A friend of mind recently posted this quote and I thought it apt for our times:
“Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion. What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.”
I had lunch with a friend recently. It was pleasant, and at one point it morphed into a ‘who has the cutest grandkids battle’. Needless to say, I won that battle hands down…well, she might be saying the same thing but really, I won.
But that’s not the point of this essay. But I did win. Wasn’t even a close.
Here’s my point: my lunch friend is a staunch Trump supporter, me, not so much. And I would love to discuss politics with her, but I sense a wall, a reluctance on her part to engage in any political or religious discussion. It feels like she is a closeted Trump supporter, a phenomenon I’ve noticed a lot lately—his supporters don’t want to defend his character, defend his record, but they do send me links, often originating from Russia: you know, the ones that depict Hillary as the devil or Obama as a monkey. And after they send the Obama monkey one, they insist they aren’t racist.
But a link is not a conversation; it’s a cowardly method to persuade. My friend and her friends support the man but seem to shy away from honest debate. I wondered about that. Is it something about this President that stifles political discussion? Is there some other hidden factor at play?
Democracy is not forwarded or strengthened by link battles. Dialogue and honest debate are hard, but democracy is hard. It’s takes constant vigilance, a constant fight against apathy and division. Our democracy flourishes to the degree that our citizens participate, debate, vote. Dialogue and honest debate are what nourishes our democracy; it’s the nutrient that strengthens our Founding Fathers scriptures.
So, what the hell is going on? And then it dawned on me:
The Russian troll factory was designed to sabotage our democracy; their intent was to divide us, to create racial disharmony, and to elect Donald Trump. They have infected our airwaves and this infestation disables honest dialogue because the conversations are saturated with false data, disinformation. How can we agree on anything when the data we present is false? As a result, we have retreated to our bunkers, fearing each other, our courage to engage neutered. Links have replaced dialogue; we have surrendered to the Russian disinformation campaign and our democracy is teetering on life support because the air we are breathing is funneled from Russia and it is rendering our airwaves toxic.
Our nation needs a cleansing, a purification of the Russian disinformation campaign and until that happens, public discourse will be compromised, which in turn will compromise our democracy.
I recently went to this event regarding DACU. One of the panelists, who is in DACU, noted there was a lot of conflict and disharmony creeping onto the DACU website. There is no group that should be more united than DACU but then I realized, this has Russia’s footprints all over it. It aligns with their stated purpose which was to create disharmony, to destabilize our country. It reminded me of the fact that the Russian Troll factory had created a “Black Lives Matter” website, their sole purpose being to create disunity within the Afro-American community, to create racial discord, and to discourage Afro-Americans from voting.
Back to my friend: the link she sent me could be traced to Alex Jones. He’s the guy who promotes the idea that Sandy Hook never occurred, that it was all some government conspiracy. So, you consider the source. Here’s the problem: Russia implanted millions upon millions of these memes into America’s bloodstream with the stated intent to divide us.
And it’s working.
Here’s the other problem. According to numerous news sources, President Trump has publicly lied to the American people over 10,000 times since taking office. OVER 10,000 TIMES! This is a fact, not fake news because our President said all these things out loud. Anyone can verify this total. I suggest starting with his tweets. Besides the Russian memes that infected our democracy, and which need to be cleansed from our airwaves, we also need to cleanse the lies our President has disseminated to our citizens. It’s a necessary step in restoring our democracy. For example, he keeps extolling the virtues of Alex Jones, yes, the Alex Jones that promoted the idea that Sandy Hook was a hoax orchestrated by our government and that no kids were killed.
And this is a man our President praises. Can you imagine being a parent of an executed child and the President of the United States promotes a guy who proclaims the executions never happened?
It breaks my heart that we have a President that is a compulsive liar. I take comfort in the fact that my oldest grandchild isn’t old enough to follow politics and my prayer is that the next President exhibits a moral and ethical example of the standard we expect from the highest office in the land.
Our President should not only be our political leader but our moral beacon, inspiring our country with her/his moral leadership.
So, we should put the links down and start communicating with each other, no matter how uncomfortable and difficult it may be. The future of our democracy depends on it.
Finally, I hope to sit down with my friend and have a political conversation…right after she admits that I do have the cutest grandkids.
Really, it was no contest.