The Privilege of Avoiding Truth

What went wrong for Republicans in 2020 wasn’t just a bad candidate

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

I WAS READING YET ANOTHER PIECE on the collapse of the most recent Republican candidate in the latest presidential election, where by a scant few votes in a few key states the Republican lost to the Democrat. The 81 million to 74 million final popular vote tally disguises just how close the election was.

This is a think piece on how much the writer regrets the collapse and apologizes for not listening to those few in the Republican camp who were speaking out — shouting, even — that the Republican candidate was not fit for re-election.

The author makes the claim that by his own vote for the Republican candidate he was voting for what he saw was the positive good of that candidate, and yet was failed in his support by the actions of his candidate in the post-election resistance to facts as well as the increasingly violent attempts by the Republicans to overthrow the legitimate election of the Democratic candidate.

This type of piece does not seem to be rare among considerate conservative voters who abandoned their principles in order to gain a transactional advantage for their “side.” For writer of this next piece, it was the successful nomination of conservative judges who knocked out two forgettable and unreliable judges and duplicated a third. It was the easy pardons of prosperous men, now convicted criminals, who were free to go back to their primary duty of making rich people richer. It was, above all, the elimination of the hated Hillary Clinton, who has endured the fury of white men for nearly forty years of public service.

As more and more time elapses between the electoral collapse of the Republican candidate (and the collapse of the Republican Congress), I expect to see more of these pieces, explaining why the Republican candidate was “good” for a particular writer, but sadly destroyed in his own inability to stay on task and maintain public goodwill. What went wrong with the Republican administration wasn’t anything centered in the governing philosophy or values of the Republican party. Instead, it was just a tale of a man born to greatness but with the fatal flaw of turning his political supporters into cowed sheep who would not cross a line if it meant a mean tweet.

And as I read their essays and their pleas for understanding and their outright support for all that the Republican candidate did that was “good” for them and their side, I noticed an amazing lack of consideration for anyone who was not white and straight and male and Christian.

In none of these essays did I find the slightest hint that for 60% of America the Republican president was the abusive husband beating a fearful spouse. I did not find any mention that the uprisings that culminated in mass world-wide protests chanting BLACK LIVES MATTER and the name of the latest victim of arbitrary, excused police violence directed at Black American was of any concern other than that troublesome people were trying to destabilize a country that was in all ways functioning well except for some unfortunate lapses in presidential behaviors.

I did not find a single tear shed over the plight of migrants locked up in cages away from their incarcerated babies. I did not hear any unease that our environment is degrading, our infrastructure is collapsing, our debt is soaring, our schools are crumbling, and our cities and town are crowded with homeless. I did not see any hint that the Republican president had the slightest accountability for a continuously botched response to Covid-19, whereas other countries with competent governance have managed to keep the pandemic under control.

These essays mourn the collapse of the Republican government not because of its incompetence or venality or malfeasance or even malign purposes. There is not a mention that the nation was hostile to his administration not because he was the Republican president, but because he was destructive and terrifying and venal and, in the end, just too small and small-minded to be in the role.

These apologists mourn the collapse because they still believe in their heart of hearts he still should have won a second term to further extend his wreckage upon the United States of America, its Constitution, its people, its reputation, and its future.

What I read didn’t surprise me. I was born white and raised white, and am both male and Christian. By accident of geography I’m American. I have lived within this circle of people my whole life, and I have absorbed the values deep into my own soul. Absent the grace of God and a kick in the pants, I’d be nodding my head in agreement with these essays, and others that are sure to follow.

I can’t, not anymore. I’ve seen too much, listened too much, rethought too much, and repented — well, not too much, but enough to be changed. It took the angry intervention of a classmate to get me to snap out of my dream state. At the age of 54 I had to wake up and see how I had contributed to the hurt and destruction of others and the continued dominance of others by people like me.

I had a moment where I was given clarity, and that impelled me to pursue the knowledge I had failed to ever acquire.

When I read these essays, I know where they come from. I can feel these white men and their frustrations. I can understand their lack of comprehension that their enjoyment of transactional success is not appreciated by everyone else. They were given a great gift by America to be the top dogs for a very long time, where their wisdom was simply absorbed and repeated as the true truth of America.

But that time of white male dominance is over. The benefits that accrue to white men and whiteness are being stopped. The bills are coming due. For the ex-president, the bills are hundreds of billions in debt and long prison sentences and stiff fines. For white men it is the simple loss of privilege and the turning away of everyone from their theories on why their plans failed.

Their plans failed because they were built on lies and sustained by a white supremacy that was shown to be exhausted on January 6, 2020. Now these white men with their frustrations are going to have to have their own moment of reality.

Can the Republicans come back from this? Sure. They missed their chance by a very tiny margin in just a few states. They missed their chance in the Senate also by a very tiny margin in just one state: Georgia. Bruised egos and petulant assurance that white men own the power in the United States is a powerful stimulant to fight hard in the 2022 midterms.

But their philosophies are spent and their energy is gone. It is all just revenge now, and false hopes of restoration. They’ve not learned that their privilege of avoiding truth is about to come to an end. And that will not be a pleasant thing to experience.

Writer; observer; sometimes doer. Senior editor Our Human Family. Fiat justitia ruat cælum. More at stephenmatlock.com

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