Molineaux is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and president/CEO of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.
I’m alternately fascinated and repulsed by the shenanigans of the former president and his enablers/cronies.
The fascination is with the melodrama – the exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters and interpersonal conflicts. Within a melodrama, only three roles are available: the victim (usually a damsel in distress, but, in this case, our nation), the hero (played by the system or Donald Trump) and the villain (again, the system or Trump). If you remember Dudley Do-Right, you know melodrama. When I used to attend the campy theater in my hometown, the audience was united in cheering for the hero, booing the villain and sighing for the damsel. Audience participation is part of the fun. The music (best when it is a live piano!) would signal to the audience the appropriate response. The end of the melodrama was assured – the hero would rescue the damsel from the villain. The villain would be served up for justice.
The repulsion is in how we’ve allowed this plot of exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters and interpersonal conflicts to define our desire and ability to govern the republic.
Our nation should not be a campy melodrama.
The friends and allies of the United States wonder what the hell has happened. I wonder too. It’s time to turn off the melodrama (including ALL cable news channels) until they begin covering the news again. Not the melodrama.
Let’s throw the cold water of rational thinking on our fascination with Trump. There are facts. There is speculation. There are distractions to keep us in the melodrama. In other words, let’s break it down into components so we can move beyond the simple plot that will destroy our nation.
What we know as fact:
- The FBI executed a legal search warrant on Mar-a-Lago on Aug 8.
- The FBI removed 11 sets of classified materials within more than 20 boxes, plus miscellaneous items that were deemed to belong to the National Archives.
- In June 2022, a lawyer representing Trump signed an affidavit saying all classified documents had been returned.
- Threats against the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have increased following the execution of the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
What is speculated:
- Documents seized may have included information about nuclear weapons.
- Trump claims he declassified the documents before leaving office and/or his taking of them automatically declassified the documents.
- Trump kept the documents for many speculated, yet unknown, purposes.
- Unauthorized people may have had access to documents that are top secret.
- National security of our allies (the Five Eyes) may have been compromised.
And as Steve Bannon, former advisor to Trump has noted, one way to “win” is to “flood the zone with sh*t.” Which leads us to the intentional distractions by many, which keep our attention on the melodrama instead of using our rational minds.
- The FBI planted classified material.
- Trump’s remarks about “the country being on fire” was seen as a threat to AG Merrick Garland.
- Trump has offered to “help his country in any way he can” was an attempt to walk back that threat.
- Hillary Clinton’s emails were the same.
Notice all the qualifying words in the speculation category. “May have” is a phrase used to make an assertion with an escape clause. “I heard” or “they say” are other such phrases that lend themselves to misinterpretation, on purpose. For the distraction category, these spring from false claims that are repeated endlessly but never substantiated with evidence. Evidence is documents, sworn statements and video.
Am I still fascinated by the melodrama? Am I human? That’s a definite yes to both!
I’m also a rational person who notes what is happening despite the melodrama. President Biden has signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. While misnamed, it addresses much of the so-called “soft” infrastructure promises for climate change mitigation, Medicare stabilization and corporate taxes. Last week saw the passage of legislation to take care of veterans who were put in harm’s way and denied care. Congress also passed the CHIPS Act, which will, in time, make us more nationally self-reliant on technology. Fuel prices are dropping and inflation has slowed. This is the news, if only we paid attention.
A few weeks ago, I facilitated a Q&A session with co-sponsors of the Building Civic Bridges Act, which would fund local organizations and spaces for citizens to hone our skills to engage in healthy citizenship. We all need to take one small step in leaving the melodrama behind and re-entering the world of democratic values and practice.
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