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The People Who Will Do Anything To Win

I lived a somewhat protected childhood, as many do. I was trusting and even naive. I have never lost some of that, for which I am glad, but of course one learns about bad people,, those who lie and cheat, and who have a set of values which will sacrifice any morality in the service of getting ahead. It is very disillusioning to encounter that, but one has to be aware of it.

Remember all the commercials for toys you saw as a child; and then often you would ask your parents to get for you, and then some of them didn’t work nearly in the way that the commercials said? At some point, maybe years later, you realize that the commercials were not telling you the truth. That is sad in itself. I read in some article that the first generation in which television dominated their lives, became cynical about virtually everything, believed and trusted no one. That is too sweeping, but I certainly understand the general truth of that. That could be the ’70’s generation, I don’t know exactly which one, it does not matter, the concept is legitimate.

You make various friends as a child, and sometimes you go over to their house, and you play games; board games, or athletic games. And usually you have a good time, it is fun. You want to win, but it does not matter if you do not, it is just for enjoyment. But sometimes you encounter someone who apparently has to win. You play a board game, and he is always calling for a “do-over,” that the spinner didn’t go around enough, or the dice which you rolled to see who moves ahead on the board, went off the table, or you are supposed to do two out of three. It becomes frustrating and tedious, and it isn’t a fair game. You resolve not to play with this person again, which is easy enough to do.

But what do children like that grow up to be? We will skip the question of how they got to be like that. Obviously, they are determined to win, they cannot stand to lose, and they will skirt or even make up rules to try to be sure to win.

As you grow up, you encounter other people like that, but it is more subtle. Sometimes it is just that they tell you things which are self-serving for them, and which are intended to mislead you, or gain your friendship or support. Manipulation, we can call it. Some might say that everyone is manipulative to some extent, but I think that this is just an excuse to validate their behavior.

I would hate to look at the world as a place where everyone is consumed with desires and impulses, and to whom others are merely implements to satisfy them, or people whom they need to use and manipulate to get what they want. But it often feels that way, as everyone who has ever worked in a business knows that executives conveniently lie to them to get them to stay with the company, or believe that the raise they just can’t give you this time, will be coming soon. And that most politicians promise things they cannot deliver. And that the media slants stories to achieve the ends of their owners.

I played poker in college, as many young men do. I played with acquaintances, and I often visited some of the legal poker clubs. It was a challenging game which you must assume is being played honestly. But you learn hat there are many ways for unscrupulous people to cheat. Not the dealing from the bottom of the deck, as you read used to take place in saloons and riverboats. The more usual way of cheating, is playing in collusion with other players. If one has a very strong hand, he signals that by the way he places his fingers, or what he says; and his cohorts raise up the pot, trapping the other players, and then they split the money.

I don’t play poker any more; I never learned to play the overwhelmingly popular game of “Hold-Em,” and I wasn’t about to start trying to learn. as against people who pile up thousands of hours of experience playing online or in clubs. I did recently read an interesting book, “52 Ways to Cheat at Poker,” and was rather amazed at the variety of ways that players can try to fix the game in their favor.

What you learn is, that whenever there is money and power at stake, there are people who will cheat in any way to be able to get it. In gambling, in business, in sports, and of course in politics. It is a very upsetting truth. You can decide not to play with the childhood friend who refuses to lose. You can avoid a certain poker club, or other players, or even just not play in the game, even if it is “the only game in town.” But you cannot escape the impact of politics and governance, even if you refuse to vote or to follow it. It finds you.

So we have a political party, known as the Republican Party, which increasingly does everything they can to win, including all forms of cheating. They are clever enough to attack the other party for doing it, following Goebbels, the mastermind of Nazi evil. People get confused, or they decide that it is the system which is corrupt, so they just throw up their hands, blame everybody, and do not participate. But the cheating party likes this, it makes it easier for them to win.

What is the psychological background of Republicans? It is not as disparate as one might think. Some of it comes from a religion instilled in them which says that everything they believe is right, and that anyone who disagrees or sees things differently, is not only wrong, but evil, and must be destroyed by any means, akin to a fanatical holy war. There are others, and these are the ones who run the show, who use the first group as their pawns, who have been taught or learned that lying and misleading and cheating has a payoff for them, so they keep doing it. It becomes their modus vivendi, their way of life. And there is nothing you can do to change them. They are the tyrants, the robber barons, the Nazis of earlier times.

Or differently said, there have always been people like that. Now there are more of them, and they are linked by the shrinking world created by the so-called Information Age. And the ways to cheat have become more sophisticated.

We are learning just how deep was the corruption of the 2016 election, as well as the 2020 election. The release of documents from Judge Amy Berman Jackson is exposing even more the ways in which Manafort conspired with Russian agent Kilimnik to use Democratic polling date to target voters; and how AG Barr simply lied to the American public about everything.

Do you remember when Trump suddenly hired both Kellyanne Conway and Manafort at the same time? This was not a coincidence, or a lucky bet by Trump. These people were pre-selected. There are all sorts of corrupt people in the Republican constellation, who will do anything to win, even break election laws and voting laws and media laws. Those were two of them; along with the Mercers, and the Kochs, and Murdochs, and Roger Stone, and the Heritage Foundation, and Barr, and so many others of the same mentality. They form a wall of protection, and they get pardoned for their crimes, even more successfully than in the Mafia.

What can be done about this? It has gone on for decades, and gets worse each year, as they get away with it. Gore was absolutely cheated out of the presidency, since he clearly received ,more votes in Florida, which would have given him the Electoral College win, but the Republicans managed to keep them from being counted. There is serious suspicion that Diebold machines flipped Ohio in 2004. Okay, maybe that is supposition, not unlike what Republicans are saying now, so we will leave that, but not 2000. And we can go on. 2016 was the previous apex of it, when the liar of all liars, Donald Trump, a man whose father was a Nazi sympathizer and a business cheat; and who had learned at the foot of one of the most despicable people in American history, Roy Cohn, before joining the mafia himself, was the Republican standard-bearer.

Trump and his allies, and the Republican gamesters, employed every possible cheating device, including, but not at all limited to, working closely with Russia oligarchs. Many of the so-called protectors of the truth, the media, had much earlier been corrupted, by money, or the lure of celebrity, or the excitement of chasing down stories which were planted to take up their attention.

They used Russian assets to plant the stories and disseminate them all over social media, thus making many people think that up is down and good is evil. That worked in 2016. In 2020, it did not sufficiently, so they tried to get the vote counts changed. And when that failed, they set their brainwashed followers to storm the capital, kill Democrats, and make it impossible for the votes to be certified.

That did not quite succeed, so now they are trying to make it impossible for millions of Democrats to vote. If that is not enough, they have mechanisms to overturn state elections. It is beginning to be widely believed that a Republican Congress will never certify a presidential election where the Democrat wins.

“Whatcha gonna do about it, copper?” That’s what they say in the gangster movies of the 1930’s. These people have a bit better diction, but the attitude is the same. Unless you have enough guns to stop us, we’ll just take over. You will never win another election.

And it is all under the guise of law, or smart politics. If they write suppressive voting laws, and they pass, they are legal, right? If the Supreme Court does not overturn them, then they are impregnable. If the Congress will not certify the votes, because they claim that there was fraud on the part of Democratic voters;, well, that is within their power, right? Just using the laws, they would say,; they are masters of it, while Democrats stand on some kind of moral objection, which gives way to the force of brute power.

Congress is now filled with these Republicans. Where did the relatively honest ones go? Were they ever really there? Well, some of them believed that Nixon should resign or be impeached and convicted, but we know that if that took place now, they would praise and acquit him. What Trump did was even worse, bu they pass it off. Not one thing that Trump did, and we don’t even know the half of it, was enough to cause more than a very few Republicans to vote to convict him. And they still praise him, and laud him, and ask for his approval. They approve of him, they think he is their ticket to winning, and that is all that they care about. And the media mostly acts as if this is fascinating politics, with the morality of it not being their concern, just the drama and gamesmanship.

One thing that we must absolutely realize, is that the Republicans are not suddenly going to become moral, and stop cheating. They don’t call it cheating, they call it “the triumph of good people over the forces of socialism and anarchy and libs.” They probably didn’t think they cheated in board games and poker games, either, they were just winning by any means they needed to, because they are the only people who matter. They think that Winners win, Losers cry about unfairness. That is their view of things, though they are always whining after the few times that they don’t immediately get their way, and then they settle down and try to find other mechanisms to obtain it.

Democrats could try to do the same thing, but it is not in their nature. That gives Republicans a big advantage All the moderating voices, however few and muted, are gone from that party. Democrats can appeal to the populace, as in the heroic tales, but what will they do, take up muskets or liberate the Bastille?

It seems to me, as I write this, that the Democrats’ best chance is to be as drastic as they can now, before it is too late, before the 2022 vote. Try to add seats to the Supreme Court. What is the price of losing? Not too much, to paraphrase a line from Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Abolish the filibuster and pass H.R. 1 NOW. Call for extensive boycotts of the products of any states which have passed restrictive voting laws. They don’t have to do that last one if they pass the H.R. 1, but why not have many approaches, just like Republicans do?

Above all, do not wait until the worst happens, and Republicans take over the Congress, even by one vote. Democrats have kept waiting, hoping that things would be okay, that the takeover of the country would be staved off, but they find that even if they win election victories, it continues, as if you hold off robbers, and then they just blow up the building. Their obsession and raison d’etre is winning at any cost. If that is not ours, it still has to be employing smart and far-reaching tactics, and not being constantly worried about what the media or the Republicans would say. It does no good, it is just a comfortable way to lose to people who want to defeat and destroy you any way they can, so that they will win.