If you’re not yet fretting about our nation’s fate, and racking your brains for every possible thing you can do about it, it’s time to start.
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“And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made…”
— Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence” (1964)
Merry Christmas to all, including Crooked Joe Biden’s ONLY HOPE, Deranged Jack Smith…
Included also are World Leaders, both good and bad, but none of which are as evil and ‘sick’ as the THUGS we have inside our Country who, with their Open Borders, INFLATION, Afghanistan Surrender, Green New Scam, High Taxes, No Energy Independence, Woke Military, Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Iran, All Electric Car Lunacy, and so much more, are looking to destroy our once great USA. MAY THEY ROT IN HELL.
AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
That was the neon god’s Christmas homily, delivered to the faithful flock (and anyone within quoting/reposting distance) via Truth Social.
MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. Though it’s been said many times, many ways…, I’m pretty sure this breaks new ground. Into a tissue of smears and lies is woven the twisted vengeance of the Old Testament God on His worst day, invoking the New Testament concept of Hell to damn us all (yes, you too, unless I badly miss my guess) on the day traditionally reserved for celebrating peace, hope, forgiveness, love, and capitalism.
Any time traveler from before, say, 2015 would readily conclude that no American with so much as a decent bone cell in their body would or could vote for the spewer of that hateful bile (and so much more where that came from) to lead our country.
And yet tens of millions of Americans are telling pollsters they will vote for Donald Trump, enough to elect him to a terrifying second term or make the election close enough to spawn Stop the Steal 2.0 and a January 6 on steroids.
So we enter the pivotal, critical year 2024 under this immense, dark, angry, orange cloud. I can certainly understand why you’d just as soon not think about it. But if you’re not yet fretting about our nation’s fate, and racking your brains for every possible thing you can do about it, my New Year’s message to you is that it’s time to start.
All legal fine points about the scope and applicability of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment aside, it should be clear that this burden, this challenge, this opportunity for our democracy to shine is and should be ours — We the People.
Shortcuts like removing Trump from the ballot and hopes that a criminal conviction will cripple him politically have an understandable appeal to the appalled. But only a convincing defeat at the ballot box, followed by just application of the rule of law to his cases, is likely to put an end to both Trump the would-be dictator and the real Trump Derangement Syndrome: the shockingly toxic effect he has had upon the psyches of formerly cooperative participants in our democracy — MAGA leaders and followers alike.
Some have speculated that vile spews like the one at top indicate that Trump is “losing it,” descending into a progressively more unhinged mental deterioration. Which may, alas, be the case. But I also think that is to miss the singular efficacy of the “MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” trope.
Not only is the contradiction itself disorienting — and, in a sense, disabling — it also leaves his opponents with an unhappy choice: either respond in kind (“NO, YOU ROT IN HELL!”), in which case Trump has you exactly where he wants you, having succeeded in turning politics itself into a vicious cage fight; or maintain your “dignity” (see, e.g., Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) response to Trump’s Christmas posts), in which case he’s the ever-alluring id to your staid and suffocating superego. If this is madness, there is plenty of method to it.
Of course, none of Trump’s revolting bag full of tricks would work if there were not real discontent out there to work with. The flickering promise of fairness to all died with Ronald Reagan and was buried by George W. Bush and a long series of Supreme Court decisions chopping away at everything from voting rights to corporate accountability to unions to environmental regulations, and most recently pursuing the culture wars with theocratic vigor.
By the time Trump came along, a screwed and disillusioned populace — or enough of it to win elections — was primed for the scapegoating, gauzy nostalgia, and firehose of lies from a gilded high-on-the-hogger posing as a man of and for the people. You know, the common folk — who, caught up in his hatefest, seemed, and seem still, not to notice that virtually every one of the policies he promotes shifts more wealth from them to his true clients at the top.
Anger and vengeance speak directly to the angry and vengeful, whose discontents Trump has so expertly stoked. So effective are his sneers and lies and putdowns that even a soaring economy — and a majority of individuals who say they are again doing well — can’t lift the sour, corrosive, resentful national mood.
Trump knows that that jaundice is his ticket and will pull out every stop to punch it. He appears to be succeeding in his brazen tactics of legal delay and is in little or no real danger from the 14th Amendment. Every effort to hold him to account seems to play straight into his demagogic hands.
This year is going to be hell on earth and we’re all going to rot in it right up until November 5, Election Day. Where we go after that will depend on what we do, individually and collectively, every single day of this new year.
One thing is certain: Silence is not going to cut it.
The consensus is that the presidential election is likely to come down to no more than 400,000 swing voters in a handful of battleground states (MI, WI, NC, NV, AZ, PA, and GA); control of the House and Senate to even fewer voters in a sprinkling of states and congressional districts.
We don’t, I submit, have the luxury of feel-good participation, donations, or votes. We don’t have the luxury of clinging tight to utopian wishlists, abstract ideals, or purity tests.
We’ve got to be tireless, ruthless, and smart. We must learn, soon — and WhoWhatWhy will offer all the ongoing guidance we can — where work and support are most needed, where it will and won’t bring bang for the proverbial buck.
And those of us who don’t want a snarling, smirking dictator-elect telling us next Christmas what we can do with ourselves and our democracy must focus all our effort, like the flame from a welder’s torch, where it will make the difference.
Jonathan D. Simon is a senior editor at WhoWhatWhy and author of CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy.