Thursday, October 1, 2020

Don't Give In to Voter Intimidation


Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone*

I was upset and disappointed the other night. 

I turned the debate off after about 20 minutes knowing I could read about the outcome in the morning. Mr. Trump is a walking disaster as a human being and a 1950s-era, grade B horror movie as president.

He is not only a psychopath, responsible for the deaths of over 205,000 Americans, he is the clear king of grifters and historically the unequaled traitor of the people of the U.S., clearly beholding to whomever holds his $421 million in debt… a discovery that I hope will soon be ferreted out. 

Trump’s loyal supporters certainly will never leave his side. 

Still, my hope is “the undecided” will begin to understand that they must vote this November to save their own lives and the future of their children and grandchildren in the USA our parents and ancestors helped to create.

For me, the most disconcerting moment of the night occurred with Mr. Trump’s comments supporting and enlisting the help of the neo-fascist, Proud Boys. Instead of disavowing violence, as Mr. Wallace asked him to do, he sent a clear message of support to one of the most violent, white supremacist domestic terrorist groups by telling them to, “Stand Back and Stand By”. 

Mr. Trump, the President of the United States, is clearly inciting riot, civil discord, and rebellion against the United States of America.

(See: Revealed: pro-Trump activists plotted violence ahead of Portland rallies, Jason Wilson and Robert Evans,, 23 Sep 2020. “Patriots Coalition members suggested political assassinations and said ‘laws will be broken, people will get hurt’, leaked chats show”.)

Not since the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era has a call to violence been so clearly sent and received than those words spewed by Mr. Trump to the likes of the Proud Boys.

Two historians describe the Reconstruction Era, a time most of our schools never discussed in civics or history class.

"Then, with the radical Reconstruction, you get political violence... You get organized groups -- the Ku Klux Klan and others, like the White League in Louisiana, the Knights of the White Camelia... whose purpose is to obstruct and destroy Reconstruction government, to assassinate or intimidate black and white Republican officials, to use violence to prevent people from voting. And this is quite widespread throughout the South. It's not a central organization. It's local groups all over the place. But they have the common goal of restoring white supremacy -- politically speaking, but also in many other areas. Blacks who get into contract disputes with their employers are often victims of the Klan. School teachers are victims of the Klan, people like that. In other words, they're trying to use violence to restore a system of white supremacy that's been disrupted by the coming of Reconstruction." - Eric Foner

"...This is a part of American history that isn't easy to face. It tells us that we had a moment in our history when our politics broke down, our society broke down, our police power broke down; the government wasn't functioning sufficiently enough to protect one group of citizens from another who simply engaged in wanton vigilante violence of the worst kind. We don't like to face that. We don't even want to know about it. We like to believe we are a society of security and progress and improvement. Reconstruction makes us face an era when we were something else." - David Bligh

Fortunately, the Proud Boys, and others like them, appear to be few numbers, unlike the nightrider, hooded terrorists of post-civil War South. Still, they are armed and determined to cause pain for anyone not deemed “loyal enough” to Mr. Trump. 

Should the Proud Boys Trumpsters make good on their threats, My hope is that our nation will be lucky once again and find the likes of Gen. Grant within our leadership. 

As president (1869-1877) Grant enforced the Constitution, confronted, and put down white racists’ violence, outright murder, and mayhem throughout the south. It was President Grant who ordered federal troops to southern voting places to defend and protect newly enfranchised black Americans from white terrorists armed violence. And it was President Grant who put down the KKK and several other white supremacist groups following numerous acts of heinous torture, slaughter of unarmed men women and children and untold numerous acts of night-rider terrorism. (See Grant, Ron Chernow’s recent, best-selling biography.)

I fear the unpleasant times to come - no matter who wins in November.

For an outstanding analysis of Mr. Trump, the debate, and an insightful prognosis of Mr. Trump’s tactics, please read: Why You Don’t Have to Feel Sick About What Happened Last Night, A counterintuitively optimistic take on the first presidential debate, by Douglas Rushkoff, for GEN/Medium.

Douglas Rushkoff, is the CUNY Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics**

Here is a portion of the article:

"Biden’s biggest job last night was not to win on the issues. That’s the easy part. His real job is to convince people that voting itself can still work. To counter Trump’s psychological warfare. That’s why the most important thing by far that he said last night wasn’t a jab at Trump’s policies, it was affirmation of the political process.:

'He says he is not sure what he will accept, but it doesn’t matter. If we get the votes, it is all over. He will go. He cannot stay in power. It won’t happen. It won’t happen. Make sure you understand you have in your control to determine what the country will look like in the next four years.'

So no, last night was not a debate. It was more of a competition over our perception of reality. Trump showed that the only way he can win a debate or an election is to convince us that there’s nothing we can do to stop him. That resistance is futile.

But according to Trump’s own logic, all we need to do to defeat him is to believe otherwise, and vote. It’s that easy."

*The Plot Against America: The GOP’s Plan to Suppress the Vote and Sabotage the Election, Andy Kroll, RollingStone, 16 July 2020, Blocking ballots, intimidating voters, spreading misinformation — undermining democracy is at the heart of Trump’s 2020 campaign

**Douglas Rushkoff is Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens, where he founded the Laboratory for Digital Humanism. He is a columnist for Medium, technology and media commentator for CNN, a research fellow at the Institute for the Future, and a lecturer on media, technology, culture and economics around the world.

Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-published Team Human, based on his podcast, as well as the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks and the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus.

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