My Turn: The ideological civil war


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Autocratic governments of all stripes collectively defend the claim that world instability is only controlled by strong one party rule or else chaos will descend. That’s the convenient explanation. It’s winner-take-all at any price in order to cement a regime that can withstand attack, control information on its behalf and the flow and direction of money. Kleptocracy is the accepted model for enriching loyalists and oligarchs who benefit from this arrangement. Tie up the money but watch the freedoms tumble. Rewrite the constitution to create immunity from prosecution. Ignore the cries of the people.

What will it take for citizens of the United States to come to the realization that their dreams are under attack by an administration that holds no currency in constitutional constraints. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent bulletin painted a bleak picture of what we’re facing. Few organizations have been as articulate at illustrating the motives and backgrounds of the key players in the Trump administration. They highlighted a gang of eight in the administration, all of whom advocate racial profiling and articulate the philosophy of the Alt-Right. That’s what is currently running the White House, contrary to any air brushed propaganda. These of course include Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Stephen Miller, Sabastian Gorka, Kelly Ann Conway, Michael Anton, Julie Kirchner, and Julia Hahn, many ex-Breitbart alumni, all proponents of white supremacy. To them, the Judeo-Christian world is in crisis. The white, Anglo-Saxon world is threatened by mongrelization due to the influx of non-white populations.

The goal is to curtail rights, legal protections for minorities, voting rights and access, and fealty such as Trump’s claim that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is responsible to him, when in fact the Justice Department is independent from the presidency. This is only the surface. The battle being waged as I write this is over how to keep Trump from eviscerating government positions, thereby eliminating avenues of opposition to basically one party rule. Democracy itself is being subverted under the guise of presidential powers. It’s Trump’s idea that government is run by the man at the top who owns the business. What can he get away with while whining continually about how the press is “fake news” “dishonest this or that.” Always the victim, never the perpetrator. It’s a mind-set driven by a pathology. Psychologists have labeled him No. 301.81 in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM — Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read it online.

Their world view is that America is under attack by immigrants who “don’t share our values.” Thus the falsely exaggerated numbers attributed to voting violations, violence, and all manner of law infractions. Oh yes, and there are “hundreds of jihadists” here threatening our very existence.

The assumption is that these folks don’t share our values. So what are our values? We know, however, that these new citizens are fleeing extremism and longing for the quality of life and freedoms that we supposedly represent. But dog whistles get more attention. Hyperbole gets more attention in a new era when alternative facts become just as credible. Air-brushed Jared Kushner finally appears, smooth and silky, flatly denying his meeting with Russians had any collusion attached. Bah! An edifice of lies, brick by brick, cannot protect this administration indefinitely.

How could anyone in Congress defend the health care bill as anything but a pure scam? Yet they dido! It’s been approved for reconciliation in the House. John McCain affords a weak criticism of the bill on his grand return, we’re facing the real possibility of losing coverage for 22 million people, and 51 senators just turn their backs. Its simply OK to lie about what the bill will do. The schism is the belief that health care is a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

After we’ve heard enough lies, we lose sight of the truth. People just sit, or stand at rallies, like the Boy Scout rally, and cheer, a generation just becoming aware of the tenets of freedom and inclusion. A total outrage. This is not American democracy in any form but the slavish, Pavlovian response by a body paralyzed by mendacity, self-service, capitulation, and money. Yes, this is all about money.

Watch the dominoes fall. Spicer collapsed, Sessions looks like the next victim though he wants to stay on despite Trump’s vitriol, and of course the grand coup d’etat, getting rid of Mueller and the special investigation. Operative shill Anthony Scaramucci is brought in from the bullpen to coordinate the disinformation campaign and now he’s gone, too. “Trial By Error” should be the Gilbert and Sullivan satire on this administration. But satire won’t save us. Only we can save ourselves. How many lights need to be lit to see how perilous our national condition is? Get out the bailing buckets and take to the streets. The flood of hypocrisy and pure kakistrocracy (rule by the least qualified, most unscrupulous) is a storm we have to weather. Each day’s revelations of Russian/U.S. collusion in the election, of a congress paralyzed in the legislative trap they set for themselves present serious, no very dangerous threats to health, U.S. democracy and world peace. A spade is a spade. There’s no hearts in this hand.

A playwright, Harris has been a well-known chef for 40 years in Franklin County. He lives in Shelburne Falls.