22 November

One Man’s Truth: Give Thanks. Election Update. We Have New American Heroes and Patriots

by Jon Katz

“The Duty Of A True Patriot Is To Protect His Country From Its Government.”  – Thomas Paine.

The roller coaster ride continues, but take some comfort from this. In just about eight weeks, Donald Trump will be gone, and we will have a new president to try and mop up some of the damage.

We owe this victory to the millions of people who voted for it, and to the New American Heroes from all sides of the spectrum who protected and honored their truth and our freedom.

Finally, labels meant nothing when compared to our democracy. It’s about time.

This week, I give thanks for the truth-tellers, our new and mostly faceless American heroes and patriots who have valued country over party and tweet and quite literally saved our democracy from what is perhaps the greatest challenge in its history.

The Founding Fathers never imagined a Donald Trump, a disturbed, ruthless and seditious leader who put himself and his well-being over every principle that has guided this imperfect Republic since it was founded.

Thousands upon thousands of Americas are dying hard deaths all over the country, and the Presidente and his party will neither help them nor even acknowledge them.

Trump may not believe it, but I do: He and his slavering millions will pay a high price for their treachery.

Patriotism means to stand by the country,” said Theodore Roosevelt. ” It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

There are few provisions to deal with a sociopathic menace like Donald Trump in the White House, especially in the face of the profile in cowardice that has become the Republican Party.

They seem determined to show they won’t or can’t govern. They can’t condemn the awful specter of a President seeking to use the power of the government to steal an election. They won’t co-operate or unify. They won’t negotiate or compromise.

Like Trump himself, they are showing more and more people that they are the problem, not the solution. Perhaps he is finally reading his first book, the quotes of Franz Kafka, the sociopath’s friend: “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

I thought of Trump when I read another of Kafka’s quotes: “I am free and that is why I am lost.”

All over the country, poll counters, clerks,  Republican judges, a handful of courageous Senators, secretaries of state, and governors have stood up for us – all of us – and protected the sanctity of the vote.

I have taken two major positions since I started writing about politics a few months ago. One was that Joe Biden would win the election, the other was that Donald Trump would leave office on January 20, as the Constitution dictates.

Both are, in my mind, solid as a boulder.

In the end, he will continue to disrupt, undermine, enrage and provoke the two-thirds of the world he perceives to be his enemies, which includes me and just about every other person reading this column.

I accept that. Donald Trump is a sick man, and he cannot handle losing or rejection. Neither is he sane enough or competent enough to do anything about it.

It’s like having a sick uncle in the house who is angry and suffering from dementia. Eventually, he will have to leave for better care.

President-elect Biden is moving on, and so will I.

I am signing up with a social services agency and labor group that helps get masks and protective equipment to nurses and aides who need them and help feed, drive, and comfort Covid-19 survivors when they get home even read to them.

As a therapy dog, Zinnia will come along if desired.

They are among the foremost victims of Trump’s treachery and cruelty, not me. Their government has failed them, but people are good and care.

This week, I want to be grateful for the New American Heroes, the new Patriots who stuck their necks out for the democracy we all enjoy.

I give thanks also to the Evangelical Christian Nationalists and the millions of Trump supporters who know not what they do, but act out of conscience and duty, just as I try to do.

It’s hard to see it sometimes, but they are our brothers and sisters; they see themselves just as noble as we see ourselves, and they resent us just as much as we have resented them.

In a sense, this awful conflict has brought many of them back together with many of us. Anyone who loves democracy now has their common cause and purpose.

In Matthew and the gospels, Jesus enters the Temple in Jerusalem and drives out the salesmen who “were selling and buying there,” trying to put a price tag and profit from worthiness, purity, and access to God.

Jesus dismantled this system of corruption by refusing to tolerate it in its present form and freeing the animals sold for sacrifice.

These temples of religion (substitute Congress, temples, churches, and mosques) were henceforth to become more personal, relational, embracing a spirit of love and compassion, not just a physical building.

Is Christ’s idea – that temples should be spiritual places of healing and empathy, not expensive towers celebrating money and power – really all that radical?

Christ wanted a kinder, gentler, and more empathic temple, just as many of us want a gentler, more empathic country. I wish I were a Christian watching when Christ shows up at the U.S. Capitol and starts phasing out the shysters and the salesmen.

When it comes to courage, there is always the choice – do we rush into the burning building or turn away and pretend to be blind.

Despite the consequences, the hero listens to an inner voice and honors what is true. It is not a matter of will; it comes from true knowledge, the province of the soul.

I was touched and inspired by the dilemma of Brad Raffensberger, Secretary of State Of Georgia, a life long Republican and a loyal supporter of President Trump who was continuously threatened and pressured to overturn the election.

Raffenserger was shocked and shaken when attacked by Donald Trump and Georgia’s two Republican Senate Candidates, who shamefully called for him to resign because he wouldn’t invalidate votes for Biden.

“I wish he could have won,” said Raffensberger in a poignant interview on CNN. “I certainly cast my vote for him, but the results are what the results are.”

Simple words, but they will echo through history. Raffensberger began the turnaround that denied Donald Trump his treason and dishonesty.

We tend to link heroism closely to acts of heroism in war and combat. But Raffensberger spoke to another kind of iconic American hero by simply standing fast and doing the right thing. It’s easy for progressives and liberals to be critical of Donald Trump, much harder for Raffensberger.

Sadly, he is loyal to a President and a party that does not share his beliefs or appreciate his integrity.

The Republican Party is in a terrible bind and is responding in just about the worst possible way. They had a good election, they won many statehouses and congressional seats.

But they have surrendered their right to speak out, so instead, deprive us of ours.

If Raffensberger typified one kind of her, the African -American women and men of Detroit and Atlanta and Philadelphia were another. They fought hard to push Donald Trump out of the office and succeeded. When Trump and his flunkies tried to away from them, they roared like a million lines and won the day.

Heroes to me. Not this time, they said, not this time.

In so standing in such blind support of Trump’s increasingly obvious effort at a coup d’etat, Republicans are risking snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Trump will be gone in a few weeks. Still, the many millions of black Americans and others who are increasingly outraged by President Trump’s behavior are organizing and learning how to vote, often in the face of so many restrictions and almost always, to suppress black votes.

This is a new and unpredictable ground.

The Republican Party is saying once more that they are only the party of angry and frightened – and white –  men and women. That is not the future of America; that is not where the country is heading, no matter how long it takes, or how many bumps there are in the road.

These cowering politicians may just be giving many Georgians many good reasons for voting against such cowardice and racism.

In our country, we were always taught to fear the dangers from the outside. Putin could have saved his trolls and money for better effect. Trump is doing his dirty work for him.

We may not be as great as we thought, but I think we are better than we thought in many ways.

The courage of heroes is the benefit of authenticity. Courage is available to all of us and its reward, fare more than respect and glory, or even victory is the opening of joy.

 

11 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jon; your words make me feel calmer and safer. I very much appreciate that anytime but most especially in this chaos.

  2. Jon, Trump is simply playing a game with his antics right now. He doesn’t care about getting re-elected so much as he doesn’t want to be in a position to face the lawyers in New York over his tax evasion mess. That’s what this is all about. As President, he’s immune to being legally charged, the moment he steps out of the White House, I’ll bet there will be lawyers lined up waiting for him because of his tax evasion. He doesn’t care about his followers, he’s just stirring up the pot to avoid being charged with back taxes. That’s my take on it anyway.
    Sandy Proudfoot

  3. I think you are far too generous to Trump supporters. One thing I consistently see in your political writings is the inability to understand the entrenched racism that is the underpinning of the conservative movement. Living in a very white area and being white yourself, you can’t see or feel what most minorities do right now. Overt racism is rising exponentially. Trump and his supporters and republican leaders are on the razors edge of violence. Their continued living in the social media silos like Parker, ensure that they will continue to inflame and incite each other to do violence.
    My wife and I have seen more overt racism in just the last few months than we have seen in our whole lives. While you can have your “safe zones”, minorities are denied this in this country. There are very few, if any, areas where a minority can feel calm and at peace. This is the reality of millions of your fellow citizens.
    It is not about calling these election officials “heroes” for doing the barest minimum of their job. They should be as up in arms as any rational, patriotic citizen. Instead, most are doing this against their nature, how else to explain the continued refusal of most republican figures to assert that Biden is the winner.
    Most are so petrified of offending the “base” that they will cravenly support Trump’s disgusting efforts to steal the election.
    We are in a very dangerous time.

    1. Thanks, Jason, I’ve written about racism, but I think it’s far too simplistic to dismiss 75 million people as racists and thus write off their often very legitimate grievances. I’ve acknowledged the racist element many times, I think there are many layers to white working-class anger and bitterness, racism is one but by no means the only one. If you spent any time in rural America, you would better understand it, you obviously haven’t.

      1. Hi Jon. I grew up in rural America, a small town of 4,500 in Eastern Colorado for 14 years and attended high school in Western Colorado in a town of about 5,000. I was also in law enforcement in a small town for three years, as well as currently living in a small town. I am intimately familiar with rural America in all its facets.
        Unfortunately, racism is a hallmark of rural America that I can see, as a minority, while you will be completely unaware of it most of the time. The following in the stores, not making eye-contact, harassment by police, mean looks, slow service (although that is often a part of rural America for anyone), redlining, etc., etc. That’s the insidiousness of racism; it’s often only apparent to those it affects. You yourself said that you had no clue, until George Floyd, what exactly people of color go through in this country.
        The people that have helped you with your life in Vermont, likely, would not jump to help me or my family. I say this from decades of experience in rural America.
        Whitewashing (no pun intended) of the core issue for so many Trump voters is a disservice to this country’s ideals. I would love to talk more about this if you would like. It is one of the most frustrating things for people of color right now. Even our allies (which I truly believe you are, as evidenced by all your great works), are completely clueless about our experience. This country is terrifying right now for people of color. We have a president trying to steal the election by disenfranchising minority voters and virtually no one in his party is even raising a mild objection.
        I think Occam’s razor comes into play here. When the leader of the movement, and many of his acolytes are spouting racist dog-whistles, or outright racism on an almost daily basis, then we should assume that their followers are fine with this, as they have proven time and again that they are. I truly believe that racism is the main issue. I would love to discuss it more as well. Thank you.

  4. Ive always felt throwing the salesmen and moneylenders out of the temple (the same moneylenders who were loaning money against the farmland in the region and foreclosing on them — just like 2008) was due to the disgust at contaminating the good (aka god) as represented by the temple.
    ____
    I think after Biden is firmly in the Oval Office we should have Raffensberger Celebration Days. Maybe wait until Netflix’s movie of this humble hero. Maybe this horrible unraveling and slow revealing of what we’ve got to lose will trigger a joyous American renewal. Hope so.

  5. Jon…
    As for the virus, the weak, too eager for gratification from holiday travel and family visits, shun protective measures.
    As for the government, the weak, too timid to question his vindictive power, fall at Trump’s feet.
    Both weaknesses produce dire results.
    Thanks for the strong.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. This comment is not to advocate revenge of any shape or form as I believe an eye for an eye is never a solution. Healing is the buzz word at the moment. But my big question is, how the new administration or anyone else for that matter, can hold the present enablers in this administration, including the President, accountable for taking the country down this road, specially, their total negligence with the pandemic that caused so many deaths? Are they just going to be allowed to turn a new chapter and their shameful behaviors swept under the carpet? They should be accountable for every decision they took knowingly and for the lies they spread willingly. Fortunately, it touched the inner voices of conscience for many to act, but these criminal deeds should never be the norm for any politician. A normal citizen would pay a high price.

  7. Here is a price that citizens who got sick with the virus and were neglected by Trump’s government policies will pay.
    Doctors are now reporting that folks who have “recovered” from the virus, under age 50, are coming down with problems in various bodily systems that weakens them to the point of not being able to function normally. No one has yet figured out why this is happening. The common denominator is covid.
    Looks like we are in for a longer haul than anticipated.

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