Friday, September 18, 2020

Fear and Loathing in Washington

George Stephanopoulos said, “But away from the rituals of Washington, alongside the elation of [Donald] Trump supporters, there is deep anxiety, anger, and fear.” There is a lot of fear associated with the coming presidential election. Opponents of Donald Trump fear that if he is elected again, the United States will cease to exist as we know it. Trump will continue to sew anxiety, anger, and fear in his supporters and bring an end to this nation as we know it. His disregard for the rule of law will continue unabated if he wins and Republicans remain in control of the Senate. All norms associated with American democracy will cease to exist if we continue to be governed by a self-centered, egomaniacal tyrant wannabe. For the Republican Party, the only thing they care about is the continued accumulation of wealth and power.


If you watched any part of the Republican National Convention (RNC), you were probably struck by the expressions of fear that permeated the proceedings—namely, the fear that any failure to re-elect Donald Trump would result in the collapse of the American experiment if not the dissolution of civilization itself. Words to that effect were spoken many times; Trump himself, accepting the nomination said, “This election will decide whether we SAVE the American Dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to DEMOLISH our cherished destiny.” (The capitalization is original to the transcript.) Throughout the RNC, speakers argued that Trump would restore "law and order" and make America a safer country than Biden. Republicans focused more on what they call a bleak future under Democrats rather than on the record of Trump's actions over the past four years because the record for Trump is so disastrous. There is nothing to praise, no matter how much they lie. 


There is no doubt Donald Trump plays on the fears of his audience.  He is a professional and highly-accomplished fearmonger who uses vicious and incendiary rhetoric in a pitiful attempt to generate support for his pathetic campaign. Trump will shy away from no outrageous claim to stoke the fires of terror in his followers. He majors in drama, paranoia, and conspiracy theories. He divides the world into "good guys" and "bad guys" and wants everyone to know that he alone can protect us from the "bad guys." Trump is an egotistical, pompous, arrogant man who lacks subtlety and blurts out mistaken ideas. He is insulting, vindictive, and angry. Trump and his supporters use fear as a deliberate strategy to get religious but ignorant people to stand with the Republican Party, to get them on their mailing lists, and to motivate them to open their bank accounts and support that fear. Evangelicals and other conservatives support Trump because they want to be on the inside wielding power no matter the cost.


Democrats are struggling with their own fears. Following the Democratic National Convention's underlying theme of unity over division, Joe Biden’s acceptance speech called on Americans to consider the gravity of this election, which he painted as one of the most consequential in history. Biden began his speech saying:


Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light, and they will find a way. Give people light. Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division. Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not of the darkness.


If we look at the last four years, there is so much the Republican Party should be ashamed to admit happened under their watch. There are just too many items to list, but here are some of the reasons Trump is uniquely incapable of managing crises:

  • His White House is always in a state of chaos.
  • He thrives on conflict.
  • He values loyalty over competence.
  • He distrusts expertise and experts.
  • He can’t tell the truth; everything must always be “great” or “tremendous.”
  • His relentless need to attack opponents renders him unable to unify the country.
  • His lack of empathy for problems not personally affecting him.
  • His penchant for conspiracy theorizing.
  • His relentless and pathetic need for compliments and affirmation.
  • His top priority is never what’s happening to the country, but instead how it makes him look; how will it affect his reelection chances.

When Trump was running for president in 2016, many warned if he were elected, he would cause disaster (some even said nuclear war), but there was another group, perhaps even larger, who said, “Sure, he’s kind of a joke, but why not give him a shot? What’s the worst that could happen?” Now we’re finding out the worst that could happen, and he still has at least four more months in office. Some might believe Republicans are right to spread fear, but I argue they aren’t it just causes instability. The same people might ask: but what about the terror of the unknown such as the fear of the economy collapsing, the lawlessness running wild, the pandemic, devastating hurricanes, rampant wildfires, other disasters on a biblical scale? Well, now we know. At the 2016 RNC, Trump proclaimed, "Nobody knows the system better than me which is why I alone can fix it." Now, Trump finds himself in what Biden called in his DNC speech, “one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced.”  Biden pointed out we are facing: “Four historic crises. All at the same time. A perfect storm. The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the '60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change.”This doesn’t even consider the problems the United States has faced over the last three and a half years, but Trump has failed to answer the call for leadership.


Arthur Eddington, the English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, once said, “The pursuit of truth in science transcends national boundaries. It takes us beyond hatred and anger and fear. It is the best of us.” This is only true if you believe in science, which the Republicans seem to disregard. Conservatives throughout history have always held science in suspicion. They simply can’t deal with hard facts and truths. They prefer to use hatred, anger, and fear to get people to follow their agenda. Trump and his supporters have denied the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have denied the evidence that supports the use of masks to protect others. They have denied climate change as it ravages our planet. They refuse to face the cold hard facts of science. Instead, they bring forth the worse in humanity: willful ignorance. The Ukrainian-born author and poet, Vironika Tugaleva, said, “Peace and love are just as contagious as anger and fear. Your mindset affects the people around you and perpetually changes the world. The question is what kind of world are you creating?” When we go to vote in November, we should ask ourselves what kind of world are we creating? What kind of world are we voting for? Is it a world filled with light, love, hope, and unity, or is it a world of darkness, hatred, anger, fear, and division?


Biden summed up his DNC speech by quoting Irish poet Seamus Heaney: “History says don’t hope on this side of the grave, but then once-in-a-lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.” Biden concluded the speech saying:


This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme. With passion and purpose, let us begin -- you and I together, one nation, under God -- united in our love for America and united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission.” May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here, tonight, as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation.  And this is a battle we will win, and we will do it together.  I promise you.


Will the United States vote for unity and harmony? I hope so. Or, will Americans vote for darkness, hatred, anger, fear, and division? I pray they don’t. I pray we can heal this nation. I pray we can work to end the racial strife that exists. I pray we can put an end to the homophobia that permeates this country. 


As Albert Einstein said, “Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.” Thankfully, most Americans are not fools. Currently, the majority, nearly 53 percent, of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump. Dorothy Thompson, the "First Lady of American Journalism," was expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934 because they considered her offensive for speaking the truth. She said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." I want to end with another quote by Thompson who described Hitler in the following terms: "He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature, a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequent and voluble, ill poised, and insecure. He is the very prototype of the little man." If you didn’t know this quote was from 1934 about Adolf Hitler, who does it sound like she is describing? A 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll asked respondents: “What ONE WORD best describes your impression of Trump? Just the one word that best describes him.” Some of the most common words that respondents gave were incompetent, arrogant, idiot, egotistical, ignorant, racist, asshole, and narcissistic. The words Trump opponents use to describe him now have become much more colorful and graphic in nature, but the same sentiments are still there. We have a court jester instead of a president, and on election day, he needs to hear his own words loud and clear, “You’re Fired!”


naturgesetz said...

Two words to describe him: narcissistic sociopath.

RB said...

What's scary and baffling to me is, why does he still have so much support in this country? Why isn't he polling at 5%? After all that has happened in the last four years, and the empty promises to his base, why does he still have so much support?

The really scary part of this is the people who won't admit to supporting Trump, but will cast their vote for him. Can the polls be trusted?

JiEL said...

USA are now more than ever at the verge of a «huge change» or, in reelecting this retrograde fake president, USA will drown into a swamp of post WWII ideologies of fear and self center politics in a world that is evolving in the 21st century as a global interconnected societies.

For the fall of «civilisation» I'm not on your way of seeing it. USA would be in a kind of revolution of its way of life, but many other democratic countries will be now the ones to carry the torch of western civilisation as USA would ve no more the «Leader» of it.

Since 45 was in the White House, he constantly withdraw USA from USA's all time allies in so many associations and groups.

Isolating USA from the rest of the world is a bad move and is weekening USA at the international field and gave Russia and China an opening to fill those gaps.

For now, before this «historical» election, Canadians and the rest of the world are restraning our breath and are hoping that USA's people will make the best choice.

If not, it'll be vert scarry and unstable situations for four more years and the ones who will suffer more will be ALL USA's citizens.

The rest of the planet will fill the gaps and we will make trade and commerce without USA.
A situation that is already beginning like in the «Trans-Pacific Treaty» in which Canada is part of. Canada is also openning more commercial trades with Europe and other countries.

So much is in jeopardy and seeding fear in your country looks like the same behaviour seen in Gernmany in 1933 by a certain worst world dictator when he seeded the fear of Jews etc..

Lenny Ricci said...

God help us... I hope you are right and we as a nation rise up against this pathetic moron and vote his orange ass out of office before it's too late... along with his ass kissing pack of administrative losers. I want to see that headline in the Daily News..."YOU'RE FIRED!

Brian said...

Fear is a powerful persuader. Both sides use it often to accomplish their missions. President Trump is no exception to that rule. Perhaps the greatest fear lately has been peddled by the government bureaucrats and Democrat leaders, who exaggerated claims about the Coronavirus to justify lockdowns that were far less effective than mask mandates have been. Choosing panic instead of education, they instilled fear into the hearts of innocent Americans. Through the CDC and liberal research universities, they presented graphs and models that have all proven to be extremely exaggerated and anything but credible. America complied and we have fallen from the greatest economy in history to a near-Recession. Those who seek to harm Americans or fundamentally change our country will remember, in the future, how easy it was to shutdown an entire country using only fear.

Joe said...

Brian, I think you’ve been looking at some erroneous data. Compare Vermont which had a strict lockdown and a mask mandate to Alabama which did both but with greater laxity and hesitation and ended these measures too soon. In Vermont we have had 273 cases per 100,000 people, which I might add is the lowest in the nation. We also, I might add, have a Republican governor (even if I don’t like him). Alabama, on the other hand, has had 2,891 cases per 100,000 people. That’s over tenfold the number of cases per capita. Furthermore, Vermont has had 9 deaths per 100,000 people, while Alabama has had 49 deaths per 100,000 people. That is five times as many deaths in Alabama. Those statistics don’t lie, and they aren’t spreading fear, just honesty.

In European counties, where there were also strict lockdowns that were done quickly because they realized the gravity of the situation, have economies that are recovering. In Italy, which had a total shutdown, 0.4 percent of Italians contracted COVID-19. Italy has also seen a near-total rebound in its economy in part thanks to its government’s steps to help businesses navigate the pandemic, something the United States has done inconsistently due to Republican posturing and incompetence.

Trump denied the severity of the pandemic and lied to the American people because he said he said, "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." What Trump failed to realize is that history has shown us that Americans pull together in a crisis and don’t generally panic. If Trump had been honest and proactive, we could have had a lockdown sooner, and it would have lasted less time allowing the economy to bounce back quicker. We would most likely be on the road to recovery right now. Even with Trump’s ineptitude and lies, the country had a chance to recover, but the Republican-controlled Senate blocked efforts at further relief packages that could have mitigated the economic hardships. Instead, they did nothing and blocked help for Americans at every turn.

There were no exaggerated claims by Democrats about COVID-19, just the truth. When the leaders in the states who took the threat seriously took action, those states benefited. In states where there was inaction and misinformation, the states suffered a greater casualty rate. The numbers just don’t’ lie. In Vermont, we have had relatively few cases as schools (K-12 and colleges) started back compared to other states. My university had five cases out of the approximately 1,800 students on campus (a 0.2 percent infection rate). In contrast, the University of Alabama has had 2,729 out of its 38,563 students (a 7 percent infection rate). That is 35 times higher. This is not spreading fear, this is spreading the truth.

Joe said...

Two percent of all Americans have contracted COVID-19, and of those, 3 percent have died. When we desperately needed leadership from the president, it was beyond lacking, and now over 203,000 people have died. When Trump was recently asked at an ABC town hall meeting, “Why don't you support a mandate for national mask-wearing, and why don't you wear a mask more often?”

Trump gave the ridiculously rambling and idiotic answer blaming Biden for people not wearing masks. He said, “Well, I do wear them when I have to and when I'm in hospitals and other locations, but I will say this, they said at the Democrat convention they're going to do a national mandate, they never did it, because they've checked out and they didn't do it. And a good question is, you ask, like Joe Biden, they said, we're going to do a national mandate on masks. He's called on all governors to have them; it is a state responsibility. He didn't do it. He never did it. Now, there is, by the way, a lot of people don't want to wear masks.”

This twisted logic was quickly noted by former Vice President Biden himself, who responded on social media with the retort that he tweeted, “To be clear: I am not currently president. But if you chip in now, we can change that in November:” Trump will always blame someone else, and he will deflect and cause fear among his base.

The fearmongering will only worsen in the coming weeks as Trump and McConnell try to ram an ultra-conservative Supreme Court nominee down our throats in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death. McConnell couldn’t even wait a day before he declared he would bring a Trump nominee before the Senate. "President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell said in a statement. "Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary," he added. "Once again, we will keep our promise." Has he no decency? We already know the answer to that.

In March 2016, eight months before the election, McConnell refused to bring President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee before the Senate. McConnell said it was important for the Senate to "give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy" by waiting until the next president takes office. "The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration," McConnell said. "The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice."

McConnell and Trump are already showing their hypocrisy. It knows no bounds. They will spread so much fear in the coming weeks because they want their (as yet unnamed) nominee to be placed on the bench of the Supreme Court before the people can have their say in November.

Brian said...

Joe, The models that estimated 5-10% mortality rate and mass shortages of hospital beds and ventilators? Claims that the virus could still infect you 17 days after it landed it on a surface? Claims that asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread were common? Yeah, all of that was fear-mongering. Vermont is far more rural than the parts of Alabama that have been hit the hardest. I live in a rural county without even a Walmart. We have not had a lot of cases at all. Our neighbors in Tuscaloosa have had far more. Vermont doesn’t have Birmingham, Gadsden, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, the Shoals, and Tuscaloosa. Alabama has a lot more tourism on our Gulf Coast and more students at our universities than Vermont does. There is no comparison. The U.S. is far bigger than the European counties you referenced. There is no comparison. Herd immunity is the best option at this point. The U.S. cannot stay on lockdown until next fall. We won’t survive, if we do. I’m wearing my mask, keeping my distance, and living my life.

Joe said...

Brian, just because Alabama and Vermont have different population figures, does not make them incomparable. Having lived in both states and in rural areas of both states, I can attest that there are many similarities between rural Vermont and rural Alabama. Furthermore, the reason I added in percentages to my statistics is to show the correlation that you seem to be ignoring. All of the things you called fear-mongering were precautionary advice given by the medical professionals who knew the most about the disease. They presented the information they knew at the time and tried to save lives. Ignoring those warnings was pure willful ignorance and a disregard for the most reliable information they had at the time. They were not fear-mongering, they were advising precaution.

My parents live in a rural Black Belt county in Alabama that has no Walmart, no hospital, in fact, it only has one traffic light in the whole county. Yet, percentagewise, they were one of the hardest hit. Many of those cases, though, were counted at hospitals in neighboring counties distorting the numbers. Even with the distorted numbers, they still had numbers higher than many other counties with more urban populations, even without counting those cases counted by other counties. And just so you know, Vermont has a thriving tourism industry, but we advised people not to travel here to prevent the spread of the virus. Alabama did no such thing on the Gulf Coast, which caused widespread infections due to the failure to take precautions.

Your argument is very flawed. European countries are far more urban than in the United States. They have a far higher population density, which should have exacerbated the spread greater than that in the United States, but they took sufficient precautions. Sweden, who tried herd immunity (or herd mentality as Trump refers to it), failed miserably, and people were infected and died in greater numbers there. Herd immunity does not work with this disease. Its mortality rate is too high to risk this method. We will only survive if we can rid the country of our current Republican leadership and elect sensible leaders who will get us through the worst health crisis in 100 years and the worst economy since the Great Depression. I'm sorry that you can't see that.

Joe said...

CNN just reported that after successfully reducing the number of cases in the first surge of infection and death, Europe is now in the middle of a second coronavirus wave as it moves into winter -- raising questions over what went so wrong. However, despite the rising numbers of cases, and recent deaths in Europe, the continent still compares favorably to the United States. Europe has reported 4.4 million cases and 217,278 deaths among a population of 750 million, while the US has reported 6.7 million cases and 198,000 deaths in a population of 330 million. In several European countries, cases are rising particularly fast in densely populated cities, where people are returning to offices, schools, and public places after measures eased following spring's peak. The United States needs to take note and realize that if we loosen restrictions too soon, we will be facing a devastating second wave like Europe is currently facing.

Brian said...

Joe, I acknowledge the research you have done on this subject and I understand that you feel passionately about your opinion on the issue. I always enjoy reading your perspectives on political issues. However, arguments such as “We will only survive if we can rid the country of our current Republican leadership...” is the reason people refuse to take the pandemic seriously and they cannot shake the feeling that it’s political. Had a Democrat been in office, travel to Asia and Europe would have never been halted and community spread would have occurred much sooner, with the strongest outbreak occurring in the middle of flu season and further complicating the outcomes for many people. Vice President Biden and Democrats like Speaker Pelosi spoke out against Trump’s travel ban early on, but it has saved millions of lives. His good judgment in massively increasing the production of ventilators has saved millions of lives in America and abroad, as he has graciously shared from our excesses. We would be on lockdown and on unemployment, with far more people dead, if President Trump had not been in office or if he had handled this pandemic as poorly as Vice President Biden handled the swine flu crisis. Instead, in Alabama, we have accessed and mitigated risks and returned to our normal lives and work and school. Look at liberal states like California and New York, who handled it much worse. Republicans save American lives. Democrats offer up fear and exaggerated claims of racism every election cycle and Americans have their number. That is why President Trump will win by the largest margin since President Reagan.

Joe said...

Brian, I will admit, I did misspeak when I said “Republican leadership” because there is no leadership coming from the Republican Party, only authoritarian dictates. I should also not have said the Republican Party because it has ceased to exist as a functioning political party. It is now merely a cult of personality surrounding Donald Trump. The issues with the pandemic have been made political not by Biden or Pelosi, but by Trump and his supporters. Y’all are the ones who claimed that masks were not necessary, but when those same Trump supporters have gathered at rallies without social distancing or masks, they have caused spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Furthermore, you cannot compare the H1N1 swine flu to COVID-19. The mortality rate for H1N1 was 0.02 percent, while the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 100 times that at 2 percent. Also, the Trump administration should have learned from H1N1, but they failed to heed those lessons and instead dismissed the pandemic response team established by President Obama. The reactions to both began similarly with the exception that Trump downplayed the threat. The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S was identified on January 20, and HHS declared COVID-19 a public health emergency 11 days later, on Jan. 31. Similarly, the US declared the swine flu a public health emergency 11 days after the first confirmed US case in 2009. That’s when the similarities to the response ends.

Within four weeks of detecting H1N1 in 2009, the CDC had begun releasing health supplies from their stockpile that could prevent and treat influenza, and most states in the US had labs capable of diagnosing H1N1 without verification by a CDC test. But diagnostic testing ran into significant hiccups when it came to COVID-19. On Feb. 5, the CDC began sending diagnostic kits for COVID-19 to about 100 public-health laboratories across the country. Most of the labs received faulty kits, which caused a major delay in combating the virus. Testing had to continue exclusively at the CDC headquarters until the agency could develop and send out replacement kits. This meant that COVID-19 continued to spread, undetected for weeks.

During the H1N1 pandemic, elected officials addressed their constituents, then stepped aside so health officials could provide details and answer questions. The US response was under Obama coordinated, the Strategic National Stockpile of needed supplies was thoughtfully accessed, and cases soon declined. Trump did not do this. He said that it would vanish, disappear, and his cronies actively sought to pit states against each other for supplies and withheld supplies from blue states. H1N1 had a centralized approach under President Obama, but COVID-19 has had a decentralized approach under Trump. Health officials like Dr. Fauci warned Americans about the threat, but the message from the Trump administration, which could have helped allay fears and limit political infighting, has only aggravated the political discord. The advice from the CDC has been inconsistent, largely due to meddling from Trump, and when they did make proper warnings, they were not always supported by elected officials, particularly in red states. A focus on health, science, better testing, shared decision-making, aligned messaging, and improved trust is long overdue and has been consistently ridiculed by the Trump administration. To escape this pandemic and the devastation it has caused nationally, we need health officials in charge and a unified, well-defined, and informed national response, one that saves lives and returns people to the freedoms they love. This is what the Obama administration did during H1N1. Trump has failed us, and I hope he pays for it on November 3.

Joe said...

The problem with the fearmongering that the Republican Party has been doling out is that they use incorrect information and lies to spread fear, just as you were doing in your comments blaming Biden and saying things like, “Had a Democrat been in office…” This is not an argument, it is feeding fears of what you erroneously want to believe the Democrats would have done, but they weren’t the ones who mismanaged the pandemic. It was the Republicans led by Trump who have done the most mismanagement. Republicans have literally let Americans die out of their own prejudices. They did it during the AIDS crisis under Reagan and they are doing it again during the COVID-19 pandemic under Trump. I won’t even attempt to explain the invalid assertion you made about how New York and California handled the pandemic. This response is already too long to be made in one comment.

I pray to God that Trump is not reelected. We cannot have four more disastrous years of his presidency, with its lies, disregard for the law, and lack of human decency. We cannot have four more years of mismanagement, and you better believe if Trump is allowed to pick Ginsberg’s replacement, you will see a rollback of all of the LGBTQ+ rights that we have obtained in the last 10 years. It says so right in the Republican Party platform, which condemns gay marriage, efforts to legalize anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, calls for continuing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, supports so-called sexual conversion therapy for minors, and endorses discrimination against LGBTQ parents, families, students, workers, individuals experiencing homelessness, and customers. Our lives are literally at stake in this election, which is why I will be voting for Democrats to lead this country.

Brian said...

“Y’all are the ones who claimed that masks were not necessary...”

Joe, To be clear: neither I nor President Trump has discouraged wearing masks. Anyone who does is an idiot, regardless of their political affiliation.

Herman Cain, a hero of mine, has been posthumously attacked by liberals for supposedly contracting COVID at a Trump rally. It is apparently inconceivable to believe he may have contracted it on the many airplanes he had traveled on in the preceding days. He began each day of his radio broadcast by encouraging his listeners to wear masks. Like Dr. Fauci, he was caught on camera in one instance without a mask on, and now his death doesn’t matter or it is used as proof that Trump rallies spread COVID. These fear tactics, free of conscience, by Democrats and their willingness to believe claims without having sufficient evidence to support them, is the reason they cannot be trusted or taken seriously.

I hope you have a great weekend and stay safe, my friend!

Joe said...

Brian, Trump has consistently ridiculed Biden for wearing a mask. He’s also done nothing to encourage wearing a mask. To me that is in essence discouraging the wearing of masks.