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Large Animated Billboard In Times Square Depicts Donald Trump As Superman
Fans of Donald Trump like to portray him as a mythical hero, such as this billboard in Times Square during the election in 2016.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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The problems of 2021 are still here

Sorry for raining on New Year’s, but nothing has changed, and it’s all about to get worse.

Why do they call this a “new” year? There’s nothing new about it. We’re still the same old people, dragging the same old problems after us.

A flash of fresh energy and hope, as if the clockwork arrival of a new digit — a 2 instead of a 1 — is going to make it all somehow work, and the world become better, kinder, thinner.

Yes, that’s what the problem was: 2021, the numeral. Changing to “2022” will fix everything!

Then a few hours pass, maybe a day or two. We get hungry, and our old selves come loping back, like extras in a low-rent zombie movie. “Hi! Didja miss us?”

The COVID we grappled with all through 2021 is right where we left it, in its supercharged Omicron form. Filling the hospitals with those who won’t take the free vaccine, for the same reason a toddler won’t eat his pureed peas. “I don’t want to! You can’t make me!”

Yet they still show up at the hospital when they can’t breathe. So the same doctors whose advice they mocked a week earlier can stick a tube down their throats.

And the same old Jan. 6 insurrection, whose first anniversary is Thursday, sits there and ticks. I guess it’s my job to Explain What It All Means, though, honestly, my heart isn’t in it.

Really, for whom is explanation necessary? Either you understood all too well long ago or you never will. Among the many myths that liberals embrace — we can delude ourselves, too — a key delusion is that reason will prevail, truth reign triumphant, and at some point Trumpsters will slap their foreheads and go, “Ohhh, wait. We’re dupes swallowing lies spewed by a traitor! That’s so embarrassing!”

It’ll never happen. Seventy percent of Russians today think Stalin was good for their country (Sigh, historians consider him responsible for the deaths of 20 million Russians, between his forced collectivization and gulags. Not to forget his non-aggression pact with Hitler).

What we are left with, now and forever, is a fractured country; “deeply divided” is too tame a phrase. The Republicans have abandoned all norms, quit the factual world and cast themselves as supernumeraries in the fantasy going on between Donald Trump’s ears.

Where nothing that reflects his true loathsomeness is real. No reliable press. No science. No fair elections. They’ll deny mirrors next. Come up with some facile slur — “deception reflections” — and paste them over with those adoring paintings fans do of Trump as the buff hero off a romance novel cover, barrel chested and golden-haired, saving America.

Trump gathering his mob and setting it on the U.S. Capitol as Congress tried to certify the election he was and is trying to overthrow was shocking. But that isn’t the worst part.

The worst part was the reaction. A moment of genuine outrage. Then political calculation took over. The Republicans gathered four-square behind Trump. And the Democrats ... well, I’m not sure what they’re doing or thinking.

Trump should be in prison already. Because Jan. 6 was the dry run, and in history it’ll go down, not as the low point of our democracy — that’s coming — but as a kind of legislative Kristallnacht. The violence that opened the door for the topple into the abyss. Wait until his loyalists at the state level start fiddling with election results.

You have to remember the purpose of their lies. Not to make people believe any particular outlandish fabrication, but to train them to accept whatever they’re told. Republicans don’t think the election was stolen. Not really.

Because if they think the election really was stolen in some ineffable way they can’t point to never mind prove, why campaign at all? Why participate in supposedly rigged elections? Just cut to the violence where all this is leading. The stolen election lie is merely the smokescreen, the inky, obfuscating, octopus cloud, hiding their true motives.

Does this seem too grim? Just wait until the Republicans take over the U.S. House next year and maybe the Senate, too, and then put Dr. Anthony Fauci on trial. That’ll be grim.

I’ve seen commentators compare the Jan. 6 insurrection to Pearl Harbor. It was worse. At least Pearl Harbor was inflicted upon our country by an outside enemy. Americans believed Dec. 7 occurred. There was no Alex Jones claiming it was all a sham, that the Arizona was never sunk. Nobody suggested the Japanese were there as tourists.

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