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With the Capitol Insurrection on January 6, 2021, the unthinkable has become reality: not only are we leading the entire world with 4,000 deaths a day from COVID-19 in the US, but we also are losing the status as the “leader of the free world” with sedition and insurrection seeking to overturn our legitimate election with a violent takeover of the very heart of our democracy.
The Capitol Insurrection on January 6, 2021 was the inevitable implosion resulting from seven monstrous snakehead forces that have been fed and indulged for years. They have combined into a seven-headed monstrosity that is threatening our democracy, rule of law, national unity, and security. This article will first list the problems. Thoughts and ideas about solutions will be addressed in Part 2.
I try my best not to be partisan, and if it does end up riling anyone, my apology. Individual freedom is upheld only by constant vigilance and understanding about what it takes. Authoritarianism is always a possibility in the US, regardless what party you belong to.
The deteriorating partisanship and polarization for more than 30 years, has collapsed into a dead end – the worst partisanship nightmare flamed by Trump’s persistent lying about losing the election and inciting a mob’s invasion of Congress. When everything is viewed from the colored lens of party affiliation, even commonsensical mask-wearing is politicized, the ”us vs. them” mentality sacrifices science, truth, facts, and human lives. When applied to distrust the foundation of our democracy–the voting system– the impact of this polarization has monstrous consequences.
Our Constitution did not create the two-party system but imagined a multi-party system, not a winner-takes-all self-looping cycle, but a representative government where diverse and minority voices are heard. However, the entrenched positioning at the extremes of the two party lines gets little done, at the cost of the well being of the entire country. The toxic culture of one-side-hating-the-other, and the poisonous I-am-right-you-are-wrong positioning is costing ALL Americans dearly, with more deaths from COVID, decreased living standards, economic downturn, and moral decline.
Social media’s echo-chamber exponentially multiplies one-sided views and misinformation. Lies go six times faster than truth on social media. Facebook’s algorithm “recommends” radical extremists to join like-minded groups. The compounding and reinforcing effects of this echo-chamber lead people on both sides to extreme versions of their views to the point of civil wars and breaking up of a country, as predicted by the Netflix documentary “Social Dilemma”. The scariest part is that there is never going to be enough human or artificial intelligence to fact check every lie on the internet. Both social media and TV have spread and amplified disinformation, misinformation, blatant lies, conspiracy theories, and hatred to a susceptible public.
I know, I have offended some people who love Trump, now. I have faith that soon or later, history will prove the truth. Trump is willing to gaslight, lie, intimidate, manipulate, and weaponize the worst in humanity and the darkest elements in our society for his own power. Trump’s incitement of his supporters is based on the psychological weapons of fear and the mentality of “They took away what was rightfully yours”, your “disenfranchised” vote, your “stolen” election, your jobs “taken” by immigrants, your “no longer yours” country. He scares his base with the fear of “socialism” and “communism”, or “they” are taking away your guns and religion, imagined or real. Cult-building is based on demonizing others. Trump’s cult-building will last beyond his exit from the White House with emotional, spiritual, cultural, and political grasp on the extremists, and as a so-called “victim” or “martyr” in the eyes of his followers.
As evidenced by the racial overtones in the Capitol Insurrection and the law enforcement’s different expectations, preparations, and treatments of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, contrasted with the mobs’ breach of the Capitol. Even though 93% of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations were peaceful, there were rioters and looters who took advantage of the protests. Nonetheless, the Black Lives Matter demonstration was not based on a big lie, since we all saw George Floyd being killed by a white policeman. The Capitol riot was based on a blatant lie that the election was “stolen”. In spite of warnings, the police were ill prepared under the assumption that the majority of the white demonstrators for Trump’s rally would not turn violent, unlike the so-called “liberals”, “leftists”. Trump’s policy of blaming the immigrants, siding with white supremacists and fringe groups such as Proud Boys and Qanon, and unleashing rage to incite riots were consistent with his prior birther incitement against Obama.
Years of neglecting education has created a fertile ground of ignorance for Trump and his followers to radicalize his base by constantly sowing doubt and distrust about science and the democratic voting system, to replace with the so called “I alone can fix it” personality cult, lies, and fear. Democracy depends on education to function, especially when the system is getting more complex. Authoritarianism is based on depriving education, critical thinking. Undemocratic regimes can only survive on fears, lies, cult-building, divisiveness and violence.
Some of the elected representatives are self-serving, catering to the constituency’s sentiment and short term interests of special interest donors. When partisanship bickering and attacks rather than healthy and rational debates become the acceptable norms, and when party lines are nearing extreme versions of political “correctness” on both the left and the right, our country will consequently move one step forward and one step back, stagnating in the same place for years instead of moving forward. At the same time some undemocratic countries become more powerful on the world stage.
Systemic improvements are needed to better hold politicians accountable to serve our country and make democracy less vulnerable with the “imperial” presidential powers. A US President has too much fast and unchecked power for pardon, executive orders, wars. The pandemic and the Capitol Insurrection are the watershed moments showing systemic flaws and calling out for reset and reform.
With the out of control pandemic and the economy on life support, it will take some time for America to climb out of the valley. The prolonged and repeated lockdowns have to various degrees affected people’s mental and emotional states. The unfair economic burden of the pandemic on the working class will continue to stoke the wild fires of civil unrest and violence.
lies become truth,
news becomes opinions,
facts become distorted realities,
media becomes political propaganda,
reason succumbs to blind faith,
the denounced becomes glorified,
radicalization is preferred over bipartisanship,
thugs think themselves as heroes,
What will democracy become? What is the “state of the union” in America?
If it cannot be any darker with this Capitol Insurrection, if it cannot go any lower, the good news is that the dawn of light is also inevitable. Our world, our country, history, and future will be moving forward no matter what.
America is going through a dark time in its history. We must make deep, wide, thorough, and painful changes, reforms, and resets.
Our democracy, our tradition of rule of law, our country are all in our own hands.
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
We will discuss in Part 2 later.
Joanne Tan is the founder and CEO of 10 Plus Brand, Inc., a full service, multi-media branding and brand-marketing agency. She is a brand strategist, brand builder, and marketing consultant leading teams of professionals to decode brand DNA, create brand structure, strategies and stories, and amplify brands digitally with AI enabled content marketing. 10 Plus Brand, Inc. partners with world experts in influencer marketing, digital marketing, and other renowned marketing leaders.
© Joanne Tan, edited by Glenn Perkins, Susan Olson, David Leskin, 2021, all rights reserved.
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