After one year of Donald Trump’s bizarre presidency and full control of federal government by the Medieval version of the Republican Party, rational Americans can only ask, how did it come to this?
How could the world’s preeminent democracy and only superpower elect such a clearly unethical, psychologically unbalanced and intellectually deficient man to the presidency? How could it continue to elect candidates of a political party who shamefully support that man in order to unabashedly pursue the selfish interests of the economic elite while callously disregarding everyone else and actively working to undermine the general welfare?
The answer is that too many Americans are not very smart. Smart meaning knowledgeable, logical and capable of critical thinking. These people want simple, formulaic answers to life’s complexities and the comfort of certainty in their beliefs.
Both can be found in ideology and religion. Combine these two and you have a psychological fortress of divine delusion where there is no need to consider any inconvenient information, opposing arguments or new ideas. Indeed, safe behind the thick walls of unquestioning belief you can smugly reject them all.
The arduous exertion of thinking, of risking the comfort of certainty by evaluating new data and trying to figure things out, is no longer necessary. Someone else has figured it all out for you. You just have to repeat the mantras and marvel at how easy it is to be smart by osmotic group-think.
Corrupt politicians and their special-interest clients thrive on misguided masses because such populations can be easily convinced and incited with partisan propaganda, conspiracy theories, opportune interpretations of scripture and “alternate facts.”
That all adult citizens can vote regardless of their knowledge and intelligence is the double-edged sword of democracy, and what has often made it a messy and a historically short-lived form of government eventually degenerating into autocracy.
Voter apathy is a common chronic complaint of concerned Americans, but it is a lesser threat to democracy than is an ill-informed, under-educated, reason-resistant electorate whose brains are basted in doctrine.
Greater numbers of such people voting does not strengthen democracy. Better that they stay away from the polls, but given the current condition of government, plenty of them do not.
Just how politically illiterate has America become? A recent poll by The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that 75 percent of Americans can’t name all three branches of government. A third can’t name even one branch of government or any of their First Amendment rights.
Do the nation’s schools no longer require classes in civics that teach the fundamentals of government and constitutional rights?
A population that doesn’t know what its rights are will be at the mercy of those who would rescind those rights.
This is already happening with elements of the Patriot Act, the War on Drugs, widespread unpunished police power abuses and other infractions of civil rights by overweening government.
The degradation of America’s cerebral cortex is evidenced by the the intense ideological identification and obedient partisan loyalty that has divided much of the nation into two bitterly opposed, irreconcilable, lizard-brained tribes that self-serving politicians and the forces of greed manipulate to their advantage.
So, while much of the nation is busily distracted in hating each other over ideological idiocy, the forces of greed are grabbing all they can get, and democracy is fraying.
The devices the Founding Fathers set up to protect our system of government from misguided masses and the conniving forces of greed are being undermined or outright failing.
The Electoral College failed to protect the nation from two of the three worst presidents the nation has had. Trump and President George W. Bush were crowned by the Electoral College in spite of the popular vote that would have kept these losers from wreaking havoc on the nation.
A bipartisan Congress devoted to the Constitution and more concerned with the nation than with political party impeached crooked President Richard Nixon, driving him from office. But, today’s Republican-controlled Congress might well have allowed Nixon to finish his second term.
I can offer no surefire bromides that might reverse the disturbing conditions that threaten American democracy today. I can only keep sounding the alarm and hoping that there are enough conscientious, independent thinking, rational citizens who will make the effort to protect and preserve our democratic heritage.
To those who are not, I say repent your sins of stupidity and embrace the exhilaration of full human consciousness. Question your beliefs. Suspend judgment until you have honestly considered more than one argument. Accept science and seek knowledge even if it disturbs you. There are some life mysteries that may never be explained. Don’t be frightened by that.
Don’t be a fool and it is less likely that you will be fooled — again.
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at email@example.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.