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When Acting Stupidly Just Isn’t Enough in America

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August 22, 2018 20:27 EDT

America has never seen a president whose depth of ignorance is so profound that there is no line between truth and fiction that he seems capable of comprehending.

I am trying hard to put myself in the shoes of a white, 30-something, mother of two toddlers, living in any American suburb to try to figure out how anyone in this category could even remotely consider voting for a Republican candidate. I also spend time trying to figure out the same thing about the few Latino and black voters who do the same. I hate to use the “i” word — that would be “ignorant.” But I will use it, because that is what it is.

The saddest thing about ignorance is that it is generally a voluntary condition. People choose to be ignorant. Some smart people are willfully ignorant, and a whole lot of not-so-smart people choose the same path, often following gleefully in the wake of self-proclaimed prophets of ignorance.

With just such a prophet of ignorance now claiming the presidency in America, the nation seems to have reached a critical mass of ignorance that threatens to topple the republic. Perhaps, we should start with something as simple as “Make America Great Again,” a phrase that should be fraught with issues for anybody on the prophet’s bandwagon. In order to be great “again,” something has to have been great once, lost that greatness and then capture that greatness again. All good, as long as one doesn’t dwell too long on defining “greatness.”

Let’s take immigration as an example. Since there are few Native American’s on the prophet-in-chief’s bandwagon, almost everyone there has roots that run deep to someone who immigrated to America. Virtually all seem to believe that a critical element of what made America great is their perception that America once was a land of opportunity for all, including all those immigrants. So for those on the bandwagon, apparently America is no longer great because they no longer perceive it to be a land of opportunity for them (immigrants all).

But here is where it gets dicey: To recapture greatness, logic would suggest a return to a land of opportunity for immigrants. Yet the prophet tells them that to make America great “again,” denying immigrants the opportunity to arrive and thrive will do the trick. And, awash in ignorance, the prophet’s bandwagon rolls to the southern border to help him build a great wall.

Next, racism and white supremacy seem to have a featured role in the “Make America Great Again” pantheon of greatness. I guess here we have to start with the prophet’s notion that America was great in the past when white people were firmly in control. Then you have to buy the notion that America is not great now even though white people are still firmly in control. So, how do we make this element of American “greatness” great “again?” I guess by making sure that white people are firmly in control again. Think about that. It sounds just plain ignorant.

Surely, in any measure of a nation’s greatness, ensuring access for all in the land to meaningful health care would be part of the equation. In America’s case, it should be right up there with access to guns in the pantheon of greatness.

But let’s check in with the prophet-in-chief on this. Since his once great America has never had anything close to universal access to meaningful health care, he can dismiss this measure of greatness, can undermine recent efforts to increase access to meaningful health care (the Affordable Care Act), and then can move forward to recapture greatness free of the burden imposed by those who really need access to meaningful care.

The catch here is that many of the folks on the prophet’s bandwagon are among those most in need of that access for them and their children. Yet with eyes wide closed, their collective ignorance continues to ensure that universal access to health care will never be part of anyone’s American dream. This makes about as much sense as the “pro-life” folks on the bandwagon favoring the death penalty.

Vitality of America’s Institutions in Peril

It would not be hard to go on in this vein. Whatever you think of America’s greatness, the vitality of its institutions is in serious peril. With appalling ignorance from the profit-in-chief leading the way, the bandwagon is filling each day to the brim with more bullshit than even the ignorant acolytes can digest.

As if widespread willful ignorance were not enough of a barrier to constructively confronting the erosion of America’s institutions, the profit-in-chief and his acolytes are effectively creating for public consumption an alternative “truth.” For those of us trying to construct a fact-based narrative and trying to understand the implications of what we learn, the daily assault on the truth in America is daunting.

Americans have not always selected the best and the brightest to lead the nation. At times, even in the relatively recent past, failed leadership has had near disastrous consequences. The Vietnam War, the Iraq War and trusting financial institutions and drug companies to do the right thing come immediately to mind. But never has the nation seen a president whose depth of ignorance is so profound that there is no line between truth and fiction that he seems capable of comprehending. Tethered to nothing but his own glory, the prophet-in-chief is able to drive crowds of acolytes to ignorantly cheer on the demise of whatever greatness they say they crave.

Yet the emerging institutional crisis has been slow to unfold, despite whispers in all quarters of the land that the nation’s presidency has been captured by a band of extreme right-wing grifters. Meanwhile, the unfettered intellectual cowardice of the prophet-in-chief’s political apologists continues to provide cover for the grifters.

In the absence of any sign that Republicans will pull the plug on the prophet-in-chief, it has fallen to the military and the intelligence community to sound the alarm. In many lands, when the military and the intelligence community step to the fore, it is to overturn democratic institutions. In today’s America, it may be the first step toward saving the nation’s democratic institutions.

*[A version of this article was cross-posted on the author’s blog, Hard Left Turn.] 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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