Fear of the Unknown


Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once replied to a reporter in 2002, who questioned him about the lack of evidence linking the Iraqi government with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. In a spectacular feat of verbal gymnastics, Rumsfeld replied:

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there a known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

While this linguistic conundrum may have had many heading for an interpreter, its basis was created by two American psychologists, who called it the Johari Window. In fact, more recently, an eastern European psychoanalytic philosopher added a fourth category, the unknown known, that which we refuse to acknowledge we know.

Regardless of the categories or their inherent meanings, these words, alone, seem to accurately fit this American condition as we move down the post-election road. Our path would seem to be fraught with dangers, known or unknown. So, let’s begin our journey through this unfamiliar landscape as we begin a time which some historians say is remindful of the national rancor felt before the 1860 election

What we do know is we are now firmly entrenched in completely polarized society. If the election taught us one thing it is that we have never despised a major candidate as much as we despised both Clinton and Trump. Because of this, we do know neither will be garnering much respect at home and abroad. In fact, this country’s standing in the world has slipped to the point that a lot of folks overseas really don’t believe the US is the place to go.

Another thing we know is that the Congress won’t be passing much legislation. If it does, it likely won’t be signed by the President. Welcome to more 21st Century gridlock.

As a result, what we know is that the Supreme Court had better get used to eight is enough. The GOP thinks that’s all the constitution requires. Further, the President will never get the consent of the Senate because of the way down ballot races shook out.

We also know the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed, although it will never be the best way to insure the population. It will never make it through the Senate, just as always, although we know Republicans in the House will continue to try.

Here’s one more thing: Hillary Clinton had better get used to testifying before Congress. We know, regardless of her standing, Republicans have her in their crosshairs, and they won’t be denied.

Now for the more troublesome bits. Just how contentious our country will become remains a mystery. This would be an unknown known. We know something unfortunate will occur but what and when is anyone’s guess. It’s too early to shrug off the election as mere political sport. Lies became the truth and no one, it seems, was the wiser.

Nonetheless, I’m no psychic, but I know two things for certain. One is this country will endure this election no matter how rigged Trump says it is. The other is I’ve learned a great lesson throughout all of this and have concluded that the only place to put this campaign circus is in my rearview mirror never to be seen again.

Eric Blumberg is a former radio news reporter and talk show host who now teaches communications and writing at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City. See ericblumberg.net.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2016


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