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Photo illustration by JUXTA. Flag photo by Ralph Kayden, Unsplash

The battle continues for America’s soul

We must own what is done in our names

This presidential transition is as wild and ugly as the mind of our outgoing leader. But the system is holding thanks to the strength of many people in the face of a pathological narcissist’s unhinged demands. Public servants at the state and federal levels, and dozens of judges including Trump appointees, have resisted being misused by a president who refuses to accept his loss or respect the rule of law. Still, millions of families face homelessness and hunger.

Here’s another problem: When our wannabe dictator departs, his enablers will remain. Not his cronies, mind you, but 74 million voters. The problems that roiled us in 2020 are unresolved as 2021 begins. To our credit, 81 million voted to remove a manifestly unfit leader, while new leaders continue to emerge. From business to the arts to affinity groups, innovation is devising solutions to the challenges of a pandemic.

2020, however, has placed structural problems in high relief. The undemocratic nature of the Electoral College means that, despite Biden’s popular vote margin of more than seven million, a flip of 44,000 votes in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin could have caused an electoral vote tie. As it is, if we do not win both Senate runoffs in Georgia on January 5, Biden will not be able to pass any bill or confirm any judge Mitch McConnell doesn’t like. The runoffs themselves are an artifact of efforts to keep black people from winning elections.

Amid all this, determined organizing and high voter turnout have brought new energy to the struggle for majority rule. Stacey Abrams in Georgia has conducted a master class in effective organizing. Openly gay Pennsylvania state representative Malcolm Kenyatta has shown remarkable acumen, fierceness, and poise in resisting GOP election theft.

We must emulate Stacey and Malcolm if we are to break the fever of irrationality stoked by a mad demagogue. We must testify: Allegations are not evidence. The more massive an alleged conspiracy, the less plausible. Pardoning one’s accomplices and corrupt former congressmen drains no swamp. Pardoning war criminals stinks of dishonor and sows enmity that will lead to more death and misery.

I have to pause here. The Blackwater 4 cannot just be listed among debating points. Mohammed Kinani’s 9-year-old son Ali was one of 14 innocent Iraqis killed (and scores wounded) in September 2007 in a hail of machine gun fire at the hands of Blackwater USA guards at a traffic circle a block from an entrance of Baghdad’s Green Zone. Mohammed had welcomed U.S. Army members in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein. But there he was, trapped with his family in his SUV as they and many others in cars, taxis, and buses were indiscriminately fired upon.

The FBI investigation into the atrocity was exhaustive. Dozens of witnesses were brought to the U.S. to testify. The accused were guaranteed the due process they had denied so many Iraqis. A measure of justice was achieved with the convictions, and an affirmation that America rejected the actions by the Blackwater 4. Trump’s pardon, Mohammed Kinani said, “broke my life again.”

Photo illustration by JUXTA. Photo by Max Letek, Unsplash

The worst thing about this is not that an American president approves of war crimes, as shocking as that is, but that millions of voters are apparently okay with it. Would they feel the same if their own beloved children had died in their arms under similar circumstances? This failure of imagination endangers America’s soul.

The list continues: It violates public trust to dismiss a pandemic and then get vaccinated ahead of frontline workers. It is hypocritical to spend like a drunken sailor and then return to being a deficit hawk when the spending is for workers instead of plutocrats. It is a betrayal to refuse to criticize Russia even when it pays bounties for killing American soldiers and launches a massive cyberattack against us. It is a lie to raise pro-life and pro-liberty battle cries while disregarding the health and safety of one’s fellow citizens.

If we refuse to care for those unlike ourselves, the American experiment fails. If we allow tribal loyalties to trump the law, logic, and our values, we reduce our glittering republic to a violent video game. Time to reboot.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist at rrosendall@me.com.

Copyright © 2020 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.



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