Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Falsehoods of Trumpism Deepen Violence, Division

With less than sixty days to the midterm elections, disinformation on various social platforms, and even some traditional media outlets, is intensifying. In fact, it seems like hand-to-hand combat—or word-to-word combat, at any rate—is being fought, with every message distorting this important moment for the United States. And what is the central message in this war of disinformation? The one that emanates from many Republican candidates who invoke Donald Trump in 2020 is that the U.S. electoral system is “corrupt,” and if they lose it’s because there was “fraud,” which they use to incite more violence in the name of Trumpism.

It’s not necessary to imagine what this ideological ticking time bomb could incite in the short term, but we must pay attention to the damage that it is already producing on a society as wounded and profoundly divided as the U.S., which has not been able to undo the toxicity of a former president who didn’t begin to understand the historic significance of this democracy.

At bottom, there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 elections, but this false idea remains present among Trump, his candidates, and his followers. This message culminated in the violence on January 6, 2021, the assault on the Capitol, and that same message—on top of others about the “invasion” at the border and the “replacement” theory white people have about minorities—have generated violence and death in various massacres around the country.

Since then, minorities no longer feel safe in the most protected and organized society in the world, while their vision for the future of their families has notably declined, to the point that that which it seemed they had won a long time ago, like civil liberties, is now part of a new edition of this battle, with other actors as visible as they are vulnerable, like the Dreamers, TPS beneficiaries, and people seeking asylum, among others.

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President Biden is leading the “United We Stand” summit to bring people’s attention to the “corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety,” according to the White House.

In fact, the summit follows Biden’s speech about the threat that the violence Trump and his MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement represents for U.S. democracy. All this is in the context of the FBI’s search into the Trump residence in Florida in order to recoup classified documents that the ex-president appropriated and did not want to return. Agents of this federal institution and their families have received threats, and in Ohio a man tried to enter an FBI office with an AR-15 and a nail gun, after publishing threatening messages and making a call to arms on Trump’s social platform.

At a time when the United States should be discussing topics of greater relevance and for the general benefit of generations both present and future, in a century that promised to take steps forward in the social realm, its leaders have to retreat several decades, to analyze and debate matters that once seemed done deals: division, rejection of “the other,” hate, violence against the nation itself, and the danger that democracy runs in the face of this xenophobic, racist, and anti-immigrant rebirth among a good part of U.S. society.

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In this context, we realize that the moment we are facing as a nation is crucial. It’s true that the United States has experienced episodes of division and discord, like the Civil War, where more than 600,000 people died—more than all of the other wars this country has participated in.

Events like the war in Vietnam, the bloody battle for civil rights, Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 2000 election decided for George W. Bush by the Supreme Court, or the war in Iraq, initiated by that president on false pretenses, also generated division. And now the nation faces a Trumpism sustained not so much on political differences, but on falsehoods that only serve to privilege a “caste” of white nationalists who have not adapted to the natural diversity in which we live, not only in the United States but around the world.

Thus, Trumpism’s level of virulence does not resemble previous partisan differences, especially because now the Republican leadership in Congress and the country is mostly aligned with extremists, welcoming their message of hate and normalizing it. The question is, why has U.S. society been so contemplative in the face of the advance of a “movement” like Trumpism, which is apparently its own weapon of mass destruction, its very suicide as a country.

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Last weekend El Nuevo Herald reported via Associated Press that four Republican candidates for state office, who continue to assert that there was fraud in the 2020 elections, say that the electoral system is “corrupt” and even “pointed a finger at mysterious forces within their own party.”

The Secretary of State candidates are Mark Finchem in Arizona; Kristina Karamo in Michigan; Jim Marchant in Nevada, and Audrey Trujillo in New Mexico.

For Trump’s faithful, it’s not just the Democrats who “conspire” against his triumph now, but also their own Republicans. “Our biggest enemy is our own party,” said Marchant, a businessman and former state legislator, one of the most ardent Trump supporters who impugned President Joe Biden’s victory in Nevada in 2020, according to the article. Given this, isn’t it time for the Republicans to distance themselves from this disinformation trash, and once again become a true political option? Their silence—their inaction—is driving them toward destruction as a party.

At least the rest of us have been forewarned about what could be to come.

Maribel Hastings es asesora ejecutiva de America’s Voice y David Torres es asesor de medios en español de America’s Voice.

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