betray: … 2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining or fulfilling a trust. 7. … to deceive, misguide or corrupt. 8. … to seduce and desert.
BY VERN TURNER
A recent acquaintance introduced me to this concept of betrayal as it gets into the mind of the voter during a political discussion. We were, of course, trying to dissect the results of the Nov. 8 outcome and analyze the demographics.
First, 47% of eligible voters didn’t vote. Our Founding Fathers built their ideals of democracy on citizen participation. Such a large number of non-voters [this has been a chronic problem throughout the country, especially at the local levels – state and town] strikes me as a betrayal of those founders and their ideals. Everything good and holy about our society depends on the faith our citizens have in the system that actually allows them to vote … at least in most areas. That brings me to the next betrayal.
The voter suppression actions taken by mostly Southern and Republican-ruled states seems to have worked for the election of Donald Trump and the continued volume of Republican representation around the country.
The betrayal of the freedom to vote begins with arbitrary and unsupervised voter roll purges and strict Voter ID laws that require difficult-to-obtain-for-some documents. These shenanigans are a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision to de-tune the obviously necessary Voting Rights Act and its oversight of elections in key, racially suppressive states … like North Carolina and Texas.
Even Indiana had to have a court overturn its draconian voter suppression. Oh. Right. VP-elect Mike Pence is still governor there. These betrayals of the trust of its citizens are more than a little egregious. They are virtually seditious and lead to an undermining of our national fabric.
But those who reaped the benefits from these betrayals don’t seem to mind that they are killing our trust in one another. They are only interested in winning elections and gaining power, a most primitive behavior that extends all the way back to cave dwellers.
The paradox is that many people who don’t normally vote Republican voted Republican this time, thus enabling this betrayal. Why did they do this?
Well, they said they felt betrayed by the Democratic Party and the corporations. Really? They said they wanted change, but ended up voting for virtually the same Congress that was obstructionist for the last six years of the Obama Administration.
Well, the facts are that the Republican Party is responsible for sending the jobs away, fighting the minimum wage, destroying voter rights and allowing the very rich to hide their money and pay no taxes. That’s right, white, blue-collar America voted for those who have been doing everything they could to ruin the middle class lifestyle.
This is the cognitive dissonance that plagues our land.
You’ll notice No. 8 above: “seduce and desert.”
How did these folks get to the point of abandoning the political party and movement that served their best interests since 1932? Yes, the Democrats started becoming cozy with corporate/banking America during the Clinton Administration because that’s where the money in politics was coming from. The Democrats had to play ball with the big money people in order to survive in the rapid corruption [No. 7] of our political system. So, yes, the Democrats betrayed the middle and poorer classes and became perceived as elitists. I find this more than a little ironic in that real elitism belongs to the billionaires, and there are damned few Democrats who are billionaires.
In the final outcome of the election, the votes broke along mostly white vs. everybody-else lines. A higher percentage of white men and women over 35 voted than any other groups. Incredibly, over 50% of white women voted for Donald Trump, irrespective of his verbal assault and insults directed toward them for the last 15 months. Add to all this Politifacts’ summaries that showed Trump to be lying 91% of the time.
White men, giving in to their desires for a strong, authoritarian figure, voted for Trump, too, irrespective of his cluelessness about how he was going to revive the economy, the economy that was slow, but not stagnant. They just fell over for bizarre statements like: “I alone can fix our problems.”
Meanwhile, people of color and other ethnicities saw the writing on the wall and voted for Clinton and the Democrats. Indeed, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly two million votes. In fact, more people voted for Clinton than had ever voted for anyone ever before. The Electoral College, however, was slanted toward getting Mr. Trump elected.
One must ask: Is it time to end this “blast from the past” and elect our president by popular vote only?
It’s not too far in our past for us to remember the last time a “minority vote” president was elected. It was George W. Bush who wasn’t so much elected as appointed when the Supreme Court succumbed to the verbiage of the Republican lawyers like Howard Baker and allowed that Florida didn’t have to count all its votes. We know how well that all worked out, don’t we?
It seems to me that everywhere we, the people, turn, we are being betrayed by this or that political decision or group that is ideologically committed to everything but what the founders had hoped for.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was attacked by Republicans as socialist and communist, etc., etc., or whatever new words they learned that week. As it happens, FDR and the New Deal were all about the pursuit of happiness and that all of us have inalienable rights. Republicans have been fighting that ever since.
By making a bond and a kind of moral contract with its citizens, the United States government, and those who presume to govern, established a trusting relationship. When that trust is broken, the betrayal breaks hearts, minds and bodies. To wit:
Paul Ryan’s imaginary utopia of Ayn Rand’s world [fiction, but documentary in Ryan’s world] that cuts the New Deal to shreds and gives all the social services to for-profit entities. Included in Ryan’s scheme is a reduction in benefits to our fighting men and women, those who willingly laid it on the line in defense of our country, or at least while fulfilling the duties associated with wearing the uniform. Ryan’s and the Republicans’ overt betrayal of the American people is profound, wicked and absolutely class-oriented. You simply cannot, in good conscience, cut the benefits of the society for some while relieving the least deserving of a tax burden that they should be proud to pay. That’s the whole idea of our democratic republic. Our taxes are the cost of civilization and those who benefit the most should also pay the most.
Instead, we now have a society that has seldom been more divided. The rifts in families and friends grow daily. Those who feel betrayed by the Democrats and who voted for Trump and the Republicans have abjectly failed to understand that their betrayal has been systemic: The Republicans have created an ideology that avoids benefitting the people by utilizing very successful and rewarding programs like Social Security, Medicare and free public education.
The trust that they choose to break is one that ignores the spirit of our founders’ intent and the plain common goodness of mutual generosity between citizens.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have gone for the money and created the impression that they, too, have abandoned the working and poor people in our country. Our politics have become an equal-opportunity betrayal of all the trusts and faith that we citizens hold dear.
This election proves that we are off the path of righteousness toward one another with fascists like Flynn, Kovach and Sessions beginning the same pogroms that horrified the world in the middle of the 20th Century. This is what happens when betrayal creates a vacuum of hopelessness and loss of faith in a people. The fascists come boiling up out of the swamp to fill the void.
When we betray each other, we betray our freedoms and our way of life.
Part II will take this topic further as news is made and the Trump phenomenon continues the paranoia, lies and ideology that continue to feed the betrayal of our democracy.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.