Two simple words that comprise one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. Once the psyche enters a “what if” wormhole it may be lost for hours, occupied in an endless maze of regrets and gratitudes. What if I had been there…What if i hadn’t quit…What if those chads didn’t hang…What if she had said yes…What if I spoke up…
The one thing I learned in Hebrew School was “never forget,” and I haven’t. We know what happens when a citizenry turns a blind eye to the everyday horrors unfolding around them. When a deluge of carefully orchestrated propaganda, false equivalents, sound bites and alternative facts enable a fearful and threatened demographic to perform acrobatic feats of cognitive dissonance to normalize, what in other times would be considered irrational actions. I will not suffer that fate. There is too much to lose. The only way to preserve the dreams of the future is to heed the lessons of the past.
Donald Trump is far from an original. The recent past alone provides a litany of would be authoritarians who proved capable of hijacking democratic institutions to slowly consolidate power. That Trump is the first to so blatantly do so from the Oval Office hardly makes him unique in his technique.
He seeks to divide the citizens of this country along racial, socioeconomic and political lines in order to deflect from his own scandals and advance the agenda and interests of a select few. He uses his bully pulpit to marginalize, belittle, conflate, delegitimize and, if necessary, squash dissent and opposition. Doing so allows him to continue presenting alternative facts, only now without the alternatives. Lies then become truth, and perception reality.
Though his tactics are tried and true the danger posed is no less real. Donald Trump and his merry bannon of deplorables pose a clear and present danger to the experiment in individual freedoms our founding fathers set in motion generations ago. He makes no secret of his intent; his desire to deconstruct and eliminate outdated democratic institutions. He seeks to rip the very fabric of America’s soul from its identity, to dim the light that serves as a beacon of hope and freedom to the poor, disenfranchised and oppressed who suffer across the globe.
The right to a free and independent press, the right of assembly, the right to be free from religious persecution, the necessity of checks and balances with three equal, though often inept, branches of government. These essential ideals are all under attack. The yuge majority of Americans realize that we are the great melting pot. That diversity IS the American identity and what has always made us great. We can’t change that anymore than a tiger can change its stripes. A list of all the great contributions immigrants and refugees have made to this country would dwarf a list of their misdeeds a million times over. Yet that is what appears to be at stake.
To those who continue to support our so called President, understand this. All you are doing is identifying yourself as a dinosaur. Painting a scarlet letter on your sleeve that your way of thinking and very belief system will soon be relegated to the history books. Think carefully about your next move.
The pathway to perdition is paved in ignorance. Do not suffer that fate. Do not remain passive. Future generations need not wonder where you stood when our leaders decided to play Russian roulette with our democracy. Do not be left to wonder what if…