Passivity prevails. During the past several years, two new crises – increased violence and an acceptance of political (and personal) lying in our country are redefining our society. But our divisiveness, our indifference, our tacit acceptance of the way things have changed, require, in my opinion, a new analysis of who we really are and what our values are today.
When I talk about violence, I am not focusing today on gun problems, but another component of violence – political verbal abuses, name-calling, deception, attitudes toward “others,” widening political divisions – the whole ball of wax.
When I talk about lying, I don’t just mean the 30,599 (or so) lies that Trump told during his four years in office, but using his lying to distort and cruelly criticize people, personalities and politicians in daily life. The issue for us: His lies never seem to bother his followers. Why not?
In a previous column on Jan.19, I talked about the escalation of lying in our country, mostly by politicians. And I think that similar deceptions are creeping into our conversations with friends and associates -- exaggerating accomplishments, focusing on “me” rather than “you,” believing their ideas overrule facts, etc.
The ultimate question of this column today is what can we do about it? Certainly not just sit back and contemplate, not just shrug our collective shoulders with “Gee, I don’t really don’t know” or worse, “I really don’t care.” If we don’t’ do anything, then, I suggest, that is who we are today. And that is no solution, but simply a pathway to passivity leading to a breakdown in our society.
A few political examples of lying – and dishonesty:
a) Marjorie Taylor Green proclaimed a couple of weeks ago there was no evidence of a plane flying into the Pentagon on 9/11 – that must be a falsehood we were told by our government—and the Republicans, she cried out, can’t let that happen anymore. Agree, we should be upset when our government tells us lies, but a plane flying into the Pentagon that day? That was true.
b) George Santos with his lifelong array of lies – that’s probably psychotic behavior, but his lies continue to let him forge ahead politically.
c) Kevin McCarthy won a House seat, and was a politician so desperate to be Speaker that he granted all sorts of favors to Republicans and Renegades so that he could be in control. GOP House members have done little to stop him. All the while, Senate Republicans have been silent. Deception is at play while acceptance of these shenanigans is a new modus operandi for the House, or so it seems.
d) And even Joe Biden, the gentle man we trust, delayed telling the public before and after Election Day that he had found some classified material in his possession. He immediately turned it in, but then stayed silent about it, uncomfortably so, and then spent several weeks avoiding questions on why he didn’t tell us. His singular response is that he was “following his lawyers’ advice.” Change lawyers, Joe, is my suggestion.
e) Politicians lie because they want to get elected, we are told, and we the people don’t want to elect a person who tells us bad news. Is that true?
a) We know there are more guns than people in this country. We know some states are now allowing carrying guns in public. We know children are being shot in schools, usually by young men. We know, and then we seem to forget.
b) Police are getting meaner, and more brutal in areas, but police are seldomly, so far, sent to jail for their offenses. (Memphis is an exception.)
c) Violent language has increased – on the social web sites and elsewhere. On blogs. “F****ing” has become a commonplace word – even in The New Yorker. It has become fine to verbally lash out at people. I’ve had bloggers write me with an opening of “Dear Bitch,” or “You are a disgrace to womanhood,” or “You should be kicked out of the country for your views.” Gentle comments?
d) When Biden was giving this year’s State-of-the-Union speech, some Congressional members booed when he said some Republicans wanted to do away with Social Security. Marjorie Taylor Greene, wrapped on her white fur jacket, kept om shouting out “liar.” A few other GOPers had called for getting rid of Social Security but their shouts of “liar” were aimed at Biden.
What to do?
If we want to do something in America about this, we have to admit there is a problem, then identify it so others can understand it, and then try to coalesce to determine what is possible to do next – and next – and next. It’s not simple, and we can’t do it alone. We have to get others involved. The MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) movement against driving while drunk was successful – nevertheless, it took years of hard work to declare it as a punishable crime.
Consider how effective that group of 20 conservative Republicans in the House have been in getting their way. They took control – and want more control – and they are becoming more powerful.
Why can’t Democrats do the same thing? Are they too interested in being “nice”? Or are they wimps – or too passive, or nonchalant -- or disinterested? You tell me.
And also tell me, please, how you think our country should cope with this crisis.