More often than not, I think that the flames of terrorism are fueled by a perceived lack of other options. If your life is shit, then you have very little to lose, and some grandiose "higher calling" may seem a lot more appealing than whatever else you had going. I suspect that this is true no matter where a person lives.
I've spent a good portion of the past few days watching the impeachment trial taking place in the Senate. To call what happened anything less than an act of domestic terrorism is to be complicit with what transpired. To have organized, provoked and commanded it is to be a willing accessory to murder and a traitor to the US Constitution. This should be as plain as day to anyone who is paying attention.
As I watch this footage, I keep thinking: what rational person could have possibly believed that his or her life would be any better if they went to the Capitol with the intent to do harm to our democratically elected officials? Who thought that this was a good idea? And what exactly did they think January 7 was going to look like, anyway? Was it going to be like the end credits of Fight Club? Did they think that their credit card debt would suddenly be erased and that Kid Rock would replace Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill? Did they think that their king was going knight them? Did they think they'd be cracking some brewskis in the Senate Chamber with Ted Nugent, with everybody putting their feet up on desks, keeping it real? Or did they think that the nation would fall into complete anarchy, and that they could finally live out whatever other violent fantasies they had constructed? What was the endgame here? They must have known that a terrorist attack on the Capitol would not fundamentally change the way that our government functions, right? From the point-of-view of these terrorists, was this all just one big glorified act of self-destruction that was designed to bring down the entire nation with them?
As I've written in a different article on another blog, when people don't believe that they have any kind of a future, this sense of impotence sometimes pushes them into doing terrible things in order to overcompensate for this. "My life sucks, so fuck you. Now my life matters." This is the terrorist's creed. As a domestic terrorist group organized under the flag of Donald Trump, it seems that most of the people who invaded the Capitol subscribed to this basic tenet, resulting in a rabid expression of toxic masculinity times a few thousand, all instigated and coordinated by their dear leader and his accomplices.
By becoming part of a group, it lends a person a sense of belonging. I get that. This is why so many people give a shit about sports, and it's probably a large part of why organized religion still exists. Being a willing member of any collective can provide an amplified sense of self-importance relative to the size of the group in question. It feels good to believe that you are a part of something bigger. The dark side of all of this is that if a thousand other people believe the same crazy shit that you do, then it suddenly lends credence to your own batshit conspiracy theories. Of course, I think that most people need to already be in a pretty desperate state before they can accept the level of delusion that motivates them to commit heinous acts of violence like this. There are fans, and then there are fanatics, just like how there are pious individuals and there are zealots. A rational person knows the difference.
Desperation is rooted in fear. When people are afraid that they have no other options, they sometimes cling to something far more primitive than rationality and logic. This might account for some (but, of course, not all) of the people who buy into the unending bullshit delivered to them by a failed mail-order meat salesman who possesses an almost inhuman lack of humor. I have never understood why anyone would buy anything from this guy, but I think it's that they want to see something of themselves in this false image of winning that is such an integral part of his brand identity. A lot of these people wish that they too could shit in gold toilets and cheat on former fashion models with porn stars. Drumpf repreresents the crass vulgarization of the American Dream.
But if he is indeed a symptom and not the disease itself, then what happens next, regardless of the outcome of this impeachment trial? I think that a lot of middle-America has given up on the idea of a government that works for them, and electing a professional bullshitter (arguably his only skill) to high office is the cynical expression of this existential despair. His "presidency" was nothing if not a series of calculated acts of destruction, itself a form of domestic terrorism. That said, I believe that the key to fighting the degenerative diseases of hopelessness and hate at the core of our society that led to this orange pus sac occupying the White House in the first place is to implement policies that provide more Americans with real opportunities to improve their lives, a chance to imagine and achieve a better American Dream. I believe that the Biden administration needs to invest in the alleviation of poverty in rural areas as well as in urban centers by helping to provide more opportunities to improve one's station of life in these places.
By design, a democratic system of government is intended to be a tool for the people and by the people to protect and improve their standard of living -- not one person's standard of living, but everyone who resides within that nation's borders and who calls him/her/themself a citizen. Any form of government is capable of being corrupted, because even a perfect system is run by imperfect human beings. Some of them are in fact far less perfect than others, but very few of them get impeached twice in the same term. The only solution to ending the corruption that plagues our body politic is for there to be accountability for our public officials, for civility is a requisite to civilization.