The Ultimate Test
Little is more infuriating than someone who denies the obvious, while accusing those who point out the error of being blind. It is more infuriating, still, when said person holds considerable power, from the obtuse office boss to the political demagogue, even a president who seduces millions of voters, turning them complicit, and thereby advancing an ego-fueled trajectory toward the center of everything, until a land of freedom threatens to devolve into a soil for tyranny.
Catastrophically, this is the situation we face in the US. The obvious is denied, and yet those who object are vociferously labeled liars. Climate-change denialists rant that those who believe the science are, not only ignorant, but also in fact malicious. Racists and xenophobes, gender bigots and sexists, angrily label others as prejudice, while adducing their own record as just and pristine.
As a coup de grace, these gaslighters, in effect, challenge a constitutional premise--that humanity can embrace equal and inalienable rights--with the bald example of their own behavior. They do this, of course, while denying that they are doing any such thing, and casting hateful aspersions.
For those who wish to protect a government centered on rationalism, in the spirit of our Founders, this psychological warfare, this "no, it's you" mindset, is the ultimate test. Patience, virtue, dignity, all can slide into petty invective in the face of such hair-pulling intransigence. Any resort to insult or anger, however slight, only validates the stance of the gaslighters in their own mind. If all you can do is mock them, clearly you have nothing better, no solid argument.
Maddeningly seamless aggression that accepts no blame, while thriving off double-standards and division. This is what those who wish to defend bipartisanship are up against. Perhaps most frustrating of all, this tactic could work. From ancient times to the present, kingdoms glued together by fanatic loyalty are not uncommon. The last presidential election showed that a core constituency could be yoked to 'big lie' fear more easily than anyone thought. Victory could be had by demonizing the 'other.'
The genie is out of the bottle. It is quite possible that in 2020 Republican contenders for the presidency will go much farther, moving past even the most threadbare insinuation to outright endorsement of white nationalism. It will earn them the fanatic praise of millions, if they have the twisted charisma to wield the dark ideology. In a way, Trump's corruption and incompetence are a gift. They give us a chance to prepare. To address and redress, to heal and inoculate.
The death-swell of 20th century fascism, its dethroning of empires in an orgy of all-out slaughter, including the fire-bombing runs and the apocalyptic use of fission; how it bred the horrors of the genocidal concentration camps; has not stopped the grim specter from rising again.
Those who wish to push upwards, against our current state of descent, need to remember two things. This is the ultimate test of patience, and everything you believe in is at stake.