What a year America has had. To add to the scourge of Covid19, we have seen the self-destruction of a President and we are witnessing a serious degradation in the values of American society. There is no humility, no grace, no dignity, and no sense of humanity. It is an era of lies, distortion, avatars, selfies, selfishness, fake identities and fake personalities, clicks and flicks, notoriety, and bullies. And above all, intolerance of different opinions.
In politics, the choice in the USA has been between the loud voice of braggadocio and arrogance on the right, and the howling houries of hypocritical self-righteousness on the left. We saw it in the abuse of the Kavanagh hearings (in which the new Vice President distinguished herself in aggression and personal abuse). If this Cancel Culture carries on in such a divisive way, the country’s glory days will soon be over. It will slip further in world esteem. Not that the rest of the world is in any way unaffected either. As Shakespeare’s Cleopatra said, “There is nothing left remarkable beneath the visiting moon.”
I have no interest in defending Trump, his style, or his persona. Whatever Trump claims he intended or not, the demonstration was hijacked by violent extremists and hate mongers. They lacked the intelligence, planning, and strategy to mount a real coup. Awful as it was, it caused far less damage to limb and property than the extended and widespread riots this past summer that were encouraged by so many politicians. But it certainly has put paid to Trump’s reputation and legacy. Despite those good things his administration achieved.
Troubling too, was the lack of security and preparedness, that no other country in the civilized world would have allowed to happen. This can only be explained as the result of the summer’s assault on Law and Order. Imagine what might have happened had a handful of jihadis taken advantage of the situation. Typical of the same lack of foresight that has allowed hackers from Russia, Korea, and China to penetrate so much of American security and commerce. No president in the past twenty years has dealt effectively with these issues.
Trump’s worst mistake after the election was not to complain about corruption and voter fraud. There was. I had personal experience of being called many times to register as a voter outside of New York. There has always been cheating, gerrymandering, and voter fraud. Had he not refused to concede and had he not stirred up anger, he might have retired with dignity and even come back in time. No longer.
This has been coming, one way or another ever since he won. Four years ago, supposed believers in democracy, refused to accept a defeat graciously. They inaugurated an era of vendetta, disrespect, vilifying a democratically elected President, and wasting millions that could have been spent aiding the poor, simply out of pique and resentment. As we saw, the checks and balances and the courts were perfectly capable of thwarting and blocking him. But the assault from almost every quarter was not just a debate over issues. It was pure hatred. OF course, he invited it. But one expects adults to know that you don’t play a bully at his own game.
I detest violence wherever it comes from. However, I believe the Democratic leadership, together with its amen chorus in the media, failed morally in supporting the violence of this past summer, justifying it because of racial prejudice. It encouraged the violence we saw in Washington. Why should one section of the population be allowed to get away with it and not the other? The offenders in the Washington attack are either in jail or soon will be which cannot be said of the earlier rioters. Order has been restored. All right-minded citizens across the parties agree it was egregious. But the inquisition remains in full cry and doubtless will continue until the blood lust has been satisfied.
President Biden has declared that he wants to heal the divide and I believe him. I wholeheartedly agree with an agenda of dealing with the climate, reforming health care, education, gun laws, capital punishment, penal reform and taxing the rich. Even if I disagree about many of the methods tried in the past to deal with inequality that have only exacerbated the problems and thrown good money after bad.
But beneath Biden, in the Democratic party, is a whole gang of mean, small-minded, and petty little people who are now going to exacerbate the divide in a country even more than it was always divided. After all, over 74 million Americans of all races voted for him rather than the left. Many of his policies resonated with them. They resented the sanctimonious, anti-religious dogmas of the politically correct bullies.
I also deplore the suppression of free speech and censorship. Allowing Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter et.al to decide who and what we can follow online. Who the hell are they to arbitrate morality and free speech? For years they have allowed the most vicious hatred, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories, violent threats, to flood the internet. All of a sudden they have selected just one target for exclusion, This puts us in the same camp as China and could lead to the dictatorship of censorship for generations. The Augean stables of the internet giants must be cleansed. Even the left leaning ACLU is appalled.
I really hoped the Democratic party would be gracious in victory and try to try to heal the divide. The Pelosi claim that Trump was going to unleash the bomb was pathetic. If the pious, petty trolls of the party continue their way, they will only divide the country more. And they will reap the whirlwind for themselves and the country.
Despite this, the Mishna says that we should pray for the welfare of whichever government we live under. I pray for the welfare of Biden. Back in the old days in the UK, we used to say a prayer every Shabbat for the Queen, asking the Almighty to put a spirit of wisdom and understanding into her heart and the hearts of all her counselors to conduct the affairs of the State in peace and prosperity for all its inhabitants. We used to make fun of it as kids. We knew that the reality often fell short of the sentiments. But at least we were reminded of the hope every week.
This is a very sick and dysfunctional society. If it refuses to help itself, at least we can pray for it.