Author’s note: Review contains possible spoilers.
(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) For the second time this week, I am using a spoiler warning. However, this time it may be less about the film—1944’s Gaslight—and more about the final chapter in America’s dark, grim history.
Let’s face it, if you have not yet seen a movie that’s nearly as old as President Joe Biden (based on a play that is slightly older), then you’re probably not going to do so—or at least can’t expect for the plot to be a complete surprise.
I was an early adopter of the term “gaslighting” and invoked it so much in my writing (circa 2018) that the previous editor imposed a moratorium on it.
Since then, it has thrived in its usage—and, sadly, like the word inflation, there is a good reason for that, since it also has thrived in practice.
But my introduction to it—and likely that of others who first picked it up to describe a form of subtle, nearly imperceptible psychological manipulation—was not through the Ingrid Bergman whodunit. Rather, it was through a whimsical scene in the 2001 French comedy Amélie.
The title character’s vengeance against a rude neighbor may be even more devious than the original “gaslight” but removes the ultimate intent of trying to control and dominate the intended victim, replacing it with a series of innocuous pranks.
In the actual Gaslight movie, which I saw much later, the perpetrator is attempting to locate a jewel hidden in the attic of an old rowhouse in Victorian London. The house and jewel both belong to his wife, but the marriage proves to be a bigger sham than that of the Pelosis.
After the wife begins to hear noises and to notice the flickering of the house lights each time her husband secretly enters the attic, he uses a series of gradual deceptions to persuade her that she is the crazy one—and, in doing so, is able to exert more direct control and supervision over her.
Viewing it is as much about the process through which it unfolds and the acting as it is about the outcome, so I’ll spare the details for anyone seeking to enjoy this classic masterpiece—but I should probably include a trigger warning, as well, since the parallels with the current Democrat putsch are harder and harder to ignore.
“A trial that may be one of the most celebrated in history is to open in Germany next Thursday after several postponements,” the New York Times reported in September 1933. “At that time the Nazi government will begin to present voluminous evidence against five men accused of complicity in setting the Reichstag building afire on the night of Feb. 27.”
GASLIGHT + ECHO CHAMBER = ?
The troubling thing about the outcome of the 2022 midterms for me isn’t so much that the supposed red wave failed to break, positioning the country for a protracted battle that will center on a likely runoff race in Georgia to maintain the existing “balance of power” in the U.S. Senate with an equally narrow House margin.
The troubling thing is that the red wave was ever anticipated to begin with.
Considerable hubub was made about how pollsters had been off the mark in several past election cycles by undercounting Republicans. It seemed even the pollsters themselves were ready to acknowledge their own limitations as they continued to show Democrats ahead until the final weeks leading up to Election Day made it impossible to ignore GOP momentum.
The mood of the country was no lie. The Biden administration’s brazen dishonesty in everything it does, demanding that U.S. citizens deny their own sound judgment and senses, was the main reason that droves of voters were eager to keep it in check. And yes, the dire economic situation is that bad—and is about to get even worse.
At the very least, a normal election would have followed its historical precedents in which the party in power averages losses of around 25 seats. But for the second cycle in a row, all the customary bellwether indicators have been summarily scrapped by the outcome.
Unlike the 2020 election, in which the GOP House gains served as a strong piece of evidence debunking Biden’s claim to an unprecedented 81 million votes, the relative underperformance for a midterm election under such circumstances will undoubtedly be used by pollsters and Democrats in the administration to bolster and validate the result—not to mention the policies, practices and deeply divisive rhetoric that led to it.
And the bigger problem is that there is no readily available explanation for it, as there was in 2020.
Something is rotten in the state of the Union, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.
To continue to push the same accusations of rigged voting machines and mail-in ballot abuses after having had two years to prepare would rightfully make the GOP appear to be sore losers.
Even waging the legitimate challenges in places like Arizona and Pennsylvania, where suspicious voting irregularities were pervasive throughout the campaign season and continued to rear their head on Tuesday, will seem anticlimactic and be conferred with the aura of illegitimacy by the fake news (which nonetheless was gearing up for another tooth-and-nail battle if Democrats had lost).
And so, the gaslight flickers lower, leaving us in a very dark place.
TAKING THEM AT THEIR WORD
Ironically, the inflammatory rhetoric put forth from Biden, former President Barack Obama, House Majority Whip James Clyburn and others, which hinted at a Nazi-like takeover of the government, seemed to be speaking the truth for once—if only the party facing the accusations were reversed.
Notice how artfully Obama flips the script in accusing Republicans of everything that Democrats have been guilty of doing themselves during the current administration. It is not by accident.
The reality is that Nazi-like regimes do not happen by voting the opposing party into a co-lateral branch of government to function as a check on power.
They happen as the result of one party entrenching that power and using the system of democratic checks and balances as a bludgeon to attack their political rivals.
There is little alternative for conservatives but to continue clinging to hope—and the dim silver linings glimmering Tuesday from the free state of Florida, where the projections of GOP dominance rang true. Maybe we’ll get ’em next time.
The weeks to come may test the mettle of rising stars like Kari Lake and Herschel Walker to prove how great a fight they can put up in the face of another onslaught of partisan attacks. But their campaigns may now take on the stench of defeat, if only for failing to live up to false expectations.
Clearly, it is a time to question all the assumptions that might have indicated a peaceful restoration of democracy would work itself out, or that the Biden administration’s inherent weaknesses would prove to be political liabilities in a game that is rigged.
Democrats have been telling us all along how they intend to destroy us, and it’s time to start taking them at their word.
Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers