In the wake of the treasonous insurrection that beset the US capitol building, Joe Biden was quick to claim that this does not reflect the “true” America. This is a fantasy. It is a fantasy just as much as Trump’s claim that he won the election is a fantasy. Childish Gambino summed it up in song long ago, but dissidents have known this for even longer. Noam Chomsky identified the Republican party as the most dangerous organization in human history, pointing to its self-enriching climate denial and nuclear militarism, necessarily fed by a distracting, rabid ideology that led to the Trumpism that is incinerating the country (and the world) today. This isn’t new. This isn’t shocking. This kind of thing doesn’t just appear out of nowhere; it’s a creeping infection.

Consider this. During the insurrection, police were videotaped opening the barricades to allow the traitors to storm the capitol. They were similarly taking selfies together. This harkens back to when police thanked Kyle Rittenhouse for his “vigilantism” during the George Floyd protests almost immediately prior to him murdering two Black Lives Matter protesters, and then allowing him to walk right past them after he was done. The police are the arm of the system, and the tacit, systemic allowance of far-right radicalization and extremism that has permeated the country is emblematic of its culpability. Far-right terrorism is the greatest domestic threat to the country, but federal law enforcement prefers to investigate environmentalists. This radicalism has been built up over decades and decades, and is egged on by political malfeasance.

Law and Order for some

Joe Biden wants to “reach across the aisle” to work with Republicans in order to unite the country after four years of increasing divisiveness. I guess he thinks that further tax cuts, greater environmental deregulation, and more law and order will bring the QAnon fanatics back to reality? The image of Democrats created by Republicans is as Venezuelan Bolsheviks. Democrats will tank the economy through hyper-inflation, impose a totalitarian invasion of personal privacy, and lock up in the gulags anyone who so much as blinks the wrong way. Obamacare, née the Affordable Care Act, was literally created by a Republican, but because of its adoption by the liberal side of the spectrum, it needs to be dismantled. If Biden wants to work with Republicans, he’s going to have to consider that 70% of them believe he stole the election through widespread voter fraud. How do you compromise with a false reality that won’t even bother to acknowledge your effort to connect? Well, it seems like Biden is making his attempt by trying to silence activists who want to defund the police because he doesn’t want to be framed as soft on crime. Biden could claim that he would increase funding to the police, or choose a tough-on-crime prosecutor as his Vice President, and neither of those things will placate the Republican accusations. Biden will impose anarchy in the USA, and he could execute all the BLM leaders in front lawn of the White House, and he would still be a socialist enabler. How can you appease someone who thinks you’re a pedophilic cannibal who worships Satan? Why would you even bother?

Maybe there is an argument that the “adults in the room” will reassert control after the departure of the current fascist. However, do you remember when John McCain denied that Obama was an Arab which is now looked at so fondly as a Republican who knew how to handle conspiracy theories? Take a look at the video in the hyperlink again. When the woman says the word Arab, John McCain smiles before saying “No ma’am.” While Trump was profiting off the Birther movement, the establishment Republicans were well aware of the narrative they were subtly weaving. The “adult” Republicans introduced the “Southern Strategy” and have been using dog-whistle racism for decades. This current chaos is the child of these “adults”, and they seem to have no inclination to issue any consequences. Yet the Democrats seem to think that acquiescing to bad faith madness is an appropriate strategy, and they’ll stymie potential allies who are looking to actually improve the world in order to do it. The thing is, the Democrats are just as culpable for American decline as Republicans through their enabling and mutual goals of self-enrichment.

The Democrats will frame it in the language of care and the importance of process, while the Republicans will frame it in the language of might, but the underlying content will remain the same

Americans want progressive change. Government healthcare is actually increasing in popularity across the spectrum, yet Joe Biden is against it even though it is ultimately more popular than he is (63% compared to 55%). Florida, in addition to voting for Donald Trump, voted to increase their minimum wage. Other States, who only marginally supported Biden, passed laws to decriminalize all drugs (Oregon) and increase taxes on the rich (Arizona). When removed from tribal politics, the things that will obviously improve the lives of citizens are quite popular. These ideas have legs when they are sampled at the grassroots level, but always seem to die when they reach the political heights. Perhaps it is because the needs of the people have been consistently ignored by both national parties that the country is burning, and only competing delusional narratives dominate the political discourse, whether the immigrants are invading or that everything is fine for everyone. No wonder then that people cling to delusions to justify their situation and then fight to defend them.

The next panel is the dog nostalgically reminiscing about the original arsonist.

The institutions of America appear to be standing firm, for now. Biden did win the election, and it was certified by the electoral college as well as congress despite attempts to supplant the democratically elected leader with a tyrant. The court challenges were all thrown out. Arrests are even being made, despite police complicity, though the treatment of those attempting to overthrow the government ought to be compared to those who were protesting police violence. The point is, it is unlikely that this coup attempt will succeed due to the sustained functioning of democratic institutions like elections and the court system. However, it could just be Trump’s incompetence that allowed the American experiment to limp on. A proper dictator would have followed through on his promise to join his militia in their storming of the capitol, but Trump just went home to Tweet. It’s blind luck America developed a fascist so lazy he can’t even be bothered to participate in his own overthrow of democracy.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these institutions can be sustained forever in a culture as cancerous as American politics. Republicans seem intent on dismantling them for their own benefit, and Democrats only appear to be willing to make stern but futile gestures of superficial frustration. They will run campaigns based solely on the perpetuation of the establishment while portraying Republicans as bogeymen without ever actually capitalizing on mobilizing platform ideas that Americans are begging for. Who will the Republicans put forward for 2024 after the increased popularity of their last brutish fascist, and how tantalizing might that choice appear to a population fed only moralizing platitudes during one of the most dismal times in American history? The modern day Marie Antoinette is a Democrat dismissing cries for help by suggesting “thoughts and prayers” to assuage their crisis. How successfully will democratic institutions protect modern civilization if they are not repaired from the sustained assault they have been enduring for years?

Once the Orange Man is gone, I’m sure that’ll clear right up

I’ve written before about how post-Truth is more about accountability than it is about truth. When the atrocities of American torture were revealed, Obama wanted to “look forward” rather than hold his predecessors to any form of legal or moral accountability. This bore fruit when Trump elected torture-enabler Gina Haspel to lead the CIA, and the wheels kept on turning. The lies, the delusions, the mayhem: these things need to be accounted for. The only way for America to avoid destruction is not to reach across the aisle. Appeasement toward fascism doesn’t really have any successful, historical precedents. Democrats need to implement the beneficial, popular agendas that the people actually need regardless of how many lies are spun, and hold accountable those who are literally committing treason, up to and including the 45th president. This isn’t partisanship. It’s sanity.

Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed!  “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more.  What great fortune you have!”

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.  “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said.  “What terrible luck you have!”

“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.

The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”

The man smiled to himself and said: “We’ll see.”

Such wisdom in the labourers of the land

Then, Donald Trump was elected president after running a campaign built on a foundation of vilifying Muslims and Mexicans, and bragging about sexual assault. The aghast neighbours complained to the farmer, “This is horrifying! Nothing could possibly be worse!”

The old farmer, unmoved, said, “We’ll see.”

In a few years, Donald Trump was impeached for a minority of the crimes he had committed while in office. And, despite the repudiation by the Republican-controlled senate, the neighbours were jubilant. “Finally, history will recognize the illegitimacy of this president! This is terrific!”

The old farmer, managing the various trade wars impacting agriculture at the time, said, “We’ll see.”

All of a sudden, there was a global pandemic. There were murder hornets. Donald Trump was advising people to inject bleach in lieu of the medically-proven preventative measure of wearing a mask. People were dying. Businesses were shutting down. The neighbours, ignoring social distancing measures, approached the old man. “This is apocalyptic! Surely you’ll acknowledge the objective fact that this is terrible! Come on, old man! What is your absolute deal!?”

The old farmer, nothing if not consistent, replied, “We’ll see.”

In this universe, rural voters are consistently Democrats.

Joe Biden won the election with a 7 million majority over Donald Trump. The first Blasian woman vice president was on his ticket. He had promised to bring the country back to normal. The neighbours, exhausted, said, “Doesn’t normal sound good? After all we’ve been through!? We just want to go to the movies and hug our loved ones. That’s not so much to ask! This is a good thing! Normal is good!”

The old farmer, the scope of whose lexicon is somewhat concerning, said, “We’ll see.”

After having fomented a soft coup for months, Donald Trump began an attempt to overthrow democracy. He lied about the election results, and went to bizarre lengths to discredit long-established norms. He refused to accept the results, and his enforcement of personal loyalty paid off as sycophants began to fall in line behind him. The neighbours, having developed this wonderful parabolic relationship with the old farmer, rushed to talk to him about it. “America is crumbling. Europe is literally breaking apart. The world order is shifting seismically. We will break you, old man! Something is going to get through!”

Quoth the old farmer, “We’ll see.”

And then 2020 ended. The year from hell had finished its revolution around the sun. The neighbours, their ranks thinned by the pandemic, collapsed at the doorway of the old farmer. “We did it! We made it to the end! This is cause for celebration!”

The old farmer, noticing a tickle in his throat, coughed. “We’ll see.”

Now, I don’t know who is reading this: you could be different from me. Presumably you at least speak English, but that may be where our similarities end! For the sake of simplicity, however, I will refer to my reader and myself as an “us”, so strap in, because we’re in this together whether you like it or not.

The people who are different from us are often perceived as threatening. Different means unknown, and fear and the unknown go together like jam on toast. Some people don’t like jam on toast; those people are different and therefore threatening.

I’ve got my eye on you…

The thing is, harm can come from anyone. People who are different may be spookily unknown, but people who are the same as us can be just as, if not more, dangerous. Sexual assault is predominantly perpetrated by someone who is familiar to the victim, and intimate partner violence, which makes up a quarter of reported violent crimes, requires sameness as people who are in relationships often have similar backgrounds and perceptions of the world.

Difference is ultimately irrelevant to someone’s predilection toward causing harm. If I were to assume that the people who are like me are not dangerous, then I have to do some serious self-reflection about whether or not I am fundamentally harmless. If I am, huzzah! But if I am belligerent, mistrustful, aggressive or maybe I just condone violence against those who are different from me, then it is not difference that is the threat, but sameness.

Take a good, long look

It could be argued that fear of the unknown, and aggressiveness against it as a defense mechanism, is basic human nature, and maybe it is. Which means, in fact, that sameness is the problem, since all those scary people who do things differently from us are only a threat if they follow our all-to-human pattern of aggression toward difference. Luckily, we can socialize ourselves away from this mutually-assured destruction. Civilization itself is a means of overcoming human nature, so it is not unprecedented.

Exposure to and the embracing of the different is literally the only way to grow. New ideas, different skill levels, different approaches to a problem: these do not arise under familiar circumstances. If someone has a different way of connecting to their spirituality, or a different way of understanding gender, or any number of different ways of being different, then this is an opportunity to learn. Difference isn’t a threat, it is an opportunity every time.

The threat comes from those who want everybody to be the same.