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I am so tired of mindless political hate and offensive hyperbole. People pretend it happened just as much (or more) under “The Former Guy” but it simply did not, the only caveat being technology allowed for much more communication that could be criticized and fact-checked. But playing the persecution card, one of the oldest tricks in the book, continues to fool so many people. “TDS” was little more than a way to dismiss people’s legitimate fears of a man who publicly said he would consider making people carry an ID based on their religion (and a pile of other red flags). But it seemed like little more than indecent campaigning bluster at the time. I thought my Liberal friends were overreacting. I had to console them in 2015, reminding them people feared all sorts of things when Bush got elected and none of it came to pass. Conversely, fears about Obama also came to pass. It was all just back-and-forth business as usual. The sky is always falling when it’s not our sky.

But I was wrong. Thanks to moral cover from the highest seat, it has become commonplace for literal Nazis and supremacists to march in the streets, even plotting insurrection under the banner of a beloved nationalist leader. Many otherwise sane individuals were dragged into the fray. I personally know people who were at (but not in) the Capitol on January 6th — they were gullible, but not evil. They were along for the ride, caught up in (literally and sadly) religious fervor. Irresponsible and unethical media long since convinced the masses of so many exaggerated fears, mostly based on nativism and general prejudice. They replayed news and clips of a tiny percentage of violent unrest over and over, convincing us that civil rights and reform are a plot to bring down America and it felt like our homes and families were in some level of danger at all times. Paranoid fictions about burning cities are still being parroted. The repetition of propaganda worked perfectly. Few knew the most prominent images were from political ads using footage from unrest in Spain. Facts and statistics no longer matter with such visions burned in our brains.

Those who, due to allegiances or personal identity, must swallow such things as truth, try to save face from siding with the far greater of two evils in a creative, yet dastardly way. Simply call everybody else racists and Nazis, on the grounds of their own petty imagined oppressions are the real injustice. In even further hypocrisy and irony, they are hating on the government in some vague rebellious way. Sure they accepted someone who poorly pretends to be an anti-politician — someone whose corruption puts the Clintons to shame — but really only lose their minds when their man isn’t in office anymore, or their state governor isn’t of the same party. Then it’s time for a revolution. THOSE are the Nazis. (I can’t imagine how those who remember the Holocaust must feel when we compare cattle trains to masks.)

But let me be clear. This should never have been about conservatism or liberalism — which we both need for a balanced society. However, due to things like QAnon and AONN (and a president willing to be lifted up as a savior to their followers), battle lines have been drawn between reason and nonsense like never before. One party has sold out to insanity. Conscientious objectors many of us thought were too conservative are jumping ship. But because of mass radicalization, it’s in the interests of a major political party to bow to the loudest and most profitable supporters, and right now they are the cream of the cray-cray. Journalists of conscience are leaving hyper-biased, fact-averse outlets as well, and yet the channels persist in their disservice to the truth for similar reasons.

It’s beyond the game of Red versus Blue, though we’re stuck thinking that way because of the current lay of the land. Healthy battles over ideology and real issues in mature dialogue are marginalized in favor of childish, vulgar ridicule. In charge? Eff your feelings. Not in Charge? Let’s go, Brandon. When the other side takes the high road (comparatively at least, for now), the puerile non-thinkers had to make up the slogan “Orange Man Bad” because “Resist” wasn’t immature or uncivil enough to be in the same conversation. They literally swapped a legitimate political position with a cliche straw man of their own, reflecting their own mindlessness.

As a White, patriotic Christian who respects and shares in more than a little Conservatism, I am stuck trying not to hate myself on all counts given the mass radicalization and weaponization of these identities (and not entirely from one side of the political spectrum). And then I fear when the current beast of the far-Right is beaten down, the pendulum will swing the other way even worse and there will be a Far-Left, tinfoil, wannabe dictator leading us to the abyss. But Biden, however inept or antithetical to our values we may think he is, is most certainly is not that devil. Virtually no one is flying a Biden flag in their yard or giving him the demagogic accolades we still hear about The Former Guy. The real danger is still what it was before — ourselves.

We don’t need to win battles between ourselves. We need to win the real war for America, together. I don’t think we can be true to American values by shutting down treasonously harmful news, and even Twitter stopping a certain someone from yelling “fire!” in a crowd over and over, or social media curbing extremist content (along with loads of innocent algorithmic victims) had proved valuable if not necessary in the short term. But even reasonable censorship is not a cure. No, our Country needs nothing less than widespread critical thinking and civic education.

Unfortunately, we may not have a whole generation to do it. A mythical “moral majority” of 3%ers are polishing their guns waiting for some racial 13% to start a war with them. We’ve all seen this before, but the history of 1930s Germany has already been boldly rewritten on Facebook to make those who see and want to stop it wear the uniform of the bad guys in their minds. People are still marching and shouting “against” racism next to people with white hoods and their unapologetic politicical idols.

We only have to hope there is enough of so many people’s minds left that they can be repaired. Some of the ignorant are incurable, either through their IQ or obstinance, but there are so many people in the radical fold who have not overdosed on Flavor-Aid. Mind you, it doesn’t mean we should be brainwashing people into going from Rightist to Leftist or vice versa. It means inculcating enough sense that we can excise the tumors on both sides and reduce becoming radicalized by ANYBODY about ANYTHING. But the fact we are so far swung to one political extreme makes this seem like a Conservative problem, or a Christian one, or one to blame on “White America”. It’s going to require careful surgery, not reversal through more opposing propaganda. Many on the Left are not helping. But then many of them could use a little surgery as well.

Please, America, let’s just focus on thinking and being better citizens and human beings. It will loosen the grip we don’t even see that extremists and politicians have over us. But we must contain this overflow of fanaticism before it dominates our Republic long enough to ensure a death spiral of what should always be The Great Experiment.