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THOMPSON: America is in trouble

June 24, 2019 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


America is in trouble…perhaps more trouble than it has ever faced.

A number of events over the past 243 years might have ended America. Wars…from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to World Wars I and II. A few epidemics - the 1918 Spanish Flu killed more than half a million Americans…including my grandfather - might have thwarted democracy, as well.

McCarthyism in the mid-1950s sought guilt at any price and could have been a death knell for democracy.

None of these - with the exception of the War Between the States - posed near the threat that faces America today. Because in every instance to this point in history…fundamentally Americans were one. That is far from the case now. The American president is corrupt…corrupt like no American leader before him. The facts and evidence will prove his guilt…not as soon as it should…but there will be no doubt when the jury - figuratively and literally - is in.

Sadly, Donald Trump is only one of the not-so-vital signs of a very sick America…an America so ill that what happens in the next year and a half will determine whether it is a terminal disease. Just now, the prognosis is not good.

Some 40 percent of Americans support Donald Trump…either believing him when he opens his mouth and speaks…or simply looking the other way. Of course, that is despite more than 10,000 known lies since becoming president. Those are the lies he has told in public. What he has said behind closed doors to Americans…and Russians…and North Koreans…and Saudis…and Chinese likely add thousands more lies.

I remember when Americans had common enemies…or at least common adversaries. Donald Trump and his corrupt nature - one that has existed since his youth - has allowed Russia and other nations to turn Americans against Americans. Never before has there been a threat so comprehensive…so effective.

America has always been ripe for such subterfuge. There is widespread ignorance…education in America has been a failing model for decades. Currently, America ranks 27th in education…despite spending more per capita than any nation but Switzerland…a leader.

Between adversaries effectively creating dissension between the Right and Left…Republican and Democrats…blacks and whites…urban and rural and a fast-evolving culture that increasingly de-values truth and fact, America is not far from life support.

There’s evidence aplenty that Trump’s base favours Russia over Democrats and Liberals…you know, Americans. Nearly four in ten Americans accept Trump’s lies…about no collusion…no obstruction in Russia’s interference in the 2016 general election…whatever he says. Everyone can and should read the Mueller Report…evidence of his corrupt behaviour is clear. One other thing is clear…this president lies more often than most people wash their hands.

Trump remains popular only among his base, a group dominated by evangelical Christians, who are taught that lying is a sin. I’m not overly religious, I guess, so perhaps there is a sliding scale for the Ninth Commandment. What could explain why otherwise good people look the other way while Trump lies?

Two recent studies - published in Personality and Individual Differences - might shed some light on why those who follow Trump do so with a blind eye or two. Those who value or admire authoritarianism…don’t seem to care whether a leader lies.

In both studies, those who held more socially conservative values, held authority figures in higher regard, leaned toward more punitive punishments and favoured a hierarchical social structure were most likely to support Trump.

All participants in one study viewed three video clips of a politician lying about an increase in the unemployment rate. The lie was overt in one, a lie by omission in another and used a truthful statement to mislead in the other. Each participant rated the “lies” on scales of ethical to unethical, honest to dishonest and moral to immoral…and indicated their political party.

Those who identified as Republicans were significantly more tolerant of overt lying and using a truthful statement to mislead and slightly more tolerant of lies by omission than those who identified as Democrats.

I think it is this dissonance…the fact that good Christians can believe the teachings of the Bible on the one hand, but on the other…simply look the other way when it comes to their politics. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem right…certainly not consistent…and makes those of us who don’t warm a church pew every Sunday question the hypocrisy.

No one in American politics has told more lies and tried harder to divide the nation than Trump. He isn’t backing off either. He increasingly refers to the press as enemies of the people. That’s what dictators the world over always say about the press.

He has on several occasions this year said or intimated that his supporters might not let him leave…even if someone else were duly elected. That, too, is from Dictatorship 101.

I hope those who read the Bible will continue to read it…all of it…and not skip over the parts that don’t jibe with their Right-Wing political views. And maybe, just maybe, instead of reading Trump’s daily lies - his Tweets - or tuning to his propaganda network, Fox and Friends, Trump supporters will seek truth.

Read the Mueller Report…with an open mind. Then, maybe question why Trump doesn’t release his financials? Ask why he’s told everyone to ignore duly authorized subpoenas? Ask why his Administration has had more scandals in two years than any other in four years. Consider that his lies…each and every one…hurts America and undermines democracy.

I find it difficult to understand how some can pledge allegiance to the flag and at the same time accept the words of sworn adversaries over true Americans. But that’s what Trump supporters are doing.

If anything kills America it will be Americans choosing to believe liars and the propaganda of enemies over Americans. The nation is too close to going on life support. Who knew it might be Americans who could pull the plug so willingly?

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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