A Conundrum and a Mea Culpa

A couple of commenters to yesterday’s blog leveled a criticism of my post that I think is valid.

My statement that many of Trump’s supporters are bigots came far too close to the same sort of name-calling that distresses so many of us when Trump engages in it. Although I did say “many” (in an effort to acknowledge that the epithet doesn’t apply to everyone who is supporting him) that statement was both too broad-brush and too dismissive. Flat assertions of that sort do not encourage mutually respectful communication, to put it mildly.

So, mea culpa.

Here’s the conundrum: It has become increasingly obvious that Trump and his most ardent supporters present a “clear and present danger” to American constitutional and social values. As a country, we need to understand the dynamics of this phenomenon, and why a man so manifestly unfit for the Oval Office nevertheless appeals to so many voters.

Survey research suggests that a significant number of Trump supporters are responding to his message of racial grievance and white nationalism–and we can’t afford to ignore that reality. We need to consider what it implies and what to do about it, because even if–evenĀ when–Trump loses, those grievances will still be there, waiting to be inflamed by the next demagogue.

We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and simply hope this ugly moment passes. We need to identify the fault lines and discuss them candidly.

That said, we need to acknowledge–I needed to acknowledge–that someĀ people are supporting Trump because they are loyal Republicans, or because they haven’t followed the election news closely, or because they don’t trust reporting from what Sarah Palin dismisses as the “lame stream media,” or because they’re just “mad as hell and not going to take it [the status quo] any more,” and don’t recognize the likely (disastrous) consequences of electing this particular “disruptor” to the most powerful office on earth.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Trump campaign thus far has been the normalization of nasty, uncivil discourse. It should be possible to conduct even brutally honest analyses of troubling political behavior without sinking into”Trump-like” name-calling.

I intend to be more careful with my own language in the future.


  1. Pete, in answer to your concern about the middle class: there is no longer a middle class to provide the services you list. If you look at a graph of incomes in the United in 2014 there is a big dip in numbers of households and individuals between those whose income is $100,000+ and those below 50,000. That area used to be the middle class. Many of who have slipped below middle class are the angry, probably white, people who are want their country back and are voting for Trump.

    BSH: Thank you for the suggested reading. I will check it out. Here is the piece that was suggested by Robert Reich: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-us-politics-poor-whites/ It is an interview with J.D. Vance the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.” He would disagree, at least in part, with Bragg.

  2. Marv; Pete is right about my using personal narrative for comments. Thank you for your in-depth description of Cognitive Therapy; I had no idea it was that horrible, that destructive, that severe and insanely ridiculous – the staff are punishing people for being who they are. I couldn’t respond till I stopped crying; for those in treatment caused my brain made a connection to a long ago memory of my 16 year old son with severe drug problems and all it entailed. I’m having trouble typing so hope there aren’t errors. The connection I made due to your description of treatment in Cognitive Therapy was to the drug treatment center Mark was placed in called Cognition House on North Pennsylvania. Too late, families, authorities and the public learned their form of therapy was to totally destroy the heart, mind and soul of the addict, to tear them down to nothing and try to rebuild them into someone they, the staff approved of.

    I will tell this for the benefit of others reading this due to Indiana’s connection through Pence to what you compared to the Nazi’s, an apt connection. Mark had made such good headway (in their estimation) that he was allowed a home visit on Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, during group therapy, one patient admitted to smoking grass while at home. All patients were individually and systematically ripped to shreds in front of the others, they were put on total restriction; no meals, shut in their rooms, no contact with anyone – not staff or other patients including roommates. Several managed to escaoe; Mark was among them. Exactly two months later I got a call from the Indianapolis Police Narcotics Officer, Bill Durham, I mentioned before as being helpful. He told me Mark had been arrested and his stepmother and I could have a brief visit in his office – against all rules. Jill and I sat talking when the door opened and a filthy, smelly derelict with long, matted hair came through the door. He had open running sores all over his face, the ripped and torn jeans and shredded sneakers showed skin so filthy the dirt was imbedded into his skin which was gray in color. He was nothing but skin and bones and just stood there shaking, so Jill and I looked away thinking he had come in the wrong door. Then Mark said, “Mom, aren’t you even going to speak to me?” He had lost 30 pound in that two months; little food but lots of drugs and booze, sleeping in alleys or boarded houses if he could get into them. Even Bill Durham was moved nearly to tears and couldn’t understand how Mark was still alive. A few others escapees were found basically in the same condition. This is what the Cognition House “cognitive therapy” turned my son into…what is it doing to lesbians and gays who do not have the escape of drugs to deal with their total destruction if they can escape?

    Thanks to intervention by Bill Durham, after talking to Mark and others, Cognition House was shut down but where are the others and how did they fare? No one had talked due to threats of reprisal from staff. Where are those who have come out of Cognitive Therapy; who are they? I’m sorry but the connection of the terms cognitive and cognition has hit me hard because I have many gay and lesbian friends. And the horrible memories of what that type therapy did to my son was more than I could deal with, I have cried through typing most of this.

    Pence is even worse than any of us imagined; he belongs with Donald Trump but they do not belong in the White House…they belong in prison in general population and they deserve whatever physical and mental horrors can be done to them by other prisoners. This has become more than politics to me; Marv; I hope all who read your comments will fully understand what you are telling us. Thank you again.

  3. I apologize to all; the above comments should have been posted on today’s blog, “Contrary to Popular Belief”. When I thought I had stopped crying I clicked on the last comment on the list and didn’t notice it was the wrong blog. I’m sorry.

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