Today is my 78th birthday, a day that brings great sadness as I consider all that has happened during my 77th year, but it also brings great hope, as I consider what can be in the year ahead.
I have spent this past year, like the two before, writing in this space about the tragic presidency of Donald Trump. It has been a mission that I have been unable to forgo, although it has alienated some friends and even members of my own family.
Yes, perhaps I have been a bit obsessed, bringing to you, my readers, more than 1,300 blogs -- pieces of commentary -- largely focused on the actions of this president and his supporters, both those in public office and those who have been duped into his cult. I've been joined in this mission by several outstanding writers whose work you have seen in this space and whose words you have read.
Obsessed? Besides those blogs I've now done roughly 240 podcasts, several videos, and with co-author Chris Waldron, even put much of this material into a two-volume book, Hijacked Nation. Another is in the works. Perhaps that is being obsessed; some would even call it a bit over the top.
I've thought about that. Why am I spending my retirement years doing this? Why do I spend so much time, energy, and yes, money, on this mission? Why don't I just take my kayak to the river, float around, soak in the sun, and do a little fishing while steering clear of the alligators?
I could do that, and perhaps in the coming year, I will.
Because then this would-be dictator, this tyrant who just tried to overturn our election and who fomented an attack against the seat of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol, will be gone from the White House, having been evicted by the voters.
He has disgraced himself far beyond what even I thought he could. And those who have stood by him in Congress -- the likes of Sens. Cruz and Hawley and Rep. Jim Jordan and the other 100+ Republicans who tried to overturn the election -- eventually will be gone, consigned to the ash heap of history.
Perceptions & Choices
Today, my friend, Don Kohn, forwarded an email post he had received to me, which I reprint here:
Huge numbers of our population, good people on both sides, believe in a complete alternate reality. Alternate facts as it were. But just as intensely as I believe they are deluded, they think I am the one who is deluded. Am I?
How can I be confident in my perception?
I have found that in times of confusion, particularly when emotions are running high and creating tunnel vision, the presence of Nazis can be an extremely helpful indicator.
If I am attending a local demonstration or event and I see Nazis…neo-Nazis, miscellaneous-Nazis or the latest-whatever-uber-mythology-Nazis, I figure out which side they are on. If they are on my side of the demonstration? I am on the wrong side. It is tough to argue moral equivalence when I am standing next to a Nazi.
Look to my right. Is there a guy wearing a 6MWE (6 million wasn’t enough) t-shirt? I am on the wrong side. Look to my left. If that guy is wearing a Camp Auschwitz t-shirt? Wrong side. Speakers referring to things Hitler got right? Wrong side.
Team-spirit face paint and hat with horns? This is an unclear indicator that could mean anything but safest to keep my distance from that guy even at a football game.
But I can always, always, always, rely on the presence of Nazis as a guiding light through a fog of disinformation. Some things are relative, but evil and good are absolute.
The Trump Awakening
How can it be that in this country in which our cherished Constitution guarantees freedom and equality for all that such events can happen? Have we not learned the lessons of history?
The answer lies in the fact that latent hate and prejudices have been awakened by the despicable charlatan who was elected in 2016 with his promise to "drain the swamp" and turn our government upside down; to put America first in all things. To Make America Great Again.
With that messaging he rekindled the hate and fear and racism that had been festering among so many people. He spoke to the dark hearts of the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis. With his lies and demagoguery, he attracted the support of the fanatical religious right. With his phony claims of business acumen, he blinded those who believed his lies -- despite his business failures, his bankruptcies. He blustered and bragged on Twitter, filling it with false promises, false hopes, lies, and hate, and he refused to stop. Until Twitter this week shut him down.
As though he knew he would be defeated months ago, he began preparing his counterattack. The election would be rigged. Voting by mail would result in unmitigated fraud. He sabotaged the Postal Service hoping to prevent such voting. But in the end it was the millions of Democrats, understanding the threat of the coronavirus, who either mailed their ballots or voted early. They, along with Black voters who were fed up, proved to be his undoing.
And then, when it became clear that the election was lost, he fomented a riot that so far has resulted in six deaths, including two police officers and other victims who believed his falsehoods, who were so incited by his appeal to "fight" that they ended up losing their own lives.
The threats continue. What will happen in the coming days before inauguration, and in the days thereafter? What violence will be wrought when Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives, perhaps as soon as tomorrow? What will happen when the Senate holds its trial?
The hate will continue and the dangers it brings still exist.
But my 78th year will go beyond all of that. The vaccines are here, and, in fact, I hope to get mine this week. In the months to come, assuming the vaccines are as effective as promised, our nation will return to some semblance of normalcy. We can thank science for that.
Our new president, Joe Biden, and his sidekick, Vice President Kamala Harris, will be in charge, moving forward, focused on restoring the goodness of our country and overturning many of the hateful and harmful actions that Trump undertook over his disastrous presidency.
That is my hope; indeed, that is my expectation.
And, in my 78th year, I intend to continue with this commentary along the way.
Nope. Just can't help myself.