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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a
number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
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Integrative United States President Joe Biden
A Journal of the Month Before the Election
and the Days That Follow It: Part 3
‘He lives to abuse, and he delights in seeing his victims finally give in after the onslaught. That is how he wins, even when he loses.’
Election Day is tomorrow. I had initially planned on not submitting Part 3 of this series until after the election, but in view of my journal entries thus far I can see that there are two very distinct stages to this story, and we are now at the end of the first stage: the month before the election . The second stage: the days that follow the election, may quite possibly turn into weeks or even months, and I will save my journal entries for this stage for the next part (or parts) of this series.
Although it is certainly no surprise, I find it both disturbing and unsettling that Trump has now conveyed very concretely that he will be declaring victory on the night of the election (that is tomorrow night!) if he is winning in the polls, in spite of the fact that millions of votes will not yet have been counted, including the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania . Trump has set the stage for his grand scheme to “steal” the election for the past 4 or 5 months , and he is now all ready to make the most of his claim that the mail-in ballots are fraudulent, the election winner should be determined at the end of Election Day, etc. . It is expected that it will look like Trump “won” on Election Day, only because Republican voters are far more likely to have their votes counted before Democratic voters, due to Democratic voters being much less likely to vote in person and much more likely to vote by mail, compared to Republican voters, as has been well established . And even if Biden is eventually declared the winner of the election, which is my great hope and expectation, it will be a very long nearly 3 months from Election Day to Inauguration Day, with widespread havoc and violence likely to occur throughout the United States .
As we head into Election Day tomorrow, most polls have been very stable in predicting a huge Biden victory . However, as a number of political writers have described, it is quite possible that Trump could “steal” the election . But one thought that I have, which I have not seen described anywhere, is that perhaps Trump continuing to fight to steal the election could keep the havoc and violence from becoming as overwhelming as it would be if Trump actually conceded and no longer had anything to lose . Perhaps Trump continuing to try to steal the election for over 2 months could dissuade him from getting us into a nuclear war? Perhaps it would motivate Trump to try to make a vaccine more available to people (at least to his supporters) than he would otherwise? Or perhaps it would have no effect whatsoever on whatever destructive practices Trump decides to engage in between Election Day and Inauguration Day, whether he wins or loses. Drew Magary described part of a possible abusive Trump scenario if he loses the election, as follows, and this doesn't even include the very likely epidemic of widespread violence that could overwhelm the country :
“And even if he DOES lose in November, I have to worry about him actually conceding, and then I gotta worry about the two ENDLESS months he'll spend as a lame duck, shredding every last document and burning every last dollar he can get his miserable hands on. In such ways, he's a strikingly predictable man. He lives to abuse, and he delights in seeing his victims finally give in after the onslaught. That is how he wins, even when he loses. That's what's in store for us as this year comes—with glacial speed—to a close.” 
I don't know if there is any real advantage to Trump thinking that he still has a chance of stealing the election between Election Day and Inauguration Day—but at any rate, what follows are my various thoughts and inclinations over the past week, ending Phase 1 of this essay series: the month before the election.
It's now 4 days until the election. I go back and forth between feeling cautiously optimistic and very concerned. The polls are still showing Biden having a firm national lead over Trump, and less substantial leads in nearly all of the swing states . And I was pleased to learn that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Democrats in regard to extending the counting of mail-in ballots in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina, with Barrett choosing to not be involved in these cases, saying that she did not have enough time subsequent to her confirmation to adequately study them . There is still a concern about the Supreme Court casting doubt on the validity of these mail-in ballots “after” the election , but at least they will be counted, which I think is a significant boost to the prospect of Biden winning these states, which would greatly increase the likelihood that he would win the election. But what strikes me with particular impact at this time is what I came across yesterday about Trump joking about Biden being assassinated (“Three weeks in—Joe's shot, let's go, Kamala, you ready?”) if Biden were to win the election . As expected, Umair Haque had something to say about this:
“When demagogues 'kid around' about political violence, especially extreme political violence, like assassination, it isn't really a joke anymore. They are sending a clear signal to the elements of their base, who are the most fanatical and fundamentalist. The 'militias' and paramilitaries and so forth. . . . What the GOP is telling its fanatics, fundamentalists, and fascists is that violence is perfectly OK. It is licensing violence, telling them that it will look the other way. . . . So it seems to not just be a soft coup. This is the line into a hard coup being potentially crossed, too. Imagine what happens in the crucial six weeks after the popular vote, until the electoral vote. What if, heaven forbid, some fanatic with an AR-15 decides to. . . I won't finish that sentence. Hard coup.” 
Haque continues on to make his gruesome point:
“It's a myth that 'the military' has to be part of a hard coup. It's enough for paramilitaries and militias and fanatics with machine guns to do what they won't. To assassinate opponents. To deter voting. To punish those who are pro-democracy. Trump has already appeared to openly call for all that, in the form of 'jokes' which are no such thing. . . . the head of state telling his fanatics that if that soft coup doesn't work [end democracy by subverting and perverting its mechanisms and institutions—the vote, the courts, the electors—thus creating the appearance of legitimacy and normality], he licenses a hard one, right up to the point of extreme violence, like political assassinations.” 
However, it is also the case that Trump could not have achieved his immense power without the adoration of millions of devoted followers in the United States, regardless of how much this may be attributed to cult indoctrination and social media addiction . In this regard, here are some disturbing insights about Trump's multitude of devoted followers in an article by a writer who refers to himself or herself as Dartagnan:
“The saddest aspect of this depressing reveal of so many Americans' true natures is that there is not even a plausible excuse for it. Unlike the rise of autocrats in other countries, Trump's elevation to power came at a time when Americans were not experiencing any particularly novel economic upheaval or crisis, at least not one that could explain such a radical transformation in the character of its citizens. . . . Why haven't more of them stopped loving him? And how did so many American beyond that group fall so hard for him, thrilling to his recklessness, applauding his divisiveness, indulging his unscrupulousness? He tapped into more cynism and nihilism than this land of boundless tomorrow was supposed to contain.” 
And Dartagnan does not have much hope for these multitudes of Americans making any significant changes in their state of mind if Trump loses the election:
“Regardless of its root cause, we have to accept the reality that these people are unlikely to experience any sudden epiphany should Trump lose the election. . . . Trump simply tapped into a pre-existing condition for most of them, and they are unlikely to change now. Why should they? They're comfortable where they are in their little bubbles of disinformation, and another Trump will certainly appear one day, eager to tap into their endlessly churned laundry lists of resentments. Trump really was just the catalyst, giving them the thrill of a license to express things they knew deep down were wrong, but felt so liberating and pleasurable to spew out, regardless of who they hurt.” 
And in regard to white supremacists and QAnon and rebelling against wearing masks:
“He didn't sire white supremacists. He didn't script the dark fantasies of QAnon. . . . He didn't create all the Americans who rebelled against protective masks and mocked those who wear them, a selfish mind-set that helps explain our tragic lot. It just flourished under him. And it will almost certainly survive him. The foul spirit of these past five years—I'm including his hateful campaign—has been both pervasive and strangely proud. That's what makes it different. That's what make it so chilling. 
And Dartagnan's hope for the future is mildly optimistic to say the least, certainly not any more hopeful than that of Haque:
“The knowledge that so many of our fellow Americans are pre-disposed to this kind of virulent hatred is a difficult thing for many American to accept. But the real question, should Democrats manage to win this election, is not what these people will do, but what we can do in order to ensure decency prevails. A convincing win by Joe Biden and Democrats across the board will not heal the divide in this country, but should at least restore (if nothing else) the uneasy parity that we enjoyed during the Obama years, when the worst impulses of our fellow citizens weren't continually being stoked and amplified by a heedless and cynical demagogue named Donald Trump. Once he is gone, maybe we can start talking about building bridges again.” 
Well there is not much that I can add to this sobering account of so many millions of my fellow Americans. Suffice it to say that I agree with Dartagnan and that I find it deeply disturbing, just as I have found it deeply disturbing these past 4 years.
And as far as Haque's state of mind in regard to being optimistic about defeating Trump, here is what he had to say 5 days before the election:
“If I had to sum up the mood amongst sane Americans these days, on both side of the aisle, it'd go like this. 'We're going to vote Trump out, he's going to leave, and things are going to go back to normal.' It's understandable to feel this way—who doesn't want things to go back to the way they were before America melted down into the wretched fascist plague-ridden dumpster fire Trump's made of it? And yet this line of thinking strikes me as altogether too overconfident. There's a fine line between confidence and overconfidence, and while the former is necessary and a virtue, the latter is a kind of hubris, that leads to downfall. . . . There are (at least) five ways that Trump can lose the vote, and still win the election. . . . I'll stop counting those there. . . . You can easily see it could take as few as a dozen electors changing votes to change the election, and hand it to Trump. . . . Trump and his movement have violated every single norm they could find—every single one, from scapegoating whole ethnic groups to demonizing the press to calling for opponents to be locked up and assassinated to beating and disappearing people in the streets. There is not a single norm left standing in American politics.” 
Well after being educated by Dartagnan and Haque, I think I'm ready to take a bit of a break from all this intensive drama. Let's see what the next day brings.
A day later and no “October Surprise” on the last day of October in sight. Well unless you consider that the massive escalation of the virus now overwhelming the whole country is some kind of “surprise.” But of course it is just the expected outcome of hordes of Americans choosing to ignore the safety precautions of social distancing and wearing masks, coupled with Trump's promotion of getting the schools and the economy “back to business” as well as Trump himself super-spreading the virus through all his campaign rallies. And there is now some scientific evidence from a Stanford University study that conducted a statistical analysis on 18 of Trump's rallies from June through September and found that there was a likely increase of 30,000 virus cases and 700 virus deaths . And this is a solemn reminder to me that if it were not for the virus, I believe there would be zero chance that the United States would have of avoiding Trump for 4 more years. With Trump being able to promote a strong economy, in my view not nearly enough Americans would have been persuaded to move away from Trump to offset either a bona fide Trump electoral college win or a successful Trump “cheat” win , . And this is consistent with the distressing picture painted by Dartagnan of “the worst impulses of our fellow citizens. . . . pre-disposed to this kind of virulent hatred” that I described in yesterday's journal entry.
But the Trump team is not giving up easily, as they are even resorting to Texas Trump supporters in vans harassing and ramming into a Biden-Harris campaign bus, which resulted in the Biden campaign deciding to cancel their Texas rallies that they were on route for, due to security reasons .
What I find to be especially disturbing in regard to the Trump supporters' harrassment and threat to the Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas is that Trump actually tweeted his support (“I LOVE TEXAS!”) of this criminal harassment and potentially deadly event by his supporters . The drama is unfolding and the beginning of the end, Election Day, is now in plain sight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the beginning of the end will be something that gives me hope for the future.
1) See Elliot Benjamin (2020), Integrative United States President Joe Biden: A Journal of the Month Before the Election and the Days That Follow It: Part 1 at www.integralworld.net/benjamin112.html and Part 2 at www.integralworld.net/benjamin113.html
2) See Lefty Coaster (2020), Report: Trump Planning to Declare Premature Victory on Election Night—Biden Responds. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/1/1991615/-Report-Trump-planning-to-Declare-Premature-Victory-on-Election-Night-if-he-is-in-the-Lead
3) See Elliot Benjamin (2020), Could Trump “Steal” the Election? An Integrative Perspective. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin110.html and the references therein; amd Mark Sumner (2020), Trump Investigating Idea of “Loyal Electors” Who Will Vote for Him, Regardless of Election Results. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/9/23/1980034/-Trump-investigating-idea-of-loyal-electors-who-will-vote-for-him-regardless-of-election-results
4) See Barbara Sprunt (2020), FACT CHECK: Trump Falsely Claims that Votes Shouldn't Be Counted After Election Day. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/11/01/930140373/fact-check-trump-falsely-claims-that-votes-shouldnt-be-counted-after-election-da
5) See John Gramlich (2020), Americans' Expectations About Voting in 2020 Presidential Election Are Colored by Partisan Differences. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/08/americans-expectations-about-voting-in-2020-presidential-election-are-colored-by-partisan-differences/
6) See Daniel L. Byman & Colinl P. Clarke (2020), Why the Risk of Election Violence Is High. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/10/27/why-the-risk-of-election-violence-is-high/; and W. J. Hennigan (2020), “Plan for the Worst and Hope for the Best.” Why Law Enforcement Officials Are Worried About Post-Election Violence. Retrieved from https://time.com/5892945/law-enforcement-post-election-violence/?utm=newsbreak
7) See Geoffrey Skelley (20200, The Battleground States Where We've Seen Some Movement in the Polls. Retrieved from https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-battleground-states-where-weve-seen-some-movement-in-the-polls/; and phoenixdreamz (2020), Final MORNING CONSULT Poll—Great News! Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/2/1991774/-Final-MORNING-CONSULT-POLL-Great-News
8) For a description of some of the damage that Trump will very likely cause if he loses the election, see Drew Magary (2020), Donald Trump Would Rather Burn the Whole Country Down Than Lose. Retrieved from https://gen.medium.com/donald-trump-would-rather-burn-the-whole-country-down-than-lose-855fd3bdd042
9) See Robert Barnes (2020), Democrats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina Claim Key Wins at Supreme Court Ahead of Election. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-pennsylvania-mail-ballots/2020/10/28/fe78439a-1936-11eb-82db-60b15c874105_story.html
10) See Brandon Gage (2020), Donald Trump Jokes About Joe Biden Getting Assassinated. Retrieved from https://hillreporter.com/donald-trump-jokes-about-joe-biden-getting-assassinated-83638
11) See Umair Haque (2020), Will American Democracy Survive the GOP's Coup? Retrieved from https://eand.co/will-american-democracy-survive-the-gops-coup-dfbbb97d71c4
12) See Steve Hassan (2019). The Cult of Trump. New York: Free Press; Elliot Benjamin (2018), The Cult of Trumpism. Retrieved from ;www.integralworld.net/benjamin97.html; Elliot Benjamin (2015), Do We Live in a Social Media Technology Addicted Society? Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin76.html; Elliot Benjamin (2016), US President Trump: The Ultimate Outcome of Social Media Addiction and Unbridled Narcissism in America? Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin82.html; and Elliot Benjamin (2020), Social Media Addiction, Cult Indoctrination, and the Coronavirus Pandemic; All In Relation to the Trump Presidency. Retrieved from https://irispublishers.com/oajap/pdf/OAJAP.MS.ID.000577.pdf
13) See Dartagnan (2020), Even After Trump Is Gone, “How Will I Ever Look at America the Same Way Again?” Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/29/1990650/-Even-after-Trump-is-gone-How-Will-I-Ever-Look-at-America-the-Same-Way-Again
14) See Umair Haque (2020), Trump Is Going to Lose the Vote. But He Could Still Win the Election. Retrieved from https://eand.co/trump-is-going-to-lose-the-vote-but-he-could-still-win-the-election-ee8123438ecb9)
15) For a report on the Stanford study see Ian Millhiser (2020), Study: Trump Rallies May Be Responsible For An Estimated 700 Covid-19 Deaths. Retrieved from https://flipboard.com/topic/healthcare/study-trump-rallies-may-be-responsible-for-an-estimated-700-covid-19-deaths/a-tGTCPNh2S1ihjVZ8gR_BpA%3Aa%3A1444157402-d2f3483ef4%2Fvox.com; for the actual Stanford study see Douglas Bernheim, Nina Buchmann, Zach Freitas-Groff, & Sebastian Otero (2020), The Effects of Large Group Meetings on the Spread of COVID-19: The Case of Trump Rallies. Retrieved from https://siepr.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/20-043.pdf
16) See Jordan Bontke (2020), Biden Campaign Cancels Austin Rally; Trump Supportyers Reportedly Harass Bus On I-35. Retrieved from https://www.nbc12.com/2020/10/31/biden-campaign-cancels-austin-rally-trump-supporters-reportedly-harass-bus/
17) Se Dean Obeidallah (20200, Trump's Dangerous Praise for Texas Bus Incident. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/01/opinions/trump-dangerous-praise-texas-obeidallah/index.html