President Donald Trump lies so frequently and with such reckless abandon that in four years he has managed to eat away at the very foundation of truth itself for millions of his followers. We are today not merely a country bitterly divided along political lines, but divided into competing versions of reality itself.
In reality, the coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of over 260,000 Americans and over 2,800 Coloradans. This Thanksgiving weekend, millions of Coloradans are canceling traditional family gatherings, opting instead to be with our extended families over video chat. My 10-month-old son will spend his first Thanksgiving ever with his mom and his dad and our “friends who live in the computer.” We wear masks when we leave the house, have our temperature taken everywhere we go, and by now many of us know someone who has gotten very ill or even died.
In the alternative reality, which we’ll call the “MAGA universe”, COVID-19 is a hoax, a conspiracy, the “China Plague” or just another common cold. The hospitals aren’t overflowing, there are more than enough ICU beds and nurses and doctors to go around, and Americans aren’t going to let politicians tell us we can’t be with our families. Shutting down nonessential parts of the economy and mandating mask wearing and social distancing is simply big government seeking to control the masses, a grand social experiment intended to destroy American freedom.
In reality, Joe Biden won the election and it wasn’t close. Biden crushed Trump nationwide by over six million votes and a larger Electoral College margin than Trump held over Clinton in 2016, which Trump at the time called a “landslide.” Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are finally beginning the transition after three weeks of stalling by Trump, and are getting set to tackle the many challenges this nation faces economically, socially, and pandemically.
In the MAGA universe, Dominion Voting Systems, Google, Facebook, Twitter, The Lamestream Media, The Clinton Foundation, Venezuela, China, Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix or some combination of the above conspired to steal the election from Trump. Magic vote-switching algorithms and liberal bias and fake mail ballots and discarded Trump votes and rigged local canvassing boards pulled off the crime of the century. Known liars Rudy Guiliani, Colorado Christian University’s Jenna Ellis, now-disowned attorney Sidney Powell, and a few other extremely overpaid lawyers are the only ones telling the truth and defending the country from a massive conspiracy to thwart the true will of the American People.
In reality, progressive and moderate Democrats alike are trying to figure out how to undo the damage of the last four years of Trumpism. We’re disappointed and confused that 73 million Americans cast a vote for Donald Trump knowing full well who he is and that he will continue to use the office of the President of the United States to enrich himself and his family members while further dividing us into separate realities.
In Jefferson County where I live, our election went off without a hitch. Thanks in large part to our incredible County Clerk and Recorder George Stern and his dauntless staff, most of the races were counted and called shortly after polls closed. The winners celebrated and the losers conceded.
In MAGA Jeffco, the local Republican Party has refused to “certify” the results of the election, something they have no unilateral power to do — because of one or more of the above bonkers, lazy conspiracy theories have captured their imagination.
I thought, perhaps, like a villain from a comic book or fantasy novel, that once Trump was soundly defeated he’d slink away, powerless and broken. The melted Wicked Witch of the West at the end of The Wizard of Oz, or maybe the wizard himself, uncloaked, the emperor without clothes, the charlatan exposed and defeated. Instead, Trump is hanging on, refusing to acknowledge reality, and determined to maintain the fiction that keeps reality from crashing into MAGA world.
But the truth must win. For the sake of our country, to defeat the virus, and hopefully to move on from this historically divisive moment in American history to solving the many challenges that await the Biden-Harris administration–and all Americans and Coloradans alike. I don’t know what it will take to break Trump’s spell over much of the GOP, but a peaceful transition of power will hopefully be a good start.
Ian Silverii is the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest progressive advocacy group.
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