The End of an Era:
David Hackett Fischer wrote Albion’s Seed in 1989. In it, he discussed in considerable detail the folkways of the settlers of the American Colonies who came from four distinct regions of Great Britain, and whose cultural traits are still deeply embedded in our county’s DNA.
The ones giving us the most trouble these days — the same as those who supported the Confederacy in 1860–1865 — were the so-called “English-Scots,” which gave rise to the Appalachian culture. These folks carried with them a culture forged in a thousand years of brutal conflict. Trusting only family and clan, prone to violence, deeply mistrustful of authority, given to pregnancies that proceeded marriage, and even abduction rituals as a playful part of any marriage celebration, this was a wild, warrior culture with a lawless streak.
They are the ones who proudly march, without facemasks, carrying signs that read: “My body, my choice. NO ONE can tell me to wear a mask!”
They are the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois, QAnon, the Three Percenters network, the Wolverine Watchmen. They are the conspiracy-spouting, militia-joining gun nuts who want a civil war and a race war, and who believe that a pure white U.S. of A. is the only acceptable America for them.
These folks suffer from profound deficits of trust and, in extreme cases, they project that onto all levels of government. The less paranoid ones still harbor doubts about all forms of government other than what is immediately in front of them: town or city council. County, state and federal authority is highly suspect.
Logical thinking? Consistency of principles? Not so much. They bleat about “election fraud” when it comes to Trump, but the down-ticket races are “just fine” if Republicans win. Hmmm….
We used to have a sense of sportsmanship in this country. The winners win, the losers lose, and we all go on our merry way. The losers hope to do better next time, and they learn whatever lessons they can find in the event. The winners would be gracious, and the losers would be equally gracious in wishing the successful candidate the best of luck.
Nowadays, a large percentage of the country — I suspect those from the Appalachian culture discussed above — cannot bear the notion of loss. If they lose, it had nothing to do with the poverty of their platform, or their miserable messages. Instead, it was all about cheating, “election fraud,” and the like.
It’s interesting to note that the “Fraudmeister” himself, Donald Trump, was the chief orchestrator of all these claims of election shenanigans. What’s the old phrase, “the accuser is always the doer?” So true, especially in these circumstances.
What’s in Front of Us?
Trump’s final 15 days in office will undoubtedly be chaotic. His cognitive dysfunction, his insane separation from reality, are all spinoffs from a life without consequence. He’s been a spoiled rich brat all his life, doing whatever he wanted without punishment. His mother — physically present, but an emotionless vacuum — gave him no support when and where he needed it. His father, a racist brute and moneygrubber, only supported Trump when he “won.” In any other case, losing was simply unacceptable to the senior Trump, and it left Donald without a balanced psyche.
Trump was highly successful in conning the Appalachians to support him. They were rude, boisterous, indifferent to courtesy and civility, and were easily convinced to support someone who gave the appearance of being successful, but who seemed to share their values and spoke their language. Naturally, these simple folks had no idea of the disdain in which they were viewed by the Trumps; they thought the Trump Family was one of them. How little did they know.
But now, given the convergence of the pandemic, the crashed economy, the overwhelming climate crisis, and the inevitable need for racial justice, Trump has more than lost the election: he’s facing criminal charges for tax evasion, money laundering, insurance and business fraud, election fraud, witness tampering, interference with criminal investigations, and a host of other crimes. Members of his family, as well as his sycophantic fellow-travelers, are also in the cross-hairs of district attorneys and attorneys general.
President-Elect Biden has made it abundantly clear that he does not intend in any way to interfere with the workings of the Department of Justice. Their decisions to investigate and, if necessary, to prosecute those suspected of criminal activity are DOJ decisions, alone.
We need these prosecutions to be undertaken quickly and effectively. There is talk of impeachment, too. Many would say, “Well, with only a couple of weeks to go, what’s the point?”
The point is that with the latest criminal activity — Trump’s 68 minutes-long phone call on Saturday, January 2, 2021, to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, threatening him with criminal prosecution unless the Mr. Raffensperger managed to “find” 11, 780 votes for the President — Trump was soliciting election fraud and was using force and fear to attempt to intimidate the Secretary to break the law. Fortunately, Mr. Raffensperger was wise enough to tape record the entire conversation, and all of the elements of the crimes were vividly present throughout the call. Atlanta’s newly-elected District Attorney, Fani Willis, has made it clear that she will prosecute anyone who she believes has committed a crime in Fulton County, Georgia (where Atlanta is located). That would include Trump.
And it is this felonious criminal activity while Trump was President that would justify the launching of impeachment proceedings. The trial could take place even months from now, and the point that if found guilty in a Senate trial, Trump could not run for a second term in 2024. THAT would be a significant benefit for this country.
But, beyond the prosecutions and all of the related political juggling, America is facing dramatic changes in its character. We need to return to listening to one another. We need to stop the aggressive, lawless, racist attitudes and recognize our common humanity. We say we love our children. We won’t have any children if we allow Mother Earth to die. We won’t have a country to be proud of if we give up our fundamental principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We won’t have the respect of other countries if we don’t first respect ourselves — and we won’t be able to respect ourselves if we continue to act like ignorant, stupid, stumblebums who abuse our wives and children and others who don’t look like or worship like us.
In short, now that the Era of Trump is over, it’s time for us to grow up, to embrace that which is good and wholesome and healthy for us as people, and for the planet on which we live. Now is the time for a new beginning: an era in which we start to show some dignity as citizens of the World, as people who respect others and who are willing to lead lives based on the search for meaning, rather than playing video games, chasing the pipe dream of material wealth, of ego-quests that result in no lasting changes.
Now is the time for a new American Civilization.