by Lawrence J. Fedewa (June 23,2018)
The most striking feature of American politics today may well be the completely different perceptions held by various groups of what “facts” each considers to be truth. It’s like they are living in different worlds. While there are some cynical “realists” who knowingly fashion “fake news”, many partisans sincerely believe their views to be correct. So much so that they feel moral indignation and outrage at the other side.
At the root of these reactions is fear. All are afraid, in varying degrees, that their way of life is threatened by the other actors on the political stage. It is fear which drives people to irrational conclusions and closes their ears and minds to dialog with those who disagree with them. When logic is thrown out the window, all that remains is instinct. Imagination can be formed by logic, but fear obscures all but the most dangerous fantasies.
There are many variations, but the most prominent division seems to be between the Right and the Left. And the central figure of both is the forty-fifth President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The Left sees Mr. Trump as an extraordinary villain. To them, he is the incarnation of all the evils they fear the most. They think that he is an evil person, who is the ultimate opportunist, whose “truth” can change from minute to minute, whose motivation to seek the presidency was unabridged narcissism, and whose personal moral code is sexist, racist, greedy, and bullying. No matter what he says or does, these “never-Trumpers” will never see any good or praiseworthy actions from this man. This denial of his value and accomplishments permeates not only their perception of his personal character and talents, but also his policies.
The foundation of this paranoia is twofold: 1) Trump represents a victory over everything the Left thought they had gained during the Obama years, and 2) his manner and appearance seem to authenticate this stereotype.
The Left, of course, is composed of a variety of groups, ideas, and levels of intensity. What many have in common, however, is an inherent belief in The Secular City, as proclaimed by Harvey Cox in 1965 (see Amazon Books)).
Secularism has taken on a quasi-formal list of “dogmas” as developed and articulated by President Barack Obama. The most prominent dogma of the Left has become “diversity”. “Diversity” no longer describes the composition of a group of people, an institution or a nation. “Diversity”, as used by the Left, has become a GOAL. It applies to all people, in all respects, that is, all have equal rights to uniformly standard acceptance, including diversity of gender, sexual orientation, voting, language, citizenship, customs, calendars (holy days, etc.), and – in the most extreme theories – money.
The Left believed that they had firmly established their values as normative in the USA. Their champion in the last election was Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, though somewhat tarnished, nevertheless was infinitely preferable to the Republican, Donald Trump. This assessment was the “temporary” dogma of the Left throughout 2016, since to them Trump’s election was unthinkable – and indeed , few did think of it.
The Trump victory was therefore catastrophic for the Left. Not only was their candidate (marginally) rejected, but much more importantly, so was their secular agenda. A totally new and wholly unexpected “tribe” emerged to vote by the millions for a crude candidate, who advocated all the policies and values which the secularists had rejected long ago. It was this factor which inspired the irrational fear which has captured the Left of 2018. Hillary is long forgotten now. What they are facing today is an America which they had believed with every fiber of their being had been defeated decisively with the election and, more importantly, the re-election of Barack Obama.
There is an element of the Left which believes that America is not the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Rather it is a country founded by racists, who funded their economy with slavery, and which has risen to world power using the same moral code as the founders. Obviously, therefore, its government and laws are morally corrupt and illegitimate. Seen in this light, many of the Obama era actions and trends take on a more ominous interpretation.
In practice, the triumph of Left means the defeat of the Constitution, of the peaceful transition of power, of white male dominance in American institutions, of Christianity as the dominant religion of the United States, of capitalism as the dominant economic system, of America’s belief in its military, economic and moral superiority as a world power, plus no more threats to US open borders, leading to the end of the traditional Republican Party.
The additional 2016 electoral triumph giving the Republicans control of both Houses of Congress removed any doubt about which values still dominate America – to the horror of the true believers on the Left. (This is not say that some of their ideas are not worth discussion.)
The Democrats in Congress, being the more pragmatic members of the Left, decided to appease their constituents by refusing to vote for anything advocated by the new President and exercised a unanimous opposition never before seen in American history. They also decided to ally themselves with the Obama administration’s conspiracy already underway to produce actionable evidence for impeachment of the new President. Their fervent hope at this juncture is that they will win control of both Houses of Congress in the coming mid-term elections. They are committed to repudiating everything this President does and stands for.
The fears of the Right are founded in the possibility that that the Left will succeed again in its takeover of the federal government. There are many reasons for this fear, centered on the emphatic drift of the Democrat Party to secular socialism and their alliance with the “deep state” bureaucracy. They have already been aided by the ambivalence of some Republican members of Congress, who accept the tenets of the coalition which ruled the nation for fifty years, especially in the areas of foreign policy and national debt.
It is clearly a clash of alternative realities, and neither side is prone to compromise. The space for productive dialog shrinks with every passing day. If indeed a “blue wave” of the electorate in 2018 puts the traditionalists on the defensive, the future of this Republic will become even more fraught with dissent than it is already.
It is, however, helpful to remember all the other critical times in American history that the United States of America has survived including riots, wars and attempted revolutions. We can survive this one too.
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