Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Silence of the Good People

When good people remain silent while there is evil in the world, evil triumphs.

A year from now, America will be a different place.   Perhaps by then, this pandemic would have run its course - with the help of a vaccine.   Trumpism will have self-destructed, as Trump, this very day, utterly destroys his own legacy.  Slowly, people are coming around to the idea that maybe Trump - and many in his circle, including Giuliani, are utterly off their rocker.  Even Tucker Carlson - a die-hard Trumper - has noped out on this deal.

But what people will remember, a year from now, are the people, particularly politicians, who stood by and said nothing, out of fear, or merely to be complicit.   People who wouldn't take a stand for principle, because they didn't want to lose support from a "base" or because the were hedging their bets - afraid that if somehow Trump did pull off a coup, there would be payback for those who were disloyal to him.  They might end up in a detention camp with Democrats!  Or worse...

There are a few brave people standing up to tyranny and what is now a bald-faced attempt to steal an election through extra-legal means.   Our Secretary of State (Brad Raffensperger) here in Georgia is - or was - a Trump supporter.  But he refused to alter the election results or parrot any of these conspiracy theories.  You see, we put in a new voting system this year, that collects paper ballots (either printed out by a voting machine or mailed-in after being filled out by hand) and then counts then electronically in another machine - leaving an electronic and paper trail.

Under the law setting up this new system, the Secretary of State was ordered to "audit" at least one election by hand-counting ballots and he chose - because of the so-called "controversies" to audit the Presidential race.  The count didn't change much, other than due to a clerical error in one county, whose election official has since been fired.   A recount is likely, as the margin is under 0.5%, but that will just machine-count the paper ballots.

The Secretary of State certified the outcome, and the Governor - another Trump supporter - will verify this today, as he has noted, he is obligated to do so under the law.  We are a nation of laws, not men, and these Republicans realized that if you start stealing elections, it will never end.  Because when the "other guy" comes into power, he'll do the same thing.   They did the right thing - along with election officials, poll watchers, poll workers, Judges, lawyers, and thousands of others - even if the outcome wasn't what they would have liked.   And many are facing death threats as a result.

Others, well, others are saying nothing, including most Republican members of Congress - House and Senate, including the Minority and Majority leaders, respectively.  Still others are hedging their bets - arguing that a Biden Presidency is inevitable, but doing nothing to quell the "stolen election" narrative - when the only person trying to steal an election is Trump himself.

Many are claiming that Trump will "lead" the Republican Party for years to come.  But it is not clear how this would actually work.  George Bush (either one) didn't "lead" the GOP after they left office, nor did Ronald Reagan.  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama didn't steer the Democratic Party after they left office - in fact, they sort of faded from view, to the disappointment of many.  If the Clintons were running the Democratic Party, then Hillary would have gotten the nomination back in 2008, instead of waiting until 2016.

And quite frankly, the spectacle we are seeing today may be what destroys the legacy of Trumpism.  Oh, sure, there are the hard-core Qanon believers - and "believer" is the key work - who, like one Texas Chiropractor profiled recently, will go to armed conflict, if Trump gives the word.   And that is a scary thing - not that people are willing to fight and die for a cause, but that people are willing to fight and die for a rumor that has been proven false time and time again.

We've had a Civil War in this country - killed more people than all the other wars we've been in, combined.   But it was over a real issue - slavery.  And no, please don't try that "well, there were economic and other issues like State's rights!"   The economic issue was slavery.  The State's Rights in question was the rights of States to allow slavery.  The point is, that was a war fought over a very real and very troubling issue - not a rumor of slavery or a conspiracy theory about slavery, but slavery.

Similarly, World War II was about the very real threat of fascism, which was taking over half the world at the time.   We had to decide whether to live in a world safe for democracy, or abandon our allies to a fascist regime that routinely slaughtered millions.  It wasn't based on rumors or conspiracy theories.

But fighting and dying for Qanon?   I mean, come on, be serious!  But there will always be a few nutjobs that will believe just about anything, I guess.

Others, not so much.  As I noted before, I have no problem with people who have different opinions than mine - provided they have some rational basis.  My Catholic friend is against abortion.   My developer friend wants lower taxes and fewer regulations.   There is an internal consistency to their logic.  They voted for Trump based on these issues, not because they love Trump.  In fact, many of them didn't like Trump at first, or still do not, but "held their nose and voted" because they liked the policy perks they were getting - judicial nominees, tax cuts, and so on and so forth.

These people never went to Trump rallies or wore MAGA hats.  And the are not married to Trump at all (unlike Melania, until January 21st).   They will switch their allegiance in 2024 to the next Republican Presidential Nominee, and there are many people jockeying for that position already.   I doubt Trump will be on the ticket - I think four years of raking over the ashes of his administration will repulse the vast majority of Republicans - who will all claim in retrospect not to have liked Trump at all.

The core group of MAGA-hat wearers - the under-educated, racist, and xenophobic rural voters may still admire him, and probably put up statues of him, on the no-vacant Confederate pedestals in the courthouse square.  But the "core" supporters are not enough to get elected, as the last election shows.  What's more, they are likely to vote GOP in any event.   However, denouncing Trump might bring you a nomination fight the next time around, if you are House or Senate Republican.

That's the math they are doing.   If they denounce Trump, they lose the base and lose the nomination to a far-right Qanon supporter, as traditionally, only the wacky extremists (of both parties) vote in Primaries (except in places like here in Georgia, where we have open primaries).   But the other half of the equation is tricky - you might win the nomination by appeasing the far-right, but lose the general election by alienating the centrists.

We have a Senate runoff election coming up here in Georgia on January 5th.  The two GOP candidates are rabid Trump supporters who have been caught with their hands in the kitty (Trump-style) trading stocks based on insider information they received while in office.  Since none of the candidates received 50% of the vote (again, Georgia law) there is a runoff, and runoffs are historically not well-attended.   But history is being made, this time around - perhaps.

David Perdue received 49.7% of the vote, and if he received the 2.3% the "Libertarian" candidate received, he would have won.  3rd party candidates are spoilers - again!  Jon Osshoff has some catching-up to do, in order to win.  Needless to say, the GOP is trying to pain Osshoff as some sort of Communist.

Kelly Loeffler - a real piece of work who was appointed, not elected, received 29.5% of the vote in a free-for-all no-primary race with more than a dozen candidates (Georgia law, again!) while Reverend Ralph Warnock received 32..9%   Again, Warnock has some catching up to do, as if you add up all the GOP candidate votes, they exceed the Democratic votes.  Most pundits expect both races to be won by the Republican candidates, so don't get your hopes up.

Funny thing, that.   In Georgia and across the nation, Republican candidates for House and Senate were re-elected or even flipped some Democratic seats.   It is clear that Biden won the election only because some Republicans voted Democratic at the top of the ticket and voted Republican down-ballot.   In other words, they were independents, who were sick of the drama and nonsense of Trump and were willing to go along with a more centrist Democrat who wasn't Hillary and wasn't Bernie.   They refused to be silent and go along with things.

And that is why Trump is melting down.   He realizes that the vast majority of people who voted for him were voting for Republican values and not him, personally.   Trump though that people loved him, and indeed the rally-goers and MAGA-hat wearers are enamored of the cult of personality.  But more than anything, the election was a repudiation of Trumpism, not necessarily a repudiation of Republican policies (Ms. AOC - are you listening?   Biden's win is not a mandate for far-leftist politics!).

So in a way, I get it as to why some of these Senators and House members are remaining silent - they are up for re-election in 2022 and don't want to be seen as a "traitor" to the Trump cause and lose a primary race to a Qanon believer.   But then again, someone has to break down and break the news to Trump - and stand up for what is right and stand up for the truth - as our Secretary of State here in Georgia has done.  Mitch McConnell really doesn't have to worry about losing his Senate seat - not for at least six more years, by which time, he will likely be retired or dead.   What is stopping him from saying out loud what everyone is thinking?

Dr. King had it right.  Years from now, we will condemn those who have used vitriol and violence to try to sway this election.   But a special place in hell will be reserved for those who choose to remain silent and go along, even as they knew it was wrong, because they didn't want to rock the boat.

If someone like Tucker Carlson can speak the truth, why not others?