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So, When Did We Stop Playing Fair?

Updated: Apr 28


I can’t think of one good parent who has not raised their child to play fair and be honest. My high school football coach always said we would enjoy the victory more if we won fair and square. We played hard and to the best of our ability but didn’t cheat or play dirty, even if we were losing. That is how I raised my kids. I suspect you did, too.

Even though I am a Universalist, I still have great respect for the Ten Commandments. Several guide us on basic morality and honesty. Don’t lie, steal, commit adultery, or desire what is not yours. Besides Judaism and Christianity, you find similar principles in all the great religions. Islam has the Hadith, the sayings and teachings of Muhammad, and the Quran. In the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, the Buddha tells us to do no harm through our thoughts, words, intentions, efforts, actions, or livelihood (how we make our living). To sum up, the principles of fairness and honesty are universal values.

So, I am baffled as to how our country has gone so far astray. How have so many forgotten their Mom’s and Dad’s or their religion’s earliest teachings?

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who was proud of cheating on his taxes and in his businesses. Over fifty years, this cost banks, investors, and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. He considered this to be smart business. On top of that, he claims that all these prosecutions are a “witch hunt” even though he has received more preferential treatment than any of us would have under the same circumstances, and he just had the bond he must provide lowered by $300 million dollars by a New York appellate court. So much for the so-called billionaire. I was taught that taxes are important, pay for many essential things we all need (roads, bridges, schools, libraries, health research, and police and fire departments, to name a few), and that paying my taxes honestly is part of good citizenship.

  • Millions of Americans revere a man who says he wants to be a dictator and admires dictators around the world. To that end, he and many MAGA right-wing state legislatures want to take away or limit your right to vote. In Georgia, you can be arrested for giving someone food or a water bottle while waiting in a long voting line. At the same time, laws have been implemented to ensure long lines, decrease early voting days, make voting by mail more difficult, and force gerrymandering (voting districts that favor one party or race over another). In some states, people with guns stand at the polling places to intimidate and frighten voters. From 2020 to today, the lie continues that the election was stolen and that Joe Biden didn’t win. Don’t his supporters have the confidence he can win without cheating? I was taught that my vote was one of the most important privileges I hold as a citizen in a democracy and to play fair. I was taught to accept the election results peacefully, win or lose.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who has stolen from and cheated many of the less-than-wealthy clients of his fake university, the taxpayers with his fake charity, and the hundreds of contract workers working in his many building projects he has stiffed. I was taught to play fair and be honest in business.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man found guilty of sexually assaulting and defaming E. Jean Carroll, boasts of grabbing women in their “pussies” and kissing them against their will, and has been caught serially cheating on his wives. I was taught to respect women.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who has successfully overturned a civil right of fifty years through his Supreme Court appointments. He has encouraged taking away a woman’s right to choose with her doctor about her health care needs. His conservative Supreme Court has not just threatened abortion rights, but there are signs they plan to dig into undoing the right to contraception, the right to marry whom you choose, and removing the rights of LGBTQ citizens. I was taught that the government should not interfere with people’s private lives and choices, and that a woman has the right to choose her own health needs.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man whose sole interest in life is money and power, no matter the cost. I was taught that money and power are not the sole measures of success as a human being.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man whose ego is so fragile he cannot admit when he was wrong or when he has lost. The facts are clear according to his own staff and the officials and judges he appointed. He lost the election to Joe Biden, fair and square. Seven million more people voted for Joe Biden than him. I was taught not to be a sore loser.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who cheats at golf. Nearly all the people who have golfed with him report that he regularly cheats. Even a golf book called Commander in Cheat raises the question of what else he cheats at. He brags about winning lots of golf tournaments, although he has never won one. I was taught not to cheat.

  • Millions of evangelical Christians revere him despite all the above and the fact that he rarely attends church. I was taught from an early age what a Christ-filled life looks like, and it certainly isn’t that.

  • Millions of Americans revere a man who routinely attacks the free press. He calls it “fake news” and the “enemy of the state,” terms Stalin and Hitler used in attacking their country’s fourth estate. A free press is essential to a democracy. In the meantime, he and the MAGA right-wing media regularly churn out lies, misinformation, and disinformation. I was taught not to lie.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who brings out our basest instincts and fears. A number of my Hispanic friends will vote for him even though he has a long record of disrespecting Latinos. A number of my Jewish friends will vote for him, even though he is not a true friend of Israel and meets with Neo-Nazis. He emboldens a White Christian Nationalist agenda against Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Asians, and indigenous people. Many people now feel free to say cruel and heartless things against their fellow humans, just as their fearless leader does. I was taught that all people are created equal and are God’s children. I was taught to love my neighbor as myself. I was taught to love the stranger. I was taught to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who threatens to jail his political opponents. Some of his followers go so far as to want to kill them, and he says nothing to discourage this. I was taught that this was unAmerican.

  • Millions of Americans have come to revere a man who would be called a traitor in other times. He attempted a coup to overthrow the new legitimate president of the United States through many illegal political, strongarm tactics and dubious election lies while simultaneously encouraging a violent mob to take over the capital, hang his own Vice-President, and prevent the peaceful transfer of power. People died in the insurrection. No president has ever done anything remotely like this in our history. I was taught that this was treason.

The truth is that if Donald Trump had not cheated and lied in 2016 (among other things, hiding his affair with a porn star, spreading lies about Hillary Clinton, and receiving interfering election help from the Russians), we would have had President Hillary Clinton, our first woman president. She received three million more votes than Trump. A political commentator recently made the point that Donald Trump was the right’s payback for President Barack Obama, our first Black president. That was a chilling thought.

Let me finish where I began. How do we reclaim our integrity as a people and as a country? Democracies around the world are frightened that the United States, the leader of the free world, will devolve into an autocracy, something Putin and the other dictators are salivating over. This is our time. Nothing has challenged a generation like this since the Civil War. We face the prospect of losing our democracy and our rights if enough of us do not stand up and say, “Enough. This has gone too far. This is not who we are.” And, we must become informed by following real news and evidence. And, despite the attempted voter restrictions, we must vote. We vote by the tens of millions and, with our vote, say, “Yes to democracy and no to autocracy!” So we can get back to being a more united country, respectful of our differences. So we can get back to playing fair again. So we can finally be at peace again.


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