Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I go to bed tonight with a sense of foreboding for our country and the world and I cannot shake it. I feel darkness enveloping the United States as the President creates the dystopian world that he enunciated in his inaugural address. As I observe events on I am reminded of Barbara Tuchman’s description of Sir Edward Gray on the eve of the First World War, “Watching with his failing eyes, the lamps being lit in St. James Park, Grey was heard to remark that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them again in our lifetime.”
Today, Blacks, Jews and other minorities are being targeted and killed by Right Wing domestic terrorists including Police Officers. In Trump’s world a free press that reports the truth is the enemy of the people, bombs are being sent to political opponents that he has targeted in his Twitter storms. Hundreds of children have been forcibly taken from their parents and no one knows if they will ever be reunited. Military officers who tell the truth are persecuted, relieved from their posts and forced out of the service, by a draft dodger who derides military personal as “suckers and losers.” The President told members of illegal militias who in reality are nothing more that Right Wing Racist Terrorists to “Stand by” if he does not win the election. These are the same thugs how have killed in his name, murdered Blacks, Jews, and other racial or religious minorities, invaded the Capital Building of Michigan, threaten legislators, judges, civil rights leaders, and journalists with death, including the Governor of Michigan who they planned to kidnap Michigan’s Governor, and then try and execute her. Sadly, these are not isolated instances. The same groups have killed law enforcement officers, attacked churches, synagogues, and mosques, and routinely attempt to threaten and intimidate anyone that disagrees with them. I have been targeted on several occasions. But I will not back down against hate filled racist , amoral, and violent supporters of President Trump. They claim to be “pro-life” and “pro-freedom” when they blatantly threaten the lives and freedoms of their political opponents. Abraham Lincoln said:
I cannot shake the deep sense of foreboding I have regarding the country and the world as President Trump’s continues to attack the character of all that oppose him or simply want to ferret out the truth plethora of allegations concerning what appears to be treasonous activities by his closest advisers and his apparent attempts quashed with the acquiescence of a large number of Republican members of Congress. There is something very wrong going on and it almost feels that I can see the disaster unfolding before it happens.
Hannah Arendt wrote: “When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse.
She was right. We are seeing a populist appeal that is embracing evil and it is happening before our very eyes.
I am not the only one to notice, leading conservative writers, foreign policy experts, and constitutional scholars have pointed out the same things that I have been saying for over two years. I do try to be positive and to believe that things will work out for the best, but the more I observe the more my confidence in our leaders and for that purpose many of our people to do the right thing is diminished.
That being said I do not give in to the feelings of foreboding or intend give up without a fight. I want my country to live up to its ideals and I am concerned about the real world, our alliances, our environment, and especially the real threat to freedom posed by the unrestrained words and actions of our 45th President. He has proven that he has no regard for the Constitution, our laws, or simple human decency. With every tweet and remark he demonstrates that he believes that he is above the law. He demonstrates every trait of a sociopath incapable of empathy and capable of the greatest evil.
With every new day I become more convinced than ever that Mr. Trump will find a way to seize power absolute power and that he will get away with it. This may come in a Reichstag Fire moment where he, during a “national emergency” uses the powers given to the executive through standing Executive Orders, or legislated in the Patriot Act. Conversely he might do it with the help of his current GOP majority in Congress, even if it means that they doom themselves to irrelevance as a co-equal branch of government, and even if the GOP members of the House act as a lame duck body before the new Congress can be seated.
But even if that doesn’t happen, the poisonous and corrosive aspect of the President’s repeated lies, distortions, falsifications, and attacks on the Constitution, our laws, institutions, the free press, and individuals will doom us to years of conflict and strife even if he loses the election and is physically removed from the White House.
The President not only uses his spokespeople and twitter account to stoke fear and hatred, but he uses the pundits of Fox News to do so. As such Fox has become nothing more than Trump’s personal propaganda ministry indoctrinating millions of gullible and desperate people to do his bidding. Arendt wrote about such behavior and its effect on people:
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”
I believe in a particular universal ideal enunciated in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence that All men are created equal. Likewise I believe the words of the Constitution matter and that it is all of our obligation to labor to build “a more perfect union.” As such that I must continually stand for what is right, what is true, and what is enduring for that is the oath that I swore and have re-affirmed for over 37 years of military service.
I am more worried than ever about our democracy and I agree with Timothy Snyder who wrote:
“Democracy failed in Europe in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, and it is failing not only in much of Europe but in many parts of the world today. It is that history and experience that reveals to us the dark range of our possible futures. A nationalist will say that “it can’t happen here,” which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it.”
We Americans do not like to think that what has happened to so many other countries can happen here; and in fact I never used to believe that it could. I believed that our system of checks and balances and the nature of our institutions could weather any threat. Today I question if they will hold. I agree with Russian exile and Chess Grand Master Gary Kasparov who wrote:
“First of all, people here should understand that nothing is for granted. There were many warnings in the past, you know, but every time, Americans and Europeans—they believe that it’s like bad weather. It comes and goes. But the danger is real. I always want to quote Ronald Reagan, who said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Now, probably, it’s not even one generation. Things can happen very quickly, because there’s so much power that comes in the hands of people who have very little affection for the values that make up the core of liberal democracy and the free world.”
Because of that I believe that we must stand for principle and work for a new birth of freedom even as it seems that freedom itself is in danger due to the actions of the American President. We must stand or we will lose everything that generations of Americans as well as others have fought so hard to preserve, but it is difficult. As Max Boot wrote back in March of 2018:
“Trump is sucking a substantial portion of America into his Orwellian universe. The rest of us have to struggle simply to remember that war isn’t peace, freedom isn’t slavery, ignorance isn’t strength.”
The election that will decide the fate of our Constitutional Republic itself is at stake. Will we vote to establish the personal dictatorship of Donald Trump and his racist, fascist, and anti-democratic Party of thugs, or will we take a chance on freedom?
Timothy Snyder wrote:
“The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist, ‘although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,’ wrote Orwell, tends to be ‘uninterested in what happens in the real world.’ Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism ‘has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.’ A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.”
So I ask, are you a Nationalist or a Patriot? There is a big difference. Nationalism ends up in Genocide and the destruction of the nation. Patriotism might result in martyrdom, but ends in freedom. The fact is that one has to actually think about the consequences of his or her vote and what it means in the long term. Timothy Snyder wrote:
“The hero of a David Lodge novel says that you don’t know, when you make love for the last time, that you are making love for the last time. Voting is like that. Some of the Germans who voted for the Nazi Party in 1932 no doubt understood that this might be the last meaningfully free election for some time, but most did not. Some of the Czechs and Slovaks who voted for the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1946 probably realized that they were voting for the end of democracy, but most assumed they would have another chance. No doubt the Russians who voted in 1990 did not think that this would be the last free and fair election in their country’s history, which (thus far) it has been.
Your vote matters, and it might be the last meaningful vote you ever cast. If you have decided that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and it’s Amendments do not matter; that racism and the lives of Blacks and other minorities do not matter, and that the only rights that matter are those of the White Racist One percent who only benefit from their economic and political power.
11 responses to “The Lights are Going Out: The Orwellian Future if Trump Wins”
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With every new day I become more convinced than ever that Mr. Trump will find a way to seize power absolute power and that he will get away with it.
I concur Padre.
Great post, Steve. And a good reminder that a more perfect union is a work in progress and not an end point. a work that requires our support not for a populist leader, not against this or that, but for the principles and values of a liberal democracy… a system, as you know Churchill described, that is the worst one… except for all the others! That is the focal point of patriotism: a liberal democracy with emphasis on the liberal… meaning shared individual autonomy protected by law.
I think your fear is misplaced; having served like you, I have great confidence in our military to uphold their oaths. In Canada, where I hale from, all rights and freedoms do not derive from any person or government but from the Crown and it’s the military’s role to defend this source of political authority for any and all legislation on behalf of the entire polity. Should a usurper gain popular support that alters this equation, the military has no choice but to step in. I believe the same is true for my military family south of the border, to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign AND domestic. I am not finding any support from any branch of the US military for a political putsch… even from the dwindling number of Trump supporters/enablers in the ranks. And I have seen a withdrawal of senior officers from appearing in any way to support the Trump campaign. Quite the opposite.
So I have great confidence that without military support, Trumpitarians who seek to thwart the will of the people and claim the US election that favours Democrats to come into power is corrupt will be shown to be all bluster and no brawn.
Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
If he wins or if he successfully cheat!! … Couldn’t have said it any better … Look: “I cannot shake the deep sense of foreboding I have regarding the country and the world as President Trump’s continues to attack the character of all that oppose him or simply want to ferret out the truth plethora of allegations concerning what appears to be treasonous activities by his closest advisers and his apparent attempts quashed with the acquiescence of a large number of Republican members of Congress.”
Lincoln once said, “The sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon the definition of liberty.” What he meant by that is that the wolf wants to be free to devour sheep. The sheep want to be free from being devoured. The Bible is clear that, as Christians, we are supposed to side with the sheep. Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 that he came for the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed. In other words, people left behind and exploited. That being said, exploited folks can become wolves themselves, in fact, that is often likely, a natural l response for being oppressed. The government, church, and other institutions must be the shepherd, protecting the sheep from the wolves. The efforts to relieve the oppressed will pay off for everyone In the long run
Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
Hello Padre Steve. Thank you for a well thought out essay. Be well. Hugs
I totally agree, in this time of restrictions and shelter in place I’ve done a lot of history reading about Germany, Russia etc. Basically wondering how did it happen? Now to my horror I see how it all could have happened. Watching Trump’s rallies and the looks of admiration/adoration on his followers as he tells monumental lies about the pandemic, opponents, climate change ( hello Louisiana), it makes me wonder if these folk even care about truth at all. Yesterday on Fox I watched Don Jr. say deaths are almost zero. What? As a retired Registered Nurse I try to set my relatives straight when they talk about Covid and say things like“ oh this isn’t that bad, they’re overblowing it” “ this isn’t that big a deal” or my favorite” someone’s making money off this”. Yup they actually say that. Which brings me back to that stupid comment Trump said about the people at Charlottesville about “good people on both sides”. I have come to my regret to question if he actually was right. Before I get trolled let me explain. Not everyone in Germany in the 1930’s was a lying heartless psychotic sociopath. I read that Hitler never got a majority but he got just enough ( high 40’s) to take over. And people voted for his party because they liked what he said, and did, Make Germany Great, create jobs. My brother just got back from a vacation in Turkey and he said that people told him they don’t like Erdoguan but they like the health care he implemented. Like they can’t have freedom/liberty and health care? I’m sure some psychologist can explain the acceptance of lies, alternate reality/ facts that happens at Trump rallies. I’ll have to look that up. Or watch Jo Jo Rabbit again..
Have discovered though experience that most church goers are republicans or trumpettes. The churches are a big part of the problem. There is something in common in the mental makeup of pew sitters and trumpettes. I find that strange and very confusing as church people have access to the new testament. New testament and trump – miles apart, complete opposites. I see what Jesus meant when he said the path is narrow. Maybe they are honestly blinded. If I do not watch the news, I do better. It is scary. We will know shortly. Even if Biden wins, it will be a long time before the fear goes away because the crazies are still among us. Religion is bad. Always has been. Trusting Christ is different. ajc
Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
Padre Steve begins this post with: “I go to bed tonight with a sense of foreboding for our country and the world and I cannot shake it.” I think many of us can relate — I know I certainly can. Please take a few minutes to read Padre’s words — words based on history. Thank you, Padre, for putting into words what so many of us are feeling.
Hello Padre Steve. Writing from ‘Across the Pond’ in the UK and also in the broader scope Europe.
These are indeed the times which to paraphrase ‘test people’s souls’. For there often come times in a nation’s life when the very fabrics of its structures are tested. The last time the USA witnessed this was the Civil War, which since it was a regional conflict and the victors were willing to sacrifice a portion of the population to segregation and institutionalised violence was eventually navigated.
This crisis has been building since the end of the Vietnam War when a segment of the population began looked for scapegoats and conspiracies to give reason to the defeat. This in turn was heightened by 9/11 and the resulting increase in the twin scourges of Conspiracy Theories and Racial Hatred. Then for that one section of the population nightmares of nightmares ‘One of Those People’ became president.
Since then The Right’s Fevered Pitch has accelerated to the extent it sees foes in every liberal, any group which espouses a tolerant outlook, anyone who tries to reign in the separation of Communities and will vote in anything which is not a Democrat. The aggression is a diluted version of post WWI Germany, and they are blinded to this fact.
You are quite correct to identify the opposition to Trump as the True Patriots and his supporters as mere Nationalists, for at no stage has Trump made any attempt to untie The USA, in this he is displaying qualities of a treachery to the USA as it stands.
And now The USA has have many nations before stands at those proverbial crossroads. One set have already been passed, the ones which could have led to Consensus. It remains to be seen if the next choice leads to a long, heavy road back that first and that city on a Hill, Consensus.
I have witnessed and read many posts and responses by folk fearing Trump will try and seize control of The Nation by one means or another. I have to admit, he is the bumbling vainglorious stupid sort to try this kind of thing and rally his ‘own’. However since the fool has insulted The Armed Forces, blamed every arm of Government for his own failure he does not have that which is important to any such move….The Loyalty of the Security and Armed Forces and these are the final arbiters in such a nightmare situation. To ponder on this the UK faced this in the years prior to WWI over ‘The Irish Question’; Hitler would have never reached where he did with the tacit approval of the German military. In the world of Realpolitik it is a vital piece.
That said, he could try and the next crossroads would be passed, leading onto a very dangerous road, the consequences to do bear thinking about. Then the best case scenario would be the gradual legalistic civil separation of states, cities and even regions from Washington. Naturally outside powers would naturally intervene by politics and commerce, that’s ‘a given’.
The hope now is for a massive vote against Trump, not so much to throw the rascal out but to demonstrate to his supporters they are in a minority and they can’t argue their way out of it. Even then the road will be rocky and whereas I wish Biden will, he will need to hand to torch over to a very hard-nosed, successor dedicated to the UNITED States of America concept, and would tolerate no one standing in their way; something of a mix of FDR, JFK, LBJ Nixon and Regan (without the demons of the third and fourth).
I wish you all well
PadreSteve, quite simpy there is a huge difference between can Trump win and should he win? He is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.
If he does win, we better buckle up for we are destined for a bumpy ride. The EU will go it more alone and the president will be increasingly ignored as he lessens the US standing. The tariffs will harm our farmers even more as other countries use other suppliers. He will not be able to corral COVID-19 as he does not even try and if the ACA is repealed, it will have a recessive impact on the economy and people will get hurt.
He will try to become more king-like, but he will be unable to control the messes he made. At some point, he will wish he had not won.
America is better than this corrupt person. I hope enough realize that and vote him out (and hope he doesn’t continue to assail the process or cheat further). Keith