“Festival of Truth”

“Terror is nothing other than prompt, severe, inflexible justice.” – Robespierre

Courtesy Dan Piraro – Bizarro.com

While the French revolutionary’s words ignited an uprising that ultimately overturned the despotic empire of Louis XVI and opened France to new age, his words resonate today, but not in the way he originally intended.

Today, we have our own King Louis who is supposed to be in former president exile. But while he continues his “Rant-of-the-Week” tour, many of his supporters won’t except anything less than the “truth” of conspiracies and lies. I used to laugh at Dan Pirraro’s deft cartoon of Trump conversinglecturing Plato about truth. I’m not laughing anymore, and neither are many Republicans around the country who have not prostrated themselves at the King of Mar-a-lago.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of former president Gerald R. Ford, “Representative Peter Meijer cites Ford as his inspiration these days… because the freshman congressman sees virtues in Ford now lost to his political party,” the New York Times reports (July 8).

“‘It was a period of turmoil,’ said Mr. Meijer, who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald J. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Ford’s greatest asset, he added, was ‘offering — this word is becoming too loaded of late — a sense of morals, moral leadership, a sense of value and centering decency and humility.’”

Working at an NBC affiliate in Palm Desert, I met then-president Ford when he came to the station to tape a public service announcement. He impressed me as being both approachable and sincere. There was no hint of political posturing.

I was running camera and holding cue cards, waiting for the taping to begin. There were only four of us in the studio, myself, Ford, and two Secret Service agents.

“Can I ask you a question, Mr. President?”

He smiled, “Sure, Jim. What is it?”

“Between you and me, was there any deal between you and Nixon for a pardon?”

He leaned forward and without a scintilla of guile, and I’m paraphrasing from memory, he said, “Jim, the country had been through months of Watergate. The economy was in tough shape. To do the job I had as president, the country had to move on.”

I believed him. I believed him because he impressed me as a moral man and most of the country trusted him,too.

Sadly, trust is as low as the Colorado river these days as Republican representative Peter Meijer knows all too well.

At the “Festival of Truth” last Sunday many of the “100 or so West Michiganders… inhabited an alternative reality in which Mr. Trump was re-elected, their votes were stolen, the deadly Jan. 6 mob was peaceful, coronavirus vaccines were dangerous and conservatives were oppressed.”

The story leaves out “White” conservatives, because the vast majority who stick by Trump are White and feel utterly sidelined by the state and federal government and the media.

This is the reality Meijer must contend with: constituents who listen to Trump repeat the same lies so often that far too many believe because they believe that they have nothing else to believe in.

Michigan’s other representative, Fred Upton is in the same boat as Meijer. After the Capitol riot, both voted to impeach the president and both will face “multiple primary challengers next year who accuse them of disloyalty — or worse, treason — for holding Mr. Trump responsible for the riot that raged as they met to formalize the election results for the victor, President Biden. …

“In June, a Republican-led State Senate inquiry into Michigan’s 2020 vote count affirmed Mr. Biden’s Michigan victory by more than 154,000 votes, nearly 3 percentage points, and found ‘no evidence’ of ‘either significant acts of fraud’ or ‘an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity.’”

This is the reality many federally elected Republicans cannot accept, despite their own Republican state leaders speaking the truth. In a statement, “The committee [examining the state election process] strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

Even though their republican leadership and republicans from many other states made similar statements, Trump supporters continue to stand by a false belief.

How low has trust become?

“At a recent event,” The Times writes, “he said, a woman informed Mr. Meijer that he would shortly be arrested for treason and hauled before a military tribunal, presumably to be shot.

“‘People are willing to kill and die over these alternative realities,’ Meijer said.

And the consequence for all this disbelief and distrust is a deeper entrenchment into those beliefs, a deeper split in the country. Even those Republicans who stand and speak the truth are in danger of losing the next election to more like Marjorie Taylor Greene who replaced ousted conservative Liz Cheney.

And Cheney’s position in the House is just as imperiled as other Republicans who choose the Constitution over a despotic former president.

The country is in the grips of a demonstrably vocal and an aggressively opposed to the facts, minority.

When will we stop this division and begin to believe in each other and what will it take?

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