Today I read a striking editorial in the Los Angeles Times. While it will seem like a condemnation of Trump as it acknowledged the fact that he is a con man, the culprits are the American people. The editorial weaves the authors country of origin and America’s role in corrupting their elections and the disastrous consequences as a proffer.
Americans must look internally to understand why Russia and other externalities could allow them to elect a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, sexist con man. Ariel Dorfman, the author of “Homeland Security Ate My Speech” and the forthcoming novel “Darwin’s Ghosts,” wrote a piercing Los Angeles Times op-ed titled “America still hasn’t reckoned with the election of a reckless con man as president” that all should read.
Ariel Dorfman believes that Russia did corrupt the 2016 election. However, Russia is not responsible for Trump as many currently believe. He writes the following.
The psychic, intellectual and emotional energy expended on this issue would be better employed, I believe, by addressing a more fundamental concern: What was it, what is it, in our American soul that allowed the Russians to be successful?
Those were not Russians voting in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, handing the election to the Republican candidate by a bit more than 80,000 votes. They were American men and women. As were the 62,984,825 others who decided that such a troublesome, inflammatory figure expressed their desires and dreams. Trump could be impeached or resign, or his policies could simply implode under the weight of their malice, divisiveness and mendacity, and the country would still be defined and pressed by the same conditions and dread that enabled his rise. America would still need to engage in a process of national self-scrutiny to fathom how such a nightmare could have been avoided, how it can be prevented from happening again.
Dorfman points out that the natives of his country, Chile, succumbed to the same type of tactics. This time it was the United States of America who instigated the overthrow of the democratically elected social and economic justice president, Salvador Allender and installed the brutal dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. He said for a long time Chile blamed America’s intervention for Pinochet. Not until they self-reflected did their democracy thrive again.
It took many years for the self-criticism to bear fruit, but without it the followers of Allende could never have built a coalition with the Christian Democrats, many of whose members were fierce opponents of the revolution’s radical measures. They had at first thoughtlessly welcomed the coup. Our coalition beat Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite and then voted into office a center-left president two years later. Since then, Chile has organized five more presidential elections. Yet another will take place Sunday, and whatever its outcome, Chileans can be certain that our democracy is robust enough not to be fooled by foreign intelligence agencies.
Dorfman prescription diagnosis and his prescription are one we would do well to heed.
Now, every desperate American must gaze in the mirror and interrogate the puzzled face and puzzling fate that stares back: What did I do or not do that made the cataclysm possible? Did I ignore past transgressions that corrode today’s society: the discrimination, the sexism, the violence, the authoritarianism, the intolerance, the imperial ambitions, the slavery and greed and persecutions that have darkened America’s story? Did I overestimate the strength of our democracy and underestimate the decency of my neighbors? Was I too fearful, too complacent, too impatient, too angry? Whom did I not talk to, whom did I not persuade? What privilege and comforts, what overwork and debts, kept me from giving my all? What injustice or humiliation or bigoted remark did I witness and let pass? How can I help to recover our country, make it once more recognizable, make it luminous and forgiving?
We must vigorously protest the president’s craven actions, but above all we need to acknowledge that what ultimately matters is not what a foreign power did to America, but what America did to itself. The crucial question of what is wrong with our country, what could have driven us to this edge of catastrophe, cannot be resolved by a special counsel or a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives or spectacular revelations about Russia’s interference.
I had a similar sentiment for some time and wrote about it. A few weeks ago I wrote the following “Put the Russia story on the periphery & tackle our real problems now.”