I’ve said before that I take after George Orwell. Disinformation scares me more than bombs. As bad as they are, bombs don’t lie. They don’t make it impossible to tell truth from falsehood. They are trying to kill you.

But there’s one thing that scares me even more than that. It’s indifference. As bad as things are right now, as unpopular as this president is, I don’t think enough Americans are scared enough, or enraged enough. As bad as things are, I fear that most people, but especially middle-class white liberals, are not inspired nearly enough to care.

White and relatively affluent people, even when they think of themselves as liberals, have the power to turn the whole thing off, as if it were just another tasteless reality TV show. They can go to work with other white and affluent people, maybe even a majority of whom think of themselves as liberal and not think much about it.

A major consequence of this being the world as it is: caring is a choice. Fascism is about punching down, but it’s not punching down on white people (not yet). To be sure, many white people do care about the damage Trump is doing to our communities and institutions, our discourse and democracy. That, however, is still a choice.

Another major consequence of this being the world as it is: even if white people care, do they care enough? I’m dubious. It’s natural to focus on the 2020 presidential election. My fear is most white liberals will celebrate if Donald Trump is defeated and then stop. They won’t go farther. They will pat themselves on the back, just as they did after Barack Obama’s victory, while ignoring, as they did after 2008, the fascist politics that would quickly take over the Republican Party within a mere two years.

The Republican Party no longer recognizes the validity and hence the legitimacy of Democratic control of any branch of state and federal government. Republican allies, especially white evangelical leaders, are whipping their followers into a frenzy, warning that impeaching the president is tantamount to defying God. Trump has already called rivals “enemies of the people” and “human scum.” Political violence is their one and only answer.

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White liberals, I suspect, don’t care enough. But it’s not only because their skin color shields them from the worst of fascist politics (so far). Liberals, but especially white liberals, don’t truly understand why anyone would vote for a troglodyte like Trump. And they don’t understand, I suspect, because they have not experienced the depth of authoritarianism that animates him.

The right side of history might prevail. But even then, there’s no guarantee. Imagine, for instance, the president’s reaction to losing in 2020. Will he concede to the will of the people? Will he respect the peaceable transfer of power? No. He will no doubt blame defeat on an international conspiracy to bring him down, thus fueling and justifying any reaction, including political violence, to a new Democratic president.

JOHN STOEHR is the editor and publisher of The Editorial Board.

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(2) comments

Scott Douglas Laxier

Looking at what's actually happening, I'd say this is spot on. In addition...

Let's encourage community members to join the growing number of folks budgeting 10-15 minutes a day to Civic Duty, making phone calls, sending letters/postcards to reps near and far, signing petitions, showing up at the offices of elected officials. I've heard, "None of that makes a difference". This could be considered a convenient, though severely flawed, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Every day many of us have the choice to stand up for our passions. Rather than pontificate, fingerpoint, whine, walk around fearful, why not choose to activate one's passions? Might we astound the greedsters with a wave of Civic Engagement? Surely, there are community members overworked, sick, overwhelmed, unable to join the Resistance. In a civil, just, evolving society, this citizen believes it's the duty of the rest of us to fight for the voiceless, the folks who don't have the privilege of using Civic Engagement to be heard.

In case you haven't noticed, greed, deceit, extreme religious ideology, rascism, sexism, white privilege don't take a day off. This would be an essential time to make one's voice heard. I'm interested in a sustainable future; how about you? It's demands effort.

Otis Needleman

This has to be a joke, right? Why don't we look at the Democrats' reactions to Trump's election? I remember demonstrations the very night of his election. I remember "celebrities" publicly asking Electoral College electors to change their votes. I remember public calls for President Trump's impeachment within one week of his being inaugurated. I remember all the time and money wasted on the Mueller "report", only to see him sit like a deer in the headlights when making his public presentation on the report. I see President Trump being criticized for not aging enough in office. I see Democrat "professors" making fun of a young boy who happens to be Donald Trump's son.

Ike was President when I was born. Have seen many Presidents, but none as vilified from the very moment of his election as Donald Trump. So instead of worrying about Trump's reaction to losing to 2020, why don't we discuss the Democrats' reaction to losing in 2020? Face it, they are pushing this "impeachment" farce because the Democrats know they have no candidate who can beat President Trump. They've certainly made fools of themselves during the star-chamber "hearings". President Trump will not be convicted if impeached. He will win in 2020. The Democrats have just spent nearly four years showing the nation that they put the Democratic Party ahead of the nation. We see it. We know who puts us first, and it sure isn't the Democrats.

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