In 2009, I started this blog. In the beginning, I wrote about my life as a stay-at-home-dad and the blog was named Smart Men Marry Doctors. Through the years I have allowed the blog to consume me, I have left it silent, changed the focus from writing to art and back to writing. When I finally came to understand and became comfortable with the role that God had laid out for me I changed the name to Quietly Making Noise, the title of a Jimmy Buffett (I’m a Parrot Head) song and a nod to my father, who thought it was a wonderful saying. The one constant that has remained over the years is that I have stayed away from politics and the other divisive topics of our time. I loathe confrontation and am not all that interested in politics but it has become clear that I need to step out of my comfort zone and to begin quietly making noise because being silent is no longer an option.
The politicization of our country did not magically appear in 2016. Frustration and mistrust have been brewing for years; Trump just hastened the process by using his position as president to push lies and conspiracy theories and divide our country further. This was easily done because as a society we have been complacent, happy to stay in our own bubbles of selected information and ignore what is glaringly obvious.
After Trump’s “stand back and stand by” remark that the Proud Boys and other extremist organizations took as marching orders I decided to try and learn more about the Proud Boys and domestic terrorism in general. I spent a day looking through the websites and documents of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the FBI, The Center for Strategic International Studies, and various news reports. I even watched a couple of videos of the founder of the Proud Boys who openly promotes violence. That should not be surprising from a fraternity of grown men whose second stage of initiation is to punch the inductee repeatedly while he yells out names of breakfast cereals. It is all very troubling, but because I educated myself if only slightly, I came away less afraid because education removes fear. I also came away feeling hopeful. It is still monumentally scary as Elizabeth Neumann underscored when speaking about Trump’s words from the debate in a tweet on September 30th; “This is bigger than countering Antifa protest or militia activity at riots. The root ideologies at play are responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.”
We cannot despair. Running to our beds to hide under the covers is not allowed. What we can do is follow the advice of my grandmother who in 1997 wrote to me in her angelic script on fine cream colored paper the following words.
“The key to life is to be ever brave, sure and considerate of fellow men. Be ever aware of the needs around you, and above all, live each day with kindness.”
Living in kindness and consideration is the first step in the process of healing this nation. When we step out of our narcissistic tunnels and listen to others so that we can understand the common bonds that connect us we can begin to grow in empathy with each other. We as citizens need to rise up and come to the table with open hearts and minds ready to listen. We have a long way to go. But if we have a frank, honest, and civil discussion, and accept the faults of others as well as our own, then we will persevere.
In the summer of 2016, while having dinner with my brother-in-law, an Alex P. Keaton Republican type, we agreed that even if Trump were elected there was not too much damage that could be done in four years. But we had neglected one glaring detail in our assessment. Regardless of our political views, the preceding presidents had, for the most part, been men of character who had respect for our country and its laws. It seems that Trump holds none of these traits and now we find ourselves at this crucial moment in time. Our way of life and our democracy are under attack, not from caravans of immigrants streaming in from the South or leftist extremists, but from the Oval Office.
No one should be compared to Adolf Hitler. He was a drug-addled megalomaniac hell-bent on extermination and world domination. However, we can compare the Nazi propaganda machine and its grasp of controlling the narrative with the Trump administration. I believe Trump’s goal is to seize the advantage with complete disregard for the actual truth, he has the “Trump truth” just as the Nazis had the “German truth”. I see a president who is attacking our country from within, installing his donors and followers in positions they are not always qualified to hold so they can push “Trump truth” propaganda. He has used this tactic most egregiously with the Coronavirus, silencing and at times outright replacing the scientist at the CDC so that a narrative comes out that fits his truth, not that of the science. The same has happened with climate change, the wildfires in the west, and countless other issues.
Just as Hitler did in Germany, Trump has figured out how to speak to the people. He has done this by playing to peoples’ wishful thinking and making them feel that he is in this with us, a partnership. His rhetoric causes mobilization by emotion rather than through thought and conversation. While the Nazis relied on posters and graffiti to keep their message in front of the masses daily, Trump simply needs to pick up his phone and take to Twitter. This continual release of propaganda is effectively browbeating the public into sensory exhaustion, leaving the country more prone to yet more White House propaganda. While Trump has used the media to his advantage he also attacks those media outlets who dare to push back against his agenda, calling them, “Truly the enemy of the people.”
On top of this layer of distrust, he adds a layer of fear. As the Nazi’s did in regards to the outcome of WWII, Trump has put forth only two options when it comes to the results of this November’s election. Either he is the winner or the election is rigged. In a speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, he said; “Make sure [ your vote is counted] because the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”
Trump must know that propaganda can only take you so far because he has toed the line of promoting violence from the beginning. Most recently he has made light of a reporter being shot with rubber bullets and has only acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement when pushing conspiracy theories and untruths. Pushing these “Trump truths” has allowed him to sound the alarm as the law and order president, at least when it comes to those he does not agree with. But when it suits him, he believes he is above the law. As his lawyers argued when the Manhattan DA tried to subpoena records for one of his many legal battles. “…the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.”
It seems that Trump’s ultimate goal is to become the first dictator of the United States, whittling away the checks and balances that once seemed to be an impervious safety net to our democracy. I fear that if we continue on this course our country will fall into one of its darkest times in history. Law and order are not gotten through totalitarian rule, they are achieved with an open mind, listening, empathy, and dialogue. This country has a lot to come to terms with over the next four years and that will be impossible with a want-to-be dictator sitting in the oval office. For this and countless other reasons, we must vote Trump out in November. Staying silent is no longer an option. Not voting because you don’t like your choices is not an option. Voting is the only option.
Go to Vote.org to make sure your voter registration is up to date or to register to vote. Get your ballot early and vote.