Columnist Karen Gardner: A country in crisis

Where, oh where are we headed? Like many people I know, I’m finding it hard to keep up with all that’s happening around the country, and ...

Where, oh where are we headed? Like many people I know, I’m finding it hard to keep up with all that’s happening around the country, and that’s not because we’re just too busy. I think it’s because it’s all too painful to take in and process.

There are the effects of climate change like the catastrophic heat domes and droughts out west and collapsing buildings in Florida; the continuing spread of COVID-19 and its variants; the voter suppression laws being passed in Republican states around the country; our ultra conservative Supreme Court and a Congress paralyzed by the minority party with an undemocratic rule called the filibuster.

And of course, the ex-president, the Loser, who legitimately lost his reelection attempt, is still out there insisting “I won!” and spreading conspiracy theories about election fraud that has been proven to be nonexistent over and over again by multiple courts and election officials.

I had hoped that once he was gone from the White House, his enormous megaphone silenced by social media platforms, that the country could get back to some semblance of rational behavior. After all, we now had an administration in office that was doing all it could for us, the people, whether through COVID vaccinations, or economic assistance, or through programs to achieve equality for all Americans, all genders and colors.

But that’s not what’s happened. The country is in crisis, divided as much if not more, than it was under the Loser. And he’s back at it, though unable as he is to tweetstorm us into constant chaos, he’s begun holding rallies again. And his adoring, faithful supporters are showing up and loving every word, every lie the man utters. What is happening here? Is he their priest, their God, their Supreme Leader? What?

They don’t seem to mind nor care that just six months ago on Jan. 6, he instigated a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. That was a frightening day, documented live on TV and on hundreds of phone videos taken by the insurrectionists themselves. And of course, there’s the video of the Loser himself in a speech, encouraging his followers to head on down to the Capitol to “Stop the Steal.”

Thank goodness the Senate created an independent and nonpartisan committee that has been earnestly engaged in investigating how such a thing could have happened in our nation’s capital, where hundreds of the Loser’s supporters broke down doors and windows, physically attacked the capital police with flag poles and fists, resulting in the death of five people and injuries to at least 140 members of the police, in an attempt to violently force our elected members of Congress, and the vice president as well, to unconstitutionally overturn a fair and legitimate election.

Oh wait, I misspoke.

There is no Senate committee busily investigating that day in January. Republican senators blocked the creation of such a committee by employing the filibuster. Why on earth would they do that? Why not find out what happened and who was responsible so it never can happen again? The answer to that is: to protect the Supreme leader, of course, but more importantly, to make the whole thing disappear before the 2022 elections.

Thankfully, there now is a select committee in the House of Representatives that will look into the events of Jan. 6, but it’s unclear whether the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who opposes any investigation, will bother to appoint Republican representatives to participate in it. Clearly, he’s much more interested in changing the subject to anything but the insurrection.

Can something so clearly documented as this event somehow be made into something else? How can anyone believe this did not happen? But that is just what the former president and his devoted Republican Party are attempting to do. Here’s the Loser’s latest change-the-story lie, this one about the woman who was shot and killed that day at the Capitol — a direct quote: “the person that shot Ashli Babbitt — boom — right through the head — just boom — there was no reason for that.”

The truth is that this woman was shot in the shoulder, not the head, and, unfortunately died from her injury. But at the time she was shot by a Capitol police officer, she was part of the mob trying to break into the House Chamber. The officer’s job was to protect himself and the members of Congress who were sheltering nearby and he did his duty.

An eye witness account of the shooting from Republican House member, Markwayne Mullin, includes this statement: “The mob was going to come through the door, there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time.”

If you want people to question what their own eyes have shown them, then change the story. It wasn’t an insurrection after all, and this woman wasn’t doing anything illegal or treasonous. She was just visiting. And somehow, if you repeat these lies often enough, people, at least some people, will start to believe them. Even though there’s proof that shows otherwise. Lots of proof.

So here we are staring at the coming mid-term elections as they rush toward us, wondering what will happen. Will the lies continue unabated? Will the Loser continue in his role as Supreme Leader, beloved by his followers who embrace his every repeated lie? Will his party retake the Senate and House of Representatives?

I fear for our country, for our democracy, because if that happens, if the Republican Party as it exists today should regain control of our government, we will no longer be able to call ourselves a democracy. A political party that for the first time in this nation’s history not only refuses to accept the results of a fairly won election, but then spreads ever crazier lies about it and the insurrection incited by those lies, should not now or ever again be given the power to rule.

Karen Gardner, of Haydenville, can be reached at

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Newsrust - US Top News: Columnist Karen Gardner: A country in crisis
Columnist Karen Gardner: A country in crisis
Newsrust - US Top News
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