Commentary, National Commentary

Editor’s Column: Was Declaring the MAGA Fever-Breaking Premature?

Could I have been premature in declaring the breaking of the MAGA fever by the midterm elections earlier this month? In the case of an illness, when a fever is broken it still requires a lot of care and caution to make sure it does not flare back up even worse than before. So, it is not an option to let up because the election results showed so much promise.

Indeed, the latest mass shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs last weekend is the sharpest evidence of this. Not only were five patrons of the Club Q there randomly killed by yet another white male terrorist, and more than a dozen more seriously injured, but the news opened the floodgates for thousands of heinous and hateful comments and threats on social media, including, of course, on Elon Musk’s Twitter, which has just welcomed the reinstatement of hundreds of formerly banned markedly hateful accounts, and then there is the categorically ugly role of Tucker Carlson on Fox.

It is true that we are not back at square one thanks to the election, and my declaration of MAGA fever breaking was determined to be seen as evidence of that. Yet, still, this culture war is far from over. It is going to require vigilance and commitment, new levels of each, coming from each and every one of us, to fully turn the tide and restore American democracy to its once great role in our society.  When Dr. Martin Luther King stated that “the long arc of history leans toward justice,” he added that it was dependent on the efforts of those pushing it in that direction.

Indeed, Rachel Maddow’s podcast series entitled Ultra, now complete and available in full, is a powerful testament to ways in which this nation was threatened with official treachery in the earlier parts of the last century, and has drawn heavily on Bradley Hart’s book, “Hitler’s American Friends.” As we move into the holiday season ostensibly of love and good cheer, it is important to remind readers that Frank Capra’s famously generous holiday film of 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was not without serious controversy in its day, such that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover actually commissioned Ayn Rand to write a critique of it as a piece of pro-communist propaganda.

We will no doubt run afoul again of the evangelical Christian mantra fiercely opposing those who prefer to refer to the season as “holiday” rather than “Christmas,” a distinctly inhospitable insistence. That is, unless the evangelical movement has been so shamed by its ungodly alliance with Trump in recent years that it has been rendered a slight bit of self-reflective silence. One can only hope. I will undoubtedly be disappointed again this year by the takeover of our airwaves by dull and vapid so-called Christmas carols. Sadly, that will hold even in the case of the Washington D.C. region’s one hold out radio station that usually plays classical music. Time to turn off the radio completely, because even the so-called classical channels on satellite radio become corrupted in this way.

On this score, a setback to the cause in the last week was the untimely death from cancer of former Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. This man was a graduate of the notoriously Christian evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois and a strident evangelical who became a cornerstone figure among the speechwriting cadres for President George W. Bush. He made his best mark citing the need for a moral rebirth in this country when as a Post columnist, he took fellow evangelicals to task so eloquently and fiercely, and repeatedly, for their grotesque and unfitting support for Trump in the last half dozen years. 

I never met Gerson, but felt a kinship with my being a graduate of what was known as the “Wheaton of the west,” Westmont College in Santa Barbara. While I moved beyond my convictions of those days in a way that Gerson clearly did not, I was aware of his moral starting point, and admired his ability to use that to severely criticize his evangelical brethren for selling out their values so fully to back Trump.