Thank you for having the stomach for Trump's antics. I have barely been able to listen to a Republican president since Reagan openly expressed his disdain for those dying of AIDS by blaming them for the situation in which they found themselves: often alone, abandoned by judgmental families and scared friends, with only medical staff accompanying them on their death beds.

There is so much about our situation that reminds me of the beginning of the AIDS crisis, despite the fact that the virus that causes COVID is affecting even "decent men and women", to recall one of Reagan's favorite phrases for voicing a deeply exclusionary vision for this country. That this vision has become narrower and narrower, to the point where only those who can be pulled into the cruel alternative reality of a sadistic con man, does not surprise me nearly as much as it does many other white folks my age.

But in Trump I see and hear only a repetition and intensification of a dominant culture that has been brutal and self-aggrandizing from the time it set foot on this continent, assuming that divine providence had given it the power and authority to brush aside the claims of those who already lived here. The "empty wilderness", just waiting for the hand of European men to bring it under civilized order, is no less a fanciful narrative than any that Trump has cooked up: it was a cruel fiction into which many well-intentioned people enthusiastically threw themselves and took up their parts as tamers of wild lands and peoples. The ruthlessness of the ensuing drama is the other half of our original sin as a country, and the necessary counterpart of slavery in nation-building.

And now we who descend from colonialists and settlers are finally beginning to understand what it means to live under this kind of arrogance and arbitrary rejection of the complexity of life on earth. It occurred to me last week that Trump's aptitude for twisting reality to the point that many of us are left nearly paralyzed with anxiety about what might happen next is just another echo of the interpersonal abuse that is rampant in our culture, and that the only way to neutralize this kind of violence is to step out of the narrative and find a way not to be pulled into its immobilizing spell of extreme uncertainty.

Which is no easy feat for anyone who is living under domestic violence or familial abuse, but is at least somewhat easier if the person who would control our reality is on the opposite coast and has no access to us that we do not ourselves grant him. And so I decided to kick him out of my head and let the events tell me how I needed to respond as they unfolded.

Which is why one reason why I thank you for taking on the task of reassembling the narrative for your readers. I know I am not the only survivor of abuse watching in horror as this man attempts to pull an entire nation into his psychodrama; we have been rehearsing this moment all our lives. And I am certainly not alone in belonging to a number of groups that he and many other conservatives have repeatedly targeted as being deserving of quite nearly nothing that sustains life, but plenty that beats it out of us, sometimes quickly (as though merciful!), and sometimes as one tiny slice of flesh, over and over and over and over.

I have begun to think a bit more about the possible cultural links between a deniable--and usually denied--proclivity for private, familial abuse and a potential for publicly embraced fascism. I have often wondered what it would take for the US to begin to understand what Europe was forced to come to grips with after World War II: that white culture is not exceptional, that it is capable of and has already committed grotesque violence in a number of founding political and even philosophical gestures, and that it will destroy itself if it does not recognize the realities underwriting its current existence.

If this seems a rather dark vision and a sobering way of registering my gratitude, it is only because I see this moment as a moment in which we may have begun to turn around, but it seems glaringly clear to me that we must keep walking in some other direction than the one that brought us here. Otherwise we will be back much sooner than many might expect. That the vote has been closer than many of us were hoping seems to me a good thing, for even if we are able to get this one example of USian fascist domination out of the executive office, it seems clear that we have much more work to do to cure ourselves of ills that allowed him to gain that office to begin with.

Perhaps later on I can say more about what it seems to me we have to do. It is far from simple or even all that clear to me, but certain parts of Euro-American culture have long been placed into critical questioning by those of us who think about such things. One difficult part is disappointing the faith of so many who still think of the US as the shining city on the hill. And there are many and much deeper faiths that I doubt will be even as easy to address as that one.

But later for that. As a disabled academic, I am in fact deeply grateful to you for doing this work that I myself only wish I had the energy for. When this is over (will we know when it is over..? Maybe when there is a lull?), please do take a nice long refreshing rest. One thing we USians often forget is that caretaking is essential: for ourselves, yes, but also as a service to each other.

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Heather - You encapsulated so well this morning the pitiful President we have endured for the last four years. As a licensed clinical psychologist in Massachusetts for 40 years now, I regret that our media does not call Trump out for what he is – a mentally ill person who continues to show us how utterly delusional and dangerous his rants have become. Last night, he went to a whole new level that approached a full blown psychosis.

But even more striking to me in this election has been to face the reality that over 69 million Americans voted for him. As Nicholas Kristof in the NYT yesterday said, "How is it that so many millions of Americans watched Trump for four years, suffered the pain of his bungling of Covid-19, listened to his stream of lies, observed his attacks on American institutions — and then voted for him in greater numbers than before?"

What has taken place in this country with Trump and Trumpism has so stained America's Experiment in Democracy, that I find myself feeling hopeless and traumatized about our future and recovery . . . .

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"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America....."

The preamble to the Constitution does not say Peoples in the plural, nor does it say "We the majority formed by coalitions of different groups, interests and tendencies. It says that the people are one whole and not just a sum of some parts no matter how much they might dominate those not included and how they achieve that domination. To be a Nation, a people must have a common vision of who they are, why they are together and where they want to go; a common vision of what it means to be American. Without that common vision, that people's solidarity and commonality of purpose, a slow but inevitable decline awaits.

Recreating the Vision that will provide a becon for reconciliation and advancement towards common goals must now start.

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Is there a way that Steve Bannon can be charged, in a court of law, for making threats to commit violence/bodily harm on federal employees? It's beyond belief that someone could claim a "freedom of speech" defense for statements like the ones he made yesterday.

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Thanks Heather for the recap. I think Trumps press conference last night was by far the most telling regarding his mental, moral decline. I've been around since Eisenhower, but I honestly can't remember seeing the news outlets calling him out for lying and brushing him off quite that way. I happened to be watching NBC and kudos to Lester Holt for drawing the line in the sand. A friend of mine said that the media should have done this long ago. I agree. I also wonder if they did 4 years ago, how this Presidency may have evolved. Without the media attention he craves, would he have been a different person, much like redirecting the narrative for an unruly child ? Finer point being , it was glaringly obvious from that presser that he was the wrong person for the job and we suffered for it. Hopefully, today will prove to be a good day. I fear until January, but the end justifies the means. Be well, be safe.

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Will Fearless Leader have a mental breakdown before he can acknowledge his election loss? The ghost of his scowling father, who hates losers, is eight feet tall in Trump’s mind right now. That, plus a multi-hundred million dollar debt coming due and multiple indictments for tax evasion and every kind of banking/business fraud there is making the inside of Trump’s brain a not happy place to be right now.

The stable genius is likely becoming less so by the hour.

BTW, what is AG Barr been doing these last few days. He’s been real quiet, which should make all of us real suspicious.

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Oh, Heather! I know I’ve never called you by your first name before, but I just woke up after staying up far too late last night waiting for the returns to come in and I saw you Letter and had to read it - what a powerfully righteous missive!

I haven’t even checked the news to see if anything has changed from last night, but your Letter gives me hope. I’ll wash up now, have a coffee and see if we have a new President.

Whatever happens, I can’t thank you enough for being here each day – your words have meant everything.

There is a saying here in Germany: Du bist der Hammer! And you are.

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My husband is a recent immigrant from Italy and during the last 4 years has become one of the stunned and awed spectators of Donald Trump's reign of terror. He is full of questions in regard to our constitution, law and political process. Since finding out about you and now having read several of your books and watched your videos I have realized that he might find your voice a helpful one. He tends to glean most of his news from NPR or You Tube and sometimes gets quite anxious and riled up. I introduced him to you about 4 week ago by just reading to him parts of your daily letter. He was immediately struck by the clarity of your language. Next we watched some of your history videos which he really liked because he could understand and follow your thoughts quite easily. Anyway, like me he thinks you are brilliant and is now listening to you read your wonderful How the South Won the Civil War and wonders how your voice is so communicative. Im so relieved that when he is in his You Tube induced tither there is you to calm the waters with your wisdom and love of our country that he has come to share. I am grateful to see the USA through his eyes as I can be a pretty harsh critic. But he always reminds me of the oxygen he found on these shores as a middle aged man starting out all over again, getting back up on his feet and finding a land fertile for his "reinvention' and new life. Many thanks from the both of us.

PS Its the 60 million semi automatic weapons floating around out there that scare him the most. We lived through the Anni di Piombo and its violence in Rome but our militias scare him more.

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At first I was disappointed that the Republicans did better than expected in the Senate and House races. When an MSNBC commentator last night explained that this meant that Republicans felt comfortable voting against DT but not let it affect their down ballot voting. They were saying to their Republican representatives that DT was irrelevant to them. And, it looks like the Republican down-ballot have gotten the message. So now it feels good. Now, the battle for flipping the Senate begins with the two Georgia Senate races going to run-offs to be held the first week of January. And, Alaska Senate race is in play and may go Democratic. I made donations to John Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock's campaigns last night. I encourage everyone to do so. We need to take the authoritarian power away from McConnell. No one in a democracy should have and have the temerity use that power to cripple our Constitutional government the unilateral power he wields. Let's take this major step to return the Congress to Constitutional governing.

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You write so beautifully: so clear, so penetrating, so succinct, so informative. It is as if we had Barbara Tuchman on the bridge of the battlecruiser Goeben in August 1914, telling us how events were actually unfolding at the moment. It is brave to write history as it happens, much more authortitativley than journalism. We pray that you are right.

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“The unraveling of Trump’s plan to claim victory has been mesmerizing.” I have to add the word ‘horrifying’. I listened to most of your talk yesterday...we need to reinstate something like the Fairness Doctrine. These lies being spread by social media, news stations, (Fox), etc. need to be stopped! At least make these people accountable for their words. Thank God that Twitter banned Bannon. What a horrid, disgusting person.

As always, thank you for your letters and talks HCR.

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As trump implodes, his anger and his personal reality might, through a dangerous alchemy, become a catalyst for his worst impulses. Wiser, cooler, more rational persons in government should be prepared to remove his control of the levers of government. Here’s hoping this is a non-starter!

Steve Bannon should be remanded to jail, with his bail revoked.

That Biden/Harris are going to govern brings such a sense of relief; their work (and ours) to heal this divided nation begins now. ☮️🙏🏻☮️

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Thank you for your succinct summation of a day that felt like a week. See you on the flip side my fellow Letter-Heads.

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My judge friend posted on Facebook last night that Tarrant Co (Ft Worth) and Dallas Co actually went Blue! Small margin but amazing in very Republican Texas. Trump flags are coming down. Racing trucks with enormous flags have disappeared. Sirens at night started to remind me of LA riots recently, have calmed down too. I’m not sure I’m built for living in historic times but it feels so hopeful to feel the change back towards civility! Even my elementary students are talking about the election. A 4th grade girl asked why is it taking so long? I said imagine the days before electricity when it took months to find out who won? We just need to be patient.

Thank you, Heather, for guiding us through this and holding our wringing hands! For giving us reason and hope!

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Biden just moved into the lead in Georgia.

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"...create a narrative that makes his supporters believe something that is not true." That is it in a nutshell. I wish I could get my friends to get this. I live in city where over 50% (this is a conservative estimate, it is probably higher) of the adult population has at least a B.S. degree. I also believe per capita we have the highest percentage of Ph.Ds in the United States. However, it a conservative Christian community and they buy his bullshit. It baffles me. My Dad who was a Democrat (50 year member of IBEW) would ask me how I could live in a Republican community. My comeback was I could compartmentalize people from their politics. However, HCR pointed out in yesterday's talk or the one before that is getting harder to do when they support someone who is willing to lie and cheat to get what he wants. It is heartbreaking and cause for deep reflection.

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