Tearing Down the Bastille

This blog has a lot of very perceptive readers. The fact that my “day job” precludes my weighing in on conversations among commenters doesn’t mean I don’t read what is posted, and I was particularly struck by the following observation, in a comment to last Tuesday’s post on the politics of resentment:

I would describe the executive orders and Congress’ legislative “agenda” (such as it is) so far as governing by revenge. Nothing done or proposed has any constructive elements in it. You’d think they were tearing down the Bastille.

As another commenter remarked, the mob won, and they’re cheering every brick that comes down, even when it lands on them.

I’m certainly aware–as the old academic adage has it–that the plural of anecdote is not data. But the image of “tearing down the Bastille” is eerily consistent with the attitudes of the Trump people I have encountered.

Most of the Trump voters I know personally ( I’m happy to report that I don’t know many–but then, I live in one of those diverse urban bubbles) nurse attitudes that I can only characterize as racist and misogynist. In at least two cases, both older white men, their bigotries were on  display long before Trump emerged. They both were among the fringe crazies who appeared to “lose it” when Obama was elected; it was obvious that they experienced the ascension of a black man to the White House as incomprehensible and deeply disturbing, not to mention a personal affront. (In an email, one of them recently characterized President Obama as a “Fabian socialist progressive.”  I have no idea what that terminology is supposed to mean, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either; he just knows that the black guy must be a commie.)

I have also been made aware, however, of Trump voters who seemed less motivated by racial animus or sexist attitudes than by a general hostility to “the system,” and a desire to tear it down. For these voters, Trump’s intellectual and emotional deficits and general buffoonery were assets–his lack of experience, his ignorance of government, his recklessness, volatility and especially his eruptions of uncontrolled anger–all promised chaos, and chaos was precisely what they wanted.

I am unable to fathom a fury that reckless. I can only assume that it is the result of a life experienced as deeply unsatisfying coupled with a conviction that things will not or cannot improve, and that the only satisfying course of action is therefore a destructive one.

If the destruction hurts a lot of innocent people, well, those are the breaks.

Whatever the motives of the 26% of (disproportionately white and elderly) eligible voters who cast ballots for Trump, the rest of us are left with a choice: man (or woman) the barricades and try to minimize the harm being done, especially to the powerless and  disadvantaged; or sit on the sidelines and watch the bricks fall.


  1. I represent several women who filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the United States Supreme Court (Blumstein et al v Pence, et al, docket 16-907) in which we seek intermediate in the form of appointment of a Special Master to conduct an independent investigation of the election and Russian cyber-invasion in November, 2016, (and before) in violation of Art. IV, Sec. 4, the “Guarantee clause” of the United States Constitution. The case has been set for conference this Friday. It would be helpful if people go to Revote 2017 on FB and, if you support what we ask as relief, write to three friends (and ask them to write three more) and then write anyone in government and express outrage. Madison, in Federalist 43, said only the judicial branch can determine controversies under the Guarantee clause. This might seem like a long shot—but (1) the argument is sound and (2) at least we are doing something more than people in the executive or legislative branches. Funny thing—we are before the United States Supreme Court and, despite our efforts, have received very little press.

  2. Fortunately for the majority; we have Sheila Kennedy and others of her ilk, taking the place of Madame DeFarge (sp?), knitting these actions into the fabric of our real-time history. My comment on an earlier blog, “Let them eat cake.” works well into “Tearing Down The Bastille” as Trump continues to “live the life style to which he has become accustomed”. Will it take tearing down the White House (all three of them at this time) from the inside out or will the Justice Department begin to take action to call a halt to the destruction of democracy by all those old white men in the “American Bastille”?

    Today is the deadline for Trump, et al, to PROVE his accusations that President Obama “wire-tapped his Trump Tower during the campaign”? It is time, in this instance, that Trump “poo-poo or get off the pot”. As it stands now; we are all “circling the bowl.” Is this continuing “wire-tapping” idiotic accusation by Trump simply a distraction from his expanding and deepening Russian connections? Or does he, along with Kellyanne Conway, actually believe we are all being spied upon by our iPhones, TVs and microwaves in our own homes? Are we safe in our vehicles?

  3. I am an old white guy and not a Trump supporter. I find myself asking: What happened to those kids I grew up with? We were all there for civil rights protests, anti-war protests, but many of my contemporaries act like that never happened.

  4. With regard to the “Fabian Socialist” label, the Fabians were a British “socialist” organization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. People like Chesterton and Shaw were members. If I remember correctly, Sydney and Beatrice Webb were “running” the organization prior to and just after WWI. Chesterton and Belloc used to spar over the group’s ideas. They were close friends but poles apart politically.

    When I say “if I remember,” it means that I have seen references to the group and the Webbs in some of Chesterton’s essays – I’m not quite that old.

  5. There is another group of Trump voters who are embarrassed by his antics but voted for him in spite of his coarse and erratic behaviors. They felt no one else was really addressing the heartache of the middle class that’s disappearing. Their financial struggle has become unmanageable, their kids cannot contemplate going to college or even moving out of the house, health insurance is consuming more of their paycheck than their mortgage, and pensions are disappearing. Promises to bring back jobs and ‘make America great again’ are magical lifelines to those going under water financially.

    It reminds me of the folks who have terminal diseases and in desperation, latch onto snake oil salesmen to survive. Their wallets are lightened, and they still die. Trump is an over-achiever at taking advantage of people. That’s how he’s made his money…and won an election.

  6. Daleb. I’m so glad to hear from. I’ve been wondering where my fellow early baby boomers were. I assumed they had all joined the Tea Party. How and why did our generation grow up to participate in the Vietnam protests and the Civil Rights Movement and then vote for Trump in 2016? Did people in our generation change or are we the same people whose lives took opposite paths? I have searched for books or articles on this question, but have come up empty-handed. Any thoughts?

  7. That “…fury that reckless..” is a carefully cultivated, right-wing media driven disparagement of all things liberal, that began as a political fringe effort after WWII, but, with deep pockets to fund it, became the sociopathic juggernaut it is today.

  8. I think back to those Trump rallies and those cheering crowds of supporters and now understand that what they were hearing and what I was hearing were two different things. I heard hatred, distrust, bigotry, envy, and raw anger. What the 26% of eligible voters who cast their votes for Trump heard was their perspective and resentments, real and imagined, validated. At last, someone powerful understood them, and that was all that mattered.

    If anyone had in mind the idea that those days would lead to “tearing it all down” it was a man named Steve Bannon. He has positioned himself as the power behind the thrown, and from all appearances is untouchable. As for the Republican Party, they remain as they have always been, a crowd of greedy bastards ready and willing to throw granny under the bus if it gets them the money and power they think they deserve.

  9. I have several friends and family members who fall into another group – neither racist, misogynist, or struggling to make ends meet, but rather decent people, relatively prosperous, white collar, upper middle class. As I see it, over the past several years or more, they have come to increasingly align with conservative media and leaders while broadly dismissing and demeaning Democrats, “the left”, and most media.

    The result – since the election, unfavorable info and criticism about Trump is heavily discounted, and the promise of Trump as a no-nonsense, highly competent outsider businessman is clung to despite daily evidence to the contrary. Some had voted for Trump with some reluctance, but now that he is office and is “their guy”, it is tribalism (and accompanying confirmation bias) that drives their continued support in the face of his administration’s daily spew of self-serving and destructive lies and incompetence. IMHO.

  10. Sandy,

    “How and why did our generation grow up to participate in the Vietnam protests and the Civil Rights Movement and then vote for Trump in 2016?”

    We’re dealing with an attempt to destroy the systems that support what’s left of our democracy. That was not the case during the civil rights movement. Consequently, the strategies and tactics of that era do not apply to the neo-fascist Republican takeover we’re now experiencing.

    It’s the difference between TOTAL WAR and the guerilla-like skirmishes which occurred during the civil rights movement. We’ve been at war since the early 80’s. The political battlefield wasn’t created by Trump/Pence/Bannon. Their forces have been put together for over 35 years. The only thing that can stop them at this point in time is a countervailing force of similar power.

    “Did people in our generation change or are we the same people whose lives took opposite paths?”

    It’s not so much about the people changing as it is about the political environment changing. There been no awareness of the CONTEXTUAL CHANGE up until this point. It’s has been much easier to “bury our heads in the sand” which allows for the pro-democracy NGO’s to do the same. It’s been good business for them as the $$$ keep pouring in.

  11. My neighbors are white, elderly, well off, and educated. They voted for 45 because he was on the Republican ticket. They watch Fox News and live in the conservative news bubble. They are good and decent people. They volunteer their time to provide health care to the poor and they have proven themselves time and again to be good neighbors to everyone around them.

    I would speculate that a lot of 45’s votes came from people just like them. They haven’t contemplated the results of the destruction of EPA, the NIH, the FDA, the BLM, the NPS, or any of the rest of the alphabet soup that comprises our government. They love the military and the police and they hate regulations. They will not be convinced by anyone or anything that the Republicans do not have their best interest at heart.

  12. In speaking with my family and friends who supported the GOP candidate (I cannot speak or write his name), I have listened carefully and have learned the following: (1) Some are one issue supporters. To them the only issue was stopping all abortions. Nothing else mattered to them; (2) Their hatred and resentment at having black President for eight years caused a big backlash against all things Democratic. I have heard statements that “White Christian men founded this nation. It is our nation, and white Christian views and values should prevail. We have the right to rule.”; (3) They expressed a blind hatred of Mrs. Clinton either because she was a woman or was the wife of Bill Clinton.

    In addition, our long-gone military draft system was a way to having the melting pot that is America blend together in service to our nation. All religions, all backgrounds, all social and economic classes were forced to learn to work and serve together for a common goal. Sadly, I believe that the seeds for our current disunity began to sprout when the draft stopped. The children of the wealthy continued to have lives of comfort, security and easy access to higher education. The vast majority of them learned nothing about the challenges and struggles of being from a working poor or middle class family.

    It is beyond sad that some of the very people who voted for this administration and enabled the GOP to win will now be hurt the most by the legislation that the GOP wants to pass.

  13. The book:
    “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements” by Eric Hoffer.
    One-sentence description of Part 1:
    “Hoffer states that mass movements begin with a widespread ‘desire for change’ from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions.”
    One-sentence description of Part 2:
    “The “New Poor” are the most likely source of converts for mass movements, for they recall their former wealth with resentment and blame others for their current misfortune.”

    Hoffer’s book was published in 1951. I plan to re-read the book in hopes of better understanding of what’s happening in 2017.

  14. Peggy,

    “They will not be convinced by anyone or anything that the Republicans do not have their best interest at heart.”

    As you said, your neighbors are white. Any idea of a MULTI-CULTURAL SOCIETY has been jettisoned. Remember the “old days” when people actually used that word. Your neighbors want to stay in control. Can we expect more out of them? I doubt it.

  15. Nancy Papas has outlined the lives of many of the 26% who voted for the Trump Ticket. They seem to have felt unheard, disregarded, and sidelined by several previous administrations as our political environment changed, over the last 35 years as Marv notes. While many of us were busy and starry-eyed as our resources increased and our lives worked, many of us did not have that same experience.

    And now, change is impacting all our lives, and those of our families, in so many ways. Perhaps we are having a similar experience to those people Nancy brought to our awareness.

    It is always uncomfortable, sometimes even terrifying, to lose ground in one’s ability to continue to provide the life situation to which one has become accustomed. It might be more helpful to embrace their plight, and not include them in what appears to be an enemy attack on the ones who seem to possess wealth-driven power and seem so intent upon changing the world into what they dream it could be, seemingly disregarding unintended consequences.

    “I am not your enemy unless you make me so.”

    Just saying.

  16. Sandy:
    The strangest thing for me was when one of my college buddies started emailing Trump propaganda to me – almost daily. I would argue and found that was pointless; I started sending him fact checks showing that most of Trump’s statements were out-and-out lies. He wasn’t interested, in fact he doubled down. This guy is an engineer and is retired, drawing SS and Medicare; even suggesting that SS and Medicare would be on the block before long didn’t dissuade him.

    I have said before that I don’t understand people acting against their own best interests; maybe “love” is truly blind.

  17. Like many, I’ve tried to “understand” those on the right. Consequently, I’ve got Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land as my current reading matter.
    Spent years getting to know Tea Party folks in “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana. She explains their views and what sticks in my mind is how petrochemical and oil companies look for when expanding are places mainly in the Midwest and South that are: conservative, Catholic, long-time residents, high school educated only, unin loved in social issues, involved in mininv, ranching, and farming, Republican, and advocates of free market.
    Oddly, even though their lives and property have been severely effected by proximity to companies that spew deadly toxins in the air, they nevertheless ardently defend free market capitalism.
    Along with Hillbilly Elegy, this tome has given me a peek into the mindset of the right that is illuminating.

  18. “Hoffer states that mass movements begin with a widespread ‘desire for change’ from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions.”

    Sam; a simpler description for this phenomena was “white flight” when “red lining” didn’t work to their satisfaction. In other words; when segregation in many areas became against the law of the land.

  19. Right wing radio is another factor in this “tearing down the Bastille” phenomenon. Most of the Trump voters I know are devoted disciples of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other right wing radio commentators. These people have been waging an on-air, toxic campaign of fear and hatred for decades. I’ve heard enough of it to (kind of) understand how people get hypnotized by it. One Trump voter said he didn’t need to see or hear any other news sources, because Rush reads excerpts from newspapers such as the NYT and Washington Post. When asked how he could be sure things weren’t being taken out of context, the answer was that Rush would never spin things that way. Trump voters are brainwashed.

  20. Susan,

    “Trump voters are brainwashed.”

    Down deep, they believe APARTHEID is their answer. I hate to be argumentative, but I don’t think it is going to be any more successful in the U.S. than it was in South Africa. The U.S. isn’t Nazi Germany, where the Jews were less than 1% of the population. The minority population in the U.S. is more than 40%.

    This is the argument the Trump/Pence/Bannon supporters need to here. Let them try to go to sleep on that.

  21. Greetings to all. Here is one old white man, retired teacher, union member, Korea War veteran, and other things. I did not vote for that creature who contaminates the White House. Irvin BAA

  22. For additional perspective, read “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America” by Nancy Isenberg. When put together with the personal memoir in “Hillbilly Elegy” and “Dark Money”, you get some insight into the minds and hearts of those who live in a different world.
    I remember watching the Eric Sevareid interview with Eric Hofer on CBS years ago. Some of his thoughts stayed with me for years. I will try to find a copy of “The True Believer” to refresh my memories.
    Knowing what the dissatisfied and angry are thinking is one thing. Understanding what that means and the consequences of what they intend, “dismantling the administrative state”, are only part of the issue.
    After they tore it down, after a lot of people were killed, good and bad, the state was rebuilt, not quickly, but in fits and starts, through generations over many decades of trial and error. Is that where we are headed? Do we have the luxury of decades to rebuild in the era of high tech, satellite warfare, nuclear weapons, instant reactions to any event in the whole world?
    Is the image of the Bastille and falling bricks analogous to what is happening now in the U.S.? Is that really what DT voters wanted? Because they are not going to be able to avoid the fall of those bricks and have no guarantee that the “freedoms” they think they are going to get back will not be controlled by the architects of the new regimes grabbing power.

  23. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before here or not, but I have referred to this election as, “The White Man’s Last Stand.” Outraged by the realization they are on the path to becoming the minority skin color in our country, they feel threatened by their newfound position. After all, they know what they’ve done to minorities over time so they figure they’re about to get the same treatment. (They won’t really.) Along comes Barack Obama, the penultimate last straw in their minds. To wit, “My God Louise, they’ve taken the White House!!” Absolutely galled by his education, ellocution, and effectiveness, their only option is to discredit him with reckless abandon. When the 2016 election hits, they’re looking for a savior, a guy just. Like. Them. Insulted by the establishment GOP being unable to stop the illegitimate president of 8 years, they dismiss anyone who has a whiff of establishmentarianism in their blood. So they go nuclear. They go Trump. Why? Because he is who they are. Period. If this is their last stand, they will consider it a glorious , honorable ending. Let’s hope it’s in with a bang, but out with a whimper, not the other way around.

  24. I’m a Democrat and voted for Hillary Clinton. Many of my friends are Republicans and did not vote for Hillary Clinton. They voted for Fake President Donald Trump. They hated Hillary. They voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary.

    And now many of my Republican friends have become very nervous. They don’t know what their conquering hero will do next, but they feel reasonably sure they won’t like it. They feel that both sides of Trump’s bed must be wrong, because her never seems to be in a good mood more than a few hours in a row. I’m a Democrat and I’m absolutely delighted I voted for Hillary. I’d do it again.

  25. I have been a silent reader of Ms. Kennedy’s blog and of the comments. Today, however, I see something that I haven’t noticed quite so strongly before – a sadness that has crept into the responses and the realization that we have become something we never intended to be. I was struck by the phrase quoted in the opening of the blog, that we are experiencing “‘governing by revenge.'” This line sums up most of my thinking of late as I have watched the outright glee on the faces of the president and his so-called leaders as they sign away one after another of the anchors of healthcare and education and climate control. It is sickening to watch, but I’ve not had the words to describe it. Today I do.

    We seem, though, to have moved from the stunned trauma that beset us in the first days and weeks following the election, through the physical marching against the new regime, to organizing in our cities and towns, to today – where in sadness, we take a good, hard look around us and see our neighbors and relatives and colleagues and friends in a new light, a new “normal” that has settled on us despite our best efforts to kick it away. We are studying what has happened, we are learning about the mindsets that are guiding others, we are grappling with how this could have happened, and we are looking deeply into our society to discover raw anger and hatred and bigotry and white nationalism that was carefully disguised as “good people”. And somehow, on our watch, this has happened. And it makes us sad.

    The days feel heavy and the future looks dim and dark. We are staring into the face of what we could become – what we have become? – and wondering if we have the wherewithal to fight it since the world has become so fast and so good at labeling and judging and lying. The voices on the other side are so loud and so vindictive and so full of revenge, and our side has no clear leader to give us hope. I am waiting for that person to take charge, but maybe it is we who must first redefine who we are and what we will and won’t tolerate and what will make us good again.

    But in the meantime, I am sad. Sad that the good we were building is being so callously, vengefully destroyed. There was nothing inherently wrong with the policies and people and programs; it is just a destructive need on the part of some to knock it all down and raise up their gods, their angers, their hatreds, their injustices, their divisiveness. And yes – the bricks will fall on all of us – and I feel helpless to stop it.

  26. Clearly the current mess is not a sudden effect. To me it is a not completely unexpected product of party over country empowered by “1984” mass brainwashing that’s been underway for at least 30 years. I don’t think that it requires or lends itself to deep thinking.

    It turns out that both party over country and mass brainwashing are effective in a democracy.

    The question is where do we go from here? I think that over the next four years the house of cards will collapse because the GOP is capable of getting elected but incapable of governance.

    That will solve the current problem but long term?

    Will either party return to country over party knowing that it can be beat now in elections?

    I don’t know.

  27. Linda Greene, you have put words, elegant and truthful words, to my own feelings. Thank you, and please let us hear your voice again and often.

  28. In the past, I might have quoted from “Let the People Know” by Norman Angell (New York: The Viking Press, 1941). Angell was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1933. I’ll try again.

    From “Let the People Know” pages 50-51, 57-58.


    “We miss the significance of what is happening unless we realize the importance of distinguishing between two distinct orders of events: those happening in the visible and external world, the actual fall of nations, destruction of states, and the domination or threatened domination of the vast majority of mankind by a relatively small minority, between events of that order and those happening in the minds of men. In this latter sphere we face above all a MIRACLE OF BLINDNESS. It behooves us therefore not merely to face the fact of yesterday’s folly but inquire how it came about that we did not see the folly. We are confronted by two miracles not one: one of material and another of moral order. It is the latter which explains the former. Yet it is the mental lapse which we overlook.”

    “I insist upon this “miracle of opinion” because there will be a tendency now to say: “Well, in any case we have seen the facts at last; and it serves no purpose to labor the point.”


    “What then is the kind of fact, now so visible, that we previously ignored? What principle of policy which we now recognize as obviously wise, did we yesterday so disastrously reject as obviously absurd?”

    “It is this exceedingly simple and basic social principle: unless the community–whether it be a community of persons or of states–is prepared to use its combined power for the defense of the individual member who is made the victim of lawless evidence, there can be neither law, nor peace, nor justice, nor stable civilization. The make those things compatible with the rule that each shall defend himself by his own power must on the face of it, fail. For by that rule, each to be secure must be stronger than his neighbor, who is then deprived of security. Each cannot be stronger than the other. Where each is his own defender the whole community is exposed to the risk of domination by any violent minority that can make itself stronger than any single individual.”

    This is exactly what Donald Trump counted on to win the election. And he still gets away with it. To Trump society is like a “shooting gallery.” One day it’s the Jews, the next it’s Latinos, then Muslims, and so on, and so on.

    Trump would never get away with his offensive attacks, if he had to contend with an Ethical Front of allies which had the power to defend as well as the ability to counter-attack.

  29. All is not lost. Those who buy the Limbaugh-Trump-Bannon Triple Entente line can rebuy a line of reason just as they bought into the inane politics and economics of the hard right. What we need is a new political messiah like FDR who led us out of the social and economic wilderness of the Republican-induced Great Depression. However, as with FDR, we will need a catastrophic setting in order for such a messiah to be recognized, but not to worry. Trump economics will provide such a necessary environment for change and when some of these hungry Trumpies are out of their houses and under the (collapsing) bridges, they will quickly come to appreciate a perhaps New New Deal economics where people as well as Wall Street enjoy political consideration. I look for a recession and a plunging Dow to happen not this year but next as Trump’s policies take hold. Tax and regulatory giveaways cannot substitute for lack of demand in the long or even medium run. Even as gerrymandered, 2018 can be a year we turn this thing around. Gullible voters have to eat, too, and Republicans will have no Obama or Crooked Hillary to blame for the polity’s presence under the bridges and in the soup lines. Result? We (and former Trumpies) win. Reason returns.

  30. Gerald,

    “However, as with FDR, we will need a catastrophic setting in order for such a messiah to be recognized, but not to worry.”

    I was under the impression that we already have a “catastrophic setting.” Do we have to wait for the house to be burned to the ground?

  31. Then there are those who, while recognizing the imperfections of Mr. Trump, believe he will restore Christianity to the center of things, allow Christian prayers to be said aloud in public schools, and will affirm that we are a Christian nation. “So he is a mess? At least he is “our” mess.” These folks will be seriously disappointed.

  32. What I find interesting and disheartening is nearly every poll taken about how Americans perceive what Drumpf and wingnuts have done/are doing-the majority of every group is against them, except those aged 65 and older.

    Many of the categorical votes aren’t even close. Where was all this dissent back in November?

    And Drumpf’s approval went up last week for some reason. He hasn’t done anything to be rewarded for.

  33. Linda Greene; please do stay with us. New voices with new insights are needed in this country today; your words added much to today’s blog. Thank you

    I have mentioned “chaos theory” before; the study of complex systems which originally referred to systems in nature when and where our understanding, as far as it goes, didn’t find the cause and couldn’t predict the outcome. Weather systems, ecological changes, synchronized flights of birds, etc. We are now trying to understand and resolve a serious man-made chaotic complex system which is melting our ice caps, lowering the temperature of our oceans and raising their levels in areas around the world. Chaos is in our government at all levels now but no one seems to have a working theory of its cause or solutions. Could we have bet odds that it would become what it is today or is it as it appears, that Trump has somehow tilted the United States government on its axis and we are trying to hang on?

    The character portrayed by Jeff Goldbloom in “Jurassic Park” tried to explain “chaos theory” with the only conclusion being that “nature finds a way”. We are not only dealing with chaos in government and our quickly changing caste system due to the vast differences in economic levels, but with unnatural man-made chaos in nature. Global Warming denial resulting in repealing much of the work heretofore accomplished and yet to be done by the EPA to protect our environment is part of “nature finding a way” to save itself. It is also found in the results of fracking; sink holes and earthquakes in areas of our country has not seen before and the hazardous waste in groundwater seeping into natural waterways, reservoirs and wells poisoning us. All part of the GOP unfounded foundation that these traumatic events are not caused by ourselves…that they only exist in the minds of liberals.

    Aside from the Trump supporters , “the rest of us are left with a choice: man (or woman) the barricades and try to minimize the harm being done, especially to the powerless and disadvantaged; or sit on the sidelines and watch the bricks fall.” If we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem is a viable “chaos theory” to follow through to a livable solution by using our “human nature to find a way”.

  34. Mike from Iowa,

    “And Drumpf’s approval went up last week for some reason. He hasn’t done anything to be rewarded for.”

    Yes he has. He’s shown that no one has the guts to effectively oppose him. You can’t ask for more than that.

  35. The fall of the Bastille did not usher in Utopia. The Reign of Terror followed and then Napoleon as essentially a dictator.

    The concentrate of the Republican Party can be illustrated as follows: Iowa Republican congressman Steve King applauded the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders on Sunday, using Twitter to write an apparent rejection of immigrant children in the United States and Europe.

    “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” the Iowa representative wrote. “You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said. David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, quickly tweeted his approval, writing “God bless Steve King” in all capital letters.

    Gee whiz guess what – Steve King from Iowa has a Confederate Flag on his desk.
    King also tried to block Harriet Tubman from being displayed on a $20 bill.
    What should be only a poisonous thought – racial purity – can now be said in public by a US Congressman and be applauded by a former leader of the Klan. The message of racial purity can now be said openly in public. Freedom of speech gives the King the right to say all this. What is disturbing is that King has enough people who believe in his message that he is elected.

  36. What’s hard to understand? Trump voters are people with authoritarian personalities. To me it all came together when Bobby Knight endorsed him and old white Indiana responded with glee. Knight, who despite his accomplishments is an ugly bully and hypocrite, was perfect to symbolize to Hoosiers what Trump represents. He is a guy “who calls it like he sees it” and “knows how to get the job done.” And, let’s face reality, to Hoosiers he really knew how to get the most out of those “boys” (I don’t know how many times I heard something like this over the years). So culturally, we have gone from a black president (Good God, the world is coming to an end) to Bobby Knight sans the sweater. We are so far removed from that culture that we can’t imagine that what we perceive as storming the Bastille, they perceive as removing an evil, anti-American tyranny.

  37. And I don’t think we can beat them or change their minds. Most of them, the aging Boomer Trump voters, are the product of a very strange time in our history (and by the way the majority of Boomers were always conservative). We have to 1) generate the turnout to swamp them in the next elections, and 2) enjoy the Schadenfreude as we watch their generation die.

  38. One small note of optimism: the person I mentioned in my previous comment who listened to all that right wing radio no longer does. He stopped a year or two ago and now listens mostly to PBS. Tiny ray of hope?

  39. Linda Greene,
    Theresa Bowers is right. We want to hear more from you. You are literate and well-spoken. Please comment more often.

    Let’s hope that our sadness and despair can turn into serious action to combat what is going on. My guess is that the so-called “president” is not in Washington or New York to help those covered in deep snow and ice in the current blizzard. Likely he’s hiding out at Mar-a-Lago in sunny Palm Beach and costing us bazillions per day.

  40. Barbara G,

    “It might be more helpful to embrace their plight, and not include them in what appears to be an enemy attack on the ones who seem to possess wealth-driven power……”

    “I am not your enemy unless you make me so.”

    Thanks for the in-flight directional WARNING. As an old artillery officer, I sometimes forget my targeting needs continual re-calibration.

  41. I come to this discussion late, but Sheila’s post makes me think of a point made by a couple of authors back after George W. Bush was reelected. One of the things progressives must do is constantly refocus the narrative. People are glad to see the Bastille coming down brick by brick because they do not understand what government actually does that benefits them.

    When the political right began chanting “government can’t do anything right,” the political left tried to sound reasonable by saying “well, then let’s tweak the things that don’t seem to be working.” That response validated the right’s argument. The political left should have responded by pointing out that the CDC does damn good work, the U.S. military can hold its own against anyone, the Social Security Administration makes sure retirees’ checks arrive when they’re supposed to. The traffic lights work day in and day out. Garbage and recycling get picked up. On local and national levels, progressives didn’t remind people that the bricks of the Bastille are doing good things for them.

    Today, we have to hammer the point home over and over again: government does a lot of good for us. When the critics try to point out that the VA has problems or whatever, we have to say “stop holding a weasel up” and get them to acknowledge that despite its flaws, government overall does a pretty damn good job.

    We cannot let the political right keep successfully attacking the very notion that we need government.

  42. Trump, contrary to his repeated campaign promises, has now decided to take his 400 grand annual salary. Let’s hope he takes it and leaves it at that because if (with great flourish) he gives it to charity it will cost our treasury 558 grand, 400 grand in salary and 158 grand reduction of his income tax liability as a result of his charitable contribution. I would recommend rather that he send the money to Zurich, the Caymans or to his favorite Russian-laundering bank, the Bank of Cyprus, which his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used to run with a co-chair Russian oligarch, an outlet to laundering for Putin and other kleptocrats as a means of investing in Western stock markets and real estate. Is Trump up to his eyeballs in Russian blackmail? Did Putin tell him to make Wilbur Secretary of Commerce (a department on the firing line in overseeing sanctions)? Does the sun come up in the east?

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