Ame­ri­can po­li­tics has be­co­me a pa­ra­dox. To pa­raph­ra­se Wi­ki­pe­dia, a pa­ra­dox is so self-cont­ra­dic­to­ry that it le­ads to an il­lo­gi­cal and unac­cep­tab­le conc­lu­si­on. Ame­ri­cans are so di­vi­ded on so many is­su­es in such ir­ra­ti­o­nal ways that Ame­ri­can po­li­ti­cal dis­cus­si­ons re­sult in very few lo­gi­cal conc­lu­si­ons about anyt­hing. That’s unac­cep­tab­le.

Some pe­op­le would say that the cur­rent U.S. go­vern­ment is al­so a pa­ro­dy – that’s a dif­fe­rent “p” word, alt­hough qui­te an ac­cu­ra­te desc­rip­ti­on, too; let’s stick to the pa­ra­dox idea for now.

Here are some examp­les.

Crime and Censorship

The U.S. cri­mi­nal jus­ti­ce re­form mo­ve­ment has tried to re­du­ce Ame­ri­ca’s pri­son po­pu­la­ti­on and give re­le­a­sed pri­so­ners more op­por­tu­ni­ties for jobs and hou­sing. New laws have si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly crac­ked down on store in­va­si­ons and car­jac­kings to pu­nish pro­per­ty cri­mes at le­ast as se­ve­re­ly as cri­mes of per­so­nal harm. The re­sult will be to send more shop­lif­ters and car thie­ves to pri­son while re­le­a­sing mur­de­rers for good be­ha­vi­or.

Many U.S. sta­tes have been open-min­ded to le­ga­li­zing rec­re­a­ti­o­nal ma­ri­ju­a­na, and some sta­tes are con­si­de­ring le­ga­li­zing ot­her soft drugs. Me­anw­hi­le, ot­her pla­ces are wor­king hard to keep Ame­ri­cans’ minds tight­ly clo­sed by ban­ning books. Flo­ri­da even re­mo­ved dic­ti­o­na­ries from school books­hel­ves be­cau­se dic­ti­o­na­ries con­tain bad words like “gay.”  Dic­ti­o­na­ries de­fi­ne ot­her naugh­ty words, too, like “sex” and some body parts. Per­haps they al­so need to ban soon-to-be-ob­so­le­te words like “li­te­ra­cy.”

Abortion and Women’s Rights

Wo­men’s rights to abor­ti­on have be­co­me anot­her cha­o­tic split in Ame­ri­ca. The U.S. Sup­re­me Court de­ci­ded to get rid of the abor­ti­on rights that wo­men have had for fif­ty ye­ars. The court then left it to each state to de­ci­de about abor­ti­ons, with no na­ti­on­wi­de con­sen­sus. A few sta­tes re­ac­ted by pas­sing laws to res­to­re and pro­tect wo­men’s abor­ti­on rights, while ot­her sta­tes are mo­ving in the op­po­si­te di­rec­ti­on. Mis­sou­ri is wor­king on a law to re­qui­re mur­der char­ges against wo­men who have abor­ti­ons.

To furt­her comp­li­ca­te things, the Sup­re­me Court has ag­reed to de­ci­de soon anot­her case that could make it il­le­gal for doc­tors to get drugs for abor­ti­ons by me­di­ca­ti­on. This is the most com­mon way to ter­mi­na­te preg­nan­cies, but the Court will rule on whet­her those drugs should be dec­la­red il­le­gal be­cau­se it would re­qui­re the mai­ling of obs­ce­ne ma­te­ri­als or for ot­her re­a­sons. Drug-in­du­ced abor­ti­ons would then be­co­me il­le­gal, even in sta­tes where abor­ti­ons are le­gal, ef­fec­ti­ve­ly era­sing the Court’s pro­fes­sed lo­gic that gave U.S. sta­tes the po­wer to de­ter­mi­ne abor­ti­on rights.  That would re­sult in a comp­le­te le­gal pa­ra­dox if that’s how it goes.

Foreigners and International Business

U.S. go­vern­ment prog­rams sup­port fo­reign trade and coo­pe­ra­ti­on in bu­si­ness, es­pe­ci­al­ly for tech­no­lo­gy. Ot­hers seek to iso­la­te Ame­ri­cans from fo­reign inf­lu­en­ce, es­pe­ci­al­ly from the threat of the evil Chi­ne­se. One state ban­ned Tik­Tok be­cau­se of its Chi­ne­se ow­ners­hip. That was over­ru­led in court, but most U.S. sta­tes have suc­ces­s­ful­ly bar­red Tik­Tok from go­vern­ment de­vi­ces. Some sta­tes rest­rict Chi­ne­se na­ti­o­nals from bu­ying pro­per­ty.  A law in Flo­ri­da does not al­low them to own pro­per­ty wit­hin 10 mi­les of mi­li­ta­ry ba­ses or air­ports. At the same time, Flo­ri­da pa­ra­do­xi­cal­ly uses tax­pa­yer mo­ney to sup­port more bu­si­ness bet­ween China and Flo­ri­da.

Middle East

Some Ame­ri­cans sup­port Is­ra­el, but ot­hers sup­port Pa­les­ti­ne—both si­des stage pro­tests in the USA, fre­qu­ent­ly vi­o­lent ones. The pro­tes­ters ha­rass pe­op­le who de­fend the ot­her side and so­me­ti­mes at­tack and kill them (on Ame­ri­can soil, not on­ly in the Mid­d­le East). They jus­ti­fy their vi­o­len­ce by clai­ming that their side’s pe­op­le are pe­a­ce-lo­ving vic­tims of ex­ces­si­ve ag­g­res­si­on.


Most Ame­ri­cans sup­port Uk­rai­ne, while ot­her Ame­ri­cans don’t see any prob­lem with Vla­di­mir Pu­tin’s war, at le­ast not enough to spend any U.S. tax dol­lars on it. Some of them par­rot Do­nald Trump’s prai­se of Pu­tin’s “ge­nius” in­va­si­on while they si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly vow to kill Me­xi­cans who they say are in­va­ding the USA by cros­sing the bor­der il­le­gal­ly.


Trump con­ti­nu­es to claim he won the last elec­ti­on wit­hout any evi­den­ce at all. Many of Trump’s ad­vi­sors and staff while he was Pre­si­dent now say he is dan­ge­rous­ly un­fit to get the job again. He uses rhe­to­ric in his speec­hes that’s iden­ti­cal to Adolf Hit­ler’s Nazi pro­pa­gan­da.

He will li­ke­ly be con­vic­ted of sig­ni­fi­cant cri­mes (one or more of the 91 cur­rent cri­mi­nal char­ges against him) and may lose ot­her le­gal ca­ses that se­ri­ous­ly thre­a­ten his for­tu­ne. Still, he re­mains li­ke­ly to be the Re­pub­li­can Par­ty’s can­di­da­te for the U.S. Pre­si­den­cy.

Pe­op­le world­wi­de re­fu­se to face that re­a­li­ty. They think Ame­ri­ca’s Re­pub­li­cans will ul­ti­ma­te­ly choo­se anot­her can­di­da­te.  Ho­we­ver, the U.S. Pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­on pri­ma­ries and cau­cu­ses have be­gun, and there’s no sign of that hap­pe­ning. In the ini­ti­al two, Io­wa and New Hamps­hi­re, Trump won his par­ty’s sup­port by lar­ge mar­gins.

What’s pa­ra­do­xi­cal is how he won. CNN’s pol­ls of Trump’s sup­por­ters in both sta­tes sho­wed that for over 85% of them, a cri­mi­nal con­vic­ti­on of Trump does not mat­ter in their sup­port for him. Io­wa pol­ls sho­wed that bet­ween 20% and 35% of them said a con­vic­ti­on would make them more li­ke­ly to sup­port Trump. In both sta­tes, over 85% be­lie­ve that Trump, not Bi­den, won the prior elec­ti­on (ot­her pol­ls re­por­ted slight­ly lo­wer num­bers, but still ne­ar­ly 70% in Io­wa).  Over 80% of Trump vo­ters pol­led in both sta­tes re­ve­a­led that they main­ly want him to be their Pre­si­dent be­cau­se he “fights for pe­op­le like me.”

So, who are the “pe­op­le like me” that Trump fights for? He says that ra­di­cal white sup­re­ma­cists are re­a­so­nab­le pe­op­le and those who at­tac­ked the U.S. Ca­pi­tol while trying to end Ame­ri­can de­moc­ra­cy are pat­ri­ots. These so-cal­led good pat­ri­ots es­pou­se the op­po­si­te of Ame­ri­can va­lu­es. Re­gard­less of pro­ven facts, they be­lie­ve wha­te­ver Trump says and pled­ge their lo­yal­ty to him ir­res­pec­ti­ve of what he may do. Those are the pe­op­le Trump fights for. Many vo­ters count them­sel­ves in that group of “pe­op­le like me.”

This re­ve­als the most gla­ring pa­ra­dox in Ame­ri­ca. Most Ame­ri­cans are not in that ob­no­xi­ous crowd and will ne­ver be. They will ins­te­ad con­ti­nue to be­lie­ve pro­ven facts over lies. They will re­main true to Ame­ri­can de­moc­ra­tic prin­cip­les wit­hout comp­ro­mi­se. So, that pa­ra­dox will re­main un­re­sol­ved. We’ll see which side of the pa­ra­dox will pre­vail in the elec­ti­on la­ter in 2024.


Tom A. Lip­po is a Fin­nish-spe­a­king Ame­ri­can la­wy­er. Edu­ca­ted at Ya­le, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Jy­väs­ky­lä and Stan­ford Law School, he is the foun­der of FACT LAW, an in­ter­na­ti­o­nal law firm es­tab­lis­hed in 1985. FACT is the first law firm with of­fi­ces in both Fin­land and the Uni­ted Sta­tes. Tom has been a lawy­er in Was­hing­ton, DC ba­sed on Ca­pi­tol Hill for over 40 ye­ars.