I’m not one to wish suffering on others, but what I wish for Trump’s followers is probably going to involve some of that and I’d acknowledge that with a good deal of sorrow. It’s not that I think anyone deserves to suffer, it’s just that I know from my own experience that it can be painful to find you’ve made a consequential mistake. As much as it might hurt, I’m dearly hoping that yesterday will be a rock bottom moment for many of Trump’s followers. The soul of this country depends on Trump’s followers forsaking their stubbornness, repudiating the lies, and listening to reason. Trump lost the election. His refusal to accept this is an authoritarian gambit. When his followers refuse to accept the will of their fellow citizens, they follow Trump in betraying democracy and freedom in favor of his authoritarian inclinations.
I listened to Trump’s rally speech yesterday morning and heard straight up incitement to insurrection, propped up by a litany of lies about election fraud. Trump’s sense of personal identity is based on “winning”, so of course he’ll choose delusion over ego-shattering demonstrable truth. But his enablers and followers really ought to know better at this point.
If even some of Trump’s allegations about the election being stolen from him were true, his campaign would not have racked up 62/63 cases lost or thrown out of court. To follow Trump in the election fraud delusion, at this point, would require doubting the integrity of thousands of elections officials, tens of thousands of election volunteers and hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens. Yet no one in Trump’s orbit can identify the guilty parties or cite credible evidence of fraud. On the other hand, we have Trump himself on tape for an hour just the other day trying his very hardest to tamper with election results.
The evidence for Biden’s win is documented in the certified election results of 50 states and the rulings of over 80 judges who have examined the Trump campaign’s allegations of fraud. There is no evidence of a Trump victory, just ever so many ungrounded lies coming from Trump and his enablers. The resulting bad faith among his followers now threatens the very foundations of our democratic republic.
What we saw at the capital yesterday was an armed insurrection. This was sedition. The fact that Trump’s followers were deluded into thinking they were acting patriotically doesn’t change this fact. Trump’s followers may be victims of his dishonesty, but they are also perpetrators of violence against this country and its democratic institutions.
I grew up in a country that was a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world. We have fallen. I’ve grieved that loss by degrees for four years. What happened at our capital yesterday was a shameful embarrassment and I doubt we can regain the trust and moral authority to be the global standard bearer for freedom and democracy again.
Yesterday, the USA got intubated. If we are going to recover from this, Trump’s supporters are going to have to be part of the healing. That’s going to involve accepting some personal responsibility. I dearly hope that enough of my fellow citizens who have fallen under Trump’s spell have the insight, courage, and integrity to see what Trump has brought us to and to do what they can to help mend the damage. The country we all love depends on this.