Apocalypse Now

From a recent letter to the editor: “… Biden and his cabal of leftists are crushing American energy with their America Last policies, focusing on climate change, proposing massive new taxes, and denying we are in a recession…”

From another: “ … This country is better and deserves better than people like Schwab who really do nothing more than sling insults aimed at degrading and discounting large groups of people simply because they have a different view …”

Apocalyptic times call for apocalyptic writing; mine, too. I wonder, though, how writer #2 would characterize #1. He also implied, if cheek-tongued, that my opinions make me a domestic terrorist. When it comes to hyperbole, it seems, we’re in it together. It’s nice, as Americans, to share.

Except that in the latter case, the writer, whose Facebook page contains warnings by fact-checkers that his posts are false, misstates and repeats a claim about calling decent conservative citizens “domestic terrorists” because they disagree with “liberal” positions. That assertion, we don’t share. Characterizations of domestic terrorism have been applied by proper definition; such as to Proud Boys, who invaded the US capitol on January 6, and to citizens screaming their way into school board meetings, aflame with the false notion that Critical Race Theory is being taught, and/or overblown LGBT lies, threatening violence to board members, their families and homes.

It’s not about disagreement, #2: it’s about violence, real or threatened. Disagreement is good for democracies. Tell that to Donald Trump.

Not that writer #1 was better informed. President Biden has, in fact and to the dismay of climate activists, okayed more drilling on federal lands. This he did with rising gas prices in mind. As to “crushing American energy,” he and Democrats, seeing the climate on the wall, are pushing, wisely, for alternative energy innovation, in which America could and should become the world leader. Massive new taxes? Only on billion-dollar corporations making record profits even as they jack their prices. The money raised by and the programs in the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit all Americans. And, yes, reduce inflation. Not all of us see that as a bad thing. Same with “focusing on climate change.” Dangerous as they are, though, I don’t consider her opinions akin to domestic terrorism, as #2 might, if other-shoe-footed.

Those two letters are but a tiny sample of the disinformation, deliberate or due to unwitting Trumpofoxification, in rightwing apocalyptic claims. Supporters of Trump, listeners to Tucker, buy their lies about Democrats wanting to “destroy you.” Or quash dissent. On the rare occasions they specify, it’s about “grooming your children” to become gay, transgender, or dinner. Or wide-open borders, bringing in illegals to vote Democratic. None of which are remotely true. Otherwise, it’s just inchoate fear-mongering. And wishing our problems away, which, unlike Trump, President Obama and President Biden didn’t.

Would the “liberal agenda” destroy America? Depends on which America. If it’s the longed-for one where gays were closeted, women had little control over their reproductive decisions, climate change could be ignored, minorities found it extra-difficult to vote and “knew their place,” then yes. Liberalism is about equality, economic fairness, addressing climate change, fair election laws, protecting humanity and the environment from industrial poisons, ensuring quality public education and more widely-available, less-expensive healthcare. And science.

It’s an agenda aimed at making life better for all Americans, including Trumpists. Other than those who’d make America an evangelical Christian theocracy, lacking public education, accessible healthcare, and unrestricted access to voting. And those who believe Trump’s obvious lies. Those lies aren’t the apocalypse: believing them is.

The Trumpublican agenda favors only the very wealthy, and corporate CEOs who prefer to be unregulated. They no longer pretend otherwise. We’ll all suffer, Trumpists included, from ignoring climate change. And forced birth. They may think they’ll “stick it to the libs” forever by preventing fair voting and promoting Christian Nationalism, but forever lasts a long time. So does history.

What about blocking funds for veterans suffering from burn-pit poisons, then fist-bumping their joy, for no legitimate reason but the aforementioned lib-sticking? (After the deserved uproar, it passed, but their first instinct is illuminating. Eleven R senators still voted no.) Twenty House Republicans voted against a child-trafficking bill. Eight abstained. Refusing to stand against pedophilia. Why, for God’s sake?

If some far-lefties propose defunding police, for example, they’re not mainstream. Election lies, by contrast, and anti-democratic laws that follow, are central to Trumpublicanism. So is nominating unqualified crackpots to office. If both sides claim their opposite will destroy America, only one seeks progress for Americans of all kinds, while the other seeks to block it. Come November, vote accordingly.

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Sid Schwab

Retired surgeon. Published author. Blogger. Columnist. Losing hope that American democracy can survive Republican attempts to end it.