John is a mid-Atlantic writer and avid student of history. His current passions are frontier and Civil War history, genealogy and politics.
Back in 1966 a low-budget Western film was produced in Italy, using an Italian film director, Sergio Leone; an Italian music director, Ennio Morricone; local Italian actors and settings; and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. It was Eastwood's breakthrough film. With unique close-up shots, and deep penetration of the characters in the film, slow and artful sequences combined with rapid action scenes, this Italian-made Western created a new art form for the American Western.
Fifty-five years later haunting images from the film still rise up in my mind's eye from time to time. I don't like violence, but it's necessary to the plot. The whole story seems to me like a comic book come to life.
Most of all I am still captivated by the memorable musical score. Ennio Morricone created a deeply moving, haunting mood throughout the film with his unique blending of whistles, guitar, voices, clicks, orchestral blends, and pauses. The opening theme music is particularly memorable as it blends so perfectly with the unfolding story, and so perfectly helps to describe the characters. I like to listen to the soundtrack on Audible during my walks. An extended version with the entire soundtrack is also available on Amazon.
Just the title words of the film -- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -- bring to mind today's national political story. With apologies to all the artists who created the 1966 film, I've created my own story, The Good, The Bad, The Sad, the Ugly, and The Catastropohe. I'm presenting my own views. While many readers agree with me, I know others will disagree. I only hope readers keep an open mind.
The Good . . . Joe Biden
Today, November 2, 2021, is election day -- one year since Joe Biden soundly defeated Donald Trump in the popular vote (by 7.06 million votes) and in the Electoral College vote (by 74 electoral votes). I celebrated in the street with others who were joyful at Biden's win.
Joe Biden was raised in a working-class, Catholic family. He knows the hard-scrabble life of working people. He remains a dedicated Catholic. As a high school quarterback, he learned the values of competitive play by the rules, of leadership, and of performance. Biden overcame tragedy in this personal life and is devoted to his wife and family.
Elected to the Senate at age 29, Biden knows from experience how to govern, how to successfully navigate in global affairs. As vice-president, he learned how the White House should work. As a result of his work important legislation was passed that improve the lives of all Americans. And he learned the lessons of experience. Joe Biden relates well to all people.
Joe Biden has aged gracefully into a wise and experienced leader. As President, he surrounded himself with competent associates who will work to improve the lives of all American people.
I strongly believe Joe Biden is the right leader for America during this perilous time.
The Bad . . . Donald Trump
When Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President I hoped that he would be successful in creating better lives for all Americans. His administration acted quickly in authorizing Warp Speed to produce vaccines that would help prevent COVID-19. But his public statements downplayed the virus, even promoting crazy treatment theories like hydroquinone or Clorox. He lent support to the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers resulting in the pandemic spreading faster and more sickness and death.
Much to my dismay, Trump did not rise to the challenge. He brought his old narcissistic self to his new job. His bullying and belittling were there for all to see in the primary debates, picking demeaning nicknames for his opponents. He gave encouragement to white nationalists, neo-nazis, and anti-semites. He continued his compulsive lying. One fact-checking service counted 30,573 instances where he uttered false or misleading statements during his presidency.
He had no prior experience in running government or even running very large corporations. He surrounded himself with people whose primary qualification was loyalty to Donald Trump, not competent governing. In fact, many of them set out to dismantle the government. They quickly moved to turn the clock back on government efforts for the benefit of all Americans.
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He spread conspiracy theories and created a false reality among his supporters. He led them into a fantasy world where the difference between truth and fiction became blurred.
His autocratic tendencies were on full display with his admiration of Putin and other powerful autocrats around the world. He set his administration on a path toward isolation from global cooperation.
Worst of all he refused to accept defeat and created the BIG LIE that the election was rigged and that he really won when he had lost.
The Sad . . . Republican Party
What has become of the Republican Party, once the party of ideas and principles? It adopted no party platform for the campaign of 2016 -- no set of principles and policies to run on. It morphed into the party of obstruction and Trumpism in its worst forms.
The Federation of Republican Women has a lofty set of principles to guide them. One principle is "That the preservation of Nation and the security of our citizens depend upon the Constitution, the laws and the courts, and that respect for them is the responsibility of every citizen."
When I was younger I was an active member of the Jaycees. We had a creed that included the belief "That government should be of laws rather than men."
Not above the law. Not autocracy.
When the certified results of the Presential election came before Congress in January for acceptance according to law, most Republicans voted against acceptance. Shame on them.
The Ugly . . . Armed Insurrection
I couldn't believe my eyes when on January 6 an armed insurrection against Congress actually happened. Encouraged and incited by former President Trump and others, a mob of his supporters, white supremacists, neo-nazis, and anti-semites overran the White House Police and forced their way into the Senate Chamber and offices. Members of Congress were forced to flee for their safety.
I believe that many of those who came to the falsely-named "Stop the Steal" rally that day were not aware that they were supporting an armed insurrection. But many others did. And they invaded the Capitol resulting in injuries, death, and ruined lives.
The Catastrophe . . . Undermining Democracy
Many leading Republicans are speaking out against the dangerous swing against democracy that is taking place in America among Trumpist Republicans. A recent opinion piece by Robert Kagan, a former Republican, was entitled Our Constitutional Crisis is Already Here, riled up both conservatives as well as Democrats. Kagan's theme:
The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves.
Kagan believes Donald Trump and his allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory in 2024 by whatever means necessary. The warning signs are there and they are not taken seriously enough. Chaos could ensue.
Other opinion writers take issue with Kagan, others repeat his warning. But the unfolding evidence of Republican legislatures willing to restrict voting and emerging results of the Congressional investigation into the events surrounding the January 6th insurrection, tend to reinforce Kagan's warning signs.
Business leaders are warning that the unfolding instability in America is a threat to the economy. In How Business Leaders Got Woke and Dumped Trump Molly Ball wrote in Time Magazine that corporate leaders became highly alarmed following Trump's non-acceptance they stole the election speech following the election.
More recently Heather Cox Richardson wrote in Letters from An American that "Americans appear to be waking up to the reality that our democracy is on the ropes:
" . . . there is an increasing focus on the attempt to overturn the 2020 election and keep former president Trump in power, there has been little discussion of what the destabilization of our democracy means for the economy. This is no small thing, because, since the late nineteenth century, it has been the stability of our nation that has attracted investment. That investment, in turn, has built our economy."
"An October 27 article by Courtney Fingar, Ben van der Merwe, and Sebastian Shehadi in Investment Monitor warns that “efforts to undermine the integrity of US elections carry a heavy cost for businesses and could weaken investment in the country.”
My Take . . .
I am truly shaken by the anti-democracy trends taking place in America. All of us need to pause and take stock of how fragile our democracy is when the rule of law is ignored, when leaders divide our people into warring factions, when government does not work for the benefit of all Americans, and when people cannot distinguish between truth and fantasy.
What's the solution? Reach out and talk seriously with those with different opinions. Talk with people different from you. Find out where you can agree. Volunteer to help those who are disadvantaged. Volunteer to work for political candidates you can trust, who will work for the benefit of all Americans, who will help unite us, not divide us.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 John Dove