that matters is within the human will. Lord Acton used his own metaphor: The pursuit of liberty is the golden thread that ties together all human history.Michael Novak: The Desire for Liberty Is Universal – WSJ.com, March 4, 2011
But, look at your situation now. If you happen to be a Christian supporter of the Donald, you are now back in a time of choice which isn’t binary.
You could choose someone else as your next option.
But, the clock ticks. If you go passive and don’t think seriously about the unfolding drama in America, then, by the summer of the year 2020, the window may well close once again.
And if that happens, America’s death march into the house divided is going to get even more dangerous. Because it looks like Donald Trump has his own binary choice orientation, and he is not going to change…
To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it-as he thought his older brother had. This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. ”When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,” he told a recent biographer, ”I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood.
Instead, Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.
I WROTE THE ART OF THE DEAL WITH DONALD TRUMP, By TONY SCHWARTZBandy X. Lee, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
As Donald Trump runs for President again in 2020, you can expect your tension in America to escalate.
And maybe like crazy…
I think that 2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since before the Civil War. And I include Vietnam in that, I think we’re in, I think we’re in for a very nasty 2019.Bannon Predicts 2019 Will Be “Most Vitriolic Year In American Politics Since Before The Civil War”, Posted By Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics, February 24, 2019
… I think what comes down the other side of that, then you can position yourself for 2020.
Our team, then, wants to understand what you will choose. Because if you ignore Donald Trump’s binary view, then we believe we may be able to persuade the Central Military Commission that we can continue to win against you without fighting.
Because it looks like the Democratic Party will be faced this time around with choosing a candidate who will either try to rise above, or, punch back — just as hard as the Donald…
The election last week punctuated a season of political and societal cataclysms—the Kavanaugh hearings; the pipe bombs sent to President Trump’s critics; the murder of eleven congregants in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Trump used his campaign appearances to inflame his supporters with lurid appeals to their fear of immigrants and other outsiders. The events gave Patrick and his potential Democratic rivals the chance, as they campaigned around the country, to demonstrate how they respond to the political frenzy of the Trump era. For his part, Patrick tried to turn down the heat. While enthusiastic for the Democratic candidates by his side, he kept his message positive, and warned against excessive negativity. In this, too, he was echoing the demeanor of No-Drama Obama, who showed little interest in channelling his supporters’ anger; hope, not hate, was his message. And yet, in the Trump era, for many Democrats thoughtful diffidence is out, and rage is in. Eric Holder, Obama’s former Attorney General and yet another possible Presidential candidate, responded to the fall’s events by amending Michelle Obama’s famous dictum of 2016. “When they go low,” Holder said, “we kick them.” Patrick, by contrast, went high.Deval Patrick’s Presidential Prospects, By Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, November 19, 2018 Issue
And if there is a serious Independent candidate in your next election, which direction will they go? Because you have only had one Independent president…
“I was no party man myself,” Washington wrote Thomas Jefferson, “and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.” As our first and only independent president, Washington’s independence was a function not only of his pioneering place in American history but also of political principles he developed over a lifetime.
To Washington, moderation was a source of strength. He viewed its essential judiciousness as a guiding principle of good government, rooted in ancient wisdom as well as Enlightenment-era liberalism. Much could be achieved “by prudence, much by conciliation, and much by firmness.” A stable, civil society depends on resisting intolerant extremes. The Constitution did not mention political parties, and during the debate over ratification, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton praised the Constitution’s “spirit of moderation” in contrast to the “intolerant spirit” of “those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy.”George Washington’s Farewell Warning, By JOHN AVLON, Politico, January 10, 2017
And your very first president understood how your story could unfold…
Washington warned of the dangers of political factions to democratic republics throughout history. His aversion to partisanship reflected the fact that just a few decades earlier, in 1746, political parties had driven England to civil war. This first farewell address, from our only truly independent president, hearkens back to an agewhen distrust of political divisions was perhaps higher than it is now—and offers a solution to what ails us today.George Washington’s Farewell Warning, By JOHN AVLON, Politico, January 10, 2017
So, what do you really want? What will you do? Will you change?
And while you’re working all that out, Donald Trump may have you on a fast track heading toward a crumbling of your clay feet. Unless you can stay on your feet long enough to make your choice to change.
But, will you? Shih Tzu is breathing down my neck, so I need to know – as fast as you can tell me.
Let me remind you of some things, then…
Your House Divided Revisited
As we warned you previously, the great danger in America is your divided house. So, are you sure Donald Trump is the kind of character in America’s story who you want to continue to embrace?
The other thing that’s dangerous about Donald Trump is that he is very comfortable whipping up hate and division. There are many people in the country who worship Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter what Trump’s people are told about him. He has touched into a very primitive, fundamental part of people’s character — which is that people who have felt dismissed, disenfranchised, ignored by the government, promised things they have not received, people who’ve been deeply wounded and hurt and feel forgotten are attracted to him. Trump has a loyal following that he can take advantage of to cause trouble. — Psychiatrist Justin FrankAuthor of “Trump on the Couch”: Trump should be “quarantined”; Cohen should fear for his life, By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA, Salon, MARCH 11, 2019
Just before Trump’s inauguration, half (50%) of voters felt America was a more divided nation after the eight years of the Obama presidency. Since Trump’s election, a majority (55%) of voters believes America is more divided.31% Think U.S. Civil War Likely Soon, Rasmussen Reports, June 27, 2018
And what is unfolding is a reflection of how your house is divided…
The elites and Trumpites live in different moral universes, and their unrelenting political warfare derives from both groups’ understanding that power flows to those whose narratives retain legitimacy and validity. These battles are so worrisome because they are existential, not simply political.
This will not end well, I fear. Goodwill and moderation exist on neither side. It may be that a civil war looms on the horizon. All that’s required now is a spark because every cultural accelerant is now in place.
Given the intemperance of Trump and the viciousness of his opponents, compromise seems unlikely. Most of the American media will blame any conflagration on Trump, and certainly he will deserve some of the fault. But American elites are the revolutionary children of the ’60s and ’70s, proud despoilers of their country’s history and tradition. Now comes the counter-revolution, led by a gargoyle promising to defend the old cathedral. When postmodern radicals lecture him about the need to temper his attacks, a Trump supporter might retort the same way that a rebellious royalist did to the new Jacobin government in 1793: “You accuse us of overturning our patrie by rebellion, but it is you, who, subverting all principles of the religious and political order, were the first to proclaim that insurrection is the most sacred of duties.”The Civil War on America’s Horizon, By WILLIAM S. SMITH, The American Conservative, September 11, 2018
He’s not the only one thinking about the spark…
The degradation of American governing institutions is real. So, too, is the breakdown of the public’s faith in the legitimacy of their government. That is an extraordinarily dangerous condition. We are not a tinderbox just yet, but we may be soon. And it will only take a spark.The Tipping Point, By NOAH ROTHMAN, Commentary Magazine, SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
So, are you also thinking about a possible civil war?
The division in the United States that has escalated into the organized harassment of presidential aides has six in 10 worried about the violence from anti-Trump advocates and nearly a third fearing it will end in civil war.
The latest survey from Rasmussen Reports found that 59 percent of all voters “are concerned that those opposed to President Trump’s policies will resort to violence.”
And, added Rasmussen, 31 percent believe “it’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years.”Poll: 59% fear violence from Trump haters, 31% predict civil war, by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, June 27, 2018
Sometime in the next five years? That would sure fit with the timing your Huntington guy warned of…
The greatest surprise might be if the United States in 2025 were still much the same country it was in 2000 rather than a very different country (or countries) with very different conceptions of itself and its identity than it had a quarter century earlier.Samuel Huntington, Who Are We?
So, are you interested at all in trying out some different leadership to see if there is hope for a turn in your country?
Our house is quite divided today. Trump, however, is far from the sole or prime cause, he is a symptom and galvanizer of existing divisions and tensions.Donald Trump and the Political Philosophers, by PAUL SEATON, Law & Liberty, JUNE 17, 2019
The president of the United States is not a unifier who seeks to lead all people and by doing so to inspire the best of who and what America and the American people can be. Instead he is hell-bent on creating chaos and division. For his voters and other Republicans and conservatives, he is a champion and political godhead. For Democrats, liberals and other people of conscience he is closer to being a monster.Scholar Lilliana Mason: “I’m worried about violent conflict between Democrats and Republicans”, By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA, Salon, AUGUST 20, 2018
We’d like to know if what you want for your country and what Trump wants are the same thing…
Trump adopted the tools and methods of the Kremlin that got Putin and other autocrats elected for multiple terms. He sees what works and what does not in European states such as Poland, Hungary, and Austria. From his actions it’s clear he understands that deliberately sowing divisiveness within the citizenry is good for him personally. A divided voting base won’t focus on a specific issue like the conservative authoritarian-leaning voters. His base will vote for the leader, not saving the whales, keeping streets clean, or gun control. Whatever he says goes and they vote that way. The others are just single-issue voters who can be ignored. By splitting the opposition, through a wave of divisiveness, he can isolate the two-thirds of the country who are thinking democratically from a unified remainder who are his loyalists. Loyalists get rewarded, opponents get punished. That Trump and his base have essentially adopted the communist/fascist moves of the KGB is not surprising.Malcolm Nance, The Plot to Destroy Democracy
Maybe if the Christians encouraged Trump to go back to his real estate pursuits it would benefit everybody.
More recently, Mr. Trump has taken to spending time reminiscing about the happier days of his candidacy and his 2016 victory. He spent the fall showing different groups of visitors what he calls his love letters from North Korea’s iron-fisted dictator, Kim Jong-un, expressing admiration for Mr. Trump. And he still takes joy in aspects of the job, primarily those that demonstrate power. “The roads closed for me!” he declared to friends this year after a motorcade ride.
But those highs have been hard to recapture. The days are filled with conflict, much of it of his own making. More advisers are heading for the door. The divisions are widening, not closing. If it is a “war every day,” there are no signs of peace.
“What I’m trying to figure out is where does it end,” Mr. Goldstein said. “The language gets coarser on all sides. The respect for the office of the presidency seems less to me than it was. How do we move people back? Or are we in the new reality?”For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone, By Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, New York Times, December 22, 2018
If you leave him in office, what will become of your system of self-government?
Trump lacks “the advantage of military habits.” He lacks the discipline to truly “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.” But he does seem more than able to create a storm and incite a whirlwind that can do considerable damage. Disorder is its own threat, even if it is not in this case laying the precondition for despotism. Enough civil commotion, as Hamilton foresaw, can threaten our form of government—the great achievement for which the Founders labored, which subsequent generations fought to defend and improve, and of which citizens of the United States have always been proud.
Self-government is an experiment. It could still fail.Kristol: Of Storms and Whirlwinds, By WILLIAM KRISTOL, Weekly Standard, January 12, 2018
Do you believe you don’t have other options?
Whether the worst scenarios come to pass or not is right now unknowable. But what we do know is that the president is a person who seems to draw energy and purpose from maliciousness and transgressive acts, from creating enmity among people of different races, religions, and backgrounds, and from attacking the weak, the honorable, and even the dead.
Donald Trump is not well, and as long as he is president, our nation is not safe.A Damaged Soul and a Disordered Personality, By Peter Wehner, The Atlantic, March 18, 2019
And since the Donald puts loyalty on the stage, what do you think about this?
I believe this president seeks only to destroy and divide for his own political benefit and that we must defeat him at the ballot box and destroy Trumpism before it takes root and destroys America. I love my country. I am loyal to America, I believe that we must fight to form a more perfect union. I can hold all of the horrors of American slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment, the genocide of Native Americans, and so much more. I can hold all of that pain and horror and cruelty and grief and still love the America that gave my family a future. That created generations of Jews that were freer than we ever dreamed possible. We can make the country we love better. True loyalty does not demand blindness but clarity and vision. We must fight hatred in America because we are loyal to America.What Donald Trump Will Never Understand About Jews, By Carly Pildis, Tablet, August 21, 2019
Can you see trouble coming your way?
While acknowledging that Trump’s critics have used similar language, Erica Chenoweth, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, says there’s a clear difference between a head of state throwing around accusations of treason and un-American behavior and people with less power or none at all doing the same. “When you hold the presidency in the United States and you accuse political opponents of being treasonous,” she says, “that carries much greater impact on the well-being of the polity than if you’re a person who tweets or a person who is out of power right now.”
Levitsky, co-author of the award-winning 2018 book How Democracies Die, says that extreme language from political leaders that accuses foes of treason or traitorous behavior is a sign of extreme polarization and an indicator that the core norms holding together a democracy are fraying. “We saw it in the 1790s. We saw it in the decade before, during and after the Civil War. We’re seeing it now for the first time in many decades,” Levitsky says. “This is the kind of thing that gets democracies into trouble.”Trump’s Latest Attacks Place Him in the Company of Authoritarian Strongmen, By ANDY KROLL, Rolling Stone, March 26, 2019
So, as the drama unfolds, you may want to consider how it may change your own experience, because look at the seeds Donald Trump may have been planting…
No matter what the White House says, President Trump has repeatedly and not-subtly suggested his supporters could be violent — sometimes in an approving manner. And there’s a common thread running through much of it: Again and again, Trump has suggested they could rise up if they feel either they or Trump have been wronged by the political process.
The idea that anything like the scenes Trump is describing would ever happen is difficult to believe. But that’s not really the point. Musing about this kind of thing is a great way to plant a seed in certain people’s minds, and the fact that Trump keeps fertilizing that seed shouldn’t escape notice.Trump again nods toward violence by his supporters — and maybe something bigger, By Aaron Blake, Washington Post, March 14, 2019
…a seed of violence planted? What about this full grown plant of lawlessness?…
At a private meeting on Monday, President Trump urged evangelical Christian leaders to break federal law and openly support him from the pulpit. Does it matter that he seemed to believe that he had overturned the provision of the tax code that prevents churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates? Truth, fantasy and deceit slosh together with Mr. Trump.
What mattered more was the thought that Mr. Trump planted — that a deluge of violence and anarchy would be loosed upon the world if they failed to rally the nation’s Christian soldiers to his side.
If the Democrats win the midterm elections, the president warned, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently.”After Trump, the Deluge? By The Editorial Board, New York Times, August 29, 2018
And, speaking of violence, notice the connection between violence and contempt…
What makes you violent is the perception that you are being held in contempt. This rips families, communities, and whole nations apart. If you want to make a lifelong enemy, show him contempt.Arthur Brooks, Love Your Enemies
Is Trump actually spreading poison in America?
Poison is coursing through the US body politic. Violence permeates political dialogue and sometimes erupts at political events.
The shocking thing is that some of the violence has been endorsed by the president himself.
At a rally last week in Missoula, Montana, President Trump celebrated the Republican representative Greg Gianforte, who violently attacked the Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last year. Jacobs, who was simply trying to ask a question about healthcare, was body-slammed and hurt by Gianforte, who won election to the House but later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. At the rally last Thursday, Trump cheered the congressman as a “tough cookie”, and roused his supporters by loudly proclaiming: “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”
Trump has repeatedly invited his supporters to beat up protesters at his rallies, implying that the protesters bring this on themselves by disrupting him.The worst aspect of the US attempted bombings? Their air of inevitability, By Jill Abramson, The Guardian, October 25, 2018
Do you want to give another term to a president bent on making enemies within the American fabric?
Just as he has made enemies of women, Muslims, Latinos, and African-Americans, Trump has calculated that it is to his political advantage to isolate skeptics in the press and declare them “enemies of the people.” At a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in December, 2015, he sarcastically set his limits where his view of the press was concerned. “I would never kill them, but I do hate them,” he said. “And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.” His supporters at such rallies take their cue from the President and shake their fists, scream epithets, make threats, and threaten violence. It would be reckless to assume that, over time, all those supporters, incited to the point of fury, of violence, will contain themselves.
Recently, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that this demagoguery could have bloody consequences, setting in motion “a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work and potentially some self-censorship.” He observed that, globally, the United States “creates a demonstration effect, which then is picked up by other countries where the leadership tends to be more authoritarian.” But, then, the language of Stalinism has always come at a cost. If it persists, a toll will be extracted from journalists, from the institutions of liberal democracy, and—here and elsewhere—from the people.Trump and the Enemies of the People, By David Remnick, The New Yorker, August 15, 2018
Where does the cycle stop?
The truly psychotic thing about Trump is that he doesn’t have to do this! It’s easy to fight the radicals of the Squad without resorting to this kind of thing. In fact, he is winning on the politics of Omar & Co. But that’s not enough for him. You’ve got to wonder if he’s some kind of sadist.
Where does this cycle stop? I don’t see how it fails to end in violence. Or rather, let me revise that: not end in violence, but cross the threshold into retributive violence. Antifa has been pushing for that on the Left. And now, on the right, we have the man with the biggest megaphone in the country leading a mob in chanting for the expulsion of a political opponent — a US citizen! — from the country. I reject most everything that Ilhan Omar stands for, but this is degrading, disgraceful behavior from an American president.Trump Summons Demons, By ROD DREHER, The American Conservative, July 17, 2019
So, your embrace of the Donald while you overlook the danger of his contempt for your fellow Americans has our attention. It’s a classic case of the gap — in this case your action will not give you what you expect, but end up taking away what you deeply desire…
Nor is contempt morally justified. The vast majority of Americans on the other side of the ideological divide are not terrorists or criminals. They are people like us who happen to see certain contentious issues differently. When we treat our fellow Americans as enemies, we lose friendships, and thus, love and happiness. That’s exactly what’s happening. I already cited a poll showing that a sixth of Americans have stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. People have ended close relationships, the most important source of happiness, because of politics.Arthur Brooks, Love Your Enemies
That is sad for you, right?
And the Donald’s comment about the Tiananmen Square protests has our attention, especially in light of this response from Wang Dan, who “was No. 1 on the Chinese Communist Party’s most-wanted list for his leadership of the 1989 student movement at Tiananmen.”
I have drawn comfort from the consistent condemnation by Americans of the Chinese Communist government’s slaughter of peaceful protesters. It makes me feel like I am on the right side of history.
That is, until I heard Donald Trump’s words in a GOP debate in which he called the nonviolent movement at Tiananmen a “riot.” This description—“a riot”—is the same one that the Chinese Communist Party uses for its massacre, which left innocent blood flowing through the heart of Beijing. Mr. Trump went on to praise the Chinese government that butchered civilians as “strong, powerful.”
As a student leader at Tiananmen, whose fellow youth were killed or imprisoned by a government that is still in charge in China, I am disappointed by and angry at Mr. Trump’s words. If a bloody repression can be praised as a “strong, powerful” action, what does this mean about American values, especially when this blatant mischaracterization comes from a presidential candidate?
In China, because of the Communist Party’s omissions from history books and mounting online censorship, people—young ones, especially—may have no idea about the idealism and hopes of the students at Tiananmen. They may know nothing of the bloodshed that was unleashed on June 4, 1989. Americans know, however. I want to ask Mr. Trump: How can you say these things about Tiananmen? As a long-time resident of the United States, I am deeply worried about a great country’s future.
Maybe Mr. Trump will spin a defense for himself. But his description of the student movement as a “riot” was very clear. There is no room for misunderstanding on this point. Yet I can say with confidence that it is only Chinese Communist Party officials who will agree with him. So, I will tell Mr. Trump this: “Congratulations, you are already qualified to become a member of the Communist Party of China.”Tiananmen Protester: Donald Trump Sounds Like a Communist Leader, by Wang Dan, Time, March 14, 2016
Wang was on to something, because the Donald does sometimes speak like an autocrat…
It’s one thing for a head of state to accuse his opponents of being wrong or overly harsh. But to accuse them of treason, of betraying one’s country, and to vow to investigate those critics puts Trump squarely in the company of past and present-day dictators and autocrats, according to political scientists and experts on authoritarianism.
“This kind of language is very frequently associated with either autocrats or would-be autocrats, whether it’s Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Juan Perón further back in Argentina, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, or Erdoğan in Turkey,” Steven Levitsky, a professor of government at Harvard University, tells Rolling Stone. “Either before they take power or as they take power, they very often use the language of treason, traitor and traitorous behavior to disqualify, discredit, delegitimize their rivals.”Trump’s Latest Attacks Place Him in the Company of Authoritarian Strongmen, By ANDY KROLL, Rolling Stone, March 26, 2019
And being like our Chinese communist leaders for the past isn’t the only comparison being drawn…
Trump’s supporters praise him for his bluntness, for “telling it like it is.” It’s true that his language is startlingly vulgar — one of several traits he shares with his mutual admirer, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin — and it’s easy to find this refreshing after years of politically correct jargon from career politicians.
But what is the point of clear phrasing when the thoughts the words represent make no sense at all? What does “telling it like it is” mean when the meaning of “it” changes all the time? The most New York habit I can imagine is to tell someone exactly what you think. Trump tells people what they want to hear, a practice we already get far too much of from Washington.Trump’s vile New York values: How The Donald represents the worst of a great city, BY GARRY KASPAROV, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, April 17, 2016
When I first warned about Trump during the 2016 election, his collusion with Russia was just a glimmer of shared propaganda and a shared agenda. But there was much else to worry about, especially for those of us with too much experience with demagogues and autocrats.
There was the familiar tone of his rhetoric, the insults, threats and boasts. The way he offered simple solutions to complex problems, always promising that only he could fix things. Trump’s constant lying was another classic symptom, unapologetically moving on to the next lie before the smell of the previous dozen had dissipated.
Most troubling was his knack for finding the most divisive, hateful themes to rally his base and to draw all the attention to him. “Us and them” is useful, but “me, me, me” is even better — especially when the media goes along.The demagogue and the Democrats: Trump spits in the face of American values; the opposition party has no clue how to respond, By GARRY KASPAROV, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, July 21, 2019
And by the way, just in case you are tempted to call that Kasparov guy an idiot, you may want to know this about him…
Garry Kimovich Kasparov … is a Russian chess grandmaster, former world chess champion, writer, and political activist, whom many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months.Garry Kasparov, Wikipedia
So, you can see why it would be hard for Donald to call him a ‘loser’.
And this Jacobs guy sure confronts with straight talk…
Charisma is a social relationship. It’s about how people respond to that person, and how that person takes advantage of that. There’s a kind of charismatic leader who is an authoritarian bully who rules by coercion.A CULT EXPERT FINDS FAMILIAR PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR IN TRUMP’S GOP, By TOM JACOBS, Pacific Standard, June 21, 2018
But are you sure want to move your country to become more like ours? Because if you keep ignoring the danger for America of Donald’s contempt, well…
Arthur Brooks, Love Your Enemies
Contempt is impractical and bad for a country dependent on people working together in politics, communities, and the economy. Unless we hope to become a one-party state, we cannot afford contempt for our fellow Americans who simply disagree with us.
So, during this strange time of decision making, what will you choose? Will you stick close to the Donald and see what the next four years will bring under his divisive leadership?
But, be warned if you do, because he may be a unique character chosen by your God in your unfolding drama — perhaps as a revolutionary?
Across the developing world, Huntington saw “the dominance of unstable personalistic leaders,” their governments rife with “blatant corruption . . . arbitrary infringement of the rights and liberties of citizens, declining standards of bureaucratic efficiency and performance, the pervasive alienation of urban political groups, the loss of authority by legislatures and courts, and the fragmentation and at times complete disintegration of broadly based political parties.”
These self-styled revolutionaries thrive on divisiveness. “The aim of the revolutionary is to polarize politics,” Huntington explains, “and hence he attempts to simplify, to dramatize, and to amalgamate political issues into a single, clear-cut dichotomy.” Such leaders attract new rural voters via “ethnic and religious appeals” as well as economic arguments, only to quickly betray their aspirations.Samuel Huntington, a prophet for the Trump era, By Carlos Lozada, Washington Post, July 18, 2017
And as your binary clock ticks, you might want to look at this insight from Ben Shapiro about your unfolding drama…
Trump has no moral opposition to trashing his opponents — in fact, he’s made a career out of it. His knee-jerk tendency to demonize his adversaries fits perfectly with the conservative desire to strike back at the Left.
All of which means that things are likely to get worse, not better. The Left’s decision to attack the intentions of conservatives — to treat them as enemies rather than misinformed friends — was bound to lead conservatives to do the same, with relish. Expect to see ads of similar brutality from the right against Democrats in upcoming elections. After all, you’re far more likely to win if you attack someone’s intentions than if you attack their policy prescriptions alone.
The larger question still looms: Can the country survive such ongoing, bipartisan hatred? Hamilton thought not. And indeed, history shows that America can survive any internal strife so long as we see each other as friends rather than enemies. Hence Lincoln’s lament in his first inaugural: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” Despite his best efforts, the bonds of affection were broken — and civil war ensued.
Either we will remember that we have something in common, or we will not. If we do not, we’re bound for something much uglier than a rash of inflammatory, dishonest attack ads.Ben Shapiro, Democrats Send the Country Further Down a Path of Division in Virginia, National Review, November 1, 2017
What May Unfold
There is much to be said about what may unfold in the coming months, and the outlook of most is bleak…
The 2020 election will likely be the most toxic in living memory.
That’s the unavoidable conclusion after President Trump on Monday defended his tweets the previous day in which he urged four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from.
The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets, BY NIALL STANAGE, The Hill, July 16, 2019
Trump has been very busy buttoning down the hatches, silencing opposition.
But, how will you feel if Donald Trump’s campaign becomes one of perpetual outrage?
The key is making Trump’s instinct for America’s sore spots the engine of a political machine designed to inflame supporters. At its core, his campaign is a kind of a perpetual outrage machine. It uses algorithms—automated settings on Internet platforms like Google and Facebook—to place massive digital ad buys anytime Trump creates a firestorm. The cycle is simple: Trump says something controversial or offensive; that drives a surge of search interest in the topic; and that gives his campaign an opening to serve up online ads. The ads encourage supporters to text the campaign, take single-question campaign-generated polls, and buy Trump hats, yard signs, beer coolers and WITCH HUNT decals from the campaign online store, all of which rakes in voter contact data.
Never before has an incumbent President run a campaign this way. “It is a strategy built for the new partisan era,” says Princeton University presidential historian Julian Zelizer. “Candidates are always doing things to turn out their supporters. What has not been tested, at least in modern times, is a strategy in which all the rhetoric and all the policy is just tailored around the turnout crowd and there is no effort to go beyond it.”‘My Whole Life Is a Bet.’ Inside President Trump’s Gamble on an Untested Re-Election Strategy, By Brian Bennett, Time, June 20, 2019
Are you sure you want to be part of Trump’s campaign rhetoric?
“How do you stop these people? You can’t,” Trump said at a May 2019 rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. When someone in the crowd yelled back, “Shoot them,” Trump joked, “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.”
Vanessa Beasley, a professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University who is an expert on presidential rhetoric, said those moments make it harder for Trump to talk about unifying the country now.
“The reason there’s going to be a credibility issue there is because he’s spent so much time to date as president remaining engaged in campaign rhetoric,” she said. “And his campaign rhetoric is characteristically us versus them.”Donald Trump’s Own Words Undermine His Case After El Paso Shooting, BY TESSA BERENSON, Time Magazine, AUGUST 5, 2019
Because, that would be encouraging to us. This lady is on to something…
Our political discourse must be better, and politicians on both sides must do better. One of the unique characteristics about America is our freedom to disagree and challenge each other, but civility is needed, or else it all breaks apart.Kay Cole James, Americans Are the Real Casualties of the Trump-‘Squad’ Showdown, The Daily Signal, July 16, 2019
But does that mean something to you? Or are you on board with intensifying the turbulence?
Trump’s strength, after all, is his sense of others’ weakness. He focuses on it, defines it, labels it, and knows no restraints in describing it.
This country has had volatile civil conflicts before. What’s different now is we have a president whose instinct in such turbulent times is actually to intensify the turbulence with rhetoric and mass rallies that foment greater and greater mutual hostility. Most presidents regard it as their responsibility to tamp down racial and cultural conflict. Trump, having no concept of any broader interest than his own, is incapable of it. His malignant narcissism prevents him from any other way of behaving, and each outrage becomes a new baseline for the next one.
So yes, we are in an abyss.Trump Is Betting That Indecency Can Win in America, By Andrew Sullivan, New York Intelligencer, July 20, 2019
Look around you, for by embracing Trump, it looks like you will choose this abyss.
The crazy thing is, people were putting on the table back in 2016 what he is like. And again, from where we sit, it doesn’t look to have changed.
Aside from Mr. Trump’s checkered past and “evolving” views, his language concerns me the most. For some reason, people seem to gravitate to Mr. Trumps challenge to political correctness. I agree that the constraints of political correctness have gone too far, but Mr. Trump is often simply hateful. Calling women “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “bimbos,” “disgusting animals,” and “slobs” is just one example of Mr. Trump’s lack of control over his tongue. His mocking of a disabled reporter and his relentless name-calling have revealed a flaw that, in my opinion, ought to disqualify him for the highest office of the land.The Evangelical Case Against Donald Trump, By U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, Christian Post, February 29, 2016
And three years later we see the same thing…
Donald Trump’s affect, speech patterns and overall delivery this week have been alternately horrifying and hilarious. A combination of waking hallucinations, verbal tics, lies surpassing even his usual fabulist standard, aphasias and lunatic blurtings, each public utterance was a moment where the eye of his aides either popped or rolled, depending on their level of cynicism.The great crackup: Trump is coming even more undone, By RICK WILSON, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, August 24, 2019
It has affected Americans, no doubt. Is he a cult leader in the making?
I think you have to look at the effect of Trump’s behavior and language on his base. He readily ridicules and chastises people. He readily pushes people aside if they’re not worshipping him. We’ve all seen the videos of his aides praising him to high heaven. That’s the kind of adulation cult leaders expect and demand.A CULT EXPERT FINDS FAMILIAR PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR IN TRUMP’S GOP, By TOM JACOBS, Pacific Standard, June 21, 2018
A warning to my Republican friends: The worst is yet to come. Thanks to the work of Robert Mueller — a distinguished public servant, not the leader of a “group of Angry Democrat Thugs” — we are going to discover deeper and deeper layers to Mr. Trump’s corruption. When we do, I expect Mr. Trump will unravel further as he feels more cornered, more desperate, more enraged; his behavior will become ever more erratic, disordered and crazed.The Full-Spectrum Corruption of Donald Trump, By Peter Wehner, New York Times, August 25, 2018
For Donald is the same…
The only surprise is that so many people are still surprised when Trump acts like Trump. They better get used to it.
In fact, my prediction is that the Trump of 2019 is going to be far more feisty and disruptive than the one we have seen in his first two years in the Oval Office.Don’t expect Trump to stop being Trump in 2019, By Michael Goodwin, New York Post, December 22, 2018
And you should expect a stress toll to roll on the American people…
The constant exposure to Trump’s rhetoric and governance carries its own measurable toll. Surveys by the American Psychiatric Society (APS), Politico reported last fall, have found a marked increase in stress and anxiety among respondents with regard to the future in recent years. One poll taken shortly after Trump became president found that nearly six in ten Americans thought 2017 was the lowest point in living American memory, surpassing the Vietnam War and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats said they were stressed about the nation’s future, a view shared by clear majorities of Republicans and independents as well.Trump’s Tax on the National Psyche, By MATT FORD, New Republic, August 21, 2019
So… Paul showed us that Wehner may be on to something…
Democracy requires that we honor the culture of words. The very idea of democracy is based on the hope that fellow citizens can reason together and find a system for adjudicating differences and solving problems—all of which assumes there is a shared commitment to the integrity of our public words. If you believe words can ennoble, you must also believe they can debase. If they can elevate the human spirit, they can also pull it down. And when words are weaponized by our political leaders and used to paint all opponents as inherently evil, stupid, or weak, then democracy’s foundations are put in peril. Which brings us to the dismal, demoralizing Donald Trump era.
The debasement of words has reached a zenith with the coming of America’s 45th president, who dominates discourse in this country in ways perhaps no other president ever has. And if we hope to repair the damage that’s been done, we need to understand what it is about Trump’s misuse of words that is pernicious and dangerous.Trump’s Sinister Assault on Truth, By Peter Wehner, The Atlantic, June 18, 2019
So, what if your God is giving America over in judgment — and he chose Donald Trump to accelerate even more the divisions in America?
When great nations topple, it’s usually because they’re rotting from within, with one set of their residents pitted against another. Trump’s chief contribution has been to accelerate America’s rot by demonizing a large portion of the nation’s citizenry. His deep-seated racism has resonated with many anxious, provincial whites and set the stage for the rise we’ve seen in hate crimes. His fragile narcissism — deeming anyone, dead (John McCain) or alive, who fails to extol him to be an enemy worthy of destruction — has poisoned an already vituperative public discourse.So Trump didn’t collude — he’s still the most dangerous president in U.S. history, By HAROLD MEYERSON, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2019
Peggy Noonan always has something interesting to say…
The Trump Wars of the past 18 months do not now go away. Now it becomes the Trump Civil War, every day, with Democrats trying to get rid of him and half the country pushing back. To reduce it to the essentials: As long as Mr. Trump’s party holds the House, it will be a standoff. If the Democrats take the House, they will move to oust him.
Because we are divided. We are two nations, maybe more.President Trump Declares Independence, By Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2017
Peggy doesn’t speak lightly. You are divided. Two nations, at least. Are you sure you want to keep up your love affair with Trump? It’s already ugly, and likely to get uglier…
The Trump forces will strike with a great pent-up anger, and the left will never let go.
Both sides will be intensely human. And inhuman. Because the past few years the character of our political divisions has changed, and this must be noted again. People are proud of their bitterness now. Old America used to accept our splits as part of the price of being us—numerous, varied, ornery. Current America, with its moderating institutions (churches) going down and its dividing institutions (the internet) rising, sees our polarization not as something to be healed but a reason for being, something to get up for. There’s a finality to it, a war-to-the-death quality.The Two Americas Have Grown Much Fiercer, By Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2019
We are so impressed with this Peter Wehner, and just take in here how prophetic these words were, spoken way back in June of 2016…
For Clinton, the argument will be that Trump embodies everything you fear; for Trump, the argument is that Clinton embodies everything you hate.
That is what the narrative of this race will be – the avatar of what frightens you versus the avatar of what disgusts you. And it’s only just begun. By the time it’s over, our political culture will be more poisoned than you or I have ever witnessed, the disgust with politics greater than we have ever seen.What You Fear vs. What You Hate, Peter Wehner, Commentary, JUNE 3, 2016
But this disgust transcends Trump…
What’s more, the desire for a dramatic explosion of the Trump presidency at times seems to blend into a desire for the dramatic blowup of the American political system altogether, a sense that we need some apocalyptic event that will wipe the slate clean and revitalize our democracy in one big revolutionary motion. It’s no accident that the rise of Trump has coincided with fearful but titillated worries about coups d’état, collapses into tyranny, and even a second American civil war or secession. These concerns are partially specific to Trump. Butthey reflect worriesthattranscend him too.
The reality is that Trump’s removal or resignation from office, while desirable, would not do much to change the trajectory of America’s political institutions. And the mounting desire for something cataclysmic that could change their trajectory strikes me as dangerous.The myth of an ending: why even removing Trump from office won’t save American democracy, By Dylan Matthews, Vox, April 23, 2018
Something cataclysmic? Are you desiring such an unfolding of events?
Let us know what you want.