America is at a crossroads. We are more divided right now than we have been at any time since the Civil War. Since the election of Donald Trump, the level of dissent and division in this nation has reached levels heretofore unseen in anyone’s lifetime. Relatives are not speaking to relatives, friends have parted ways, some marriages even have gone asunder over the rift in the identity of this nation. As Barack Obama put it, “Trump is not the cause, he is the symptom.” Some call it a clash of cultural values, but in truth it goes way deeper than that and is more fundamental. The issue is, who are we really? Who is America in 2018?
On one side of the cultural war, is Donald Trump the Charon of lies. Fox News is his River Styx, upon which he blithely sails, bolstered up and intensified by on-air personalities who co-sign on all of his lies, allowing him to sail the members of his cult straight to Hell and they don’t even know it’s happening. They think he’s telling the truth. The truth his cult thinks he is telling is that he’s the Great White Hope come to save white Christian America from doom by the Other. The “truth” that he is in fact telling is a mishmash hogwash of conspiracy theory, divisiveness, and dishonesty, over 6,000 lies since in office, according to the Washington Post, and all his lies are calculated to inculcate fear, and incite hatred, racial and otherwise. Never has this been so apparent and so blatant as in the last few weeks in the run up to this election. Editorial Board, Washington Post:
The president of the United States, campaigning on behalf of the Republican Party, is, in effect, betting heavily that voters can be swayed by appeals to their worst instincts: anger, hatred and fear. Contrary to the practice of all previous recent occupants of his office — including those who might have dabbled in similar politics but, at least, employed euphemisms and intermediaries — he has delivered this divisive message in his own voice from his own bully pulpit.
Mr. Trump thus seeks not to soothe a troubled populace but to exploit its anxiety. It certainly is a bold gambit. His first goal, albeit unstated, is to finalize his capture of the Republican Party by showing that his incendiary brand of politics works. Conversely, his second, and broader objective, is to demonstrate that his opponents’ insistence upon more decent political discourse does not work.
He wants to sail us all to Hell, and indeed, no single person or single factor in the history of this nation has had a more corrosive effect upon our national discourse than Donald Trump. His effect on his own party has been to make the GOP the caricature that the left always said it was, i.e. a party of old white men, and beyond that he has created a schism within the party, between traditional Republicans whose party ostensibly once stood for free markets and fiscal conservatism, and which now stands for unabashed racism. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said in her November 1 column in the Washington Post that the blatantly racist ad showing an illegal immigrant bragging about being a cop killer, which CNN refused to air, “is a fitting final pitch for a party and a campaign that are now nearly entirely focused on whipping up xenophobia.”
To all the Republicans who think that words don’t matter, who rationalize support for the president because of judges or tax cuts, who insist that domestic terrorism is unrelated to normalization of virulent racist rhetoric and who remain silent believing they have no moral responsibility for this brand of politics, I would say this is reason enough to vote, as my colleague Max Boot has suggested, against each and every Republican on the ballot. We have not seen individual Republican candidates, let alone House and Senate leaders, denounce the ad or insist that Trump take it down. Silence is assent. And therefore each one deserves the ire of decent voters. [Emphasis mine]
It will come as no surprise that Rubin, once the darling of the right for her knee jerk reactions to whatever Obama did, has for some time now been in the doghouse.
Hate and threats fill her inbox, spiking after a December 2015 tweet in which Trump called Rubin “highly untalented,” “a real dummy” and “low IQ.”
Meanwhile, as Trumpism continues to identify the Republican party more and more with racism, on the other side of the cultural divide, the Democratic party is running the most diverse slate of candidates in history and more women are on the Democratic ballot than ever before in history as well. Trump’s answer to that is to call Yale graduate and 10-year veteran of the legislature Stacey Abrams “unqualified,” and Andrew Gillum a “thief” — without any elaboration as to why Abrams might be unqualified and without a scintilla of evidence that Gillum has ever stolen anything. To add insult to injury, speaking of thieves, indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter aired an ad attacking opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar’s ethnic heritage that was so racist that Chuck Todd called it “the single-most shocking ad I have ever seen.” Stick around Chuck, there’s still a couple more days.
Which brings us up to the election: there has been massive early voter turnout. In Tennessee, turnout is 217 percent of what it was in 2014. Other states with competitive Senate or governor’s races — Texas, Nevada, Georgia, among others — are nearing double the 2014 early totals. Clearly we are seeing a motivated and mobilized electorate as never before for a midterm election. And a lot of these are brand new voters. Of the 124,000 Floridians aged 18 to 29 who had voted in person at early polling stations as of Thursday, nearly a third did not vote in the presidential election in 2016, according to analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. About half of those new voters were newly registered.
So again, clearly, we are seeing a phenomenon happen here. And what will we see on Wednesday morning? At this point, anything can happen. There are a number of races in a statistical dead heat. Although conventional wisdom says that the Democrats will retake the House and the Republicans keep the Senate, both Nate Silver and Real Clear Politics have provided models that say that the Republicans could retain both chambers and conversely, the Democrats could gain control of both chambers, not to mention substantial gains in gubernatorial races.
Whichever way this election goes down, it is going to make a powerful statement about who we are as a people. November 8, 2016 made a powerful statement about who we are, one that I quite frankly thought was impossible. On September 8, Dan Rather mused, “The question in sharp relief today in particular is who will be the presidential anomaly in American history – Trump or Obama?” That is the question. Washington Post:
A midterm election is like a pointillist painting, each individual race a dot that by Wednesday morning will add up to an image that will provide some answer to the question of the moment: the identity of America as it is today, its aspirations and values, the tone and tenor of the debate.
Trump has decided views on these things. Many Americans are thrilled by what he has done or tried to do to shake up a political status quo that left them feeling like outsiders. They see his opponents the same way he often describes them, as enemies of him and of the country. But his presidency also has triggered a powerful backlash that is being felt on this final weekend before Election Day as it has been felt from the day he was inaugurated. His presidency has been a time of raw political anger. The clash of these values and perceptions will produce a rendering on Tuesday.
Tuesday is more than a referendum on Donald Trump. It’s a referendum on us. The outcome will make a tremendous statement about who we really are. And all the world is waiting with bated breath to know.
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