Below is an account of a nighttime experience I had a day or two ago that left me as uncomfortable as it sounds. I offered it to our local newspaper on the eve of Impeachment #2 (from which I expect little more than a reminder of the frightening world Trump and his henchmen have created for us). Our local paper has done a pretty good job in recent weeks (called for our local congressman to resign after he challenged PA’s vote Jan. 6). We cannot just forget what these people have done/are doing. Herewith the op-ed:
I don’t usually remember my dreams, but the nightmare I had recently was so vivid and frightening that it woke me up. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, trying to understand how we became such a divided people and what experts advise for knitting ourselves back together and moving forward. Just before I turned in for the night, I read the story of a woman Lenka Perron, mother of three, works as an insurance consultant) whose concerns about modern America led her into QAnon and the cult of conspiracy theories that, along with Donald Trump, fueled the violent assault on our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021. (“Trump Just Used Us and Our Fears,” The New York Times, Jan. 29. 2021) She eventually managed to free herself from Q, but in telling her story, she confirmed what many experts understand about QAnon followers: most of them refuse to be rescued from its vicious, unsubstantiated, and false convictions, including their heinous accusation that Democratic leaders are pedophiles and Satanists. (Perron tried counseling a 40-year old disciple of Q whose marriage failed as he chased conspiracy theories, but she gave up. She said, “I couldn’t even make a dent.”)
I fell asleep that night with the same sense of dread—that conspiracy theory-fueled Americans might mount further attacks on our nation—that haunted me before January 6 and continues to haunt me now. All of which probably explains my dream. It began with me realizing I was in some sort of concrete bunker with a number of other people. Moments later we heard a loud whistling sound (like a bomb dropping) and then a massive explosion shook the bunker. I turned to my companions and asked what was happening. They told me the QAnon/conspiracy theory forces had actually declared total war on America and those not part of their cult. I’m not big on interpreting dreams (my wife’s dream-sharing group is far better at that), but I would venture to suggest that my mind, as it processed all of the conspiracy theory stuff and factored in the Republican party’s decision to make room for anti-democratic cultists, was warning me to beware and maybe encouraging me to add my voice to those speaking out against the cult of Q and the Donald.
After the murderous attack on the Capitol on January 6, Republicans were quick to call for a renewed sense of unity among Americans and to move on. They asked us to overlook the seditious actions of more than 100 senators and representatives (including Lancaster County’s Lloyd Smucker) in voting to overthrow the results of a free and fair (and secure) election. Then, for whatever reasons (it may simply be a depraved effort to appease the dangerous cult of QAnon/Trump and retain power), the GOP opened wide its gates and chose to overlook party members’ undemocratic attack on the electoral process and even embraced a newly-elected congresswoman who, among other cultish, extremist acts, “liked” a social media post proposing assassination of the Speaker of the House.
In all of these things, in making room for white supremacist cultists (as the party made room for racist southern Democrats in the 1960s), the Republican Party has voted to prolong the current period of national anguish and fear, not end it. One essay I read suggested that we give up trying to talk to each other across the political/moral divide, and instead try working together on mutually beneficial projects, like building roads and parks. That’s a fine suggestion, but what kind of future awaits a nation in which one of two major political parties now sides with violent, extremist, delusional cultists and white nationalists? It seems to me that we must take steps to reduce the sense of dread that hangs over us and hold those who engage in violent, undemocratic acts accountable—not just the Capitol hill gang of insurrectionists but any and all elected leaders who willingly violated the Constitution they swore to uphold when they were elected to public office. A handful of Republicans have stood up against the seditious behavior of their colleagues. We should applaud and appreciate them, and encourage other Republicans—who still believe in the basic principles of democracy—to throw their hats in the ring in 2022 and 2024, and replace those who chose to serve themselves rather than their nation.