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“What is wrong with you?!”

“I thought we were on the same page. I thought we were working for the same things. But you just keep trying to gaslight me. You require me to follow rules though you are making them up as you go, but then you say those rules don’t apply to you. How does that work? It’s worse than you working for the enemy. You are the enemy!”

It has all fallen apart. There isn’t any doubt anymore. What you wanted, what you worked for, is not what the other side wants. And it is very accurate to call them the other side now. You knew that your ideals did not match up with theirs, but you thought that you shared some fundamental, common values. But no. It’s worse than you like vegetables and they like meat. It’s more like you like organic food and they like asbestos. Wars get fought over how far apart you are. If it is up to them, that just might happen.

And what is worse than not finding common values, how about not having common ground? How about not even starting from the same way that you think you know things? For decades, centuries even, we’ve worked from a common theory of knowing things. We’ve worked from a premise that facts exist, that they could be known, that they were based upon evidence, that they could be agreed upon. But what happens when facts become fungible? What happens when facts even become irrelevant? What happens when evidence doesn’t matter? How do you hold any common experience and start from the same place then? What controls outcome when one side isn’t committed to evidence based truth?


Certainly humans have had a long run of power running the show. Power once determined who lived, who died. The king didn’t like you? Off with your head. There is no right or wrong, there is just power. In that paradigm, just truth gets in the way. In that paradigm, democracy is for sissies. In that paradigm, our America is dead.

If we can’t agree that facts control outcomes, then power controls outcomes. One side can’t demand facts while the other side steam-roles with automatic weapons. If we can’t agree that citizens democratically decide who is in their government and who is out, then power controls who is in the government and who is out. One side can’t demand democracy while the other side executes a coup.

Dictators don’t honor facts. Dictators don’t respect democracy. Dictators demand power.

Right now, one side is attempting to execute a coup. It certainly helps that they are largely inept: (#Four Seasons Total Landscaping; #the usual scrutiny.)  But, if they get their way, democracy will be a thing of the past in our land. Facts will fall to brute force. Uncle Sam will face the firing squad. The American Experiment will end in his execution.

In a family, when one party behaves anything like this, it is time to go your separate ways. When she gaslights, “I’m not seeing anyone. I just have the JF look because it is so in fashion,” it is time to go your separate ways. When he beats her and claims, “you deserve it,” It is time to go your separate ways.

But in a nation, we have no place else to go. If dictators win, the nation will be subjugated (though only half of the nation will immediately realize it). If democracy wins, those citizens who are stridently fighting to no longer be governed in a democracy will still be here, still trying to tear our democracy apart. I don’t see pro-democracy masses or anti-democracy masses moving en masse to some country with a government more to their liking.

We are stuck with each other.

Perhaps, as the dust settles and we come to some form of a conclusion to our immediate crisis, it will be like mutual contempt at first where we don’t speak to each other and we don’t do business with each other. Perhaps later it will become more of a detente where we tolerate each other and we can be cordial in passing. Perhaps even later the ice will thaw further and we can again pretend to become friends. But like so many significant, tumultuous events, I don’t know that either side will ever forget our unfortunate discovery that our respective sides are so far apart and so willing to structure a life that is so demonstrably different in quality and freedom. I don’t know that this undercurrent won’t last a lifetime. I don’t know that the understandable mis-trust won’t long endure.

This should make for an interesting Thanksgiving.

-Michael Manely 


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