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I Refuse to Play the “Both Sides Do It” Game

trump and satan

Every time I write a political post that is critical of disgraced ex-president Donald Trump or the present iteration of the Republican Party one or more commenters will object, saying “both sides do it,” or they will attempt to distract by trying to play “whataboutism.” The goal is to ignore/dismiss what I have said or paint me as some sort of hypocrite. Anything except interacting with what I actually wrote.

I make no apologies for the fact that I am a liberal, socialist, and pacifist. I don’t often write about my political beliefs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have strong opinions and beliefs about all sorts of political, social, and religious beliefs. I am aware of the fact that when I write about politics, it often causes controversies. I have lost numerous readers over this or that political issue. Some people love my atheism, but hate my politics.

Yesterday, I wrote Letter to the Editor: Do Republicans Really Believe in Freedom and Liberty? Here’s what I had to say:

If rural Ohio Republicans were surveyed and asked if they believed in freedom and liberty for everyone, to the person they would say YES! However, words are cheap, and when we take a close look at Republican behavior and practices, we learn that they only believe in freedom and liberty for some people.

Most rural Ohioans voted for and currently support Donald Trump. They overwhelmingly voted for the disgraced ex-president in 2016 and 2020, and plan to do so again in 2024. Does Trump believe in freedom and liberty for everyone? Of course not. He routinely threatens people like me, calls for my arrest, and says that I should expelled from the country of my birth. Why? I have political and religious beliefs different from Trump and his MAGA followers. Evidently, freedom and liberty only apply to people who agree with Trump and the rhetoric of white Evangelical Christians. Everyone else is an enemy of God and state.

When local Republicans talk glowingly about their commitment to freedom and liberty, I don’t believe them. These same people are working diligently to undo the express will of the people as they try to neuter recently passed initiatives that legalize abortion and recreational cannabis. If Republicans truly believe in freedom and liberty, then they would accept the will of the people. Instead, both at state and local levels, Republicans are intent on forcing their moral beliefs on others.

Republicans want public school students to have freedom to attend release time programs such as Lifewise Academy — an Evangelical organization — yet when The Satanic Temple wants to sponsor a release time program, all of a sudden freedom only applies to Evangelical Christians. Everywhere we look, we see right-wing Republicans prosecuting the latest iteration of the culture war. For all their talk about freedom and liberty, Republicans deny that same right for everyone. Not for LGBTQ people, nor socialists, atheists, or humanists. Not for women seeking abortion care, nor people with moral beliefs different from the Christian majority.

I am in the minority when it comes to my political and religious beliefs. Even local Democrats distance themselves from me because I am a Democratic socialist, too liberal, or a godless heathen. That’s the price I pay for living in rural Ohio. That said, I demand and expect the same freedom and liberty as my Republican neighbors.

After reading my letter, several people commented and sent me messages that said there is “no difference between Republicans and Democrats.” Others played the “whataboutism” game, suggesting that Biden and the Democrats have done things just as bad as indicted Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans. Really? Do otherwise thoughtful, rational people really believe there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans; that President Biden is just a bad Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is a fascist and authoritarian. In 2020, he tried to overthrow the government and remain in power. He is currently facing numerous criminal charges in three jurisdictions. If re-elected in 2024, Trump has made it clear that he intends to upend the federal government and the rule of law. Invoking the Insurrection Act, Trump intends to use the military to advance his domestic cause, which includes rounding up and incarcerating people such as myself. One need only look at Project 2025 to find out Trump’s intentions. Does anyone seriously believe there is no difference between Trump and Biden; that Trump is not a direct threat to the future and health of our Republic?

The Republican Party has, for the most part, been taken over by Donald Trump and MAGA zealots. Centrist Republicans have either given up or left the party altogether. Trump IS the Republican Party. Are you okay with that? Are you okay with a Party that is racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBTQ? Are you okay with a Party that doesn’t give a shit about immigrants, pregnant women, children, or the poor? Shall I go on? Explain to me how one can be a Republican and a humanist. The Republican platform is antithetical to the humanist ideal.

That is not to say that the Democratic Party is without its own problems. That’s why I am no longer a Democrat, I may vote Democratic, but I am not a Democrat. I am not a supporter of Joe Biden, but when forced to choose between the most unfit man to ever be president and Joe Biden, I am going to choose Biden every time. I am a pragmatist, not an idealist, when it comes to politics. If other Democratic presidential candidates show themselves to be viable candidates, then it is likely I will vote for one of them. Biden wasn’t my first, second, or third choice in 2020 (and neither was Clinton in 2016), and he is most certainly not my choice today. However, we have a two-party system, so that means I will likely have to vote for Biden in 2024. The United States can survive another Biden presidency (provided he doesn’t drag us into a world war). It cannot survive another Trump presidency.

The same goes for Republicans at the state level. MAGA zealots have taken over virtually every state Republican party. Here in Ohio, a supermajority of Republicans rule the roost without any regard for the will of the people. Last month, Ohio voters overwhelmingly voted to legalize abortion and recreational marijuana use. Did Republicans respect the will of the people? Of course not. They are doing everything they can to neuter the abortion amendment and recreational marijuana initiative. These Republicans are Christian nationalists and fascists who are hell-bent on shaping Ohio according to the teachings of the Bible.

So, enough of this idea that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans and between Biden and Trump. Instead of playing the “whataboutism” game, how about actually justifying the policies of Trump and the MAGA-controlled Republican Party? How about justifying why ANYONE would vote for Donald Trump (or Ron DeSantis)? I don’t see it. Hate Joe Biden? Fine, don’t vote for him. However, if you care about the future of our country, for the love of Loki, please don’t vote for Trump. He is not the lesser of two evils, he is evil, period.

16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Rand Valentine

    Trump’s policies are summed up in a word: Me. The election was stolen, not because it was stolen, but because to lose would be a stain on the glory of Me, and thus, could not have happened. After all, I own a jet (huzzah, cry the Christian minions)! Just like Jesus, I can levitate. When your compass ever and only points to first person singular, and you have a nuclear arsenal at your ego’s command, heaven help us. Trump thoroughly helps us understand Hitler. It’s all and only and only and ever and ever about ego. All and ever and ever and ever. Ever and ever. Ever.

    • Avatar
      Kathy Hughes

      Trump has a severe case of elephantiasis of the ego, and he will govern as a dictator if he gets a second bite of the apple.

  2. Avatar
    J.J. Smith

    Those who resort to whataboutism and comments claiming both parties are the same are simply not paying attention! I understand that people have lives to lead and are sometimes overwhelmed with too much information, but one need only do a minimum of research to see the differences. The US is truly on the verge of losing democracy. We have to stay engaged and vote.

    I am encouraged by the court cases, and the ineptitude of Drump’s attorneys, but he continues to be a danger to us all.

  3. Avatar
    Kathy Hughes

    I’m agree with you about the threat Trump poses to the survival of our polity, and about Ohio legislators’ refusal to listen to voters, They ignored us on redistricting and are doing it again with Issues One and Two.

  4. Avatar
    GeoffT

    Whataboutism seems to me to be a standard human condition. Everyone engages it when something that they hold true is challenged and confronting it, identifying it in yourself, then finding a way to deal with it is fundamentally essential if meaningful debate is intended. For example, climate change deniers point to volcanic discharges, which we can do nothing about, as a way to deflect from fossil fuel burning, which is in our control. When I fly abroad on holiday (I never fly domestically, but the UK is very different in size to the US), I think to myself that everyone else is doing it to relieve my guilt, but really I’m just engaged in whataboutism!

    On the subject of Trump the whole world (civilised) is on tenterhooks about the election. Putin is hanging on in Ukraine, desperately hoping he wins. If he does win, which is looking a distinct possibility, then the whole world will be set back decades, and the Cold War will be well and truly back. I know there are millions of decent Republicans; if they really want to express their decency then they’re going to have to grit their teeth and vote for Biden.

  5. Avatar
    John S.

    In an earlier post I mentioned that I am glad that I can say I never voted for Trump, even in 2016 when all my Republican friends did so. Not long after the election a friend and I went on a hike and I explained why I voted third party. Just something about Ttump that made me uncomfortable, even though I was very conservative at the time (I’m much less conservative now). It wasn’t so much Trumps’s politics but his behavior, and ultimately the people he wanted to be in his cabinet. I’ve had the benefit of an interest in history, particularly totalitarian regimes, and Trump fits the bill. He has the oratory of Hitler, the vindictiveness of Stalin, the cult of personality of Mao. Biden, regardless of his faults, is willing to stand up to the likes of Putin and Xi, who in my opinion are just modern versions of Hitler, Mao and Stalin. I have no doubt these two would prefer a Trump victory in 2024. Just stoke his ego and he can be manipulated.
    The only time I invoke “both sides” is when I talk history. Both the far right and far left have their closet of horrors in history. It comes down to the means and methods the particular regime employed. Franco in Spain killed hundreds of thousands if not millions after ascending to power. However his Republican liberal predecessors did not have clean hands either, having killed thousands of Catholic clergy merely because they would not renounce their religion and become good communists. On scale, Franco was far worse, but using this argument and the Catholic Church supported him does not take away the atrocity of the mass killing of people because they will not denounce their religion.
    Bad behavior is bad behavior. That’s the extent of “both sides” that I am willing to agree with.

  6. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I haven’t finished reading Project 2025 yet, but what I have read is chilling. It is anti-Constitutional at its core. Yes, Trump is a nightmare, but what’s worse is that the people he has surrounded himself with are authoritarian fascist anti-democratic “Handmaid’s Tale” Christian Nationalist theocratic who will likely incarcerate or at least subjugate people like you, me, and most of the readers of this blog. No, I am not being an alarmist. If Trump is elected, the US will cease to be any modicum of a free and democratic society due to the people he will bring into power with him. We barely survived under one Trump administration – we definitely will not survive another. The American experiment will be over. No, it hasn’t been perfect – hell no – look at slavery, disenfranchisement, racist systems, misogyny, etc. But it was among the better nations in terms of freedom and opportunity. The bar is low worldwide – but we will sink to the lower levels of nations if Trump is elected.

  7. Avatar
    Troy

    I know quite a number of people who support Trump. Their issue is that we have inflation (and now that inflation has been pretty much mitigated Biden caused it to begin with). That’s overlooking a lot of warts to blame Biden for something he didn’t do. Inflation is a direct result of fed policy during the Trump years, which was over eased during the pandemic to keep the economy from crashing resulting in a Herbert Hooveresque depression. (Inflation ushered in Hitler as well, in that case it was hyperinflation.) But yes it is absolutely chilling when Trump outlines his plans for a second term. How much of this would he be able to accomplish with checks and balances? I don’t want to find out. Incidentally, I voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016, and would have found him preferable to Hillary, even though Hillary more closely aligns with my centrist viewpoint. While different years, Bernie and Biden would have been able to accomplish pretty much the same things. Without a democratic socialist contingent in congress there is a very practical limit on what policy can be enacted.

  8. Avatar
    velovixen

    Rand–Your comment reminded me of the catechisms and other related literature I saw when I was growing up as a Catholic–and the Bibles I read as an Evangelical Christian. In them, the first letter of “Me,” “Him” or any other pronoun referring to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit was capitalized: “You shall not place any strange or false gods before Me.” I could see Trump demanding the same thing. Unfortunately, that would be the least among his offenses.

    Call me selfish, but I can see myself in only one of three ways during another Trump presidency: in exile, in prison or dead.

  9. Avatar
    velovixen

    I had a boyfriend who, more than a few times, whined, “Well, everybody else does it!”

    Notice that I have referred to him in the past tense.

    • Avatar
      Sage

      😇 I can imagine the breakup conversation now…..

      V: We are done. Goodbye, don’t even try to contact me!

      BF in a whiny voice: But why? I thought this was a great thing..just tell me why? Please, I have to know..

      V: Well, everybody else does it!

      😈

    • Avatar
      Troy

      @Amy B
      The country isn’t fragile, the republic IS. For example, the Roman empire survived for many years after it lost its republic, but it had changed into something else. If you look at the Roman emperors and the means of succession governance was at the whim and folly of the guy whose sole credential was knocking off the last guy. This would be a disaster to the world, since the U.S. contains so much military might, in hands that aren’t beholden to the populous it would be one crisis after another.

      • Avatar
        amy b

        Then I’ll amend my comment; if the REPUBLIC is so weak that one rogue politician can bring it all down, then it won’t last much longer no matter what! I don’t see the Democrats making a sincere effort to fight off Republican excesses. Especially when the dodderer-in-chief keeps talking about “reaching across the aisle.”

  10. Avatar
    Dave

    By their fruits you will know them. Well the fruit of evangelical Christianity is Donald Trump. Proof enough of the falsity of this religion

    • Avatar
      Yulya Sevelova

      It’s all so frightening,and for those of us from Communist countries especially, this is a terrifying Deja Vu ! I recently found out that corporations that train law enforcement officers from all over the country, are heard by hard- right, bloodthirsty men, who are openly Fascist. Like one company,Street Cop. They have videos that you can watch, and yes, if Trump or someone similar comes to power- they will gladly serve a dictator. Became they already know that in dictatorships the police have more power than in democracies. Such people have long dismissed democracy as a political system. As we’ve gotten closer to 2024, they are more out in the open and not bothering to hide their plans. Project 2025 is what they’re looking forward to. They’ve been using rising crime rates as their spearhead to justify the surveillance police state. If you look up the Heritage Foundation, all you need to know about all this stuff is right there. I’d print it out, just in case the documents become hidden from public view. As in now. Axios had a story about how mass arrests and public executions will be used against civilians, especially the press. Thom Hartmann talks about this a lot these days,and he expects to be imprisoned if Fascist take the White House.

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Bruce Gerencser