One Popular Certainty That Is Patently False

The vast majority of Trump supporters who wanted to prevent the certification of the 2020 electoral votes, including those who were prepared to fight on Capitol Hill to stop Joe Biden from becoming president on January 6th, 2021, were not, as per the standard talking point of our day, “trying to overturn an election.” Nor were they “trying to destroy American democracy.” On the contrary, they believed, sincerely and passionately, that an election had been overturned, and that their resistance and protestation represented the last chance to save their country from complete usurpation by tyrannical frauds. In other words, in their minds they were the ones trying to save democracy. It is important to keep this in mind, however strongly one may disagree with their assumptions and choices. The public reduction of tens of millions of people to insurrectionists and anti-democrats is itself a product of the tribalism of modern democratic politics, in which rhetorical and ideological rigidity blinds most of us completely to the world our opponents are seeing, and hence allows us to believe the most extreme and untenable things about “Them,” without even a moment’s consideration for alternative, more human and sensible, interpretations of “Their” statements and behavior.

As for those Trump supporters’ cult leader and emotional abuser, however, he deserves no such understanding and leniency. He was trying to undermine democracy and overturn an election by sheer force of ego. I say “ego” because I think it unfair to ascribe anything so mature and rational as “will” to such a pestilent being — unfair, that is, to all those who actually display genuine willpower in their lives, and who do not deserve to have their spiritual efforts likened to the shameless scheming of such a pathetically self-obsessed coward as Donald Trump.

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