Every day my stomach turns at the next transgression against democracy, decency and civility by that big bully in the schoolyard, Donnie Bad-Boy Trump. And then turns again when the numbers flash on about his victories. I’ve known that there is a large segment of America (most of whom I’ve never met) who are angry about the wrong things (a government that gives them health care and sends their children to schools) and feaful of the wrong things (gay marriage more threatening than Wall St. stealing their money) and desperate to protect their privilege by trying to find someone lower than them (Mexicans, Muslims and as always, black folks). But now Trump is bringing them out in droves and though I think the actual numbers are deceiving, they are amongst us nonetheless. Other nations look at us with amusement, disbelief and trepidation while most people I know are as bewildered as I am—“Who are these people and how did they graduate high school?” (Or did they? As Trump said out loud the other day, “I love the poorly educated!” With the subscript “They’ll listen to anything I say without it mattering whether it’s true or not.”)
But with adversity, the counterforces of truth and caring start to wake up and speak up and mobilize. “Truth” is a slippery slope, a word too easily used by both sides, but before capitulating to a paralyzing semantics, there indeed is truth different from lies. Elizabeth Warren reminding the so-called self-made man disdainful of government that every dollar earned was made possible by a system of taxation that paid for the things that made it possible, Bernie Sanders drawing aside the curtain on Wall St. and showing who is really pulling the levers in America’s Oz, Tavis Smiley holding media responsible for responsible reporting, Louis Farrakhan revealing the legacy of white criminals' money. All of these (available on Youtube) and more are a necessary counterforce to the dark path of hate, ignorance and division that Trump and his allies are walking and like the Pied Piper or leaders of the lemming charge, attempting to bring this country to the cliff’s edge of death and disaster.
It’s an ancient mythological struggle being played out here in real time with real people and the very real consequence of choosing Mordor or the Shire. Along with the nuts and bolts of campaign money, strategy, voter turn-out and more, it requires us as a nation to make a conscious choice between hope and fear, civility and slander, education and ignorance, love and hate, justice and oppression, truth and lies. The contest has run to the extreme edges and the middle ground is no longer a safe haven, a place to hide and hope that we can just keep business as usual, keep shopping in the mall, keep complacent and stupefied.
But hey, if we have to go to the edge, choose wisely. The extreme of hope, civility, education, love, justice, truth and more is a good place to be. It will demand more of us than we’re used to giving, enormous effort, dedication, passion, commitment and willingness to go further than our comfortable life would like to go. But if there’s any bright side of this scary moment in American history, it’s the mandate and opportunity to rise to the challenge. Stand up and be counted and tell the truth everywhere you can—at family gatherings, school staff meetings, business lunches, blogs and beyond. The trickle of truth allowed into public discourse by the media can grow to a roaring river and wash away the shame of a man who mocks the disabled, disdains women, celebrates ignorance, insults Mexicans, stirs up more hate against Muslims, claims that his greed to make money qualifies him to run a government and generally acts like the schoolyard bully he still is in his tiny heart.
Let’s do the work needed to look back at this in November and say with a sigh of relief, “Truth trumped Trump.”