No Americans in their right minds in, say, 1980, or 1990, would have chosen for the American future where we as a nation find ourselves now—not just the pandemic, but in many vital ways.
For decades, the nation’s progress has mostly been blocked by the pathologies that have arisen in the American system of power.
And now these pathologies are endangering the very survival of American democracy, as we move toward an election in which the President of the United States has demonstrated his willingness to do whatever he can to maintain himself in power—publicly lying, cheating, abusing his powers, threatening to foment civil conflict, and questioning whether he’d cooperate in a peaceful transition of power if he loses.
And in recent weeks, President Trump has — quite brazenly – has turned the executive branch of the federal government into a weapon to serve his quest to hold onto power:
- Trump has put an apparently corrupt major Trump donor in charge of the U.S. Postal Service to disable the Postal system. (Because, polls show, most mail-in-voting will be from people voting for Trump’s opponent.)
- Another wholly unqualified Trump ally, placed into the Department of Health and Human Services, has pressured America’s previously outstanding public health organization — the CDC – to falsify its reports so that they will align better with this President’s lies (and fatal policies) regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. (Because Trump’s mishandling of it – leading to more than 200,000 Americans dead — is threatening the President’s re-election.)
- Trump finally got a Director of National Intelligence willing to break the law and sacrifice the national interest for Trump’s benefit, by refusing to provide the legally required briefing of Congress about the Russians’ meddling again in our American election to help Donald Trump win. (Because calling attention to how America’s major adversary in the world wants Trump to be our President – and is being allowed to commit crimes to help him win — would hurt Trump’s re-election chances.)
- (And let’s not even get started with how Trump’s Attorney General is abusing his powers in Trump’s service in one way after another, including going after Trump’s opponent in the election with what has repeatedly been shown to be just slander based on lies.)
And this assault on the integrity of our election is just a small piece of a much larger picture of blatant presidential misconduct: abuses of power, contempt for the Constitution, criminality, corruption, and betrayal of the nation.
All of it out in the open, right in front of everyone.
Yet, and here is the kicker: Despite that blatant picture of presidential sins being continuously committed at a level way deeper than liberal vs. conservative, 40% of the American people – the overwhelming majority of “conservative America” — supports this President.
There’s a craziness of one kind or another here.
- The craziness of being out of touch with reality, if Trump’s 40% really doesn’t know what Donald Trump is and what he’s doing.
- The craziness of being possessed by their devils, if they are really giving priority to their darkest passions — an insistence on fighting and making their “enemies” suffer.
- The craziness of a complete contradiction between their claims about their political and religious values and their actual conduct in the political world.
America’s long-term political health will require bringing as many as possible of that 40% back to greater political sanity —whatever combination that may be of
- being able to see what is plainly true, and not buy into blatant lies; and
- putting their constructive desires –not their most destructive passions — in control of their political lives; and
- bringing their political conduct into alignment with the values they espouse (like patriotism, the Constitution and the rule of law, and Judeo-Christian ethics).
So, America’s best-case scenario only begins with having a free and fair election that transfers the powers of the Presidency to someone other than Donald Trump. That turn away from the path of dictatorship must then become a turning point toward the repairing of America.
Not just the obvious repairs (national leadership that finally brings the pandemic under control, and takes the actions necessary to revive and rebuild an economy the pandemic has put on the ropes).
But also repairing other profound kinds of damage:
- Restoring the integrity, norms, and spirit of public service to the executive branch of our government;
- Compelling the Republican Party to become a cooperative contributor to accomplishing what’s good for the nation.
- And, as important as any of it, healing that craziness, restoring those 40% to “the better angels of their nature.”
That is a long-term task for the whole society. So it’s imperative the sane part of America understands the need to devote creative attention to how, over time, that restoration can best be achieved.
If craziness goes unhealed, darkness will continue to dog the American future.