This is the cost
It’s difficult to know where to begin in assessing the unconscionable unrest that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, during which thousands of extremists supporting the so-far-unfounded allegations by U.S. President Donald Trump that the November election, which saw record-breaking turnout, was rigged and fraudulent and illegal, but one thing is for certain: this moment represents an identity crisis for this nation, as we are faced with actively having to decide what kind of a nation we will be and what ideals we will present and defend before the rest of the world.
While many are pointing fingers directly at Trump for the chaos Wednesday, and he is certainly due a fair share of the blame, there were scores of accomplices in this villainous attack on the people’s house, including Republican lawmakers who have stood silently by as lies – not exaggerations, not misrepresentations, but complete fabrications – were paraded before the American people as facts and, sadly, this nation’s press, which has devolved into an editorialized free-for-all in which facts are scarce, if present at all.
You see, the real reason for Wednesday’s melee is this country’s aversion to truth and the slow death of facts – we have become a people truly incapable of accepting reality when it no longer suits our worldviews.
And why should we? There are more than enough platforms to stoke our sensitive egos – the conservatives can rush to Fox News, Parler, Newsmax, Breitbart or a number of other outlets to get their daily dose of baseless conspiracy theories, while progressives can rush to MSNBC, Huffpost, Jacobin or a dozen other publications for their helping of pinko propaganda – so there’s never a need to consider the notion that, perhaps, the truth of any matter rests somewhere between the perspective from the left or the right.
I certainly believe that the false narrative that has sprung up concerning the most recent presidential election, as well as the lies that preceded it about the coronavirus crisis, climate change, immigrants and a dozen other issues, played a large part in Wednesday’s fracas, but this is more accurately the cost of our long love affair with lies.
Can we really blame protesters for storming the Capital when they believe, however inaccurately, that the will of the people was subverted in the most recent election and an illegitimate president is set to take office? Certainly not. Indeed, if that were in fact the case, these men and women should be considered top-rate patriots, but that’s not the case and millions of Americans have been brainwashed into believing the opposite.
They’ve been brainwashed by politicians who bend the truth for political gain, they’ve been brainwashed by supposed news outlets who lend credence to these lies, and we are all paying the cost.
Make no mistake, this scourge of misguided fury is not unique to the right – the left is just as guilty of wandering aimlessly with blinders strapped tightly down – and that divide has left us on either side of a canyon where, at the bottom, rests the truth.
But no one is willing to scale the sides of this rocky formation in pursuit of the treasure below, we simply yell across the expanse, which only grows wider with each earth-rattling shriek.
We must embrace facts and truth, especially when they contradict our beliefs, for an impassioned but uninformed populace is truly the most dangerous threat to democracy – only a cultural shift toward a gluttony for hard facts, which cannot be ushered in by a new administration, can ensure that this nation doesn’t face another day like Wednesday again and again until our Republic can no longer stand the strain.
And when that time comes, it will be far too late to consider the cost or how we ended up paying so steep a price for a commodity – truth – which could have been planted, nourished and harvested, time and again, so easily to immense and glorious effect.