Dealing With the Devil

Alan Zendell, September 21, 2019

One of the most often repeated themes in human history began in the Book of Genesis and continues today. A Devil’s surrogate tempts a potential victim with something he or she craves with no apparent immediate pricet to pay. Deep down, the quarry knows something’s wrong with the transaction, but the wily serpent knows exactly how to hook his prey.

With Adam and Faust it was forbidden knowledge. They both learned their lessons so well that today the phrase Faustian bargain signifies being willing to sacrifice almost anything to satisfy some limitless desire. But there’s a subtext. Payment may seem to be deferred indefinitely, but the Devil always gets his due.

More and more it seems that whether intentionally or out of naïveté, many people who supported Donald Trump in 2016 were agreeing to just such bargain. Those who saw Trump as a salve for resentment and anger, who were eager to indulge their bigotry and hate, unleashed the awakening of the Alt-Right and the legitimizing of White Supremacy. In selling out to personal greed, those who saw him as an opportunity to reduce taxes helped explode the national debt that will be a crushing weight on our children. And in playing out their own wannabe fantasies, people who reveled in his ability to lie, cheat, and steal with impunity helped undermine everything we were taught to believe in.

In every Faustian fable, the mark eventually comes to see the reality of what he signed up for, albeit too late to do anything about it. But there’s still time to correct The Great Trump Mistake. Anyone who puts aside whatever visceral need made him susceptible to Trump’s pandering to our worst natures, to greed, the devaluing of truth, and basic decency and civility can see it clearly now.

Our laws are being undermined by a president who has no respect for anything but his own willfulness. The fabric of everything our nation stands for is under attack, not by legal means as set forth in our Constitution, but with the brutish intimidation and bullying typical of like Mafia dons. Trump savaged the Republicans who identified themselves as “anyone-but-Trumpers” during the 2015-16 primary fight because none of them was willing to sacrifice anything of value to unite to stop him before he could do serious harm. Today, they have either faded into obscurity or become his sycophants.

It’s up to us now. We can’t sit around as if we were watching a movie waiting for the good guys to win – have you noticed how many have dystopian themes these days? That’s our deeper, basic natures, our consciences and moral centers warning us that we’re treading on dangerous ground.

The reality that our electoral process was under attack and in jeopardy of being compromised should have blasted our senses like an air raid siren. But we allowed the Mueller investigation to be mired in political spin, and we can only watch in horror as our grid-locked Congress struggles to remind itself that their duty is to the future of the country and not their personal political benefit.

If the latest incidents of Trump’s lust for power and total disregard for law doesn’t convince us, we’ll doom our children to a horrifying future in which the only certainty is that America will never again be the country we grew up believing it was. The remnants of the Republican Party have a responsibility to fight the White House’s attempt to prevent a primary challenge to Trump next year, or they will be no different from Vladimir Putin’s Communists who silence all internal dissent. And while a stacked Supreme Court may make it impossible to legally hold Trump accountable for attempting to extort assistance from a foreign head of state to provide political advantage over his 2020 opponents, we can at least be grateful that the President of Ukraine wasn’t bullied into taking illegal actions at the behest of Donald Trump.

But gratitude that integrity still exists elsewhere in the world cannot deflect us from what is necessary. Trump will be neither impeached nor indicted for his crimes while he is president. The only way to end this tragic chapter in our history is to assure that his term ends in January of 2021. There is no higher priority for America.

We’ve been taught since elementary school that freedom isn’t free. It’s time to restate John F. Kennedy’s inaugural challenge – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We can’t expect our country to do anything good for us unless we step up and do what’s necessary to end the Trump era.

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