Another State of the Union Address

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western MA.

Two months after Biden’s State of the Union address here is another address:

Ladies and Gentleman, I want to inform you that the State of the Union has weakened. Not since the time of the Civil War has our country been so divided. Our divisions today are fracturing our country and approaching the gravity of the events which preceded the Civil War. While there are likely several reasons for this demise, three problems seem particularly relevant. One reason is that the racial violence epitomized by the Civil War has prevailed despite the ending of the Civil War. Furthermore, racial violence has been endemic to the American culture since the founding of the nation. While many different groups of people have suffered from racial intolerance, nothing compares to the horrors that have been systematically inflicted upon Black people. Black people and other people of color have always known that there are two kinds of justice in America. There is one system of justice for white people and a different kind of “justice” for people of color (unless you are very wealthy). For far too long, wealth has been to purchase a very special kind of “justice”. Without justice we will never be a strong country.

A second and related reason for the weakening of America is the current level of enmity that many Americans possess toward each other. In the 1990’s Newt Gingrich emerged as the spokesperson for a new kind of rhetoric in the national political discourse. Gingrich’s vile, vicious, belligerent, and hate-filled speech became a new and different way of vilifying your opponents while at the same time titillating large segments of the media. According to Gingrich, members of the other party were no longer simply your opponents; instead, they were despicable people deserving of your scorn. For Gingrich, it was not enough to defeat your opponents, your opponents needed to be obliterated. Before the Gingrich era, the country had prized the notion of statesmanship – the idea that any politician could and would rise above their own political party persuasions to protect and defend the important core values of America. Almost single handedly, Gingrich buried the ideal of statesmanship. Trump capitalized on the Gingrich rhetoric and converted it to a kind of euphoria of joy, pleasure and endless entertainment.    

A third reason is the way a fascination and proliferation of lies has overtaken the media. This pattern appeared most dramatically at the very beginning of the Trump presidency with Kellyanne Conway asserting that: “We have alternate facts.” However, the foundation for Conway’s “alternate facts” had already been firmly established in Fox News and its notion of “Balanced” reporting. Instead of the prevailing practice of diligence in journalism and the importance of unearthing and revealing the truth, Fox brandished the idea that fairness was the more important construct. Soon Fox’s superficial façade of fairness and balanced reporting became a “he said/she said” environment in which any unfounded, ridiculous, and extreme opinion was assumed to have some factual basis to it. Trump mastered this technique and quickly learned that the more outrageous the statement, the more attention his statement garnered. By fanning the flames of ridiculous and outrageous lies, Trump and others’ habitual practice of lying contributed directly to the results of a survey published in The Atlantic, March 2023 where 16% of 20,000 adult respondents sampled agreed that the government, media and financial worlds are controlled by Satan-worshiping pedophiles. Really? Extrapolating to the entire American adult population, could that mean that 40 million American adults believe that America is controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles? Let’s drastically reduce that number to a mere one or two million adults. How shocking is that? What has happened to this country?

Are we at a juncture of time when we are witnessing the early stages of the end of the American Empire? Afterall, just because on the surface Jan 6th did not look exactly like the way we are accustomed to seeing governments being overthrown, it does not mean that threat was not Real! We have been trained into thinking that revolutions look like tanks, military troops, explosions, and gunfire everywhere, and presidents fleeing their countries. Look again! This was no mere protest. “Stop the Steal” was not about postponing the election of Mr. Biden. It was about preventing him from becoming president. Imagine if Mr. Biden is not confirmed on Jan. 6th? The entire process of the orderly transfer of power would be broken and extinguished. As President on Jan 7th, Trump can quite naturally invoke martial law to restore order and bring together whatever military forces he wants to secure his position. Trump’s Supreme Court and many of his other judges would not likely impede him. Afterall, the courts have never been in this situation before. There is no precedent for this situation (not that precedent seems to matter to these courts). There it is: a complete collapse of American democracy and there is no one with authority to stop it.





Alan Kanner

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western MA.