We have never been a television family, but we used to have an old rabbit-ears-antenna TV set in a closet that we pulled out on rare and special occasions. That TV came out on September 11, 2001. As it stayed out for quite a few days, I noticed a TV tug of war unfolding.
On one hand, the news was so overwhelming and the sorrow so great, that running a quiz show, or worse a comedy show, was unthinkable. The question was how long that reticence remained. Five days, five weeks, five months? Closer to five days later, things turned back to “normal,” though a distracting news stream ran across the bottom of the screen.
What is going on in the United States right now cannot be compared to 2001 in terms of loss of life and suffering. However, history shows that the internal falling apart of a society is often even more dangerous than an attack by an external enemy. In the long run, I think our country is in more danger now than it was then.
All this is to say that while I personally am focused on my own family, faith, finances, fitness and friendships, I still don’t feel ready to go “back to normal” and talk of those issues in this column. I have strong political views as do most of you. How those translate into practical action is an evolving question.
In chess (a game I play so amateurishly that I consider it a success when I beat a six-year-old) one strategy is to fork your opponent. The idea is to present them with a lose/lose situation. If they save their rook, they will lose their bishop; to protect their queen, they must forfeit their knight. There is no step they can take that is completely positive.
That is the position of the GOP today. The GOP has jumped to impale itself on a fork meaning that it is now a badly splintered party. Those who support President Trump antagonize some conservatives; those who attack the president alienate others. Even if the divide was a 90%—10% split, we are talking about enough disenfranchised voters so that the party will have trouble winning anything more than local elections. In reality, I think the split is closer to 70%-30%. The divide may be more lopsided or less than I think—that is irrelevant in terms of a united front. There is a huge swelling of anger among many conservatives, especially including new, younger ones. While the destructive actions taken by a few last Wednesday do not represent the majority, the anger and frustration they expressed is widely felt and poised to grow, especially as free speech is assaulted. That anger, in turn, will repel the old guard.
On the other hand, perhaps the very split in the Republican Party will prove the beginning of the cure. I think many Americans still are naive about Leftism. If an emboldened Democrat majority moves towards Leftism and overplays its hand, the suffering that attends those kinds of actions will become impossible to ignore. That provides an opening to a meaningful conversation.
I have faith that America is still the exceptional land dreamed of by our Founders, still populated by people who see themselves “under God.” Tyranny and totalitarianism have always rightly recognized God as their ultimate enemy. While the push to eradicate God and His laws is growing, after all these centuries He is still around. Betting against Him may lead to great suffering for many, but not to eventual triumph.
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