Last week, I wrapped up an eight day stretch of work on New Year’s Eve with a late transfer, leaving me with all of a half-hour to finish, edit and proof a final post for 2020. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough time, and most of it wasn’t worth reading as it was essentially a recap of how I landed where I am now. I figured I’d come up with something inspirational about how bright 2021 looked. Then Wednesday happened, and I took another nosedive as a childhood dominated by anxiety resurfaced. While every president has been accused by the opposing party of plotting to make their office permanent, Trump was the first one I actually believed capable of accomplishing this because of what he brought out in people.
On November 8, 2016, my ballot was cast for a Democratic Presidential Candidate for the first time. After that, I gradually shut down from the steady stream of negativity I got from friends and family as the pure vitriol never quite crossed the line into what I perceived as a full-blown threat. This situation, like my emotional overload, didn’t happen overnight. After listening to an episode of The Current on CBC about it, I realize that the extreme right has indeed been here all along. I’d rationalized that they were a small bunch of nuts gorging on FOX News 24/7, harmless and scattered in remote rural areas, and that the phenomenon of Trump was a fluke of people easily persuaded by a business man. January 6, 2021 made me realize that my belief that fundamental radicals are a lot more common than I’d been raised believing.
I grew up in that fundametalist world where Red Dawn was prophecy and the best that I could hope for was dying a martyr for either country or religion. We were an isolated few against the world and everyone not us was bent on our complete destruction, spurred by Satan and organized by the Freemasons. I remember listening to a set of cassettes while driving back and forth to college my freshman year and believing that knowledge of what they contained could get me killed as surely as if I’d been caught as a spy in Nazi Germany. Most of my family still thinks that way, some so devoutely that I wonder if they don’t get a high off it somehow, and my refusal to think that way has resulted in steadily increasing isolation over the last four years. I don’t agree with some things the Left champions, but I think good compromises can be made I don’t see them actually trying to take away my rights. For admitting that, I have lost friends and been cut off from family because you can’t stand in the middle of the spectrum. You are either/or, not both or neither.
I could just blame the media for how these people act. There are so many contributing factors that I’ve mulled over in my spare time over the last three days trying to put it into words that anybody might understand and nobody would be offended by, but I can’t. So I’m going to say what I have to say, with the best intentions and as respectfully as I can. If just one person understands one aspect I put forth here, then it’s worth the rest who will hate me.
There is no convincing these people, these far-right nuts, even in a one-on-one conversation, that the information they are going on is incorrect, inaccurate or irrational. They have completely suspended all reality and replaced it with something that would make a great 1980s apocalyptic action flick. Anything or anyone who questions that fantasy is automatically discredited for no reason other than it is not part of the rhetoric. No amount of facts or hard evidence can prove a thing to them that does not fit their world view. Even before Trump came along, there were times I didn’t feel safe from members of my own family because my understanding of the world was shifting, and I was becoming too “liberal” which in their reference was one step away from Satan himself. They forcefully tie religion into politics, and, emboldened by Trump those threats I wrote off as mental illness and toxic manipulation, have steadily grown into what we saw this past Wednesday. Yes, I believed the far-right capable of violence, but I believed they were just a bunch of talkers, too busy hiding behind their guns to actually act.
I know some folks will likely hate me for saying this, claiming I’m pleading mercy for racists and religious homophobes, but I’m going to say it anyway. These people are convinced that their entire identity is under attack. They have been conditioned through the Cold War, chosen one themed fiction and religious end times prophisies from kooks with just enough education to read that everyone is coming to destroy them and their world. By conceding to something so simple as allowing a non-Christian to “pray” before a public event they will litterally sign their own death warrants. Maybe they are that power hungry. Maybe they are overreacting to few court cases that said they couldn’t use public property for anything religious. I don’t know! I’m not here to justify or excuse their behavior. I’m here attempting to explain how they think and why. They need to accept that change is coming, and that they need to adapt to that and realize that the world is not going to end just because a Democrat sits in the Oval Office. They need to learn to share power and resources, but I don’t know how to prove it to them when my own family calls me a libtard for even suggesting that fact!
It is reasonable to believe that once Trump, a man whose rhetoric makes these people feel safe to speak, leaves office, the far right will go back “into hiding.” I say that, because I know they won’t disappear. They have been here since our country was founded. Hopefully, they never get so emboldened as to attempt another coups. I’m sure the next administration will pass laws which will force changes by either steps or leaps which will lead to “new norms” in our culture. Everyone, including the far right, will get used to it and change for better and worse. One can only hope they will eventually just coexist with it. In some cases, that’s the best we can hope for.
I hope we never come to this point again. No matter which side “holds power,” we come dangerously close to destroying every chance of ever getting along. Good and bad, this is a nation of human beings, and we have a better opportunity than most to improve ourselves individually and as a country. After this, I hope we move forward towards solutions instead of stalling out and bickering over party policy until we have no breath left and no heart to keep going.