The American Moral Divide: A Faustian Bargain or Solomon’s Dilemma?
Did the Democrats steal the election or is blood on the hands of Donald Trump for inspiring a riot that ended up with 5 people dead? This is a lightning rod for division in America.
What you see depends on where you stand.
I wrote a book of essays with a premise that Everything is Subjective. Nowhere has it been more evident than the last week in the USA. Our divide is real, and it is deep.
If, everything is Subjective to every individual according to their life experience, perspective, information sources and inherent biases, then, what may be true to me is not necessarily true to you, and vice versa.
If one side has a perspective that supports a certain narrative, they can easily find opaque attributions to support their narrative.
Donald Trump uses unattributable references to support his false narrative. He also employs a false, “if this, then that” tactic, otherwise known as conditional reasoning, to justify his position as factual (if this) when applied to the bigger picture (then that). It is false because the premise is false.
Here is the example: President Trump used a false premise to allege a conspiracy theory before the election even occurred, when he said, “If I lose, then it was rigged.”
This activated his followers to support and perpetuate the pre-emptive, false narrative of a rigged election.
This is the match that lit the fire.
He inspired thousands of people to come to a rally on the day of the certification of the election, reinforced that it was rigged, then encouraged his followers to march to the capitol and protest the stealing of the election. That mob followed his suggestion, marched and created chaos, anarchy, death and destruction. They were out for anyone, regardless of party affiliation, who denied his false premise of “it was rigged”. This included the sitting Vice-President and fellow Republican, Mike Pence.
Here is another example of the unattributable, opaque references he uses to give the illusion of factual.
Today, after being nearly universally condemned for his speech at his rally last week, doubled down and refused to show remorse. He used his technique of using an oblique reference to others without direct attribution to sow confusion about veracity of his statement. He uses “they said” and “people said” without attribution
He said, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.”
Donald Trump is amazing at how he has mastered this technique to manipulate millions of his followers. He may have even fooled himself and believe his own lies.
Essentially, using the metaphor, the match he lit became smoke and the flame was fanned to become a fire.
Another common phrase used to reference this thinking is the proverb, “if there is smoke, then there is fire.” Let’s use this proverb to analyze the use of false premise and conspiracy theories to agitate their followers.
The accusation by Trump of a rigged election provides the smoke, they use that as an example to support their theory that this smoke necessarily means that there is fire. Then, they share the “smoke” with other, like-minded people. This creates lots more “smoke” and this serves to create the illusion of a fire.
Sharing the illusion of a fire, fans the flames of the “fire” to others with a similar agenda who reference the “fire” to further support the illusion. Then they say, “look, lots of people are saying there is a fire, so there must be a fire!” And, therefore, we need to act immediately to put out the fire.
“Get the people responsible for rigging it!” “Take back our country!” “Attack the seat of power!”
“Something’s wrong here. Something’s really wrong. Can’t have happened.” And we fight. We fight like Hell and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He said as he ended his speech.
Death and destruction ensued.
Here is another example.
Ted Cruz, the man who hopes to inherit the Trump Mantle and his followers, used the same, specious logic to propose a commission to re-analyze an already certified election.
Last Wednesday, on January 6, 2020, Ted Cruz said, “39% of Americans believe that the recent election was rigged.”
Those 39% of Americans have heard a narrative, driven by President Trump and his supporters through both mainstream and social media, that the election was rigged. That narrative was repeated often enough, that in their minds, it became the truth. To them. They were encouraged to fight to take it back. And fight they did.
Just because 39% may believe something, doesn’t mean that it is true. He is using the fact that these people were manipulated by a false premise and lies to legitimize their narrative. They do this to stay in power by any means necessary
This reminds me of the story of the Judgement of King Solomon.
Two women were fighting over the claims to a child. In this story, the two women are Trump and The Democratic Party, and the baby is our democracy.
Solomon decides to offer to split the baby in half to settle the dispute. He knew that the true mother would rather give up her half of the baby than see it cut in half, so he watched as they considered his offer. He knew that the real mother would rather give it up than see it killed to settle a dispute, so his decision was easy because the fraud was exposed.
Republican Senators and Congressman, led by Mitch McConnell, are in a position of King Solomon’s to make the right decision. The democrats are trying to save our democracy founded on our constitution. Trump is trying to stay in power and willing to kill the baby (democracy) to get his way.
This is their double, moral dilemma or Faustian Bargain: Should they make a Deal with The Devil? Should they trade their integrity for power?
If they support Trump, they keep his followers who are the base of the Republican Party but lose their integrity and any claim to honoring the constitution.
It is also one for Trump. He can keep his followers energized and engaged by perpetuating his conspiracy and lies by attacking anyone who opposes him. Or, he can save our democracy by telling the truth and accepting defeat.
Based on his track record, I am pretty sure that he would rather embrace the power he has over his followers, and, by extension, the existing republican party; instead of admitting defeat and saving our democracy.
On the other hand, Republicans might have the fortitude to follow the truth, have integrity and save our democracy by holding Trump accountable for his lies.
What will they do? The future of our democracy is in the balance.
What you see depends on where you stand.