A week ago, I was nervous. It turns out that I was justifiably nervous. Perhaps I was more nervous than some of my friends because I have a Twitter account. I’d also recently joined an email list with people that includes some who are serious Trump supporters, so I was reading things online that led me to believe that Wednesday, January 6, 2021, would not be peaceful.
In hindsight, I’m relieved that not as many people at the #StopTheSteal Trump rally had firearms as I feared they might. Hence the loss of life was less than it might have been. Still, my only way out of constant rumination about the insurrection has been to read a nicely absorbing mystery. But now that I’ve finished that diversion, here I am, wondering how we make this country governable again.
For the past year, I’ve been trying to broaden the scope of viewpoints I read and listen to. I’ve shared some of these new voices with you, but I will be trying to share even more of them this year. Even though I never wavered in my desire to vote Donald Trump out of office, my enthusiasm for the Democratic platform and leftist positions on many issues waned dramatically over the summer. It continues to decline further every time I hear woke language from Seattle, Olympia, and DC.
Perhaps the best term to describe my current political leanings is “tribe-less.” I want Biden to succeed in returning the US to more normalcy; I want our State Department and Justice Department to function on our behalf again. I’m a happy incrementalist, meaning that I believe that we can improve things with imperfect laws, such as the Affordable Care Act. I believe that we can make our justice system more fair without throwing police under the bus.
At the top of my list of concerns is free speech; de-platforming, except in the case of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, is anathema to me. But this past year, I’ve realized just how challenging it is to separate allowable from unallowable speech in our new social media landscape. Conspiracy theories have always been with us: humans create stories. Usually, we can count on people to ignore stories that are too fantastical to believe. But today, not so much.
Lies are another problem. In fact, the word “lies” is a problem in itself. In a world where every issue is complicated, what constitutes a lie? Personally, I’m comfortable calling the claims of 2020 election fraud lies. People who claim this have had so many opportunities to present evidence to support this claim; courts have rejected their lawsuits, yet Trump, by repeating this lie from his bully pulpit, has succeeded in keeping his supporters on board with these claims of fraud. How do we deal with this stark difference of narrative: fraudulent election vs. legitimate election? If I can believe that Trump got 75 million votes, something that is shocking to me, why can’t his supporters believe that Biden got 81 million votes?
At some point, we need to find a way to agree on some things. Republican Mitt Romney said Republicans need to speak the truth about the election. And I’d like to see some Democrats accept some hard truths about the damage caused by the college sexual assault “Dear Colleague” letter (just one example) and other woke policies. Perhaps these two are not equivalent. We have actual votes to back up the claim that the election was legitimate, whereas we have only stories, actual true stories notwithstanding, to back up the claim that the Dear Colleague policy was damaging.
I’m going to ask you to watch some videos from the #WalkAway campaign, which was just banished from Facebook. The first one is only about six minutes; others are longer, but you won’t need to watch every minute. The first is “the video that started it all,” and I don’t find too much fault with it, but the second, celebrating their 2nd anniversary, harps on what it considers lies by Democrats, while glorifying Trump and ignoring his lies completely. If #WalkAway had simply walked away from the Democratic Party and not straight into the arms of Trump, it might have become a valuable organization calling both parties to account, but did they deserve to be de-platformed?
There are many more videos on the #WalkAway website and their YouTube channel. I suggest watching their second anniversary recap to see which lies they focus on, keeping in mind which they’ve lost sight of. Why couldn’t they focus on issues rather than Trump? Maybe they will now, but what a lost opportunity.
Meanwhile, I also follow some Never-Trump Republicans on The Bulwark, which offers a variety of podcasts and writings. This outlet is interesting. They supported Biden. They’re horrified by Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. They are wondering what will become of the Republican Party, but they don’t address Woke at all. (They remind me of “Dan Evans Republicans” in Washington State, and wouldn’t we all welcome them back with open arms!)
For more food for thought, I’m sharing this link to an article in today’s NYT: “Making Sense of Mob Mentality” by Benedict Carey. (Thanks to Anne Anderson for alerting me to this.)
I hope you’ll share some comments. What thoughts are swirling about in your head?