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Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Reign of the Stupid

 A fact that gets lost in the angry rage of partisan politics is that Donald Trump is an astoundingly stupid man.  The press focuses on his malevolence and his lies, but tends to ignore that a person must be supremely stupid to do and say the things he does.  The most disturbing aspect of Trump's lack of probity and intelligence is that it appeals to at least 73 million voters.  The United States has abandoned its claim to be the world model for the decencies that comprise a functioning democracy.  While the  political parties wrangle over migrants trying to get into the United States, there is a group of the more astute who are seriously discussing that it has become a nation to consider leaving.  The press has run many articles recently about indications in America that democracy is trending toward failure.  

Maggie Haberman of The New York Times has covered Trump since he became a presidential candidate.   She just published a book on him:   Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breakings of America.  As the title indicates, her book sees the United  States as a severely wounded nation.  As with other books by reporters about Trump, it is filled with accounts of Trump saying and doing things that are stupidly foolish.

In an interview in The Guardian, Haberman was asked if there were any incidents in Trump's behavior that stood out or surprised her.  She said such an occasion  was at a news conference on Covid-19 in which disinfecting surfaces with laundry bleach to kill the virus was brought up,  Trump asked his pandemic advisor at the conference if anyone had thought of injecting bleach into patients to control the virus. Clearly stunned at the stupidity of the question, she muttered "not as a treatment."  That was a moment in which Trump revealed on camera to the world that he is mentally incompetent, and that in electing him president, America revealed that it is in a state of intellectual destitution.  

While some people are not quick-witted or in command of much knowledge, few people are inherently stupid.  They understand that a successful society is one based on sound thinking and relevant information and they a try to make their essential choices on that basis.  Stupidity is a matter of choice.  And that is the regrettable aspect.  Many Americans have chosen stupidity and its associated feeble-minded malice as the goals of their lives.  They see freedom as their right to live mean and hate-filled lives that permits them to castigate people for the color of their skins and possess a content of character teeming with malice.  They elected a president who could lead them in displays of  petty malevolence and pride in stupidity.  

Trump cannot be blamed for the demise of democracy, however.  His malice and incompetence fulfill the aspirations of about half of America.  For a time after World War II, the people in charge of things called that the era of America's greatest generation.  But whatever greatness the American people can claim is being smothered in the fog of conspiracy theories, a nice name for outright malicious lies, generated by people who take great pride in being deplorable.   

The most lethal enemy of America is not communism or totalitarianism, or any form of government that fosters  oppression and injustice.  It is the stupidity, a virulent mental disease which reduces those infected into a violent, rabid lunacy.  As the late comedian Ron White observed, you can't fix stupid.  It is a state in which communication and cognition are not possible.  Although the founders of America conceived of a public education system that might prevent utter stupidity, some people regard it as a human right to be protected.  Schools, in what minds they have left, are a threat to it.

On January 6, 2021, we saw the power of the stupid demonstrated.  Yesterday when Nancy Pelosi's 82-year-old husband had his skull fractured with a hammer by a devotee of  stupid, we were presented with an insight into what the stupid can do.

And if you resent hearing that America may be coming to an end, that's one of the symptoms.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States