As I begin writing this piece the insurrection attempt ended less than 24 hours ago. I don't have all the details and things are still playing out and unfolding. I'm not going to do a deep dive into what happened just throw some thoughts out there because things have to be said.
First a couple of statements
Let me begin by saying that despite some GOP congressmen and conspiratorial minded people saying it wasn't Trump supporters, the truth is it was. All one has to do is cross reference the faces and the social media accounts to see it is so. This was not a government plot, but the followers of a man who just doesn't want to be arrested when he gets out of office.
That any of this happened was no surprise. Trump had been stoking the fires for months to the point that people in the crowd were wearing "Civil War January 6". While the level of destruction and number of casualties are thankfully low, the fact that there were a lack of arrests and a tiny police presence speaks values about the racism that is inherent in America. As so many people have pointed out if this had been a crowd of non-whites an army of stormtroopers would have shot everyone dead.
That any member of Congress, especially from the GOP , is surprised is shocking in a "there is gambling in CASABLANCA" sort of way since they all played the Trump game of US vs THEM for four years. This isn't a just Mitch McConnell's fault, nor his cronies, or just the GOP but lump in Pelosi and Sunday Chuck Schumer and most of the Democrats who leveraged the Trump chaos to line their pockets and remain in power. Include the President Elect in that since if it wasn't for Trump he would not be going to the White House
And while we are laying blame lets not forget Fox News who milked Trump for ratings, as well as all the other news outlets who didn't do their job and worried about ratings so didn't do the deep reporting they should have.
And there is blame for this nonsense on the vast majority of Americans who were horrified by Trump, his followers and his tactics and said and did nothing. We all should have been screaming to our representatives in Washington and elsewhere that we were not happy. Additionally we should have been up the asses of the news media insisting that they report more of the bullshit, not to get distracted by the next Trump game and to take a stand.
Ultimately we are all to blame for this on some level because we really failed to cut off the madman.
So now what? What do we do now?
There is a a lot to be done if we want this to never happen again.
First we need to restore faith in mainstream media. We reinstate the fairness doctrine that the media used to operate under. Long ago news outlets had to present both sides equally. You couldn't let people spew nonsense without backing it up or countering it. The removal of the fairness allowed places like Fox News to rise and the country to fragment.
We need to eliminate the US vs THEM divide. Despite the media and the far right and far left telling you otherwise the majority of people are actually some where in the middle. That I can talk to the Trump supporters in my life is because we are not all on one side or another. The only one's who are telling you that it's our side vs theirs are the people who make money by keeping us divided.
And remember that the leaders who want the right to fight the left are a bunch of rich pundits and politicos who want to distract you from the fact that the battle is ultimately a battle of rich vs poor. They want the system tilted so that they can make more money than they are already making. They will stoke racism because the visual differences allow them to illustrate their points with a "it's those people who look different than you" knee jerk reaction. (Forgive me for not discussing this further, because as a white guy I am instantly suspect.)
We all have to begin talking to the other side be it the right or left. We need to show everyone that we aren't that far apart.
We also need to fucking fact check everything. We need to see the evidence of whatever we are telling people is so. This whole thing started because the election was supposedly stolen. The trouble is no one actually had evidence- least of all Trump and his cronies. Trump said it and people believed it but he and his lackies never produced it with the result that 80 or so lawsuits got kicked out. We need the evidence and we need to actually believe it when we see it-especially when it shows up 80 times(as in there was no election rigging).
We need to retrain the police. The military style hierarchy and gestapo attitudes don't work. We have to break down their US vs THEM mentality. We need to switch to community based policing where the cops become part of the community so they aren't seen as monsters nor do they see the people as them too.
Mostly we have to all become involved with the process. We need to get out and be involved and make sure our representatives know we are watching.
We need to find our better selves. We need to strive to fix things now so we can have a good future tomorrow.
The reality is America and democracy is not a fixed thing. It is not a perfect machine. It is something that is a work in progress. It never was perfect. It was never not "broken". The trick is to realize that the founders of the country tried to set up something that would work for as long as possible. To keep it working they were counting on people to go along with the machine and steer things where they had to so we could get to the mythical promised land.
Over the last few years I have heard lots of cries about how America sucks and how things don't work and how the system is stacked. A lot of the shouts have come from people who first don't get up off their asses to participate and second say that things used to be better. the trouble is it was never really better, you just remember it through rose colored glasses.
If you hate what America has become, realize that in all probability it never was the bright and shiny place you think it decayed from. Sure the economics come and go, but the place where good always wins and everyone is brothers never existed. We have always been fighting each other. The reality is that the laws of the land were set up to try and make things better. Know that no one actually expected things to be magically better. Our ancestors, and we ourselves, have these laws and these ideals because we want to be better than we are. We will aim to be equal under the law because that is what we believe is right and what we should do. The point we are trying to be better despite knowing it will not always work. We also have to try and help them along and not just assume the laws themselves will make it all okay.
To those people who say they are fed up with the country I say get up and engage. Call your representatives. March. Engage with your community. If you want a better country become part of it.
What annoys me is that a bunch of people I know who are claiming there was voter fraud didn't vote. Why? Because they claim their votes don't count. If they didn't count why would Trump or any one else be worried people voted against them? This year make sure your vote counts by doing it. More importantly do more by going out an engaging.
Become politically active. March for a cause, one that you genuinely believe in.
So many people on the right got upset because people marched against injustice, and knelt for black lives. They said it was a plot. No, it was a political act. It was voicing their opinion. Some right leaning people I know were horrified. I couldn't understand it until I realized that despite their claims otherwise the protests messed with their world view. Things weren't they way they "remembered" it. Sadly the marches revealed that they were wrong and in some cases it exposed their racism.
In truth believing in America is like believing in a religion. What we are doing is taking the rules we were given either by God or the founding fathers and we try to live by them. To be certain some people won't. To be certain there will be problems and there is going to be some pain, but at the same time by living with the rules there is a better chance for a better life.
America like God is an idea we are trying to achieve. It is ultimately a series of idea and ideals we choose to live by.
As I was watching the chaos in Washington I was struck by something funny. Some people were worried about what would happen to the building as if it was some how America itself. America is not in the building but in the people, both those storming the gates and those trying to rule. If you burned the building America would still go on, just as if you burned a church you wouldn't destroy a believers God.
After people know me and realize that while I profess being an agnostic there is a bit more going on I am often asked why I don't go to church. "You clearly believe in something" they say. My reply is simply "why do I need to go to worship when I carry god with me? Every act is a kind of fumbling prayer." My view of America is similar, while I appreciate the history of the places and objects of America, the real place is in my heart. It is a place that I live in and quietly try to improve in the simple small ways I am capable, such as simply respecting other people and other view points. I can not be big and splashy. I can not force my ideas on you other than the simple belief that ultimately America is not right or left or anything else- but a place where we all an be who we are regardless.
Believe what you want. Be who you are. Love who you want. Hurt no one. In my America those are the rules other than don't force your ideas on anyone. We all came here to think freely not the way of anyone else.
I am hoping that the insurrection has indeed been put down, that calmer heads prevail and that a conversation takes place. Do I expect it? Not entirely but then again I am not a complete optimist - but I am hopeful for better tomorrow- if I wasn't I couldn't all myself an American.
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