The test

From a certain empirical viewpoint, it is fascinating to watch this man spread his little seeds. Like many corruptors, he pulls people along by showing them their dreams, then twists those dreams into something awful and distorted for his personal benefit. Eventually, he leaves most of his believers exhausted (and often a lot lighter in the wallet).

Along the way, he portrays his opponents as a horrific enemy, one that will destroy all that is good in the world. He gives you the choice: Are you going to believe what he so convincingly offers you, or are you going to believe your lying eyes?

And so, he goes about the corruptor’s work of dividing, and subdividing, and sub-subdividing. He instinctively knows what may of us feared: Racism, sexism, class warfare and a hundred other flavors of us-vs.-them all are excellent tools to separate the masses. All it takes is the right kind of agitation. And even those who have been pulled into his orbit out of some sense of duty are consumed. They are spit out, rarely to be heard from again, when their worth has been extracted.

It’s a nonstop con, one that must be supported by an endless series of sideshows and distractions, lest someone start looking under too many rocks. Like most cons, it’s harder to pull off over time. Eventually, it all collapses — although the good con man knows how to skip away just before that happens.

But we’re not talking about some shady real estate development here, or some casino scam involving greedy people. We’re talking about the mechanisms of the greatest democracy the world has ever seen — one that, until very recently, has been the beacon of hope for millions of people across the globe. It is far more important than he will ever be, and its greatness — we all should hope — lies beyond his reach.

It won’t stay that way unless we fight for it. And this is not a matter of conservative or liberal politics. It’s a matter of standing for the principles that built this country — principles he’s trying to crumble for his greater personal glory and treasure.

This is a test. We must pass it.

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