The path back to sanity is not so clear: Hate, venom and a former president who seems to think he’s still president

The path back to sanity is not so clear: Hate, venom and a former president who seems to think he’s still president

A Stop The Steal is posted inside of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo by Jon Cherry | Getty Images

There is way too much hate and way too much misinformation spreading across our political landscape.

I’ve watched and written about politics for more than 55 years and have never seen anything that approaches this mess. At the top of the dreadful heap: a former president who seems to think he is still president and spends most of every day trashing everyone who disagrees.

It is like watching a comedy of errors. Each day dawns with a new series of attacks from Trump land.  Seven months after voters elected Joe Biden president, Trump is still trying to count and recount votes in various places, despite rulings from many courts that have confirmed that Biden won the election.

In the beginning, I thought Trump was merely a buffoon who liked to grab unsuspecting women in sensitive places, a practice he boasted about that was captured on tape and broadcast for all to hear.

I thought Trump was just plain wrong when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Manhattan and get away with it. Now I’m not quite so sure.

In daily statements from his “Save America’’ operation and “We Love Trump’’ newsletter published several times a day, Trump spreads rumors denigrating COVID-19 vaccines, promoting visions from ministers saying he will regain the presidency any day now, and calling all efforts to investigate his conduct and connections to the Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol just part of another “witch hunt.”

Banned from Facebook and Twitter for spreading misinformation, Trump now uses various other ways to spread even more misinformation.

In one publication of the “Daily Truth Report’’ called We Love Trump, he even accused former Vice President Mike Pence of having a gay lover.  There is just no limit to what he and his followers have been willing to do: Witness the noose at the Capitol to hang U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Witness those who were chasing Pence to keep him from certifying the results of the 2020 election.

It would be laughable if it weren’t so damaging to our country.  It’s clear that some people believe him and continue to support him. It’s also clear that other many of the Republicans in Congress are so afraid of him they are voting against their own interests to avoid his wrath.

From the Senate floor, then-Senate President Mitch McConnell denounced Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol after his fellow senators failed to remove the president from office for sparking the raid.  But McConnell, now the U.S. Senate minority leader, wouldn’t cast a vote against Trump. Instead, he has fought efforts to authorize a formal investigation of the raid.

McConnell and many other members of Congress line up and kiss the ring, flying down to Mar-a-Lago to get their pictures taken with him playing a round of golf or greeting a crowd.

One of the prizes for idiocy in Congress should go to U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Georgia. He compared the raid which killed five people and injured many others to “a normal tourist visit’’ to the Capitol. A day later someone produced pictures of Clyde helping barricade the doors of the House as the invasion was under way.

Many Republicans in Congress have completely ostracized U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, for speaking out against Trump. She has pledged to do everything she can to ensure that the former president never gets anywhere near the Oval Office again, a quote Trump and his minions have widely circulated in an effort to damage her future political possibilities.

Supporters responding to one of the “Daily Truth Reports,” recently suggested Pelosi should face a firing squad. And Trump’s daily newsletter refers to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as “Joe and the Ho’’ and asked supporters to recommend punishment if they are found guilty of rigging and stealing the election.

His supporters took the bait, with hundreds responding: “hang them,’’ “firing squad,’’ “life in prison, ’’guillotine,’’ “death by fire ants,’’ “Castration,’’ “Electrocution,’’ “a life sentence at Guantanamo Bay’’ and “60 days of a continuous loop of Trump rallies.’’

The suggestions went on for more than 50 pages of venom, which Trump emailed in his daily report.

The newsletters are sprinkled with ads from financial companies being touted by former U.S. Rep Ron Paul: CBD painkillers, portable air conditioners, Ben Carson’s over the counter “smart pills’’ that allegedly will triple your memory and retention in 21 days; a “potent CBD line’’ being promoted by Tucker Carlson of Fox News as well as cures for all sorts of problems.

Serious people in the world of politics would ordinarily ignore all this blathering, but the path back to sanity is not so clear.

We have many miles to go before our world can be repaired.

Lucy MorganPulitzer Prize-winner Lucy Morgan was chief of the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times capital bureau in Tallahassee for 20 years, retiring in 2006 and serving as senior correspondent until 2013. She is a contributor to the Florida Phoenix, which first published this essay.