Not every one likes Bill Maher. I know he is the worst interviewer on television. Often he does not let his guests speak, but speaks up for them instead. As well, when he lets them speak, he has some very interesting guests from all ends of the political spectrum from Steve Bannon to Nancy Pelosi. And he sometimes makes some very interesting points.
For example, he was the first one to predict that Trump would never resign after he was elected president. He said that almost immediately after the election in 2016! Now every one knows that. But not many said that in 2016. But Maher has also appreciated, as few others do, that this refusal now has important consequences. Americans seem to be tolerating, if not encouraging, this refusal even though the peaceful transfer of power has for long been considered the most important characteristic of democracy. It is what distinguishes democracy from autocracy.
And now millions of Americans have demonstrated clearly that they don’t think this element of democracy is important. They don’t care! I have found this astonishing. Many have not. Many shrug their shoulders as if it didn’t matter.
Maher said “Well we had a good run.” On November 8, 2022 Americans had a chance to vote for democracy. As Joe Biden and many Democrats said, “Democracy is on the ballot.” And they were right. And it didn’t matter to millions Americans. Inflation was more important than democracy. Bill Maher predicted this 4 days before the election as if it was a foregone conclusion. This is what he said,
“Tuesday is the election and I know I should tell you to vote in the most important election ever. So, O.K., yes. You should vote. And it should be for the one party that still stands for democracy preservation. But it’s also a waste of breath because anyone who believes that is already voting and anybody who needs to learn that isn’t watching and no one in America can be persuaded about anything anymore anyway.”
On this point Maher is right. No one will change their mind. Trump was right when he said he could stand in Times Square, murder someone and it wouldn’t make any difference to his supporters. They are that determined to vote for him no matter what he says or does. that gives him a lot of rope. Look at the mountains of evidence revealing his nefarious deeds. Yet, his supporters are filled with religious devotion that cannot be altered. No one can be convinced out of a theological devotion. That in itself is enough to kill democracy.
Maher gave another pertinent example—the January 6th hearings. Those hearings provided Americans with an overwhelmingly convincing narrative that Donald Trump had no respect for democracy as he led the charge against democracy and his devoted followers followed. As Maher said,
“The January 6th hearings it turned out changed nobody’s mind. Democrat Jamie Raskin said the hearings “will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House.” No that was Hurricane Ian. Hearings roof not blown. The Committee did a masterful job laying out the case but we live in Partisan American now. So it’s a little like doing stand-up when half the crowd only speaks Mandarin. No matter how good the material is it’s not going to go over. After all the hearings the percentage of Americans who thought Trump did nothing wrong. Went up 3 points! That’s America now.”
Again, Maher is right. The truth did not matter! All that mattered was that millions of people are devoted to Trump and nothing—absolutely nothing—will turn them away from their religious leader. The overwhelming narrative is irrelevant.
I am a Canadian; I have no dog in this hunt. But I do. America is the leader of the modern world. Maybe not for much longer, but for now that is true. If America coughs the rest of the world catches a cold.
I am posting this as the election is drawing to a close. I don’t know any results. I hope Maher is wrong; if fear he is right.
Are we doomed? Let’s see what happens tonight.