America Must Transform Itself
America Must Transform Itself
America Must Transform Itself

Can America Survive By Transforming Itself?

  Most Americans are totally unaware that we have just recntly momentarily escaped destruction as a nation by the narrowest of margins--by sheer dumb luck. Our Constitution did not save us. All of its "protections" fail if we fail to make of ourselves the kind of people who understand and implement them. The checks and balances between the three branches of power: executive, legislative, and judicial utterly failed. The executive branch was totally seized by the certifiably insane Donald J. Trump. What about the Congress being a check on the power of the presidency?

"It turns out that if a majority of members of at least one body of Congress exhibits a higher loyalty to its party than to Congress, Congress will not function as a reliable check on a president of that same party. This was what happened with Mr. Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate.

"The problem is chronic, but over the last four years it became virulent. Confronted with a president who was heedless of rules, Senate Republicans, in ways large and small, let him do what he wanted. They allowed acting appointees to run the federal government. They allowed him to claim a right to attack Iran without congressional approval. The impeachment process was reduced to nothing but a party-line vote. The Senate became a rubber stamp for executive overreach."

Tim Wu, "What Really Saved the Republic From Trump?", New York Times, 12/10/2020

  Surely, then, the intelligence and wisdom of the entire body of the American people saved us? No, if it had been left to the majority of white American males and females, Donald J. Trump would now be our president--and Dictator! (It is of benefit to contemplate that sad fact.)

  The "dumb luck" that saved the American Republic from overt right-wing fascism and dictatorship for the moment:
  • A majority of non-white American Democratic voters voted for Biden

  • A handful of somewhat principled Republican elected officials stood up to Trump's dictatorial, criminal demands on them:

    • Vice President Mike Pense: certified the Electoral College vote and "recognized" the legitimate election of Joe Biden as President (even though Pense had complied previously with a large number of illegitimate and/or illegal demands from Trump).

    • Attorney General William Barr certified that there was no evidence of election fraud in the 2020 election and he refused to "investigate" or "indict" Biden, (even though Barr had complied previously with a large number of illegitimate and/or illegal demands from Trump).

    • Brian Kemp, Georgia Governor, and Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State, refused Trump's demands to de-certify the state's election results or "find" phoney "evidence" of election fraud in the state (even though both Kemp and Raffensperger had earlier complied with a large number of illegitimate and/or illegal demands from Trump and were instrumental in putting voter-suppression regulations into place in Georgia).
  • Some courts, with both Democratic and Republican judges ruling, at times, provided a check on Mr. Trump's tyrannical tendencies, dismissing his frivolous attacks on the 2020 election.
    • A number of officials, both Republican and Democratic, in the Department of Justice repulsed Trump's demands to commit illegal or illegitimate acts, including sending a letter to Georgia falsely claiming that the Justice Department was investigating "election fraud" in the 2020 election and that Georgia, therefore, should de-certify its election results.
    • A number of military officers stood up to Trump's demands to politicize the military. Neither the Constitution nor any congressional statute prevented the president from directly ordering active duty forces from the 82nd Airborne Division to be positioned outside of Washington in June, 2021, in Trump's virulent response to demonstrations in reaction to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was clad in military fatigues, flanked Trump during a show of force. But, later, Esper broke with Trump, stating that he would not put active-duty troops on the streets to perform law enforcement functions. A number of Pentagon officials signed a statement indicating that military force should not be used for political purposes, though, later, it came to light that the Army falsely denied General Michael Flynn's brother was involved in a key part of the Pentagon's refusal to send troops to quell the Capitol riot of 1/6/21.
      What really saved the Republic from the dictatorial Donald J. Trump, momentarily, was an informal and unofficial set of institutional norms (guard-rails) upheld by a majority of non-white members of the Democratic Party, a few Republicans upholding the Constitution, some state election officials, some military officers, and a handful of state and federal judges and prosecutors; they all adhered to our "unwritten constitution: civic virtue."

      We must be aware that what has nearly brought America to utter ruin is Americans over nearly a century actively participating in making their minds almost totally dysfunctional. This deadly situation still stares us in the face; we are by no means out of the woods; we are actually still very much in danger because a majority of Americans are mentally and morally incompetent.

      The few Americans thinking about this problem of mental dysfunction, assume that the problem is exclusively in reference to right-wing, reactionary "true-believers". There is certainly a great deal of mental dysfunction on the right; for example, one-third of all Americans continue to believe Trump's lie that the 2020 election was corrupted by fraud. But, mental dysfunction is just as prevalent on the Left. For example, ninety-five percent of Democrats and left-leaning persons believe that capitalism provides the best economic structure for America while fascism provides the best political system.

      Capitalism is the current worldwide economic structure, whereas fascism is the sole political structure in use. Fascism is the political system in which the power elite, variously termed oligarchy, plutocracy, cabal, or ruling class, employ the police power of the State to enforce the political and economic domination of privately owned cartels and corporations, industrial and financial. Capitalism also intrinsically involves an imperialistic militaristic regime that exalts the nation above the individual, the rich above the poor, uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda, surveillance, and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition, and stands for a totalitarian government headed by a dictatorial leader.

      What happened with Trump as president was that some Americans woke up to the fact that Trump was attempting to install an overt right-wing type dictatorial government, whereas we have been the victims of a somewhat hidden left-wing, capitalist dictatorial government since the end of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      A majority of Americans' minds are fatally infected with the Reactionary Syndrome:
    • The eager embracing of ignorance and stupidity

    • Xenophobia, right-wing populist resentment and grievance- and revenge-addiction: obsession with delusional grievances and the psychotic attempt (sometimes successful) at revenge

    • "Low-information non-thinking:" Embracing a void of facts and reasoning, which makes this type of non-thinker more vulnerable to relying on emotions, fear, anxiety, hate and rage; given informational and cognitive deficits regarding all areas of information, these non-thinkers are more vulnerable to responding to emotional appeals that exploit their fears and anxieties; they are less in a position to want or be able to question misstatements, untruths and lies
      If Americans are to save themselves from the fate of a totalitarian dictatorship, of either the left- or right-wing type, taking overt control of the country, or an even more likely destruction: a slow death of the majority of people being killed by capitalist unemployment, lack of health care, homelessness, poverty, illness, and hopelessness--we must find a way to instill into all our citizens this element of "civic virtue," we must find ways to transform the vast number of mentally and morally incompetent Americans into intelligent, ethical, active citizens.

      Data from the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation (IHME) indicated that in 2017, about 13% of the global population--some 971 million people--suffered from some kind of mental disorder. There are individual studies of specific nations; for example a 2011 Reuters report indicated that nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffered some type of mental illness. Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. About 40% of Americans report seeking and receiving mental health services of some sort.

      As a former U.S. President-cult-leader-criminal slinks away to his Florida mafia hideaway, calls to "deprogram" Trump supporters mount in the popular press.

      There are some genuine issues connected with deprogramming in general and specific deprogrammers in particular. For example, with Mr. Hassan--in a Youtube video--a former member of the infamous Unification Church (better known as the "Moonies") during the 1970s--there was a time when he believed fervently that Democracy was Satanic and that God needed to take over America. The fact that he says he no longer holds these beliefs is not totally satisfying to intelligent persons. Mr. Hassan asserts his firm belief that "All of America needs deprogramming because we've all been negatively influenced by Donald Trump." No, Mr. Hassan, some Americans were not influenced by Donald Trump but outraged at his insane, criminal behavior over the last four years. Mr. Hassan also speaks of his brand of deprogramming dealing with dissociative disorders 1 to bring about a "radical personality change," creating a "new identity" that is "dependent and obedient." The crucial question here is: On whom is the person with the new identity dependent and to whom is he or she obedient? Hassan's deprogramming appears to be a specific form of RE-programming to a system of thought and belief acceptable to the persons inititating the de- and re-programming.

      Deprogramming in America, has devolved into the non-professional practice of a person calling himself a deprogrammer, often a former cult member who himself or herself was deprogrammed. The deprogrammer is contacted by friends and/or family members of a person thought by the friends and/or family to be evincing programmed, cult-like behavior: becoming a member of and becoming a "true-believer" of a group with ideas unacceptable to the friends and/or family members and acting in ways thought by the friends and/or family to be unacceptable. The deprogramming ends with the re-programming of the person into patterns of thought, belief, and action agreeable to the initiating friends and/or family members.

      Certainly, one of the prerequisites for any effective deprogramming effort in regard to right-wing, reactionary persons is that they recognize and admit that they have allowed themselves to become mentally deranged and seek help, similarly to those persons who join Alcoholics Anonymous by admitting that they have allowed themselves to become addicted to and dependent on alcohol and its effects, continually addressing this addiction by attendance at "meetings."

      An even more effective process of freeing oneself from all forms of addiction and dysfunctional thought and behavior is the application of rational-emotive psychotherapy as developed by psychiatrist Albert Ellis in the 1950s and continuing into the present. This is a short-term form of psychotherapy that helps a person identify self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, challenge the rationality of those ideas and actions, and replace them with healthier, more productive ones.

      Given that a majority of Americans are now suffering from mental and behavioral dysfunction of both the right- and left-wing type, the solution is entirely different than deprogramming. The answer is the voluntary attainment of Reasoning, Progressive Awareness.

      Reasoning or reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature.

      Reasoning is closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and institutions, and therefore with the capacity for freedom and self-determination.

      Human thought has become so dysfunctional that we must ask Why reasoning is the most effective means of arriving at the truth and therefore why it is the best way to lead one's life. Let's take an object which is only somewhat familiar to us. If we are to understand what this object is--to be able to control it's effects on our bodies--we can use several different means:
    • Unquestioningly accept what an authority (Trump) tells us this object is: "This is a benign object and its effect will go away magically."
    • Accept the description of a cult: "The focus of a worldwide effort to control human thought. "
    • Study the object using the methodology of scientific investigation: "A deadly virus, the only safeguard against which, until vaccination has been completed for everyone, is using face masks, social-distancing, and washing your hands regularly."
      By his incompetence, indifference, and insanity, Trump forced America to accept his lies about the coronavirus--and the result is that over a half million Americans have died, many of them needlessly.

      Many hundreds of thousands of mentally and behavioraly dysfunctional Americans are still overtly or covertly following the deliberate lies of Trump, swallowing the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen by Biden and the Democrats, deliberately refusing to wear a face mask, refusing to social-distance, continuing to swallow the lie that Covid19 is merely similar to, and no more lethal than, the flu virus. The Trump Base and most Republican leaders have now become a lethal anti-democracy and insurrectionary force in the U.S. Domestic terrorism attacks, such as that on the national Capitol on 1/6/2021, the passing of hundreds of Republican laws implementing election suppression, the murderous opening up of Republican states (non-masking, non-social-distancing), the murder of Asians by a Trump-minded lunatic, the insane effort by Republican Congresspersons to block all positive legislation must be stopped.

    "Donald Trump is indeed a fascist--an authoritarian willing to use violence to achieve his racial nationalist goals. So are many of his supporters. If you had any doubts."

    Paul Krugman, 1/7/2021

      Americans must transform their intellectual and behavioral patterns if they are to survive. The only way to bring about this tranformation is for the millions of Trump-perverted people needing change to acknowledge this fact, recognize and acknowledge how dysfunctional their thinking process and behavior have become, begin a serious process of changing their thoughts and behaviors, and seek whatever assistance is available to them in this critical endeavor. All progressive-minded persons must do whatever it takes to stop the lethal attacks of persons suffering from the reactionary syndrome pandemic, even if this requires extraordinary efforts such as ridding ourselves of the Jim-Crow practice of fillibuster or constantly exposing the insane behavior of Republicans.

    Reference: Notes:

    1 Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are voluntary or involuntary, unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.