The 2016 election of Donald Trump was accompanied by an increase in stupidity or dishonesty, take your pick, from too many Republican elected officials and right-wing media. Those of us who inhabit the actual world believed that the worst of this nonsense had peaked with COVID and the Big Lie. The COVID nonsense killed tens of thousands of their own supporters, and the Big Lie has resulted in too many efforts to deny the vote to people who don’t fit into the right wing United States.
The rank stupidity and dishonesty cited above, however, have been eclipsed in the last few days by the right’s response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. There is Tucker Carlson’s scrambled defense of Putin: had Putin promoted “racial discrimination” in schools, attempted “to snuff out Christianity” or eaten dogs? These are fair questions, and the answer to all of them is ‘no.’ Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that…So, why does permanent Washington hate him so much?”
And, JD Vance’s insistence that “what’s happening in Ukraine has nothing to do with our national security, but it is distracting our idiot ‘leaders’ from focusing on the things that actually do matter to our national security, like securing the border & stopping the flow of Fentanyl that’s killing American kids.”
And, of course, in his ever-incisive, all-about-him illogical word salad, Trump said Putin is “taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart…This all happened because of a rigged election….Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine. Putin as independent…So Putin is now saying it’s independent, a large section of Ukraine…And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper.”
Call these assertions unfamiliarity with history, call them ignorance of facts, or call them bullying fear and nasty bravado, they are all stupid and dangerous. And more dangerous for our national security than for anything else.
The damage done by misinformation on COVID and the election of 2020 has cost lives, damaged the US healthcare system, diverted money from infrastructure, writ large, and endangered our democracy. The damages done by downplaying or lying about Putin and the most significant security threat the US and the world has faced since 1945 should be clear: an endangered liberal world order that has maintained peace in Europe and the US for the last 70 plus years; a war, possibly widening and clearly devastating, to keep our allies and ourselves independent and free; and a humanitarian crisis which will threaten, sicken and kill thousands, cost millions, and realign populations throughout Europe and the West.
It is time to stop. To stop the dissemination of lies. To stop chuckling over the silliness of the phrase “alternative facts.” To stop letting these propagators of garbage make money off of us.
It’s also time to start. To start educating ourselves and our children about history, in all its truth and ugliness. To study and understand our governments and other governments around the world. To reinstate civics as a field of study for everyone from elementary school through university. To use financial power to force corporations to be honest and objective. To boycott and protest. To demand support for democracy from the businesses we support.
And, it’s time to commit to a better country. To demand decency from our elected officials. To commit to being involved in the electoral process. To pledge to support free and fair elections and oppose voter suppression. To elect leaders who traffic in knowledge, decency and respect; who take political risks to do the right thing.
We must ensure that the right under Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell do not take power this coming fall. We must elect Representatives and Senators who will commit to the free world and to fighting Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders. We must elect leaders who commit to making the world a place where freedom and human rights are valued and enforced, and where truth and decency are required; where alternative facts and their purveyors are gone.
The backdrop to the 2022 elections is Russia invading Ukraine, with the support and a blind eye from too many on the American right. Vote to ensure that President Biden’s stand against authoritarianism continues. Vote with the Steady State.