We’ve Heard This Song Before

Trump’s bigoted diatribes against Latinos, Muslims and (nonwhite) immigrants received a considerable amount of attention during the campaign, as did his reprehensible attitudes  about and behavior toward women.

The torrents of anti-Semitism he unleashed received less coverage by mainstream media sources, but not because that anti-Semitism was less pronounced. Anti-Semitic posts surged on Twitter; and as the Atlantic reported,

This was the year that anti-Semitism went mainstream again. On Tuesday, American Jews will have a chance to register their vote about a presidential candidate whose campaign has trafficked in anti-Semitic rhetoric, symbols, and organizations unlike any other seen in recent years.

Reporters who are Jewish–or who just have Jewish-sounding names–were subjected to vile diatribes employing words that weren’t part of public conversations back in “political correctness” days.

Those of us who are Jewish tend to be sensitive to eruptions of this sort, and the extent of ancient “Jew hatred” tropes and the emergence of old anti-Semitic stereotypes was chilling.

This ugly reality is one reason I get so annoyed when naive and disappointed progressives insist that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump. They point to polls taken during the primaries, which any pollster will concede are so early as to be meaningless. (Actually, polls taken during the campaign weren’t so meaningful either–just ask Hillary Clinton.) Had Bernie emerged as the nominee, he would have been subjected to the full ferocity of Republican campaign attacks, and as a commenter on this blog previously noted, there was plenty to work with. (That’s not a slam on Bernie; most people who have been in public positions a long time, and actually done things, have baggage or a history that can be twisted and made to look like baggage.) Given his attacks on the 1%, and his economic positions, there would have been enormous amounts of money pouring in from the Koch brothers and their ilk to fuel those attacks.

But that’s not the only reason Bernie couldn’t have won, no matter how much his message might have resonated with voters who actually wanted change. And let’s be honest. The ugly truth is that the majority of Trump voters weren’t voting for change–at least, not in the sense most people mean.

They were voting to repudiate social change and (especially) a black President.

They were voting to take America back to the way things were when no one spoke Spanish, gays were in the closet, Muslim-Americans were rare or non-existent, Jews and blacks were just barely second-class citizens, and women knew their place. And in the pantheon of their hatreds, Jews rank high.

Bernie Sanders is Jewish. The voters who thrilled to Trump’s nativism and White nationalism were never, ever going to vote for Bernie.

There’s a lot of debate over whether Donald Trump is anti-Semitic himself, or whether he was simply willing to pander to David Duke and the rest of the KKK and Nazis who endorsed him, but it really doesn’t matter. He did pander to them, he did encourage their virulent anti-Semitism, and if he ever effectively disavowed the Klan’s support, they (and I) didn’t notice.

Instead of wasting time with fantasies of what might have been, all of us who oppose Trump need to resist his agenda as forcefully as we can; we also need to begin looking now for progressive candidates who can run for the House and Senate in 2018, and for a transformative candidate who is electable in 2020. (Assuming the country is still here and in one piece in 2020. But that’s a blog for another day…)


  1. JoAnn,

    “Gerald; Bernie’s Democratic Socialism was NOT Russian Socialism as it was used back in that day”

    I believe Gerald is probably right that Bernie Sanders was very vulnerable on his socialism which would have been also a CODE WORD for Jew. Carl Marx was considered a Jew even though he was an Athiest. Once anti-Semitism starts it will invade and be a part of almost every avenue of society as it was in Nazi Germany and explained so well by the author/professor of history, Roger A. Beaumont.

  2. I love reading this. One of my friends has been obsessing about Supreme Court and has started watching for a good Presidential candidate. Yes, pick one issue and work with it. Mine is water and related issues. Well, and living wage… Lots of ways to work on it.

  3. Elizabeth Warren is a very smart woman. As a matter of governance, she’s right. If there are things Trump and the Repubs propose that make sense, are good public policies, the Dems should go along. I also think that by picking the truly bad and reprehensible things the Repubs want to do to vehemently oppose, as best as and in whatever the powerless Dems can, will have more impact than just opposing everything. Warren’s strategy would be a better way for the Country to make some progress in a few areas, but it would give Trump and the Repubs successes to take credit for.

    On the other hand, the Repubs spent the last 8 years opposing everything Obama and the Dems tried to do — even if they were policies or things that Repubs had traditionally supported — to make sure that Obama wouldn’t achieve what he hoped to or likely would otherwise have. Have to admit their strategy was pretty successful in not only preventing Obama and the Dems from doing things that very likely would have made a difference for a lot of those angry and enraged folks who voted for Trump, but set the table for what happened in this election. It failed only to the extent that it didn’t prevent Obama’s election to a 2nd term.

    Unfortunately, the “opposing-everything” strategy won’t effectively stymie Trump and the Repubs’ agenda, as the Repubs were able to do to Obama, because the Dems don’t control either house of Congress –unless or until if in the next Congressional elections they might be able to take back the Senate.

    It is a very big problem for the Democrats, as others have already pointed out, that with so few Democrats elected to statewide offices, it’s much harder to get a new crop of young Democratic candidates. As far as Democratic Presidential candidates for 2020, I propose two: Elizabeth Warren or Michelle Obama (Someone has to convince Michelle that she should run.). Talk about your smart, powerful women.

    Finally, it’s still an open and unanswered question whether a sitting President can be indicted and prosecuted without his/her having first having been impeached and removed from office by Congress. Some of the older folks here may remember this exact question came up during Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s pursuit of Bill Clinton back in 1998, and to some extent back in the bad old Nixon days (anyone remember Vice President Spiro Agnew?). Legal scholars have come down on both sides of this question. But ultimately, it would have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which, to-date, has not ever had to decide. Pretty much the definition of a Constitutional Crisis.

    The chances of a Repub controlled Congress impeaching Trump are probably not great. But the truly devious among us could perhaps envision a scenario where the Repubs — many of whom really don’t like Trump and would like him to go away, but are now afraid to buck him — could impeach Trump; thereby making Pence President. Know what? If I had to make a choice between them — God forbid — I’d actually take Trump over Pence.

  4. To All,

    If you’re interested in predicting the future path of Trump/Pence, then you must read “The Nazis March to Chaos: The Hitler Era through the Lens of Chaos-Complex Theory” by Roger Beaumont (Westport,CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000). I wouldn’t have been so accurate about my predictions on the presidential race if I hadn’t read Professor Beaumont’s book. You don’t have to be Professor Albert Einstein to understand his application of the Chaos-Complex Theory in Nazi Germany to the spread of the Hitler Virus in the U.S.

  5. The election of Trump/Pence was a FUNDAMENTAL change in American politics. Technical changes will be to no avail. You first must admit to the fundamental change which for most people will be close to impossible. Consequently, it might be that no significant move can be made in time to avoid the pending socio/economic/political tragedy for all Americans.

  6. To All –

    I just read an article from a DC staffer of 6 years.

    She says the BEST way to reach your Congressional Reps and Senators is to CALL their District offices because they must answer the phones and must listen to you.

    She stated that they receive far too many letters in DC (or at the district ofcs) and they get sorted into piles of similar concerns. They then send form reply letters that don’t really address your questions or concerns.

    Let’s blow up their phone lines!

  7. David F, I think putting Pence in the Oval Office was the game plan, once it looked like Trump might be the nominee. I wonder if Trump understands that he is expendable?

  8. Of course I know that Bernie’s social democracy is not the same as the Russian socialism (aka communism) of Lenin’s day, but that is not the point. Fox News and other right wing media would have painted it that way 25 hours a day and that would have destroyed him on November 8. That is the reason I voted for Hillary in the primary. Actually I liked the Danish example of social democracy better than what Hillary discussed, but, as old Governor Cuomo used to say: “You gotta get a seat at the table.” Of course, with Hillary’s electoral defeat, we don’t have a seat at the table in any event, so my logic did not pay off. However, we have two years in which the Republicans won’t have those terrible Democrats to blame for the mistakes certain to occur in the interim, and gains in the House and Senate could bring some measure of sanity to the then ongoing process.

  9. Marv; did you ever try explaining the difference between Bernie’s Democratic Socialism and Russian Socialism to anyone, Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green Party? I got the same blank stare from both sides; they didn’t know squat about Socialism but hated it the way Communism was hated but we were never given reasons to hate…just as we got no reason to hate Jews. Well; there has always been that “Jesus killer” myth; contradicting that got me the same blank stares from Christians from all it’s many denominations. I do have some intelligent friends but feel no need to discuss their obvious knowledge on these subjects.

  10. Gerald, Gerald, Gerald; “Of course I know that Bernie’s social democracy is not the same as the Russian socialism (aka communism)…” Groan! That is all I can add to your comment.

    Ginny F; thank you for bringing forth the name of Cory Booker! He is definitely a man to watch for the future of the Democratic party. Maybe he could be approached as a possible leader of the “movement” we are seeking to build a stronger Democratic party. I keep thinking back to WWII and equating the “movement” some of us have referred to with the “underground” organizations which did such amazing work under the most deplorable conditions. Just a thought.

  11. JoAnn,

    “I keep thinking back to WWII and equating the “movement” some of us have referred to with the “underground” organizations which did such amazing work under the most DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS. Just a thought.”

    Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. You’ve got the right the idea. It is to move before things become deplorable as they will become if no one moves. I would like to at least take a bath once in awhile. Let’s not wait to the bullets start firing.

  12. Ginny F: Pretty sure that Trump hasn’t considered the possibility of his being expendable. His world starts and stops at himself. Can’t imagine that he has enough self-awareness to have realized that. Actually, he probably thinks he can name one of his sons to take over.

    I too would like to see and hear more of Cory Booker.

  13. JoAnn,

    The following is from a leaflet (the 2nd) distributed by the “underground organization”….. The White Rose, which was composed of a Professor and his students:

    Leaflet #2

    It is impossible to engage in intellectual discourse with National Socialism because it is not an
    intellectually defensible program. It is false to speak of a National Socialist philosophy, for if there were
    such an entity, one would have to try by means of analysis and discussion either to prove its validity or to
    combat it. In actuality, however, we face a totally different situation.

    At its very inception this movement depended on the deception and betrayal of one’s fellow man; even at
    that time it was inwardly corrupt and could support itself only by constant lies. After all, Hitler states in an
    early edition of “his” book (a book written in the worst German I have ever read, in spite of the fact that it
    has been elevated to the position of the Bible in this nation of poets and thinkers): “It is unbelievable, to
    what extent one must betray a people in order to rule it.”

    If at the start this cancerous growth in the nation was not particularly noticeable, it was only because there
    were still enough forces at work that operated for the good, so that it was kept under control. As it grew
    larger, however, and finally in an ultimate spurt of growth attained ruling power, the tumor broke open, as it
    were, and infected the whole body. The greater part of its former opponents went into hiding. The German
    intellectuals fled to their cellars, there, like plants struggling in the dark, away from light and sun, gradually
    to choke to death.

    Now the end is at hand. Now it is our task to find one another again, to spread information from person to
    person, to keep a steady purpose, and to allow ourselves no rest until the last man is persuaded of the
    urgent need of his struggle against this system. When thus a wave of unrest goes through the land, when
    “it is in the air”, when many join the cause, then in a great final effort this system can be shaken off. After
    all, an end in terror is preferable to terror without end.

    We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history. But if this
    catastrophe can be used to further the public welfare, it will be only by virtue of the fact that we are
    cleansed by suffering; that we yearn for the light in the midst of deepest night, summon our strength, and
    finally help in shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world.

    We do not want to discuss here the question of the Jews, nor do we want in this leaflet to compose a
    defense or apology. No, only by way of example do we want to cite the fact that since the conquest of
    Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. Here we
    see the most frightful crime against human dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history. For
    Jews, too, are human beings – no matter what position we take with respect to the Jewish question – and a
    crime of this dimension has been perpetrated against human beings.

    Someone may say that the Jews deserved their fate. This assertion would be a monstrous impertinence;
    but let us assume that someone said this – what position has he then taken toward the fact that the entire
    Polish aristocratic youth is being annihilated? (May God grant that this program has not fully achieved its
    aim as yet!) All male offspring of the houses of the nobility between the ages of fifteen and twenty were
    transported to concentration camps in Germany and sentenced to forced labor, and the girls of this age
    group were sent to Norway, into the bordellos of the SS!

    Why tell you these things, since you are fully aware of them – or if not of these, then of other equally grave
    crimes committed by this frightful sub-humanity? Because here we touch on a problem which involves us
    deeply and forces us all to take thought. Why do the German people behave so apathetically in the face of
    all these abominable crimes, crimes so unworthy of the human race? Hardly anyone thinks about that. It is
    accepted as fact and put out of mind. The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and
    encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of
    course they do so. Is this a sign that the Germans are brutalized in their simplest human feelings, that no
    chord within them cried out at the sight of such deeds, that they have sunk into a fatal consciencelessness
    from which they will never, never awake?

    It seems to be so, and will certainly be so, if the German does not at least start up out of his stupor, if he
    does not protest wherever and whenever he can against this clique of criminals, if he shows no sympathy
    for these hundreds of thousands of victims. He must evidence not only sympathy; no, much more: a sense
    of complicity in guilt. For through his apathetic behavior he gives these evil men the opportunity to act as
    they do; he tolerates this “government” which has taken upon itself such an infinitely great burden of guilt;
    indeed, he himself is to blame for the fact that it came about at all! Each man wants to be exonerated of a
    guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he
    cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

    It is not too late, however, to do away with this most reprehensible of all miscarriages of government, so
    as to avoid being burdened with even greater guilt. Now, when in recent years our eyes have been
    opened, when we know exactly who our adversary is, it is high time to root out this brown horde. Up until
    the outbreak of the war the larger part of the German people were blinded; the Nazis did not show
    themselves in their true aspect. But now, now that we have recognized them for what they are, it must be
    the sole and first duty, the holiest duty of every German to destroy these beasts.

  14. “Now the end is at hand. Now it is our task to find one another again, to spread information from person to
    person, to keep a steady purpose, and to allow ourselves no rest until the last man is persuaded of the
    urgent need of his struggle against this system. ”

    Marv; are we at the end or the beginning of our “now”? This is a whole new ballgame. Admitting our errors, ignoring facts before our eyes, passing opportunities to “take the road less traveled”; our false security that we would always be safe as Americans ended for many the day President Kennedy was assassinated, but we eased back into the complacency of our snug cocoons of false security bringing us to “now”.

    Is it our end (of America as it was believed to be) or an opportunity to make a new beginning. Charles Manson preached to his Family using drugs and sex to bring them to what he called “now” which he considered to be awareness. So; are we now aware or will we be forced to suffer Trump and Pence in action as President and Vice President before we reach Charlie’s level of awareness?

  15. AgingLGrl – 8:40 am, I agree with your assessment Bernie was an Agent of Change which the country was looking for. Hopefully, the Democratic Party realizes here in Indiana running the likes of John Gregg and Evan Bayh was a terrible mistake. The problem here in Indiana the Democrats have no bench strength. They have the personality cult of politics, that is it’s all for me and nothing for thee. Meaning the Democrats do not help the down ticket. The Democrats have been cowering in fear since at least Bush the Younger. They are totally frightened to champion the cause of Unions (happy to take their money) and the working class with a living wage.

    The Democrats cannot attack Corporate Welfare since they are so joined at the hip now with Wall Street.

  16. JoAnn,

    It could be our end, or it could only be the end to the deception and denial, which would give us a new beginning. However we are not now aware, that should be our first objective to overcome or I’m afraid we will suffer under Trump and Pence, and then Pence and ?? in 2020 at the least, if we get that far under a constitutional government. Most theocracies haven’t had constitutions.

  17. First of all I want to thank Sheila, again, for her excellent blog and also all of her readers/commenters – You have gotten me out of my post-election depression these past few days.

    Nancy, in the last couple of days before the election Trump or his supporters put up what some call the Protocols ad (after the Protocols of the Elder of Zion), linking financier George Soros, Fed Chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman-Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein with the suggestion of an international (Jewish) bankers cabal that only Trump could protect us from. It may not be obvious, but they are all Jewish — not that “bad” bankers aren’t labelled as Jewish even when they aren’t.

    Too many people to name here, but on Bernie – the same bigots who responded to Trump’s loud whistle (no longer a dog whistle) would have gone wild on Bernie’s Jewish birth and even more so on his atheism. Even “liberal” MSNBC did little to explain “Democratic Socialism” (more like FDR 2.0), so we know that as Hillary supporter Claire McCaskill suggested, the Republicans would have brought out the “hammer and sickle” ads.

    As for potential new leaders, there are some inspiring people around. My first choice is Elizabeth Warren. Corey Booker has been mentioned as well as convincing Michelle Obama to run for office. We should also remember the Keynote Address given in 2012 by Julian Castro.

    It is hard to recruit people, especially in Indiana. With our part-time legislature, only people with particular kinds of jobs or financing can afford to be serving for just a few months. I know I would have lost my job under those circumstances. Still be have some people that do emerge, such as Dana Black.

    I can also add the names of elected leaders like Andre Carson, who could give a speech as a Clinton supporter that made the Sanders people happy, or Pete Buttigieg, who can explain complex economic issues in incredibly accessible terms. Also, I expect we might hear more from Christina Hale in the future.

    It takes time, work and support to recruit new people, but the large number of Obama and Sanders people could bring some new blood into the party and we do have more people in place than we realize.

    (Hmm, I just noticed that I didn’t name one straight, white guy – interesting)

  18. JoAnn,

    Knowing you’re a person with a disability (deaf), I’m sharing the below link where you can request assistance for smoothing the voting process in the next election. If I were you in requesting assistance, I’d be bold (not that you’d be otherwise) and request/tell the IDR you need transportation to and from your polling place. The form is not limited to requesting assistance to vote and can be used to request any service you need as a person with a documented disability.

    I realize this information is a day late and a dollar short, but I just discovered it today in completing the final homework assignment for the Hamilton County Guardian ad Litem Program to become a court-appointed advocate for neglected and/or abused children.


  19. Thanks, BSH, I saved the web site to my Favorite Places for future reference. Found next to nothing going to the State Department of Disability – or whatever it is called. Also got no help from the state Medical Licensing Board through the Attorney General’s Office when I filed a complaint after three doctors refused to perform bladder and vaginal (sorry about that, guys) surgery due to my deafness. I only asked for letters regarding discrimination against handicapped person in their files. Health and Human Services, Civil Rights Office took four years to respond; apologized for one doctor, said they would send her needed information to treat disabled and IF they got another complaint they would CONSIDER an investigation. As Linda Ellerbee said, “And so it goes!”

  20. I disagree that Bernie would have lost. The media dismissed Bernie throughout the primary, but he gained ground starting from 3% when he entered and going to 46% of the vote largely on the strength of 2 groups that Hillary struggled to get to come out for her: millennials and the white working class. Hillary’s strength in the primaries was with non-white voters. However, even with Trump on the ticket, she did not get Black turnout or even more surprisingly Latino turnout to surpass 2012 levels, which was already significantly lower than 2008. Bernie was much more in the style of 2008 Obama, and while he would have confronted challenges. I am confident he would have done better. I will say the electoral college was very close, though. The GOP managed to do just enough voter suppression in North Carolina to win this one. However, this election should have never been close for the Democrats and the DNC should have never cleared the way for Hillary. That would have allowed Bernie a chance to succeed. It would have also allowed a potentially even better candidate than Bernie to emerge (I’m open minded). However, unlike the GOP, Dems don’t seem to want primaries for high-profile races. Dems need to stop taking primaries personal and realize it is a chance to pick the best candidate for the position. The consensus is that Joe Donnelly won’t win in 2018 here in Indiana, for example, but their is disagreement with who should run instead. Christina Hale has been suggested for that, but it depends on how open the Democratic Party is to that. Maybe their should be a primary for that?

  21. BSH, thank you for getting involved in the guardian ad litem process. Children everywhere need strong advocates. My hat is off to you!

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