ERICKSON: The stories we tell ourselves

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, right, speaks during a rally with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, in Norfolk, Va., Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Abrams was in town to encourage voters to vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Narcissus was a beautiful hunter in ancient Greece. He shunned all romantic advances. None were as beautiful as he knew himself to be, so there was no reason for a relationship with anyone. Eventually, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water by a stream. He stared so lovingly and longingly at himself, unmoved and unmoving, staying and staring till death. The gods turned him into a flower now bearing his name. It grows wild along the riverbanks.

All of us have mythologies we tell ourselves. Myths explain the way the world works for us when we do not know how it truly works. One of the reasons the Bible rings true for me is how counterintuitive it is and how it defies the mythologies of its time. Moses wrote Genesis 1 and claimed that there was just one God and that the sun, moon and stars were just objects in the sky. This monotheistic religion deviated from literally every religion on planet Earth at the time.

The idea of one God and the objects in the sky being objects was completely countercultural. No one else on the planet believed it. Even assuming someone later than Moses wrote Genesis, Judaism and Christianity still ran contrary to the thinking of everyone on the planet at the time — even contrary to the prevailing views of the contemporaneous native inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere.

Most of us tell ourselves elaborate stories to explain the way the world works. Today, many of those stories are conspiracy theories. But they all have the traces of mythology in them. They capture the rhythm of the seasons and the flow of life.

For two decades, Democrats have told themselves a mythology. That mythology has taken on orthodoxy. Democrats do not lose unless Republicans steal elections by rigging the system, suppressing the vote and cheating. In 2000, after former Vice President Al Gore lost the presidential election, Democrats insisted it had been stolen. In 2004, Democrats claimed Karl Rove pulled dirty tricks in Ohio. To this day, Virginia’s gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe still insists those two elections were stolen.

Last week, former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams went to campaign for McAuliffe. She claimed she was not “entitled to become Governor of Georgia.” Abrams has, to this day, refused to concede she lost. In fact, Democrats and members of the media still allow Abrams to tell her own “big lie” about her loss. Hillary Clinton, last week, also insisted Abrams won in 2018. Clinton still believes she would have won in 2016 had the Russians not stolen the election.

It is the Democrats’ mythology. If anything, the Democrats are not outraged so much by the GOP storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. Their own voters had been storming through cities across America for a year, burning them to the ground. Democrats are just infuriated that Republicans co-opted the Democrats’ mythology instead of getting their own. The GOP now claims it wins except when Democrats steal the election.

The media, subtly comparing Republicans to Nazis, refers to this as “the big lie,” a reference to a phrase Adolf Hitler came up with. But really, the Democrats have used that same lie for 20 years. Their mythology explains the world to them in ways that allow them to sleep at night both as righteous and as victims.

Fall has arrived. The Greeks believed Zeus and Hades’ sister Demeter controlled the seasons. Her daughter, Persephone, had been married off to Hades. Every fall, Persephone would leave her mother. In despair, her mother would make the natural world turn brittle, brown, and then die. The leaves would fall as Persephone descended. Rebirth would come in spring, as Persephone ascended from Hades again to be with her mother.

And just like that, as another election season begins, the Democrats preach the GOP will lie, cheat and steal their next election. Already mindful that the party that controls the White House tends to lose, the Democrats are already out in force preaching their mythology. They expect to lose, not because of the patterns of history, but because of Republican theft. It is their most sacred myth.