Once You Give Up Integrity

“Once you give up integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.”

R. Ewing – Dallas


David Remnick wrote a piece in The New Yorker in the early hours of November 9, 2016.  The piece was entitled An American Tragedy.  Watching the vile travesty that plays out daily now with this craven crew in office only reminds us how prescient this piece was at the time.

David Remnick wrote the following in the piece: “The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy… It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted..”

Nearly a year later, and I still cannot believe that people that I know, including some with the same blood, thought so little of themselves, were so deluded, or had suffered so sickly, that they would summon this grotesquely morbid spell upon the country.

In a recent interview the world renowned Psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo, famous for the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, proclaimed:

“Trump’s election was a decision by millions of American voters to punish their fellow citizens. These people were encouraged and enabled in this desire to do harm by their leaders in the right-wing media and by Trump himself.”

Despite the overt hate brimming over from these people, I feel very badly for them.  I know it is not popular to express such feelings.  These people have openly displayed evil, have actively attempted to hurt people, have sided with the most dreadful among us, and with a foreign adversary as well.  They made a pact with a serial liar the likes of which you’d never encounter outside of an institution.  They have declared themselves radical traitors.  They have rolled the red carpet out for evil, and killed the fatted calf for the feast.

His supporters flat out, sold out.  They felt safe making a Faustian bargain with visible demons.  Many joyfully cheered about locking up his opponent, disregarding that the idea breaks all notion of the Democratic process, and are tactics extreme even for banana republics or violent Juntas.  The supporters forgot that bargains with the devil aren’t bound by honor.  In the frenzied energy of their hate filled demonic seizures, they forgot that a man that lied to gain power, will lie to keep power.  They may have left unconsidered that a man that doesn’t show respect for POWs, fallen veterans, or the disabled won’t show respect for them.  A man that lies as the sun rises, will also lie as it sets.  A man that shows no integrity, lives no integrity.

Please don’t treat these people with disdain.  They certainly by now know the betrayal they have served the country.  They no doubt are looking for cover now as the embarrassments flow past our screens daily.  I feel for them.  Their children and grandchildren will know they enabled a man whose own cabinet refers to him as a “Moron”, and whose enemy correctly nails his essence as a “Dotard”.  They are aware by now that they have enabled a man who is barely coherent.  Who behaves like an internet troll while engaging dictatorial nuclear armed Nation-States (I guess no one has tried the tactics of a 15 year old schoolyard bully on them.  Not sure our ambassadors keep that arrow in the quiver.)  Who thinks so little of his followers that he openly lies to them every day, and even when exposed for lying, believes their souls are so mortgaged that he doubles down on the lie.  A man who thinks so little of the flag that he stages publicity stunts in order to wrap himself in it.

His supporters are exposed.  They are wounded.  They are horrified.  They are embarrassed.  They know that life will never be the same for them.  Instead of a path of contribution to society, they chose kerosene.  Instead of a path of growth, they chose graffiti.  Instead of patriotism, they chose treason, Instead of honor, they gave up their integrity.  Please don’t hate them, despite the destruction they willfully brought on, and the disgrace they have caused the nation, they were lied to, and goaded into bad decisions by their right wing masters.  The right wing media has for decades spewed hate, broken down reality, and even baked in immunity to facts.  His supporters are marks that have been cultivated for years.  Their minds so deluded by the virus of hate spewed at them daily, that they no longer had control.  They too have been seriously hurt.  They are marks.  They slowly are realizing that they have been conned.  Duped by the man they so wanted to believe in.  They too watch as his family displays corruption and obstruction daily inside our Government.  Please don’t hate these people.  Likely you will never get an admission from them about the damage that they are responsible for, perhaps for decades, but they know it.  The cognitive dissonance in place to protect them from their own judgment won’t allow them to see or admit it.

Likely they are lost to us.  They have traded integrity for whatever fevered steam their conman was spewing.  We must respect them.  Deep down they know what they have done.  Their own guilt won’t ever leave them.  For some it will make them more radical, more fact averse, maybe more violent.  For others they will dig deep and restore honor.  They may have sold out but they had been bent by forces preying on them.

Every vile act is simple once the wall of integrity has been breached.  Every acceptance of violence, inauthenticity, or denigration is easy once you train your mind that integrity and principled living are malleable.  Responsibility becomes a lie you pin on someone else.  Value only exists to score points.  A life well lived this certainly is not.  A broken deceitful life of fear and fraud it is.

We must simply move on.  We must engage people that know and live integrity.  We must engage people that won’t settle for disinformation, conspiracy theories or flat out vile gossip and gas-lighting.  We must engage people that have real principles they honor, live by, and won’t ever sell out on them.  We must engage people that actually care about measurable results instead of weaponized words of hate.

It won’t be a piece of cake, but we’re committed to a vision of fairness, growth, empathy and an expression of an America where words, lives and people have meaning.  We will live that meaning.  We will continue to live a principled life.  We are committed to growth for all, including those of us that sold out on their integrity.

— V. M. Smith

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