Faceoff: Trump v Obama and Oprah: Two Totally Different Versions of America

Which One Will Win on Election Day?

 

This week we heard the closing arguments for Election Day from the Republicans, delivered by Trump, and the Democrats, delivered by Barack Obama and Oprah.  The contrasting narratives could not be more different.  Our nation is engaged in a fight between two powerful narratives that have our country in a headlock.  In one corner, Trump, representing the Republicans (or what’s left of the Grand Old Party) and in the other corner, Obama and Oprah representing the Democrats and their vision for our country. 

Trump’s version of the United States is Gotham City.  Trump sees a country in extreme peril.  American carnage.  Us vs Them.  He is all worked up about a scraggly immigrant caravan of poor people, mostly women and children, making their way up from their miserable country, Honduras, seeking asylum.  He is calling up active duty troops to guard the border stirring up a nightmarish churn of fear-mongering laced with toxic white nationalism.  This bedraggled group of immigrants is Trump’s convenient bogeyman.  Trump has latched onto this narrative to rile up his base to get them to vote on Election Day claiming we have porous borders.  

While Mexicans are treating these immigrants as Jesus would have wished his followers to do- with humanity and kindness- providing food and shelter- our president is activating the worst racist impulses of fearful white America.  Trump warns if someone from that group of immigrants throws a rock, the military should respond with gunfire.  Really?  He condones shooting little babies and mothers seeking asylum?   He gets away with this by characterizing the caravan as a bunch of murdering gang members.  Don’t believe it.  Trump is up to 30 big lies EVERY DAY.  The man just opens his mouth and lies come out.  He is pushing this nightmarish narrative to energize his base.  It is obvious to most well-informed people that that is his ploy.  The caravan is made up of people who wanted to leave their failing country where there are no jobs and joined the group to avoid the high cost of using “coyotes” to help them make the long trip.  They heard about the group forming and joined because they felt more protected by traveling together.

Trump talks about the immigrant caravan “invasion” as if our country does not have a border with patrols and controls and a process for dealing with asylum seekers.  Trump’s deployment of active duty troops to the border to turn back asylum seekers is clearly a way Trump gets to show he is the boss and boost his political narrative that invading hoards are coming to get you.  But is there a deeper reason Trump pushes out this dark narrative?  I believe there is.  Trump pushes this narrative because he himself is in a very dark and angry place psychologically.  

Trump’s nightmare version of reality for the country aligns with his own internal psychological nightmare.  He is reported to be awash with fear while pretending everything is just fine.  If the Democrats take control of the House, Trump will face extensive scrutiny.  He has been warned about that.  The Democrats will be the ones who will have the job of putting this big baby in a corner.  No one else has done it.  The Republicans were too chicken to stand up to Trump.  Instead, they capitulated to Trump’s demands time after time and in the process, they have severely damaged the reputation and future of the Republican Party.  They have let Trump get away with ignoring laws, breaking norms, and violating anti-corruption rules because they could not stand up to him.  I would not be surprised if Republicans were secretly delighted that Democrats appear to be on the verge of taking back the House because Dems will be in the role of standing up to Trump, not them.  Republicans have totally failed their Constitutional responsibilities.

Trump’s dark vision for the country and his alliance with forces of evil like white supremacists as the “us” in Us vs Them is causing many former suburban Republicans to say they will stay home or vote Democratic this midterm.  Trump’s rants may lose his party many Independent voters who cannot stomach a Republican Party that has turned into a cesspool of white nationalists.

In the other corner we have an inspirational vision of hope and possibility for those who want it and work for it painted by Barack Obama and Oprah.  Theirs is a vision of the shining city on the hill. 

As Ronald Reagan emphasized, America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.

This is an image of a country that is respected and revered by the world for being a true democracy, and a place of hope and opportunity and compassion for all Americans.  Both Obama and Oprah have been speaking at rallies in support of Stacey Abrams running to be the first African American governor of Georgia.  Obama has also been on the campaign trail across the country including Florida where Andrew Gillum seems to be doing well in the polls in his effort to become the first black governor of that state.  The Obama/ Oprah message is both resonant and exciting.  It is one of inclusion, unification and progress- a country that works for everyone and values everyone; a country that treats everyone fairly, with possibilities for all to get ahead: good education, health care, faith in climate science, a return to the democratic values and norms Trump has been dismantling.  The country they are speaking about and speaking to seems to be a totally different country from the one Trump is speaking to. 

It is.

In 2004 Barack Obama said: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America. That was aspirational.  But we really do have at least two very different Americas experiencing two very different realities right now, and they are locked in existential combat that will play out this Tuesday, Election Day.

Will our country choose the dark version of reality we get with Trump?  Or will Americans opt for the far more hopeful version we get with Obama and Oprah? 

Much is at stake. 

Trump voters do not seem to realize that a group of people ARE coming to get them, but their enemies are not the so-called invasion of immigrants.  Republicans in Congress want to take away the social safety nets many Trump voters rely on to survive.  Congressional Republicans are gunning for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Affordable Care.  That is the stated goal of Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who cynically passed the Tax Bill that predictably exploded our national debt.  After the midterms if they have both houses of Congress they are going to claim the cure for the problem they created is to end what they call “entitlements.”  These Republicans are the people Trump voters ought to fear.  If they are successful in their efforts to destroy the social safety net, our country WILL turn into Gotham City because many Americans will become desperate and hopeless without that support.  If Dems regain the House and are consequently able to put a check on Trump and Republicans it will make a huge difference in the lives of almost all Americans including millions of Trump supporters whether they understand it or not. 

If the Dems successfully regain some of the state legislatures and governorships, they can take charge of the upcoming redistricting process that is going to affect our country for more than a decade. That will also make a huge difference in the future lives of all Americans.

Which vision of America will prevail on Election Day?  We do not yet know.  The outcome will  differ district by district and state by state.  A vote for the Dems is a vote for a far better American future where an Oprah or a Stacey Abrams or an Andrew Gillum or a Barack Obama can work hard and become successful.  A vote for the Trump version of reality is a vote to go deeper down the rabbit-hole of hate and fear.  I hope with all my heart that Americans choose wisely and vote for the version of our country that a majority of Americans would prefer to live in and believe in.