- - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I hope someone teaches the new president how to kill zombies. They are running amok.

We thought the 20th century corpses of racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred of every other were well dead and buried, but they rose up out of the earth during this presidential campaign, undead and voracious.

These zombies, as you know, feed on human brains and threaten us, as they have for centuries, with conspiracy theories. Despite being ragged and lame, conspiracy theories fill humans with fear and rage that render their victims unable to reason. They make us mindless.

Those are the old zombies, the old undead. We thought we had seen the last of them, but, sadly, they re-emerged and ripped through the electorate, dividing us into tribes separated by suspicion, discontent and hostility.

Not only have we come to distrust one another, we have become unable to even guess at how another tribe thinks, feels or sees the world. The zombies have swallowed our empathy. Democrats cannot fathom Republicans, and vice versa, and don’t even try. Name-calling is just so much easier.

The most destructive zombie of all is the deformed corpse of truth.

When truth was alive, Daniel Patrick Moynihan – a proud politician and sociologist - could famously assert, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

But in this presidential campaign truth had no honor. Like every other pillar of democracy, facts were not to be trusted. Rush Limbaugh urged his listeners not to “fall for” fact checks. “The fact that The New York Times…have fact-checkers is for one reason. It allows them to fool you into thinking they have an objective, nonpartisan staff … analyzing everything the candidates are saying, and telling you what they’re saying is true, or … is false.”

As the man said to his wife who found him in bed with another woman, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”

These zombies have done their destructive work well. Americans feels depleted and divided, cynical and worried, and dangerously contemptuous of their democratic institutions. This has to change.

If we are to continue as a vital democracy, the challenge for the new president is to neutralize the zombies – to bring us together and nourish us with hope and confidence that the system can work.

But the new administration cannot do it alone. Congress has to help, and so do the media, both parties, and all tribes. We are challenged to work for a future that will bring out the best in us, individually and collectively.

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