Perhaps more Americans can offer our own version of the State of the Union from time to time.


Not since the time of the Civil War has our country been so divided. Our divisions today are fracturing our country and approaching the gravity of the events, which preceded the Civil War.

While there are several reasons for this demise, three problems play a central role.

One: racial violence at the center of the Civil War and endemic to our culture has persisted. Black people and other people of color have always known that there are two kinds of justice in America. There is one system of justice for white people and a different kind of “justice” for people of color. Without justice there can be no strong country and no true democracy.

A second and related reason for the weakening of America is the current level of enmity that many Americans possess toward each other. In the 1990’s Newt Gingrich emerged as the spokesperson for creating a new kind of rhetoric in the national political discourse.

Gingrich’s vile, belligerent, vicious and hate-filled speech attacked opponents while at the same time titillated large segments of the media. According to Gingrich, members of the other party were no longer simply your opponents; instead, your opponents needed to be obliterated because they were truly deserving of the scorn you could wreak on them.

Before the Gingrich era, the country had prized the notion of statesmanship – the idea that any politician would rise above their own political party persuasions to protect and defend the core values of America. Gingrich buried the ideal of statesmanship. Trump capitalized on the Gingrich rhetoric and converted it to a kind of euphoria of endless attack-entertainment and hate-pleasure.

A third reason is the way a fascination and proliferation of lies has overtaken the media. This pattern appeared most dramatically at the very beginning of the Trump presidency when Kellyanne Conway proclaimed that: “We have alternate facts.”

Of course the foundation for Conway’s “alternate facts” had already been established within the Fox News network with its fake claim of “Balanced” reporting. Instead of relying on the long-standing practice in journalism of conducting the diligent, time-consuming and arduous work to unearth and reveal the truth, Fox brandished the idea that a new type of “fairness” was the more important construct. Sounds appealing?

Soon Fox’s superficial façade of fairness and balanced reporting devolved into the creation of a “he said/she said” environment in which any unfounded, ridiculous, and extreme opinion was worthy of fair and equal representation.

Racial slurs? Let’s hear from both sides.

Misogyny? We can find spokespeople for and against.

Police shooting unarmed children? We need to know the justifications.

Trump mastered the technique and quickly learned that the more outrageous the statement, the more attention his statement garnered. By fanning the flames of ridiculous and outrageous lies, Trump and others’ habitual practice of lying contributed directly to the results of a survey published in The Atlantic, March 2023 where 16 percent of 20,000 adult respondents sampled agreed that the government, media and financial worlds were controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Really? Extrapolating to the entire American adult population, could that mean that 40 million American adults believe that America is controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles? Even if we reduce that number to a mere 1 or 2 million adults, how shocking is that? What has happened to this country?

Are we at a juncture of time when we are witnessing the early stages of the end of the American experiment? Just because the insurrection on Jan. 6 did not initially look exactly like the way we are accustomed to seeing governments being overthrown, it does not mean that threat was not real.

We have been trained to think that revolutions look like tanks, military troops, explosions, and gunfire everywhere, and presidents fleeing their countries. Look again. This was no mere protest. “Stop the Steal” was not about postponing the election of Mr. Biden. It was about preventing him from becoming president.

Imagine if Mr. Biden was not confirmed on Jan 6? What would happen next? The entire process of the orderly transfer of power would have been broken and extinguished. As President on Jan 7, Trump could quite naturally invoke martial law to restore order while bringing together whatever military forces he chooses to entrench his deceit.

Trump’s Supreme Court and many of his other judges would not likely impede him. After all, the courts have never been in this type of situation before. There is no precedent for this situation (not that precedent seems to matter to these courts). There it is: a complete collapse of American democracy and there is no one with authority to stop it.

We came close. If we care, we should prevent such lying, violent insurrection in any future worth having.

Alan Kanner, Ph.D., is a psychologist in Amherst, Mass.

(21) comments

David Collins

A psychologist from as blue as blue can get Massachusetts . Go figure !


Kanner: “Trump could quite naturally invoke martial law to restore order while bringing together whatever military forces he chooses to entrench his deceit.”

Biden: "You need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons"


Is is telling and was quite predictable that rather then refute an argument with actual facts, the commentors attack the author instead. I never would have thought Jerry springer or maury would have had such long running shows, but I was wrong. Give the people a spectacle and they become entranced. Appeal to the lowest common denominator, and watch the fan base grow.

The author is correct newt started the culture wars, and the gop has sunk lower into the mire each decade since. It is rather depressing. " THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS" 47 is not another Jerry springer presidency.




We have a democracy in name only. It will continue that way until we return to a limited government.

But with so many corporate donors lining the pockets of all politicians, this most likely will never happen.

Politicians and the Mainstream Media have lying down to an art form.


It’s not easy to wade through all the manure in this commentary, and I can only assume the writer gets most of their info from the NY Times or CNN.

David Collins

You left out judge Judy , a culture study if ever there was one .


The state of this union reminds me of a very bad marriage, neither side willing to listen or compromise. Unless China decides to invade I can't think of anything that can bring us together, so maybe it's time for a divorce! Divide and pick a side. It's gotta be better than this.


I don't think divorce is a viable option, the red states simply are not self supporting I believe its 29% of gdp. What's happening now has happened before although perhaps not to this scale due to changes in media availability and instant communication/ 24 hr " news" cycle. What is dangerous is the rise of demagoguery, and the attempt to discredit the election process, the free press, and the rewriting of history, with a 35% segment of the population all too willing to believe.. such things as " jan 6th rioters had love in their hearts" beating police on the head with an american flag, or hosing them down with bear spray cans you brought with you, is not love in your heart.


I fact proofed his commentary and it has evidence to support it all. Please provide evidence it does not.

Maybe, we should just divide the nation in half. The good ole' Mississippi river provides the perfect line for division. All the blue thinking people on one side, all the red thinking people on the other. Everyone has one month to decide where to go. Then we close it down. No one can leave their side no matter what. Each can choose there own form of democracy and interpret the constitution accordingly. We have two United States at this point, so let's make it official and bypass the constant discourse for future generations.


Good idea, Justice. Put me in the half that believes in the natural science of biology.

Our country is wandering about in a state of confusion with half the country wondering what constitutes male and female.

Despite biological evidence that there are only two genders, the country is locked in hot debates, a debate between reality and make-believe.


Such binary thinking is a problem, most ppl know there are intersex births, you may research that to find the incidence rate. Most folks know there are differences in male and female brain function. If a human child can be born with all or part of both sex organs, is it really so far fetched they could be born with a female oriented brain? Human life is very diverse, with many commonalities, this you have to be exactly as I am is simply illogical, and quite incorrect.

David Collins

Is this a coming out statement for ya ?

Freaks of nature abound . Most have short lifespans due to a variety of reasons . Evolution favors the fittest . Certain humans these days go the other way . Futility can be addicting .


You are correct, David. Love it!

Banana Republic means any country with a ruthless, corrupt, egotistical, deplorable, or just plain brainless leader who destroys institutions in a quest for power.

Will democracy ever return to our country? The Republic is all but gone; there are only Bananas left.


"A third reason is the way a fascination and proliferation of lies has overtaken the media." Frightening that opinions and incorrect information are so accepted and it is used to try and discredit facts. The proliferation of this campaign by emotional charged, fact denying groups erode the unity our species and provide the fuel to undermine the foundations of republics around the world. Evolution is not "survival of the fittest," but survival of the lucky and our luck is about to run out.


30% of the country would embrace fascism, as long as it comes disguised as patriotism. Those that long for a largely imaginary past, and are told they are the chosen few. Bold patriots who know right from wrong, Egged on by their chosen narrow scope media sources, they abandon logic &reason embrace "alternative facts" and vilify their fellow citizens. It has all been seen and done before, it will be again. History suggests such groups meet a bad end eventually, although everyone will suffer for their gullibility.


The unanswered question was " is it really so far fetched" Difficult questions require thoughtful answers, "freaks of nature" is neither thoughtful or helpful. I understand, such concepts as 'Different" can be alarming.


I believe the non-binary folks, for the most part, have mental issues.


I think you would find that non binary folks, have the same incidence of mental illness as the general population.

Believing something and it being true are not one and the same. I beleive picking on minority targets, shows a lack of empathy, moral fiber, and is contrary to actual Christian values.


Beliefs are interpretations about how we think we ought to respond to actions in our lives. They arise due to direct exposure or witnessed in media. These culture wars are not based on facts but strategies to gain power to lord over others. Bullies play on our ignorance and fear. The national organizations of our esteemed medical society have warned of the danger, with research, of refusing appropriate healthcare to LGBT folks. Many now doubt the validity of science and facts in general. Legislatures have cast aside those authorities as factors in law-making. In the process, parents are no longer arbiters of their children’s healthcare, women have lost the right to reproductive healthcare decisions, kids fear going to school due to possibility of being killed - human rights are being tossed aside. So tell me what’s “Christian” here about you, these commentators, taking it upon yourself to judge who has value and therefore a right to exist? Even owning a semi-automatic gun has become more precious than life. Who here has a black or Asian or LGBT person in your family or neighborhood? So upon what facts or experience are you basing your opinion? In other words, explain your fear of other human beings who don’t look like you, talk like you, live as you do. Then we can get to know each other and put our minds at ease about the “dangers” of being an American right now. We all want the same things, we all share the same emotions. Let’s set the fearmongering aside and really look into our hearts for the Love that exists there for all of life.

David Collins

My family was ostracized for being black irish . We had to go . Look up what that is . With that in mind , what is my reparation check worth ?

Silly , silly , silly is what all this is . Far to many folks with way to much free time on their hands . Devil’s workshop and all that stuff .

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