What now?


After the Trump Presidency

This is taking some balls to write, as I still cannot rule out the possibility of a coup d’état or civil war in the immediate future.  If neither one of those occurs, Joe Biden will be installed as President on January 20.

In that case, the question presents of what “we” are to do about “them.”  Many Christian authors warn against speaking of “us” and “them,” but in this case I have little choice.  The nation is very much divided, between the maskless and the masked, those who voted for Donald Trump and those who did not.  Nearly half the population voted for him in 2016.  An even larger number, but still nearly half, voted for him (again, in most cases) in 2020.

They may no longer be in power, but they haven’t gone away; they will be with us, and we will have to deal or contend with them for the foreseeable future.  Worst of all, they may yet vote again for the next Donald Trump who comes along.  What does the future hold?  What are we to do?

Interact

I am impressed that Barack Obama continues to exhort people to talk WITH those with whom one disagrees.

The earliest on-target analysis I read of Trump voters emphasized that they had felt, for years, that no one was listening to them.

A core goal of The William Tell Show is to get folk talking WITH each other instead of ABOUT each other.

A few days ago, the newcomer Dan posted a comment on “David Wilcock today,” that I approved mainly because he is so typical of many people who will call The William Tell Show.  My very first response to his comment was, “Here’s someone who’s easier to talk ABOUT than talk WITH.”  He broke multiple guidelines of Free Speech Handbook, albeit he clearly knows nothing about it and so can’t be held to it.  I give myself credit for (1) sidestepping all his B.S. and (2) asking him a question to draw him out.  But in the end, he proved interested only in talking ABOUT, not WITH, me.

Otherwise, I would not be talking ABOUT him now.

We must keep trying.

What happened

Resonance.

I read this article — Understanding the Trump voters: Here’s why nobody is doing it right | Salon.com — and afterwards wrote about it in my diary, as follows:

“In terms of understanding Trumpers, what made sense to me after reading that article — which really did not help me understand them at all — is that Trump some how resonated with them, or they resonated with him; he resonated so as to evoke and amplify their anger and fear; and also their anxiety about race; but also other things, too, some of which are really ugly.  They were seduced into seeking a hero, wanting a hero, wanting an idol, which worked hand-in-glove with his narcissism.  They resonated to his preschool-playground mentality, with its insults and name-calling and bullying — practically everything [Free Speech Handbook] warns against, he did constantly.

Related, as to narcissism: Mnuchin, GOP lawmakers reportedly convinced Trump to sign COVID-19 relief bill by flattering him (theweek.com)

This moment may be opportune to recall that, already during the 2015-16 primaries, “Who will Trump insult next?” or “Who’s left for Trump to insult?” had become a running joke.

07-26-15: Trump’s most notable insults | TheHill

“O come, let us adore him.”

Some may object to my telling this story, saying it depends too much on how I, perhaps wrongly, see Trumpers.  Yet it happened; it’s part of my experience, part of “my truth.”

For two weeks following the November 2020 election, the music that kept ringing through my mind was, “O come, let us adore him.”  This was singularly unwelcome.  Yes, Christmas was coming, but this was not at all about Christmas.  It was about how Trumpers seem to me to be about Trump.

Related is the doctrine, “You become like that which you worship.”  That may go a long way to explain “We are a diseased nation.

How they are

The first article I’ll link to is very long, in-depth, and requires a lot more attention from me in the future than I can give it now.

These key psychological differences can determine whether you’re liberal or conservative

Its first observation: self-identified conservatives are motivated by anger and fear.

This is something “we” cannot relate to.

An anonymous FaceBook executive said that this is why posts and pages that appeal to anger and fear, get far more interactions and engagements from right-wing people, than others.

Why the right wing has a massive advantage on Facebook – POLITICO

It shows up in the language of their favorite news sources.

Fox News uses ‘hate’ five times more often than competitors, study finds | Fox News | The Guardian

The issue: most of the things they’re afraid of or angry about, just aren’t so.

Progress can’t be based on lies.

Why they are

The degree of fear and anger they display begs a question of how they came to be that way, and what factors make these negative emotions self-perpetuating.  I won’t be able just now to examine all that I’m aware of:  choice (We choose our emotions, with or without being aware of those choices.); what I call “will habits,” that is, learned (sometimes self-taught) tendencies to respond emotionally to like situations with like responses whenever they occur, whether positively or negatively; existential angst.  I focus for the moment on a dysfunctional worldview, such as guarantees ongoing frustration throughout life.

Just world theory.

Just-world hypothesis – Wikipedia

This is the belief that the cosmos is fundamentally fair; that “everything happens for a reason,” and that people inevitably get what they deserve.  It provides no way to deal with, or accept, the manifest injustices that occur around us all the time; the brokenness-es of the world that can’t be fixed.

The is/ought dilemma.

Is–ought problem – Wikipedia

The world is not the way it’s supposed to be — depending on who’s doing the supposing.  The facts are the facts; how the world “ought” to be is a value judgment, a moral determination, and quite independent of facts.

In most cases, no amount of human effort can make the world as it “ought” to be.   Clinging to one’s value judgments instead of the facts as they are, can only bring untold and ongoing unhappiness.

“Fake news” and “fact-checking”

Anyone who reads this, twenty or more years from now, will probably not recognize either of those terms.  They came into being during the Trump Presidential primaries, and will probably pass into dis-use once his Presidency is over.

“Fake news” originally referred to false stories from many different sources, that began to appear in abundance in 2015, almost all pro-Trump, consisting of accusations of his opponents committing outrageous acts, making outrageous statements, or taking outrageous stands.  “Fact-checking” had to do with reputable sources’ debunking — those stories, but really any and all rumors regardless of source.  The fact is that the overwhelming majority of such material came from pro-Trump sources.  So, now, many Trumpers have only contempt for fact-checking; even though it’s as simple, and as non-partisan, as asking whether there is any factual basis for one’s belief.

The post “Appeals” goes into some detail about fake news’ sources.

Studies were done following the 2016 election, finding that the vast majority of fake news on social media was consumed or interacted with by right-wing readers.  I never did understand how “the algorithm” works to “promote” posts and pages that get more “Likes” and “Shares;” I’ve been active on FaceBook since 2015, and none of that material ever appeared on my page.

Things changed in February 2019, when I Friended about a dozen high school classmates.  Almost all of these individuals are Trumpers.  And now their links and shares began to appear in my news feed.  Themes:

  • Anti-abortion
  • Pro-gun
  • Accusations of wrongdoing by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi, typically a dozen or so included in a single meme
  • Characterizations of Democrats as “corrupt,” with no specification
  • Portraits of Donald Trump as, personally, the only force preventing a socialist takeover of the United States.

On the few occasions when someone would link to an article, the source was typically one I’d never heard of, such as The Western Journal, The Epoch Times, or Law Enforcement Today.  You never hear these sources being mentioned even on Fox.

The overwhelming majority of such posts, however, were shares of anonymous memes.  I practically never share an anonymous meme: it has no accountability, and thus constitutes disembodied speech.  I normally link instead to news articles, where the byline specifies a real person who has to answer for her or his words.

How fake news rose coincident with the Trump Presidential primaries is unknown to me, unless it were principally the work of the Russian state-backed Internet Research Agency.  However it rose, with Trump’s departure from politics, I expect it to fall.

It happened.

In my little book, The Way of Peace, the chapter, “Mooring oneself in What Is” includes a discussion of the inevitability of turmoil.  It begins by examining how storms occur in the weather — the interaction of humidity, barometric pressure, and sunlight.  There follows a discussion of how “storms” are likewise inevitable in society.

Social turmoil is, in some ways, analogous to turmoil in the weather.

Feelings, affects, or emotions aren’t just within us individually.  We broadcast them.  We send them out as, as it were, spirits — not living things, but spiritual materials analogous to gases — oxygen, water vapor, the smell of alcohol, the smell of roses, and so forth.

So, for example, if you walk into a room full of people who are in a foul mood, you may pick up on that, like a foul smell.  If they’re in a happy mood, you may pick up on that also.

All these masses of gases are out there, and they develop their own high- and low-pressure systems, and under the radiance of God’s sun can become energized — and sometimes give rise to social storms.

In the past few years, I have seen any number of intense controversies come and go.  The media stir up hysteria, and folk get heavily invested in feelings, and there’s a ton of sturm und drang, and a lot of people’s feelings get hurt — not to mention the possibilities of bodily harm and property damage.  I myself have got caught up in more than one, and became passionate about it, and felt like this issue was my calling from God, and the most important thing in the world — until the media lose interest, and the thing dies off like a burnt match, and nothing’s changed.

In short, shit happens.

I don’t necessarily have to involve myself in it.  I don’t need to defend my beliefs; I do need instead to live them.  I don’t need to refute others’ beliefs; I do need instead to love them.

That is What Is.

What now for me?

Maybe I’ve just said it.

2 thoughts on “What now?

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