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Seeing is Believing

It all comes down to us.

The outcome of this year’s elections, the fate of democracy and the direction of our country come down to whether we believe what we see with our own eyes and trust what we feel in our gut.

Our ability to do this is being severely tested. By the debates, for starters. Lincoln-Douglas they ain’t. Even calling them debates is false advertising. Anyone who endured the trauma of watching the September 29 brawl can’t be blamed for feeling like they had just been assaulted. We all were assaulted. The assault was by design. The principal assailant’s chances for reelection hinge on convincing enough of us not to believe what we are seeing and not to trust what we are feeling.

He doesn’t need to convince a majority of Americans. He doesn’t even need to convince a majority of those who bother to vote. Remember, we don’t elect presidents by national popular vote. He’ll win some states by wide margins. He’ll lose others by even bigger margins. He’ll lose the national popular vote. By a lot. Doesn’t matter. The election will be decided by who gets more than 50% of the vote in the few remaining states.

To pull this off, the current occupant of the White House needs to convince just enough people that 2020 has not been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. He needs us to question our own instincts and doubt our own judgment. He needs us to think that maybe the economy really was great before the pandemic hit. He needs us to forget that there were already grotesque levels of economic inequality. He needs us to forget that the rich were getting richer, the poor were getting poorer and the middle class was fast shrinking even before the coronavirus made it here.

He needs us to be blind to the plain truth that America botched the response to the pandemic worse than any country and has suffered far more casualties than any other nation.

He needs us to forget how stressed out so many of us were before the pandemic about not being able to afford anyone in their family getting sick and needing medical attention. Millions had no health insurance. Millions more had useless insurance with deductibles and co-pays so high they had to pay for all their care out of pocket and their pockets were empty.

He needs us to forget how we felt when we saw that video of a police officer with his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

He needs us to think the raging wildfires on the west coast and one hurricane after another pounding the southern border are not telltale signs of climate catastrophe but merely the result of poor forest management, atmospheric accidents or just fake news.

That’s why he’s not debating his opponent and instead concentrates on gaslighting us. He knows the true threat to his grip on power is the common sense of the American people. He knows continuing to rule depends on enough of us questioning our own sanity and concluding we can’t really be seeing that dumpster fire.

Mike McCabe

September 30, 2020