The informed and thoughtful citizen will predictably note, from any rudimentary analysis of current events, that the most existential threat to our traditional American way of life, is not national disaster, the advent of a serious pandemic, economic break-down or foreign invasion, but rather one, internally posed by some of our own fellow Americans.
The Nation, construed, from its inception as a two- party democracy, with the grant of citizen guarantees of freedom of speech, religion, peaceful assembly, and liberty, has always condoned [in fact, encouraged] meritorious and useful differences of opinion, political and otherwise, together with the practice of amicable debate; the same to serve as a guide to legislation, in service of a Nation perceived and intended to be,” by and for the people”.
As we have noted in earlier writings, what developed, contrary to the Founders’ optimistic expectations, was instead, the angry, divisive, and insular phenomenon of antagonism between individuals and groups of disparate opinion, the disappointing dynamics of which we have examined in an early essay, “The Death of Civic Amity.” This unfortunate and unforeseen National development has been the source of bitter enmity, based on differences in view on issues, ultimately resulting in a rift, or a politically divided Nation.
Inarguably, the most impactful and chronically enduring of all contested issues, had its inception during the several shameful decades of the American institution of Slavery, ultimately resulting in the American Civil War, followed by disputed issues of post-bellum rights for the freed slaves. The legal and moral issue of racial equality, unhappily, persists contemporaneously, kept alive by bigoted citizens in their obdurate and moral failure to acknowledge the essential equality of all humanity, irrespective of color.
Disputed National issues also included gold standard versus silver, Native American policy, later, the Viet Nam War, gun ownership, women’s right to vote and to have an abortion, government health and labor regulation of industry, environment and global warming, the empirical primacy of science and education, immigration policy and a plethora of contested, divisive subjects. Voters would normally cast their votes, for the [one of the two] candidates, whose platform was perceived to be closest to their point of view. Parties possessing disparate views on presenting issues, thus, had a recognized process by which they might express their individual political sentiments. The healthy and enduring phenomenon of disparity of opinion became recognized and rationalized, within the generally inclusive designation of E Pluribus Unum. Thus, our empirically divided Nation carried on with its usual progress, albeit somewhat less efficiently than it could have, with less acrimonious divisiveness and more unity of principle, in bitterly disputed areas such as immigration, abortion, gun ownership and civil rights.
The election and re-election to the Nation’s Presidency, of the Nation’s first black President, Barack Obama, and his Administration’s acknowledged exemplary performance, had the effect of engendering in us, great and optimistic expectations, concerning the Nation’s seemingly improved rate of progress in many areas, most especially, Civil Rights and the appropriate respect for science and education. The status of the avowed, “E Pluribus Unum” was a representative reality; for the moment.
It all “went out the window,” with the election of an ignorant, incapable, and egoistic, former second- rate television game show host, and real estate grifter, Donald J. Trump. It is our view that Trump’s unexpected elevation to the Oval Office, was the combined result of (a) a low Democratic voter turnout due to the apparent lack of popularity of its Candidate, (b) the vast sums of money expended in support of anti- government regulation propaganda, by sociopathic captains of industry, who value profit, from their industry’s air polluting activities, over the health and life of human beings, plus (c) the vulnerability of our inadequately educated, dissatisfied, flat earth segment of the population to Trump’s false and tactically, seductive “snake-oil,” demagoguery.
Donald Trump, concededly evaluated to be ignorant, incompetent and immoral, proved, somehow, to be an effective catalyst regarding a new and fundamentally different species of divisiveness in the Nation; one, dangerously differing from the normally expected phenomenon of democratic, free disparity of opinion; causing, tragically, the Nation to thereafter to remain no longer entitled to the historic motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM”[from many peoples, one].
The Nation’s realistic motto, following the election of President of Donald J. Trump might be stated as “E PLURIBUS DUEM” [from many, two]. The “two” representing, for too many deluded Americans, the sole, determinative, and divisive two categories: “for, or against Donald Trump.” For Trump devotees, the determinative presenting issues were to be resolved not by personal consideration of their individual merits, but instead, reductively, upon whether the individual counted himself as a Trump supporter, and if so, adherence to the position of Trump on the issue. Such cultish reductionism may have a degree of practical application in certain autocratic countries but is many light years distant from a Nation that flys the banner of “Republican Democracy.”
Trump denigrated science and education, ignorantly exacerbated the seriousness and mortality of the Covid pandemic, mocked vaccination and masking, expressed support, subtle and not-so-subtle for the White Supremacists and other bigoted, pestilential groups, overtly incited an historic insurrection at the Nation’s Capital, supported the NRA and unregulated gun ownership, demeaned women and minorities in general, opposed immigration and its asylum entitlements, opposed governmental regulations including, clean air and water, medicine and food safety, dismissed environmental concerns and existential global warming, manifested extreme hostility to the responsible media, and, incredibly, the existential value of “truth,” itself [himself, a chronic practitioner of serial mendacity]. Individuals who cultishly saw themselves as Trump supporters, submissively fell in line with his dark ages, anti-enlightenment world view, and regressed to the status of his lifeless, submissive puppet-like sycophants.
For Trump supporters, it became a populist, revered badge of loyalty and an overt submission to accepted populist identity to inhabit the announced Trump positions [including the Fascistic,” Big Lie] on all issues. It now appears that, in our newly construed divided America, that a signifying red line is to be drawn between those whose point of view is in hypnotic lockstep, cultish accord with the ignorant and biased opinions publicly expressed by Mr. Trump; and, on the other side of the line, the balance of the Nation. The Trump syndrome appears to have been transformative, alike, as to identity as well as derivative opinion. Frighteningly, there now appears to be a category, of uniform Trump endorsers, totally unconcerned with the relevant presenting issue or its implications. It is the convenient and lazy way, for Trump sycophants to comfortably dumb down further, into the shameful role of a truly lazy reductionist, solely concerned with acting in concert with other cultish supporters of Donald Trump.
The other (second) category of American citizens are, justifiably, principled, and moral opponents of Trump, consistently support the traditional American ethos and often are in sync regarding many of the day’s presenting issues, such as immigration, gun control, abortion, civil rights, prison reform, health regulations, minimum wage, environment and global warming, respect for science and education, and vaccination, and the other issues of the day. The existential and determinative difference is that these voters have their own, individualized moral and principled reasons, for their specific [and, at times, differing] views; as diametrically opposed to the thoughtless, submissive, and cultish, “group think” adherents to the views of the demagogic, arrogant and ignorant Donald Trump.
This newly hatched, mindless, and potentially dangerous Trump category, as observed, entirely distinguishable from any naturally occurring, thoughtful brand of diversity, has no acceptable place in a Democratic Republic. To the contrary, acquiring a badge of (submissive) identity to a cult of personality, principally and historically, links one to such notably estimable members of the Planet’s human family as, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Mao Zedong.