Loren Lynn Rousseau: A hundred days of shock and awe (Gazette)

By By Loren Lynn Rousseau

It’s only been a little over a hundred days? Just One Hundred Days? I seem to have aged 10 years.

The months following last years’ election have left a lot of us despondent, confused and more than a little frightened. We watch cable news incessantly in case a tweet causes nuclear war or the first daughter gets heckled while visiting a foreign country or writing a vapid book.

I have lost more social media contacts from comparing Melania Trump to an extra in “The Handmaid’s Tale” than I ever did poking fun at Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits. While I usually try to put a lighter spin on political arenas, I seem to be failing miserably with this one.

Many Americans don’t think this particular administration is entertaining any longer. Bigotry, thinly veiled racism with a side of misogyny, wealth, elitism and white privilege are all bundled up, quite nicely, now, in a tight little package.

When candidate Trump pandered to the crowds, red faced and screaming, hands flailing, (but not a hair out of place), we thought certainly that this sort of candidate and his brand of campaigning was for show, for ratings. I didn’t think he’d win ... I don’t think he did either.

There is however, a whole demographic that bought front row-seats, believed (“Believe me.”); that his words echoed their thoughts. To get America GREAT again. (Great actually meant white, though it was just common knowledge, only occasionally loudly proclaimed.) Get rid of the Muslims, the Mexicans, Planned Parenthood, women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights, and everything would be back to normal in a Mayberry where Aunt Bea’s apron is always freshly ironed, Barney Fife carries one bullet in his pocket and Gomer isn’t gay.

While you’re busy doing all that, make sure you throw in a Religious Freedom Act. Just for the heck of it. Compare yourself to President Andrew Jackson, (Trail of Tears, anyone?) then, by all means, select Cabinet members with no experience, little couth and moral compasses that are irreparably askew.

I have racked my brain trying to figure out how this huckster, this carnival barker, became one of the most powerful men on earth. Then I remembered one of the last conversations I had with my cousin Patrick, a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Army. I had asked for an explanation of the term shock and awe as it applies to military applications.

He was quick to tell me that shock and awe can apply to any doctrine based on information dominance, dissemination of disinformation, attempting to and succeeding in affecting the will, perception and understanding of an adversary, and rendering said adversary incapable of resistance. President George W. Bush brought the term mainstream, but the doctrine itself was written in 1996, five years before Sept. 11.

“It’s all about dominance,” my cousin said. “Rapid dominance.”

Have you ever heard someone say when they have a grasp of a thing, they hear an audible click in their head?

“Click.”

I did a little quick research on shock and awe and rapid dominance. I believe this is what was done to the American people during the first seven days of the last 100-plus. The new administration has near total knowledge and understanding of themselves, the citizens of the US, and our mutual environment. The new administration, with rapidity and decisive force through executive orders, aimed at the weakest of us and achieved national shock and awe.

We were dumbfounded. We were hit hard where we are weakest, a fear of vulnerability by influencing society as we know it. A Muslim ban with the stroke of a pen. Then came ICE after illegal Mexican immigrants. And the wall — don’t forget about the wall.

After the wall, came stories about fake news and how not to trust our information sources and how very close we are, every second, to war and, possibly, annihilation.

Altogether, this affected the will, perception and understanding of American citizens. We were strategically bombarded with deception, fear, misinformation and disinformation into a desired state of helplessness and lack of resistance.

What the new administration apparently failed to remember is that there are many, many of us from both parties who were a little thrown off (at first, mostly from disbelief) but who regained our center and began in earnest to protest. Marches, town hall meetings, TV and radio programs all aimed to render this insanity impotent. There were so many phone calls to our elected officials after these executive orders, many lines were shut down. Op-eds, magazine articles, Facebook, Twitter and the internet, by and large, are now being used as weapons to objectively nullify this nonsense.

Is it working? Americans, unfortunately, have short attention spans. Unless we start to lose stuff, then we remember every word, lie, half-truth, indignation and contradictory statement to roll off the lips of this administration.

I would hate to be the West Virginia elected official who has to tell 24,000 of us that expanded Medicaid is gone. And that we must have two proofs of identification to vote. And to please report if we suspect any foreigners of acting suspiciously. We are West Virginians and loyal Americans. We don’t do things like that. We are prepared from birth to wait — for jobs, for answers, for leadership.

In my capacity as president of WV National Organization for Women, I have asked Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to hold a town hall meeting here in Charleston. Hopefully, in late June at the Roosevelt Center. There are questions that need answered, and yes, we need her to do her job. I don’t think it will be as bad as she fears. We have already applauded the way she was vigilant in helping coal miners. The rest of us may need help, as well.

2018 is right around the corner. Before you are stripped of your voting rights, make sure you’re registered and have a photo ID. If you don’t have an ID, get one. There are state and county agencies that can help you with that.

To the new administration and those still hanging on, I believe (Believe Me) the shock you feel at the vast numbers of voters who turn out against you will be Awe(some) to me and many like me.

Loren Lynn Rousseau lives in South Charleston.

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