March, 1945 was not a good time for Hitler’s Nazi government. The war was essentially lost: Russian troops pouring in from the East, British and American troops from the West. Allied air power had reduced scores of German cities to rubble: Berlin, the capital, had no electricity, no transportation, and no food. The German people themselves were so demoralized, they were hoisting white flags from their windows in anticipation of being liberated by Americans. Germany had lost millions upon millions of soldiers, and more were falling every day. The whole world knew that Germany had lost the war—except for the most fanatical of the Nazi leadership, who believed against all odds that “a miracle” would save the day.
Those fanatics were led by Hitler himself. But just below Hitler was the number two man in Germany, Hitler’s Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. We are fortunate, from a historical point of view, to have his personal diary, which contains a day-by-day account of almost the entire war period. (The diaries were recovered by Allied troops. Some pages had been burned in an obvious attempt to destroy them, but most survived. The diary is housed at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.)
Goebbels understood on some level that the cause was lost, but he could not admit it. He wrote, on March 14, “…the German economy can [only] hold out for another four weeks…”. His own ministry headquarters had just been bombed to smithereens; by his own admission, Germany was “defenseless” against Allied bombing. “A vast number of worrying problems now come before me,” he writes. “One wonders where on earth a way out of this terrible war dilemma is to be found.”
There was, of course, no way out. Within six weeks, Hitler was dead, by his own hand. Goebbels killed himself, too, along with his wife, who before she took poison gave cyanide capsules to their six young children. Germany signed the act of surrender the first week of May. The war in Europe was over.
But Goebbels lived in his fantasyland until the last moment. Despite the wedge closing in on Berlin, “…it is essential to keep a cool head and not to lose one’s nerve,” he wrote. Armed with books about Frederick the Great and the Punic Wars—metaphors for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat–Goebbels convinced himself (and tried to convince everyone who would listen to him) that a miracle would occur. “One must accept defeat after defeat in order to emerge victorious,” he wrote, adding: “There is no question of any doubt in my mind regarding the possibility of victory…”. All it takes is “the will” to see things through.
Doesn’t that sound like Trump? The refusal to recognize reality, the threat to fight on and on regardless of the consequences, the grim determination that even though everything is collapsing, will power alone will seize victory from the ashes of defeat—it’s all so Goebbelsian, or should I say Trumpian. As Germany’s collapse became increasingly clear in April, Goebbels still refused to give up; he formed so-called “Werewolf” squads, assassins and terrorists who would continue to battle, guerilla-style, even as the German Army and Air Force vanished. He vowed to fight on, to contest the results of the war, which Germany was losing through “treachery.” Germany had been “sold out” by “traitors,” not because she was a loser.
And here we have Trump, in basically the same position. He will lose, badly. As with Goebbels, on some level he knows it. But he’s living in a delusion. He will never give in, never concede defeat, never be gracious, as every prior losing candidate for President has been. His “traitors” are the media, Hillary Clinton, crooked election officials. If he loses, it’s because the election was “rigged.”
When he loses, will Trump have his own Werewolves? If there are recalcitrant die-hards who cause trouble, they’ll come from the Trumpistas we see on television, in their Trump hats and red, white and blue Trump costumes, the defiant ones, open-carrying firearms, who snarl about revolution and civil war. Their chant isn’t “Heil Trump,” it’s Jail her!” Will Trump’s Werewolves form a sort of Fifth Column—sleeper cells of violent partisans, fighting for a lost cause, like those Japanese soldiers who refused to admit they’d lost the war in the Pacific, and hunkered down in caves on remote islands for decades, getting crazier and crazier?
We’re about to find out.
Some of my readers, especially on Facebook (where this blog also appears, as well as on Twitter and Huffington Post) have accused me of hating on Christians. Well, that’s a serious allegation, so please allow me to defend myself.
As a gay American, I’ve been told my entire life by Christians that I, and everyone like me, was immoral, unnatural, perverted, hated by God, would burn in hell. Growing up, as I did, in the 1950s and 1960s, before the gay rights movement had really started, I took these messages in; it was very painful, to me and everyone like me. We went into the closet for self-protection, and most of us stayed there for a long time.
By the 1980s, when I’d moved to San Francisco and developed a political consciousness that included gay rights, I saw the hypocrisy, hatred and sheer stupidity of homophobia. But the anti-gay movement was just getting started. People like Anita Bryant, Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell were given prominent status by the Republican Party, and Ronald Reagan adapted their homophobic rhetoric. We had Falwell telling us San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake was sent to the city by God because it was filled with fags (as if every time a Baptist church is destroyed by a tornado it’s because God hates Christians!). We had a politician here in California, John Briggs, who put an initiative on the statewide ballot, Proposition 6, to fire all gay or Lesbian public school employees and their supporters from their jobs. (Fortunately, the people voted that down.) With the coming of the Clintons, the anti-gay Christians doubled down on their hate talk, now joined by the likes of Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Richard Viguerie, Karl Rove, Michele Bachmann, Bob Jones, Paul Weyrich, Rick Santorum, William Dannemeyer, James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Michael Savage, Fred Phelps, Ralph Reed, Antonin Scalia, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and let’s not forget the Boy Scouts of America. Every single one of these homophobes claimed that their hatred of gay people was based on their Christianity. I put that sentence in italics to emphasize it: These people didn’t just stumble into homophobia. It was instigated by Christian preachers.
For my entire life, I have heard those preachers and their followers tell me that I was a horrible, doomed person, not worthy of respect or even the basic perquisites of citizenship. They were allowed to indulge in their hatefest without opposition because of their Christianity: no one wanted to bash a Christian, much less a famous one. You might think that this sort of homophobia has gone away now that gay marriage is legal and gays are part of the mainstream, thank God. But that’s not true. We still hear these hideous voices of hatred emanating from certain preachers, and even the Catholic Church—despite Pope Francis’s “Who am I to judge?” remark—still officially classifies homosexuality as intrinsically disordered.
So put yourself in my shoes, friends: a lifetime of unrestrained, vile hatred from Christians. I have long wanted to have my say, but I had to be careful, because I had a job (a very public one, at that), and I couldn’t risk getting fired for offending certain powerful groups. So I kept my mouth shut. But I’m retired now. Free at last! So I can say what I want to, and damn the consequences.
Therefore, don’t talk to me about hating on Christians. Take the beam out of thine own eye. Look, I know it’s not all Christians who hate gays. I have an Episcopal church on my street and they’ve flown the rainbow flag for years, and even had a gay minister. So when I criticize homophobic Christians, it’s not aimed at these more liberal Christian sects. I guess that not even all evangelicals are homophobic. But most of them are. (Prove me wrong, if you can.) So why would I not criticize them, in the strongest possible language? They have attempted to disenfranchise me and people like me of our civil rights and freedoms. They have inspired haters to attack us, maim us, even kill us (R.I.P. Matthew Shepard). They have caused heartbreak, emotional pain, families to break up; they have left a trail of tears in their wake. And even today, they aren’t finished. Remember that ridiculous clerk in Kentucky who wouldn’t issue marriage licenses to gays because it was against her Christian religion? Mike Huckabee supported her. And how about that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who told all of the state’s judges they couldn’t marry gays even after the United States Supreme Court said that could? He did that in the name of Christian values, too. As long as one gay person lives, there will be a Christian somewhere attempting to destroy him.
So please! Enough with this hating-on-Christians stuff. If you are a Christian and your particular church still preaches homophobic nonsense, then you have a problem, not me. You may not like to hear it, but the Christian church—going back as far as the Dark Ages and the Inquisition—has wantonly witch-hunted and murdered gay people. And you want me to apologize to Christians? I think not. You need to drop to your knees, beg for forgiveness from your God, and apologize to us.
With little ammunition remaining to fend off the impending disaster to their party and candidate, Republican Trump supporters are resorting to the most specious and rhetorical of arguments. Consider, for instance, the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn.
He’s a longtime columnist for the newspaper, which allows us to take a peek at his track record. Gay marriage? After the Supreme Court’s historic decision approving it, McGurn, an avowed Catholic, was in full poopy-pants mode: “A triump for gay rights but not for democracy,” he opined, with lip-licking malice.
Global warming? According to McGurn, President Obama—who just a week ago presided over the strongest climate-change agreement in history, the Paris accord—has “squelch[ed] further inquiry” into the science (!!!!!) of climate change, because he (Obama) chooses to believe the 99.5% of climate scientists who believe in it, not the .05% of Republican hacks who don’t.
But I digress! Onto All Things Trump! Let’s look at McGurn’s column from yesterday, entitled “The Cheap Moralizing of Never Trump.” He attempts to dismiss the anti-Trump movement by, essentially, insulting its adherents. How? First, he says that calling Trump “coarse and boorish” is only to be expected from Democrats: “It’s an old argument for the left.” But, as he’s sadly forced to concede, “Republicans are now hearing it from the right as well.”
This is an inconvenient truth. No longer can McGurn simply vilify Democrats. Now, his own party—large segments of it—has joined the anti-Trump parade. What’s a conservative columnist to do? Instead of claiming that Trump isn’t “coarse and boorish” (how could McGurn? Trump is), McGurn instead deflects the argument by focusing on the insinuation (by the anti-Trump crowd) that Trump’s supporters must be “evil…or…invincibly stupid.”
Well, I’ll give him that. There is a belief on the left (which I share) that anyone who would vote for Trump at this point is, somehow, mentally unhinged. Now, I won’t use the word “evil” because its definition is too tricky, but I do believe Trump voters are “stupid.” (“Invincibly” is a nice writer’s word but I’m not sure there are degrees of stupidity when it comes to bad political choices). Not all Republicans are stupid, and not all evangelicals are stupid; but those Christians who believe in the literal inerrancy of the bible are stupid, and I’ll tell you why.
There are different types of intelligence, according to the respected American psychologist, Howard Gardener, who, in 1983, listed them. Several aren’t relevant here (natural intelligence, musical intelligence, spatial intelligence, etc.) but the most important one, from the point of view of what makes for a good citizen, is logical intelligence. This is what fuels the process of reason; it enables people to discern the truth of things, as opposed to being misled by fantasy, superstition, ignorance and deceitfulness.
In this sense, evangelicals (and apparently Trump himself) have proven they aren’t as logically intelligent as are Americans who actually believe in science. We are blessed, in this modern era, to have the greatest array of scientific knowledge ever collected in the history of mankind; and scientific knowledge is a good thing. It helps us in every aspect of life, has resulted in the healthiest, most progressive human culture ever. (Whether we’re happier is another story…) It therefore follows that anyone who rejects scientific knowledge, as evangelicals do, has a mental problem; labeling them “stupid” is harsh, but we have to call a spade a spade. When it comes to logical intelligence, they really are stupid.
McGurn’s argument is so thin and specious, it could have been expressed in two sentences. But that’s not enough to fill an entire column, so, for the rest, he puts on his pit bull costume and goes after—who else?—Hillary Clinton, with the usual B.S.: she “lies” (no proof offered), her “public life has been a series of scandals” (courtesy of who? McGurn’s Republican Party, which has smeared Hillary for 25 years and come up with absolutely nothing), she would be “a third term for disastrous Obama policies.” Maybe someone forgot to tell McGurn that President Obama’s approval rating is consistently in the low- to mid-fifties, whereas his predecessor, George W. Bush, had an approval rating of only 34% just prior to leaving office. Americans therefore strongly disagree with McGurn: they believe in large numbers that Obama has been an excellent President. This is further corroborated by the polls, in which Hillary Clinton is poised to win red states: Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada; and even Alaska, Texas and Georgia are turning pink! Clearly, Americans do not feel like Obama has been a disaster; quite the contrary. If Hillary Clinton governs as well as Obama has, most of us would welcome it.
So McGurn is struggling. Even the arch-conservative Jonah Goldberg—son of Lucianne Goldberg, one of Bill Clinton’s nemeses, a tattling gossip who did her best to bring Bill Clinton down—assaulted McGurn in yesterday’s National Review. He did so rather anemically, but still, the fact that these two radical rightwingers, McGurn and Goldberg, are at war is further proof of how Trump has been a bomb in the Republican Party, blowing it up, turning it against itself, and exposing for all the world to see its internal incoherence.
Scene: Shady Grove Cemetery, Tallahassee, Florida. Nighttime. An office – darkened, no light except for the moon through the window. A desk with chair, filing cabinets. The desk is littered with files scattered haphazardly. The room is empty, except for the ticking of a grandfather clock. Suddenly:
The sound of a window breaking. Scraping noises, thuds, muffled voices.
Voice #1: Be quiet, you idiot!
Voice #2: I’m sorry, Mistress.
A floorboard creaks. The clock ticks. A shaft of light stabs through the darkness of the office: a flashlight beam. The light illuminates two figures who have just broken into the cemetery office: Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s assistant, and her assistant, Ralphie, a hideously-deformed hunchback utterly devoted to his Mistress, Abedin.
Voice #1, Huma Abedin: Quickly, Ralphie. Gather the names!
Voice #2, Ralphie: Yes, Mistress.
Abedin: We need 37 names of dead people from this cemetery before we can go to the next ten cemeteries tonight.
Ralphie: Ten more tonight? Mistress, we’ve already been to eight!
Abedin: Ralphie, Ralphie, don’t you want Hillary to be President?
Ralphie: Yes, Mistress!
Abedin: Then we must get 11,000 votes from dead people in Florida in order to ensure the election.
Ralphie: Yes, Mistress.
Abedin rifles through the filing cabinets, reading from papers while Ralphie writes.
Abedin: Here’s a good one. Sophie Rosenbaum. She used to live on River Otter Way.
Ralphie: Can you spell it?
Ralphie: No, I mean, her name.
Abedin: It’s the way it sounds, you moron!
Ralphie: Yes, Mistress.
Abedin: Here’s another one. Jose Garcia. His address is 1101 Pleasant Valley Lane. How many names does that make?
Ralphie: Well, from the time we started earlier tonight, 18.
Abedin: That’s all? We have to do better or my mistress will beat me! See if you can find a list of all the people buried in this cemetery.
Ralphie begins digging through the files, reading them off to his mistress.
Ralphie: Here’s one called “Florida Gas & Electric Bills.”
Abedin: No. What else is there?
Ralphie: Here’s one called “Employee Food Allergies.”
Abedin: You idiot, why would you think that’s helpful? What else is there?
Ralphie: Here’s one called “Listing of all people buried in Shady Grove, with addresses and Social Security numbers.”
Abedin: Yes!!! My mistress will be pleased! Steal it, and let’s get onto the next cemetery. Where is that?
Ralphie pulls a piece of paper from his pocket and reads it.
Ralphie: It appears to be in Key West, Mistress.
Abedin: How far is that from here?
Ralphie taps on his smart phone.
Ralphie: According to Google maps, 350 miles.
Abedin: Good heavens! We don’t have much more time. Wait a minute, my cell phone is ringing. [Pulls her phone from her pocket] Yes? Hello?
Abedin: Is that you, Chelsea? Where are you? Phoenix? Good, good! What’s up?
Abedin: You say you have 7,000 dead voters from Arizona? Excellent! Your mother will be proud of you. Where’s your next stop?
Abedin: Well, put ten bucks on red for me. If I win, you can pay me back at the victory party! Bonne chance, ma petite chou!
[later, at Hillary headquarters]
Bill Clinton: So, team Hillary, how many votes did you steal tonight for Hillary?
Abedin: Mr. President, we got 11,000.
Bill Clinton: Awesome! Bwahahahaha! We beat Trump to the cemetery! That’s the importance of the ground game!
Ralphie: Don’t you mean “the underground game,” Mr. President?
All laugh hysterically.
It’s a puzzle, isn’t it? Assange’s Wikileaks has been devoting pretty much all its time to publishing hacked emails to or from or about Hillary Clinton and her senior staff, obviously to the delight of the Trump campaign. But no one is asking, Why is Assange so anti-Hillary?
What is Wikileaks, anyhow? Its website describes it as “a multi-national media organization specializing in the analysis and publication… of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption.” Founded in 2006 by Assange, Wikileaks first achieved notoriety by leaking documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; its biggest coup was perhaps the 2010 release of U.S. State Department cables, which led the Obama administration to talk about indicting him. In return, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in 2012, where he has been holed up ever since.
Most of us viewed Wikileaks with mixed emotions. We might have welcomed its efforts to expose official secrets around the world, which embarrassed governments, but seemed nonetheless in tune with the “transparency” that the public wants from its officials. At the same time, we might have felt that the U.S. government is entitled to have at least some secrets. It left us—at least, it left me—with decidedly ambiguous feelings about Wikileaks, but I never thought of it as being a tool of the Republican Party—until now.
After all, Wikileaks could easily have gone after Donald Trump, right? With their hacking ability, they could release his taxes, which he himself won’t do. They could further expose Trump’s shady business practices, the contracts he won’t honor, the details of his bankruptcies. They could no doubt hack into The Apprentice and Access Hollywood tapes to see what other incriminating things Trump has said and done concerning sexually assaulting women. Yet they have not done so, instead preferring to train all their firing power on Hillary Clinton.
To answer, we have to understand more about Assange. (And, by the way, the best reporting about him has been in the European press; the American media has held back.) He was born in Australia. He appears to be an atheist, and possibly an anarchist, although he has denied the latter. As such people often are, he is driven by his own private morality, which on the surface doesn’t sound bad: “We…expose abuses [and] proof of bad behavior,” he told an interviewer. But again, bad behavior is not limited to any one particular political party or candidate. So what’s Assange’s beef with Hillary Clinton?
Here, we have only speculation. The [London] Observor hypothesizes that he doesn’t want Hillary to be President because (quoting Assange) she “will push the U.S. into endless, stupid wars that spread terrorism.” The New York Times, calling Assange an “avowed foe of Clinton,” quoted from a 2016 interview Assange gave in which he admitted that his animosity towards Hillary Clinton is personal because, as Secretary of State, she tried to indict him. “We do see her as…a problem for freedom of the press” more than Donald Trump, he explained. In that interview, Assange also criticized Hillary Clinton for being “a liberal war hawk.”
Let us grant that some people share this view of Hillary as a bit of a Thatcheresque iron lady, anxious to rush into wars and muzzle the press. (I, myself, do not see that as the case, but that’s just me.) What about Trump? Does Assange think he’s a friend of the media? Just a few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists called Trump “an unprecedented threat to press freedom,” but Assange apparently disagrees. And does Assange seriously think Trump’s foreign policy would be any more benign than Hillary’s? I mean, this is the man who said “I love war.” Assange, asked this very question, replied that Trump’s foreign policy is “completely unpredictable,” meaning, I suppose, that in his mind Hillary is the Devil you know, whereas Trump is, I guess, the Devil you don’t. Assange apparently believes that casting his lot with a “completely unpredictable” narcissistic demagogue who loves war is preferable to a Hillary Clinton who, at least, has a long track record of working closely with the Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, when she was a Senator and as Secretary of State–our country’s leading diplomat. So there’s a bit of confusion here, as to why Assange—who may be an idealist—believes Hillary is more of a threat to his anti-war ideals than Trump.
But there may be something far more insidious about Assange than merely his professed idealism. In a 2010 interview with Der Speigel, the German newspaper, he said he started Wikileaks because “I enjoy crushing bastards,” a remark suggesting a streak of cruelty we might expect to hear from Donald Trump. But Assange is anything but consistent, or even honest, for that matter. In a 2010 profile of Assange, in The New Yorker, he described his concept of “scientific journalism,” by which he meant Wikileaks publishes all the information it can obtain, so that “people [can] check it, verify it”; the more information people have, Assange argues, the more informed their decisions will be.
That is a compelling case. But if Assange really were interested in offering all sides to the argument over who would make the better U.S. President, why isn’t he publishing the information on Trump he could? After all, he called both “the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties…broadly conspiratorial power groupings,” another concept many Americans might agree with. So why is he going after just Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee? Well, he’s been stuck in that Ecuadorian embassy for four years now, and by all reports his mental state is deteriorating. The International Business Times reported about “a year-long psychosocial and medical assessment” conducted on Assange that “uncovered a slew of issues with his well-being” leading to “a declining mental state.” Just last month, the website, RT, reported that “Assange’s mental, physical health [is] deteriorating under embassy confinement,” and that “sleep deprivation, [a] sedentary lifestyle” and a lack of “adequate medical care” are causing him to suffer from “obesity, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.” Along these lines, the foreign minister of Ecuador, last June, told the British newspaper, the Telegraph, that Assange “will have to be seen by psychologists” because “four years in this [Embassy] space has taken its toll.”
So perhaps we’re nearer to an explanation of why Wikileaks has chosen to go after Hilary Clinton, not Donald Trump. Wikileaks IS Julian Assange, and clearly, Assange is no longer capable of thinking clearly. His mind is that of a deluded, unbalanced prisoner in near-total isolation, who blames the Obama administration, not his personal behavior, for his current predicament. Anger and paranoid fantasy appear to be taking over; we can only guess if there are gender issues also involved in Assange’s hatred of Hillary Clinton. (After all, he has been accused, like Donald Trump, of sexual assault.) Clearly, when considering Wikileaks and the emails, Assange’s mental condition has to be taken into account.
Now, Republicans may argue that Assange’s mental state is irrelevant—what counts is the content of the emails. I have two replies: first, so far there’s been no there there in the emails: nothing illegal, nothing anyone can pin on Hillary, except for her haters, who will characterize anything—what she had for breakfast—as evidence of a crooked character. Secondly, Cui bono?, the old legal term: Who benefits? Unless you know a person’s motive for doing something, you can’t determine the context of whatever crime they’re alleging may have been committed. In this case, there is no evidence whatsoever—zero, zilch, nada—that Hillary Clinton has done anything illegal; but as for Julian Assange, we know or suspect he’s broken multiple laws, from rape to espionage. Perhaps this digital attack on Hillary Clinton is his last, desperate attempt to make sure Hillary loses the election, in the hopes that a President Trump, to whom he’s been so helpful, will pardon him.
Last Friday I blogged about the possible response by the Trump party after he loses the election. My post was, of course, pure fantasy, a scary dystopian hallucination of societal breakdown and violence. Over the weekend, however, just such a scenario has been increasingly considered by many others.
I Googled “trump election civil war” and got 15 million hits! The very first is typical. It appeared in the [British] paper, The Guardian, on Saturday, and was headlined “Life after Trump: Republicans brace for betrayal and civil war after 2016,” and if it went a little overboard with references to Adolf Hitler and the bunker, it captured well the sense of “siege” that is quickly racing through Trump’s increasingly angry and distraught supporters as they sniff defeat.
The online publication, Economy & Markets, headlined its article, “If Trump Loses, Expect Civil War.” This publication is, admittedly, a madcap heap of rightwing conspiracy theory, but it’s important because it represents the angry, uneducated white male perspective that fuels the Trump movement, and that will constitute its spearhead if in fact there is violence. It predicts “a wave of civil unrest” and expects “a large part of the southeast, southwest and Rockies [to] secede from the country,” just as my post last week presciently did.
Similarly, one of the worst, most vulgar rightwing talk radio hosts in the country, Michael Savage, predicted (in fact, basically encouraged) the Trumpsters to begin loading their guns now. “If Hillary is elected,” he told his listeners, “the country devolves into civil war.”
One of Trump’s top advisors is Roger Stone, a longtime Republican bagman who founded [in 2008] an anti-Hillary Clinton group called Citizens United Not Timid (whose acronym was a deliberate misogynistic insult to Ms. Clinton). Stone has been traveling the country warning of a “bloodbath” following a Clinton victory, and he showed his cards on the justification Republicans will use for violence: “widespread voter fraud,” which has been a consistent bugaboo in the minds of the paranoid right wing despite the fact that “voter fraud” is non-existent in the U.S. The independent publication, The Hill, which reports on the U.S. Congress, quoted a Trump supporter at a Trump rally in New Mexico: “If Hillary Clinton wins the election…there is going to be a civil war…”.
Finally, perhaps the most alarming, there’s the Republican Sheriff of Milwaukee, David Clarke, a Trump surrogate, who told a Trump crowd on Saturday that if Trump loses, “it’s pitchforks and torches time.”
A Sheriff, mind you!!!
I could go on and on citing the worst of those Google hits, but you get the idea. Clearly, I’m not the only one entertaining thoughts (or fears) of chaos when Hillary Clinton wins (and she will; I think we all know that, except for the most delusional among us). So the Big Question becomes: What or who is to stop such an alarming development?
Two possibilities. First, diehard Trumpettes have three weeks to get used to the fact that they’re going to lose, and badly. Three weeks is a long time. They could use it to reflect on how they got to where they are now; reflection can lead to a renewed sense of perspective, which is precisely what the Republican Party has been lacking. The Christians who count themselves among Trump’s fans could do what they claim they do so well: pray. They could ask their God for enlightenment, for peace, for balance and calm, and perhaps their God will bestow upon them those very qualities, all of which are antithetical to the massive anger and rage it would take to fuel an armed uprising.
Beyond Trump’s supporters, there remains a shrinking core of adults within the Republican Party: people like the Bush family, John Kasich, John McCain, Mitt Romney. Granted, these are the very Republicans who have been chased out of the party, chiefly by the insulter-in-chief, Trump; they’ve been vilified and effectively purged from Republican ranks…for now. If bad things do start happening after the election, if not before, these are the politicians who will have to stand publicly and aver their allegiance to law and order, their willingness to compromise with President Hillary Clinton, and declare their absolute opposition to the worst of the evangelical-tea party cabal that wants to take their losing cause to the streets. They will have to do so with no ands, ifs or buts…no distracting disparaging of Hillary Clinton…just a forceful j’accuse! against the tea party and its evangelical enablers.
Unfortunately, these Republicans I named—the Bushes, Kasich, Romney, McCain–are totally out of favor among rightwing radicals, who will not listen to them, and would in any case accuse them of treason were they to say anything remotely critical of the Trump movement. Then who else is left to talk to the radical right and get them to calm down, to put away their guns and work within the system?
Well, it’s not going to be the current Republican leadership in the Congress: McConnell, Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, all of whom have proven that they’re craven midgets who lack the cojones to stand up to the crazies in their party. Nor is it going to be the diminishing crowd of intimate advisors surrounding the beleaguered Trump—people like Giuliani, who has finally emerged from years of out-of-power white male resentment into full-fledged fascism. Nor the hapless Chris Christie, who still hopes, in his fantastical heart-of-hearts, to be in some never-to-happen Trump Cabinet (but has far more of a chance to land in jail for perjury concerning Bridgegate). The sad fact is there are no top Republicans in a position to stop the impending mess, because they abandoned their moral moorings (and their credibility) long ago.
The Republican clergy. Yes, that’s right, the Christian pastors, and especially the evangelicals. They appear to be the only ones who retain any credibility among that crowd. Although they’re the exact ones who have been among those most responsible for whipping up this insane fury against Hillary, against Obama, against Democrats, in the first place, they could ironically prove to be the peacemakers. Nixon, the arch anti-Communist, went to Red China, met with Mao, and changed the course of history. Likewise these evangelical preachers could be the first to talk to their flocks and tell them that they cannot shed blood—God will not allow it—they will go to Hell if they fire upon their brothers and sisters. (It’s “render unto Caesar” time, Christians!)
That would be a huge stretch for these preachers. They’ve not been known for courage, or truthfulness—quite the opposite. But the rubber is hitting the road, my friends, and it may be time for rightwing clergy to throw the balm of common sense onto the incendiarism they helped spark. If, that is, they have any hope for saving their own souls.
TOMORROW: Why is Wikileaks going after Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump? An analysis
Following his landslide loss in the election, Trump threatened to take his self-declared “movement” to the streets—a threat taken in earnest by his die-hard supporters, who warned of “revolution” and “civil war” were he to go down to defeat.
Which, of course, he did. Hillary Clinton garnered 391 electoral votes to Trump’s 147, and won the popular vote by 54.5%. The networks declared Clinton the winner early in the evening: NBC was first (at 5:27 p.m. eastern time), followed by CNN and CBS moments later. ABC was the outlier; the Disney-owned company did not declare for Hillary until 6:12 p.m.
At 5:46 p.m., Trump took to his usual media platform, Twitter, to declare that the election had been “rigged” and the result “stolen.” He urged his supporters to “let Crooked Hillary and her friends in the elite media know they can’t get away with this disgusting theft of your freedom!”
The first large pro-Trump demonstrations were reported in Atlanta, Georgia, whose 16 electoral votes went to Clinton by the narrow margin of 1.2%. Protestors, almost all of them white, massed on Peachtree Street. Police estimated the crowd size initially at 2,500, but it grew quickly, and by midnight, at least 25,000 demonstrators had blocked streets and highways, setting fires and smashing store windows. The downtown headquarters of Hillary Clinton for President were burned to the ground.
Protests across the country quickly multiplied, with the following cities reporting huge demonstrations by 2 a.m. Wednesday: Pittsburgh PA, Lawrence KS, Dallas TX, Frankfurt KY, Tallahassee FL, Cheyenne WY, Lincoln NE, Tulsa OK, Tucson AZ, Sacramento CA and dozens of others. Governors in 17 states called out their National Guards. The first casualties were reported in Council Bluffs, IA, where seven demonstrators and three policemen were killed in gunshot exchanges. By dawn on the day following Election Day, large parts of 142 American cities were in flames, and the death toll had risen to 360.
Throughout the night’s chaos, Trump kept up a steady barrage of tweets, some 176 by dawn. Here is a typical one, issued at 3.42 a.m.:
UNBELIEVABLE SUPPORT FROM ALL OVER AMERICA! DON’T LET HILLARY STEAL THIS! MARCH! SEIZE POWER!
By 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Trump had set up his own media headquarters at Trump Tower, where he broadcast continually on Twitter and Facebook. By then he had shed the dark suit and tie he usually wears for a military uniform. At 9:42 he announced the formation of a “Provisional American Government” (P.A.G.) because, he said, “Our existing government has failed, and proven it cannot defend the rights of the American people against the usurpations of power by Crooked Hillary Clinton and her aiders and abetters in both the Democrat and Republican parties.” Moments later, Trump announced he had appointed former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani to be “Minister of Defense” for the new government.
At a 10:15 a.m. press conference, Giuliani, wearing military-style garb similar to Trump’s, announced that the new Provisional Government was immediately beginning to draft men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 years “to form the backbone of a National Militia to ensure that Donald J. Trump is recognized as President of the United States of America.” Giuliani urged volunteers for the Militia to “gather up your guns and firearms and report to Trump Enlistment Centers” that had been set up overnight in dozens of cities and towns. By 5 p.m. that day, some two hundred thousand “Militiamen” had been inducted. Each swore an oath “to our sacred honor, to our country, and to President Trump.”
Meanwhile, Barack Obama—still the sitting President—addressed the American people in a broadcast at noon Wednesday that was covered by all the major television and radio media. He pronounced “a state of national emergency to protect domestic tranquility and the rule of law” and said that future demonstrations, if violent, would be met by “irresistible force.” The first major confrontation following his pronouncement occurred in Helena, Montana, where some 6,000 Trump supporters, most of them in western gear and carrying firearms, overwhelmed local police. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, asked by the Obama Justice Department to mobilize the state’s National Guard, refused. In turn, Obama, acting on a request from his Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, ordered U.S. troops from Fort Missoula and Fort William Henry Harrison, two military installations in Montana, to Helena. By 3 p.m. the U.S. troops had fully engaged with the demonstrators, now joined by the Montana National Guard, which threw its support to the Trump camp. Full-scale fighting between the two sides erupted.
By nightfall, that scenario was played out in 34 States and 511 cities. At one point, CNN estimated that upwards of 200,000 individuals were actively “at war with each other,” with pro-Hillary Clinton protestors now taking up their own arms to combat pro-Trump activists. The death toll, CNN estimated, was “in the low thousands, and rising.”
At 1:15 a.m. on the Thursday following Election Day, Obama renewed his declaration of National Emergency and announced a 5 p.m.-9 a.m. curfew “in all areas of the country where active fighting is occurring.” Fighting continued throughout the next five days, with a defiant Trump leading his side’s efforts. Around noon on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in, tweeting that “Donald Trump apparently won the U.S. election but is having his victory stolen by the enemies of democracy.” Putin ordered Russian’s military forces to their highest alert level in 27 years. Troop concentrations were reported in eastern Silberia, opposite the Alaskan coast, and on Russian’s borders in Eastern Europe. Russia recalled its ambassador to the U.S. “for consultations.”
Exactly when the first dirty bomb went off in the U.S. has been difficult to ascertain, as multiple ones exploded more or less simultaneously in 30 cities on Thursday afternoon. ISIS immediately took credit. From his headquarters, Trump tweeted about “Hillary/Ryan/Obama dirty bombs! Disgusting! Jail her!” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent 1,200 National Guard troops to seize Trump Tower and “remove Mr. Trump by any necessary means,” but by then, the luxury apartment building was being protected by some 20,000 Trump supporters, and the National Guard was unable to get through. Some 400 died in the ensuing battle.
As of today (Dec. 9), the situation has not been clarified. Fighting and killing have diminished, to some extent, but the animosity between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces seems likely to grow. Meanwhile, just this morning, the Governors of Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Indiana and Nebraska released a joint proclamation, stating they are “in active discussions pursuant to a formal withdrawal from the United States of America, to join forces with the Provisional American Government under President Trump.” Where things go from here is anyone’s guess.