Before it is too late…
There are many books recently published and readily available speaking to the incompetence, corruption and general lack of fitness of the current president: “Everything Trump Touches Dies,” by longtime Republican operative and Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson, “A Very Stable Genius,” by Washington Post journalists Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, “Fear,” by Watergate veteran Bob Woodward, “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolfe, “Team of Vipers,” by Cliff Sims, “A Warning” by Anonymous, and “Too Much and Never Enough,” by presidential niece Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. By all indications, lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s soon-to-be-released “Disloyal” will prove to be overwhelming in exposure of the current president’s criminality.
Reading those works leaves one with a sickening and frightening realization of just how bad our situation is and how dysfunctional the chief executive really is. But these works are preaching to the choir. The sad truth is that the vast majority of the population who would (and maybe will) follow this guy off a cliff do not read to any depth. They don’t read newspapers, they don’t read books. They get their information from social media and right wing news outlets. Their chief messenger is the handheld electronic screen, the message finely tuned by sophisticated algorithms and supplying the user with their preferred opiate in increasing strengths and with the messages being short enough to be consumed without significant efforts of concentration or critical thinking. Among this group there is a universal lack of knowledge of government and history and geography. These are classic low information voters and they are the core of support for the current president. Indeed, the incumbent’s largest supporting cohort is white males whose education ended with high school, and they invariably equate bombast and bluster with knowledge and strength.
If the challenger wins the upcoming general election presidential race, the tasks before him and his team to repair the damages done in the last four years will be gargantuan. The rebuilding of international alliances must be undertaken. It will take years. Why should our old friends and allies readily trust us again? Additionally our culturally, racially and economically diverse society has been rendered asunder by government driven by grievance and demagoguery. Binding of those deep wounds will be a demanding and difficult challenge.
If the incumbent prevails, the journey along the oily, greasy, foul path to fascism will not only continue, it will accelerate. The incumbent has expressed openly his admiration for authoritarians and dictators, and envies their absolute power and freedom from pesky little things like courts and legislative bodies and a free and vibrant press. The incumbent has told us he wants to be president for life. And he means it. He’s not kidding. He’s not joking. He means it.
The path to fascism has always been winding and even leisurely but then a population, having long become numb to the constant lying and corruption, wakes up one morning and finds things have gone too far and they can’t go back. They’ve allowed the regime too much power and suddenly they find their freedom is gone. America will devolve into institutional disrepair and intellectual stagnation. Freedom of speech will be gone. To speak out against the regime exposes one to deportation, incarcerations, or just simply disappearing. And if you think it can’t happen here, you’re fooling yourself.
The Russian Bear is watching. He has fomented and abetted the strife, both internally and between the nations, that the Western European liberal democracies and the North American alliances find themselves embroiled in. Making NATO weaker makes Putin stronger. It mystifies me that people not only don’t understand that, they don’t seem to care abut it.
The Chinese are watching. They are poised to replace America as the world economic leader. China plans for the long haul — 40 or 50 years in the future. We have a leader who’s focused on the next 24-hour news cycle.
Keep in mind the ancient sentiment: The only thing that permits evil to flourish is for good men and women to remain silent, to fail to respond to the danger, to do nothing.
Do not be afraid to speak out. Find a platform to support: the Lincoln Project, RVAT (Republican Voters Against Trump), VoteVets and, in the state of Ohio, Operation Grant, named in honor of the general himself.
And if fascism does descend upon America, the affliction will most assuredly be draped in the flag and carrying the cross.
If we make it through this, and I believe that’s a mighty big if, in the future we need to be a lot more careful about who we elect to office.
Mark Cochran is a lifelong Mid-Ohio Valley resident and retired chemical worker and welder; he now serves as a member of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority board. He is a registered Independent, who lives near New Martinsville.