Our Dangerous Drift Toward Fascism

We now have a gov­ern­ment that is sys­tem­atic­al­ly dis­en­fran­chis­ing the Ameri­can publ­ic right be­fore our eyes while we do no­thing about it.

Republicans tend to do two things

the moment they come to power: (1) tank the economy and (2) get us into a war. It is almost gratifying to see this president is on top of his game, having begun (1) with his trillion-dollar tax cut for the wealthy, and his egomaniacal taunting of “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un has put us well on the path to (2). The spectacle of these Old, Rich, White Men hi-fiving one another over having taken access to health care away from thirteen million people, including millions of children, ending deductibility for state and local taxes and adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt was deeply disturbing. It was the pinnacle of a year that’s filled most cognitive, thinking Americans —regardless of political orientation—with dread and anxiety over America’s future.

Donald J. Trump, the most implausible individual to win the White House in the nation’s history, continues to devolve, before the world’s collective eyes, toward an obvious stage of mental instability. To say Trump’s comport is not presidential is a waste of air. His is surely The Matrix Presidency; tens if not hundreds of millions of American citizens frozen slack-jawed in front of TV sets shuttered in disbelief that this caricature has indeed won the White House and, worse, that most of us had a hand in helping him win it. Whether you’re a conservative who didn’t vote at all or a “Bernie or Bust” liberal pouting over the DNC’s fix being in for Hillary Clinton, most of America had skin in this game. The truth is, none of us—certainly not I—believed Trump would win under any circumstances. Nobody really believed America would be gullible enough, lost enough, to elevate this man to the nation’s highest office. So we pouted and we pandered and we divided ourselves over ideology or whatever our complaint was. We underestimated not only the man but how the Electoral College is rigged to benefit rural states over urban ones. Bottom line: most of us simply did not take Trump seriously. And now, look at the mess.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are reasonable and thoughtful people. But the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution leverages political power toward the minority. The way the Electoral College works, 50 superstitious, underinformed Fox News viewers in Montana have the same political leverage as a half-million Californians. These are the constituents the GOP panders to. In obvious and insulting ways, the GOP baldly treats most of its own constituents like idiots.

Christian conservatives most especially are reliable allies who will follow lock-step, whether the GOP candidate is an avowed Mormon (which most conservative Christians dismiss as an antichrist cult) or a sexual predator who has openly admitted ogling half-dressed teenage girls and sexually assaulting women (“Grab ‘em by the p—-y”). Pastors, predominately white pastors, across the nation have contorted themselves in bizarre apologetics as they compromise and abandon their ethics and convictions in order to support these candidates, and the faithful follow their pastors blindly and without question, what Jesus taught be damned. Millions of alleged “Christians” voted for this man, this unstable, foul-mouthed reprobate, and they voted for him, get this, in Jesus’ name.

Because we didn’t take him seriously, because we assumed no sane person would actually vote for the man, we all followed our various agendas and squabbled. Which is why we are now stuck with a person who can unequivocally be described as an embarrassment to the nation and a disgrace to the office of the presidency. It’s a pox on all of our houses as we now cross the danger river with an unstable child-man steering the ship of state while the Old, Rich, White Men in Congress pander and fawn and obstruct investigations into the president’s blatant and obvious criminal acts. The future of our nation is in the hands of dilettantes, con men and clowns. But, how did we get here?

I occasionally do branding and media consulting for local churches. Many times, over the years, I have advised pastors—especially black pastors—to not use their personal email accounts for church business. It’s unprofessional. Beyond that, all church business should be conducted openly and in the light of day. Many of these men are military retirees or civilian contractors who, by law, would never be allowed to conduct government business on their AOL accounts. But, for the church, there they go— clinging to the embarrassing AOL training wheels which mark them as internet dilettantes.

These men defend this practice for many reasons, none of which make any sense or effectively hide the simple truth that they are technophobes, relics of the 1960’s now marooned in the 21st century with all of the robots and so forth. The learning curve for new tech is daunting— even for myself— and so AOL it is. And this is exactly the reason our nation now spirals toward an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

Grandma's Blackberry

As we surely all know by now, while serving as U.S. Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton was ether too selfish or too stubborn or, frankly, too afraid of new tech to maintain a proper separation between her work and private electronic communications. This technophobia snowballed into a ridiculous (and largely pointless) email non-scandal which cost her the election. And, frankly, she deserved to lose. Using her private servers for classified communications was a politically stupid thing to do and Hillary, a woman I deeply admire, is surely smart enough to have known she was putting her political future at risk all for the sake of having the convenience of (allegedly) “carrying one device” instead of two. I kind of resent her choice at least to the extent that it has placed our country’s future into the hands of perhaps the most ridiculous and immature human being ever to walk upright.

Senator Bernie Sanders knew, from go, that the Democratic Party was rigging the election for Hillary Clinton. Now, it’s important to remember Sanders was not, is still not, an actual Democrat. Trump, for that matter, is not a Republican, likely doesn’t understand the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Trump is only about Trump, and Bernie likewise acted selfishly—resenting the DNC’s fix being in for Clinton and thus refusing to get out in time for his “Bernie or Bust” loyalists to get over themselves before the election. Millions stayed home or voted for some independent candidate, thus throwing the election to Trump.

White female voters completely missed the point that, whether or not the country needed specifically Hillary, the country desperately needed this moment, one that may not come again for years, where a woman made a viable candidate for the U.S. presidency. Whether or not I thought Barack Obama the best candidate for the job, I’d rather have had an imperfect first black President than no black president at all. Hillary was one of them— the suburban white woman. And they blew it—blew their chance to smash one the last remaining major barriers to gender equality. They traded their historic moment in for this nut. It was a stupid and shameful choice, placing ideology over the nation’s dignity and being on the wrong side of history.

I must pause here to apologize to the former president for being so very hard on him on this very web ministry. As horrible a leader as I believed (and still believe) he was, Trump makes the man look like Lincoln.

While Black America came together, despite our differences, in order to rise to the occasion of history, white women were bamboozled by the pundits into focusing on the tree, Hillary, rather than the forest. They owed it to themselves, to their daughters, and to posterity to break that glass ceiling, and Hillary was and is eminently if not sublimely qualified to lead this nation. But Female White America chose instead this egomaniacal reality TV combover whom I severely doubt even knows the most basic things about governing. Conservatives and a great number of white women didn't think about governing, didn't consider the consequences. They followed their ideology. Every white woman I’ve seen on the Talking Head circuit bashing Hillary looked, to me, like an idiot. She’s one of you. You had the chance to make history, and you blew it.

And, lastly, the fake email scandal— the much ado about almost nothing. I say almost because, God only knows what intel the Russians or Chinese managed to steal from Hillary’s email, but, c’mon, those folks likely would have read her email no matter which account she used. It was a completely overblown fake scandal, made worse by former FBI Director James Comey’s ninth-hour reignition of the same mere days before the election. However, as mad as liberals were at Comey, c’mon, this was completely Hillary’s fault. She had her chance, and she blew it simply by being stubborn and fearful of new tech.

The even larger problem is the U.S. Constitution, which, despite what you believe, does not grant one man one vote, but grants each state an equal voice in governing. Which is to say, Montana, with a population of about a million people, has exactly the same amount of political power in the U.S. Senate as California with it’s thirty-nine million. Yes, California has more seats in the House of Representatives, but, proportionately, the single Montana vote for its one million residences carries the political power as 754,000 Californians. Now, in and of itself, that doesn’t seem troubling. But, when these sparsely populated rural states start voting as a bloc, they wield vastly disproportionate clout in government, maybe 5-10 million people having political control over ten times as many people.

No, She Was Not Perfect: White, middle-class women proved themselves to be both short-sighted and gullible, bypassing their moment in history for a dangerously narccissictic intellectually disengaged sexual predator. I honestly have no clue, not one, what these people were thinking. Clinton could not have imagined what her choices would cost her... and us.


New York Times columnist Emily Badger wrote in 2016:

We still live with political institutions that have baked in a distinctly pro-rural bias, by design. The Democratic candidate for president has now won the popular vote in six of the last seven elections. But in part because the system empowers rural states, for the second time in that span, the candidate who garnered the most votes will not be president.

Rural America, even as it laments its economic weakness, retains vastly disproportionate electoral strength. Rural voters were able to nudge Donald J. Trump to power despite Hillary Clinton’s large margins in cities like New York. In a House of Representatives that structurally disadvantages Democrats because of their tight urban clustering, rural voters helped Republicans hold their cushion. In the Senate, the least populous states are now more overrepresented than ever before. And the growing unity of rural Americans as a voting bloc has converted the rural bias in national politics into a potent Republican advantage.

“If you’re talking about a political system that skews rural, that’s not as important if there isn’t a major cleavage between rural and urban voting behavior,” said Frances Lee, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. “But urban and rural voting behavior is so starkly different now so that this has major political consequences for who has power.

“And it’s not just in terms of policy outcomes,” she continued. “This pervasively advantages Republicans in maintaining control of the U.S. national government.”

All of which has brought us the Donald Trump show, an administration that is beyond a joke on America led by an individual every believing Christian should denounce but far too many do not. I don’t get that: conservative Christians, always whining about “morality” in government, voted in lock-step for this confessed sexual predator and habitual liar; a man who had never claimed nor demonstrated much in the way of Christian faith or even simple moral ethics. Why did they do that, and why are these “Christians” poised to support this guy again? It’s this odd separation between confessed Christian ethics and political ideology that finds far too many so-called “Christians” abandoning Christ in favor of some “moral” ideology. It seems apparent these “moral” leaders believe their political agenda is more important than following Christ. This is my argument for separating “morality” from theology; the two have virtually nothing to do with one another, as I wrote years back:

Enforcing Christian values upon social justice and moral standards seems right but it really isn't. Morality and spirituality are not one and the same. Morality (the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct) has no external or infallible truth to it. Theology (rational inquiry into religious questions), ideally, should be based on eternal truths, which have nothing to do with morality per se, other than that our adherence to these eternal truths forms opinions we express as guidelines governing our moral conduct. Theology and morality are hardly one and the same. A decent and moral idea, rule, or concept can still, in all its purity, transgress the holiness of a divine God. As such, our sense of morality is of not much use to God (Isa 64:6). Churches relying on their sensibilities of what is good, right, and moral to dictate their interpretation of scripture is, in and of itself, faulty exegesis. The Church should not be in the business of dictating morality, but should be proclaiming truths both eternal and infallible. We, as individuals, having been presented with these truths, are a people at liberty to embrace or reject those truths, and our sense of morality is the expression of that decision.

Christ had no political agenda. There simply is no biblical model for Christians to even have a political agenda or for Christ's church (as a body) to be involved in politics in any way. Jesus signed no petitions, supported no candidates, held no protests. In fact, the only biblical contemporary of Christ who mounted any political protest at all was John The Baptist, who was beheaded not for upholding the cause of Christ but for his own foolishness in getting himself tangled up in the governor’s business.


Suffer The Little Children: Trump embraces a little girl shortly before taking her health care away.

Minority Report

I hate to be an alarmist but, in the history of this nation we’ve never seen anything like this: a president clearly obstructing justice and a Congress eager to help him do it. This should worry the living hell out of us. Why doesn’t it? Are we even paying attention?

This is how dictatorships are formed: discredit the free press (“Fake News”), disenfranchise law enforcement (the GOP’s ongoing, heated attacks on the FBI and others), and emphasize ideology over law or even common sense. We now have a government in power that is systematically disenfranchising the American public right before our eyes while we do nothing about it.

The overall passive nature of our politically disengaged community makes us ripe for exploitation. Too many of us don’t even bother to vote (another reason Hillary lost; most of us assumed she had it in the bag so why bother voting?). Beloved, civil rights are a lot like vacation days: use ‘em or lose ‘em. With every passing day of the Republicans in power we are seeing, before our very eyes, important and hard-won rights being stripped away. Ours is a government run by a political philosophy which is statistically a minority opinion, but is held in power by exploiting the intent of the greatest governing document ever written because that document was written before there was such a thing as cars or the Internet. Or indoor plumbing. Or chewing gum.

I can’t help but wonder how much if any of this is being discussed from black pulpits across America. No, I don’t think the church— black or white— should be politically invested but we, as individuals, need to be politically aware. We need to be active and informed and make good choices. At the very least, this extremely dangerous undermining of our community’s civil rights—voting rights most especially—and the systematic discretization of vital institutions of law enforcement and news media should be terrifying for all of us, regardless of political persuasion.

The fact America, as a whole, is not up in arms about all of this fills me with anxiety over what this nation has become and where it is going. No, Hillary’s Blackberry is not completely to blame, but she, like the “president” we got largely because of her choices, surely has not helped us much.

Christopher J. Priest
1 February 2018

No. 432  |  February 2018   Study   Faith 101   Lost In The Matrix   The Matrix Reloaded   Older, Richer. Whiter Men   My Pagan Valentine   Wave This Flag or Else