The American Nightmare

In the letters to the editor section of The New York Times on Aug. 26, this small epistle stood out: “In her speech at the G.O.P. convention Monday night, Natalie Harp, a cancer survivor, made reference to the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ comparing Donald Trump to George Bailey, the main character in the film, played by my father, Jimmy Stewart. Given that this beloved American classic is about decency, compassion, sacrifice and a fight against corruption, our family considers Ms. Harp’s analogy to be the height of hypocrisy and dishonesty.”

Comparing the hope and generosity that characterizes the American Dream, as embodied in Jimmy Stewart’s character, with a millionaire television star who inherited his father’s fortune and has become notorious for his ability to divide, rather than unite, a country, is the perfect image of the Orwellian dystopia that has become American politics under Trump’s tutelage.

The Republican National Convention has been the stage for a pornographic exposition of lies, distortion and deceit. From the ridiculous moment in which a made-up quote was attributed to Abraham Lincoln to the absurdity of claiming success in the fight against COVID-19, when the United States has one of the worst records in the world, to Trump’s appropriation of Barack Obama’s legislative proposals, as well as the attack on Democrats for their alleged proposals to defund the police (when Joe Biden wants nothing of the sort), everything takes place in the meeting of a party that seems to no longer exist. What we now see is a party in which the only platform is the candidate himself, someone who has a peculiar relationship with truth: The truth is whatever he wishes it to be.

Consider, for example, the turmoil that has recently brought thousands to the streets because of race issues, people who cannot get even a simple word of understanding from their president. To him, these Americans are the enemy, while the counter-protester who killed two people with an assault rifle, is instead the one who, as one of his most ardent supporters argued, deserves sympathy.

What does it matter that The Guardian newspaper just recently published a study that showed Antifa* members to be responsible for zero deaths in the last 25 years while, in the same period, the far-right was responsible for 329 victims? For Trump, it is the first group that represents a fascist threat.

It is this divided, twisted and bitter nation that the land of dreams has transformed itself into. And, because it is a country that has often anticipated trends elsewhere, it would be worthwhile for the world to pay close attention.

*Editor’s note: Antifa, shorthand for anti-fascists, is an umbrella description for far-left-leaning militant groups.

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