The Root Of The Problem

Innumerable people have made the (obvious) point that any effort to cure a disease or solve a problem requires an accurate diagnosis of the ailment or problem first. In a recent essay in The Week, titled “The Republican Problem No One Knows How to Solve,” Damon Linker offers a diagnosis of America’s current woes that confirms my own, painful conclusion.

Most non-Trumpian Americans would agree with his opening paragraphs:

In the raging debate among Trump-critical conservatives over whether the goal in November should be merely to defeat the president or to pursue the more radical strategy of burning the Republican Party to the ground, I’m firmly on the side of scorched earth.

The case for maximalism is strong. The head of the party is a corrupt and malicious imbecile. Republicans in Congress are a mix of Trump enablers, obstructionist-demagogues out to maximize the wealth of their donors, know-nothing conspiracist loons, and a few reformers experimenting with the most politically palatable way to blend nationalism with socialism. All of them are primarily motivated by the drive toward self-promotion within the right-wing media complex. And when we move further down the Republican hierarchy to the state and local level, things only get worse.

Most of us would also agree that America needs at least two political parties that are reasonable, responsible and principled. Some of the “Never Trump” Republicans who have defected from the GOP’s current iteration hope that a sufficiently brutal defeat in November–up and down the ticket–will restore the party to what they remember as its former respectability. Others have looked back at the party that was –notably Stuart Stevens, whose recent book “It Was All A Lie”–and concluded that it never really stood for the principles it espoused.

Linker’s diagnosis suggests that Stevens’ analysis comes closer to the truth. It also presents us with a much more difficult problem than reconstituting an adult, center-Right political party,  because he locates the root of the problem as the Republican voter.

As Linker reminds us, every one of the Republican sycophants, fundamentalists and ignoramuses we regularly criticize was elected by those voters–and often re-elected over and over.  Even assuming a Democratic win–or even a Democratic sweep–in November, that result will come despite Trump’s continued strong support from an overwhelming majority of Republicans.

The voters who swooned for Sarah Palin in 2008; who seriously considered giving the nod to Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Ben Carson, and Rick Santorum in 2012; who four years later elevated a reality-show conman to the head of their party, cast ballots for him to win the presidency, and have rallied around him ever since — most of these voters remain undaunted in their conviction that politics is primarily about the venting of grievances and the trolling of opponents. The dumber and angrier and more shameless, the better…..Unless and until it changes, the Republican Party will continue to spew raw sewage into the country’s political system and public life.

The threat to American democracy isn’t the current Republican party; it is the Republican voter–the substantial number of people who are motivated by, and enthusiastically support, the racism, misogyny and xenophobia that the current party embodies.

If that’s true–and I’m very much afraid that it is–what can be done about it? As Linker argues, burning the party down won’t deliver an epiphany to voters whose support is founded on animus and nastiness; these are people who have proved impervious to facts and evidence.

It is also hard to dispute Linker’s observation that the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, Tucker Carlsons, Laura Ingrahams, and others wouldn’t be “hocking their pestilential opinions for profit if there wasn’t a large and appreciative audience for them.”

So once again, we’re back to the bedrock truth that what has turned the GOP into a political cesspool is the preferences, tastes, and convictions of Republican voters.

Could anything change these voters — turning them, not into liberals or progressives obviously, but into thoughtful citizens capable of engaging with reality, thinking about actual problems, and rewarding public servants who make a good-faith effort to respond to them? The honest truth is that I don’t have the slightest clue how to make it happen. Which also means that I have no idea how the United States might work its way back to having two civically responsible parties instead of just one.

He’s right, and this is what. keeps me up at nights.


  1. I think that the only thing to turn the Republican party around is for the evangelicals to have an epiphany about Micah 6:8. “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”

  2. We might want to look to Germany and how they emerged from the Second World War. How did they deal with the millions of Nazi still in their midst? They did rebuild their country, but those extreme right wing ideas are still with them. How does any country keep that kind of hatred at bay?
    Where is Marv when we need him?

  3. Theresa,

    You’ll have to settle for me. The ugliness described herein is the segment of human nature that MUST have the mindless rage as part of their lives. I say MUST, because their environment, their teachings (parents and churches) and their general intellectual laziness caused them to revert to what biologists call the “wild type”. These seemingly mindless rages are within all of us. Wait until food shortages become commonplace and you’ll see silk-suited intellectuals rioting in the streets too.

    As you pointed out regarding Germany, the promotion of grievances against a targeted group will cause that group into group-think which quickly descends into the troglodyte-level tribalism that supported pre-agriculture humans as their defense against other marauding tribes competing for dwindling resources. Hate and fear of “the other” is in our socio-biological DNA.

    Complex societies were only possible when non-combative intellect on a large scale created institutions that kept humans from killing each other into extinction. Of course, with the invention of economics came slavery. With slavery came elitism. With elitism came power seeking; a kind of throwback to the alpha male situation in the cave-dwelling tribes.

    Sorry for the morning lecture, but the history of the world points these things out. How else do you explain the above-mentioned pundits who exploit those ancient, primitive behaviors and tenets? Why else do we have enough thermo-nuclear weapons to destroy, virtually, all life on Earth? Can you name another species that does that? And that specter comes from the RATIONAL minds – or at least those we label as rational. Oppenheimer, for example, saw it another way after the Trinity tests: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    The aggrieved white male in the United States today, and those he bullies into following his lead – including women and children – is not a creation of anything evil, necessarily. The mindset has just always been there. Those who do NOT fall into the categories of today’s blog have used their intellect to rationalize civilization, order, democracy and loving, peaceful lifestyles. They, fortunately are the large majority. The “other” ironically, are those who will never enter into that majority realm.

    How many friends and acquaintances have we all lost during the meltdown of the GOP?

  4. Children spend more time with their teachers, often, than with their parents. empathy and morality should core subjects along with reading and writing and the values “lived” in the classroom.

    Bullying has to be nipped in the bud and doing the right thing be celebrated.

    Is there any wonder why Republicans give short shrift to education funding? An informed electorate, one that is taught how to search for truth and not fall prey to conspiracy theories, would go far towards achieving the wisdom a shocking number of our populace are lacking.

    We must also find a way to control the toxic content being virally spread by social media.

  5. Hahaha Theresa. YES – WWMT! (What would Marv think)? The GOP is no longer recognizable as a political party. It has become a cult-like  special interest group that I call the Qanon Party. And while I agree it’s the Republican/Qanon voter that serves as the main root of the problem, there are other roots that together contribute even more to the rise of the QP: 

    1. The truly extreme right wing Republicans already mentioned, who can more accurately be described as fascists for their devotion to white supremacy, nationalism, and attraction to demagogues. 
    2. Politically-disengaged citizens who either don’t participate in the political process at all. This represents over 30% of the US electorate.
    3. People who vote but don’t base their candidate choices on things that really matter – it’s more about personality and what kind of dog they have. 
    4. Single-issue voters. The grandmother of all single-issues is anti-abortion and the grandfather is anti-gun control. Millions of moderate Republican voters have enabled extreme-right wing candidates because they will reliably vote on their side of one or both of these issues.
    5. Moderate white voters (MMV) including Democrats, Republicans and Independents. These are the same people who Martin Luther King Jr. warned us about in his Letter From Birmingham Jail. It’s what many, including myself, now call The Mushy Middle.

    Of all of the groups above, I find MWV’s the most problematic, likely because I used to be one, a fiscally-conservative but socially-progressive independent Hoosier. My hero was the late US House Rep Andy Jacobs and his dog C-5, named after one of the most egregiously corrupt military defense initiatives in US history. MMV’s have a very low tolerance for real systemic change – they have no patience or appetite for it. As long as things are rolling along nicely in the suburbs where they live, and gas isn’t too expensive, and the Colts are having a decent season, then they’re pretty much fine with whomever wants to run our local, state and national government.

    MMV’s are why we have charter schools and school-choice vouchers that drain no less than $350 million each year from Indiana’s authentic public schools. MMV’s are why we don’t have true hate-crimes law in the Indiana Code. MMV’s are why we spent and will spend upwards of $10 BILLION on the NAFTA highway while public infrastructure all around the state is rotting away. MMV’s still question whether Black Lives Matter is really a thing – they offer All Lives Matter as a mushy and meaningless alternative. MMV’s happily accept the white-washed version of US and world history they were fed in their school-age years.

    The process of waking up from my MMV coma began after the illegal appointment of George W Bush to the Presidency by the US Supreme Court in 2000 and later the illegal invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq in 2003. I became an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Hussein but his feel-good hope-and-change mood of the Presidency of Barack Obama lasted about three days after his inauguration. He went on to spend the entirety of his political capital on the Affordable Care Act, and none on shoring up the policial base and expanding its hold on power in the House and Senate. And his economic recovery was largely to keep the outsized US financial complex largely intact and permanently dependent on accommodative policies of the Federal Reserve (part of said complex) and a few new regulations around the edges (thank you Elizabeth Warren). 

    The rest is history as they say…it’s been nothing but a shit-show of obstruction, lies, and the lining of pockets ever since culminating in 3 years and 8 months of the worst presidency in US history . The Mushy Middle has some ‘splainin’ to do. The Mushy middle needs to go away forever. Thanks for reading if you bothered! 

  6. Teresa,

    Marv is still around, he reads the blog on a regular basis. I talked to him quite a bit yesterday, and he is distressed. 3 separate conversations about life, love, and compassion, his family’s experiences and my family’s experiences, and a very in depth conversation of the parallels between Nazi Germany and the United States, along with, believe it or not, the need to have Jesus Christ in the mix, confirms that Marv has his fingers on the pulse of our dystopian existence. He has been reenergized, and above all, he’s a very good friend.

    We talked about night of the Long knives in one conversation along with the Reichstag fire! Marv, along with myself actually believe that there is a literal parallel in the paths going forward between America and Nazi Germany. If Marv conducted himself as some of these folks on this blog do, I would not be going down to see him in Jacksonville, and, he’s my older brother by another mother, who has encouraged me to stick to the blog because my perspective is necessary. So, I do!

    Look at the South African struggle as a microcosm. We can put Nazi Germany on the back burner for a minute. With the ending of apartheid, and, with the hope of a new era looming, the euphoric utopia, has turned into an enigmatic dystopia! Conflicts that were never on the radar screen there, have exploded like mold on an old piece of bread. Crime and food shortages along with governmental corruption are worse than ever. And, true equality never really presented itself.

    If we accept the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. Because this is the witness God gives, the witness that he has given about his Son. 10 The person putting his faith in the Son of God has the witness within himself. The person not having faith in God has made him a liar, because he has not put his faith in the witness given by God concerning his Son. 11 And this is the witness, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has this life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this life. (1st John 5:9-12)

    We talked about history on this blog thread before, but the fact remains that people continue to be ignorant of history! Because history keeps repeating itself, and humanity cannot possibly change its trajectory on its own. Because mankind has never been able to change his trajectory. Nazi Germany, who stood wholeheartedly behind the extermination of Jews and other groups, is having a massive resurgence in Nazi pride and its activation. And, if you do a little research on Q anon, you will see that they are Nazis in conspiracy theorists clothing! The Jews were cannibals, Democrats are cannibals, the Jews were sexual deviants, the Democrats are sexual deviants, the Jews were the cause of Germany’s financial issues, the Democrats are the cause of America’s financial issues, the Jews are occultist, Democrats are occultist, the Jews hate the Christian God, Democrats hate the Christian God, Hitler roiled against the Jews, Trump Roils against everyone but his ardent supporters! The Germans convinced religious groups to support their Nazi agenda, and the GOP has convinced religious groups to support their Nazi-esque agenda!

    There is no way humans will change their inhumanity to their fellow man. There will always be a bottom rung, and those that are on that rung stay attached to it because they are the foil needed to confirm man’s behavior to his fellow man.

    And up stood a legist to put him to a test, saying “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And he said to him “What is written in the law? what do you read?” 27 And he answered “You shall love the Lord your God out of all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he answered him “You have answered right: do this and you shall live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

    After that above Scripture, Christ went into the parable of the good Samaritan. And Christ told this man could go and conduct himself as the good Samaritan. And as you know, Samaritans were despised at the time, but the ones that stepped over the man who was assaulted by robbers, were his neighbors and priest. But the despised one, the Samaritan, showed love to his neighbor and possibly his enemy by taking care of him and paying for his care.

    But, this will not happen, because the die has been cast already!

    As far as Marv, he pretty much agrees that this trajectory is a bad one, and also, the seeds of hatred cannot be eradicated by more hatred, is just like throwing gasoline on the fire!

  7. Hey Marv, LOL!

    I’m glad I didn’t write your epitaph, LOL, why don’t you get on here and tell them about the Reichstag fire and night of the Long knives, they want to hear from the Prince of knowledge!

  8. “Some of the “Never Trump” Republicans who have defected from the GOP’s current iteration hope that a sufficiently brutal defeat in November–up and down the ticket–will restore the party to what they remember as its former respectability.”

    The Republicans who have spoken against Trump at the Democratic National Convention have been “former” elected officials, one may be or have been a candidate. Those currently in office have given only anti-Trump lip-service, except Mitt Romney, but voted with Trump and McConnell. For the 2016 presidential election and now the 2020 election; no one, including officials of the same party, are required to vote for every candidate on the ballot. Not voting, as we well know, is a vote for the opposition. They could scroll past the names of those they agree are part of the deconstruction of this government and vote only for those who will vote against it. IF there are any trusted candidates on the ballot. IF our ballots are truly secret; who among the Republican party officials will know how they voted?

    The few Republicans still speaking to me said in 2016 they did not want to vote for Trump but they did so believing they were supporting the party. We must not lose sight of the fact that Trump did lose the popular vote by approximately 3 MILLION votes but was appointed by the Republican Electoral College members. We have no way of know who the 7 MILLION voting for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were voting for or against but they helped stack the deck in favor of the red states and the Electoral College appointment. Citizens United, unstoppable gerrymandering supported by the right-leaning SCOTUS are part of that root system. Racism and bigotry are the tap root.

  9. I agree that the R Defeat must be total — from the to stop doing this shit. As to how so many voters GOT this way: You are what you eat. For nearly 4 decades they have been fed a steady diet of lies and bull shit and grievance. As long as corporate america FUNDS this crap, broadcasters will spread this crap. The corporations need to find some patriotism and stop funding crazy shit. But I will not hold my breath for that

  10. Patrick,

    From WWMT: No argument here. It might also be wise to understand and support PEISNET, AMERICA’S THIRD FORCE, before it’s too late.

    See: John Sorg for more details.

  11. I think that you are seriously missing a key point! A significant part of the American population have legitimate reasons to not feel like they are heard. Some of these people think clearly and are not wrapped up in Trumpism. Far too many, however, react to the xenophobia with their emotions bringing out their racism (and other fears). It has parallels to Little Rock in 1957 – when the lower-middle class and working class white people were manipulated by the wealthy elites keeping power through racist oppression.

    Today, the Democratic Party is often its own worst enemy. It is a weak coalition of people who often are united only by their distaste for the Republicans (and Trump now). AOC – seems 98% right to me, while my (Black) wife feels that she is killing Biden and our hopes. Some of the self-destructive actions that are happening, such as in Chicago, are not because of the Republicans but the failures of Chicago’s Democratic Party establishment which is Horribly Corrupt. Its corruption disproportionately hurts poor people and is strongly Racist (underneath pitiful exclamations that are p.c.). Other areas of the U.S. have an equally weak Democratic Party. Until and unless we build unity, not simply out of fear of Trump, but out of strong attempts to build for positive change, we will often lose (as we could in 2020).

    We need to really listen to the people! We need to hear the fears! We need to build ties – small ties – with others outside of our immediate circles – including in our own families and friends – and not just talk essentially to ourselves.

    We have a lot of work!

    It is very important to elect Joe Biden! At the same time, if we stop organizing and building from the bottom up, waiting for Democratic Party hacks to “save us” – even if we win in 2020, in 2022 – we will lose a lot and 2024 – lose it all (again).

  12. john Sorg, thanks for reminding me of the events in South Africa. There are lessons there too.
    Exactly what those lessons are needs to be explored and explained.
    We know that in Germany after the war they buried the symbols of the Nazi Party. Those symbols are outlawed to this day. Yet they have risen again, and not just in Germany. Here in the United States the symbols of the Confederacy are only now being addressed. And education about slavery and the Civil War have been non-existent or distorted in some areas of the country for decades.
    So my question now is “How do we keep hatred at bay yet keep the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment alive?”
    Perhaps the answer will come with a deep study of those documents written at a time when those ideals only applied to white, male land owners.

  13. One last thought. Perhaps we need to amend the Constitution to include a list of responsibilities when one exercises one’s rights.
    OK now, I’ll go make my bed and do up the dishes.

  14. If you loved the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus Republicans, you’ll really enjoy the QAnons. Those nominated in safe Republican districts will join their predecessors in the Congress next year. We now might see the Whacko Caucus. God help us, for we plainly do not know how to help ourselves.

  15. Theresa,

    Agreed. But having tracked and treated the VIRUS OF HATRED that is driving this insane movement from the Far Right/Religious Right for over 50 years, we need to understand the lessons set out in George L. Mosse’s magnificent, political bible: “GERMANS & JEWS, The Right, the Left, and the Search for a”Third Force” in Pre-Nazi Germany.”

    As I’ve stated on this blog in the past, Trump is “Santa Claus” when compared to the likes of a Mike Pence. Trump has given us room for the creation of a THIRD FORCE.

    Let’s don’t squander this opportunity. It will be our last chance for domestic peace.

  16. I am not aware of any example in history where a country who allowed this much rot to set in was able to reverse course and reclaim a respectable level of governance for it’s people or simply keep itself glued together by it’s organizing principles. I hope the United States is the first such example to break the centrifugal force of human nature. My optimism is guarded at best. I’ve never wanted to be more wrong to be honest.

  17. For a glimpse into the future, read “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anne Applebaum. The hardback edition hasn’t been released as of this date, but the Kindle is available.

    Read it!

  18. The thing is, the Trumpers and their enablers are easily led…..that puts Fox News right in the center of all this mess….and Jones and Rush, etc. They need to be driven out of business.

  19. Marv, thanks for the reading suggestions.
    JM, I too hope you are wrong, but I fear you are right.

  20. George writes, “Until and unless we build unity, not simply out of fear of Trump, but out of strong attempts to build for positive change, we will often lose (as we could in 2020).”

    I find it odd that nobody on this blog thought Republicans speaking at the DNC Convention was strange, considering they gave AOC only 60 seconds to speak.

    Are you all a bunch of transplanted conservatives?

    Once again, we rank 33rd in the world as a democracy, which has nothing to do with Trump. His actions against the post office may drop us down a few more notches, but we were already in a position where our military was simply a smash and grab for capitalist interests. After you steal property and resources from others, you have to set up a defense because the victims may want their possession back.

    I sincerely hope you can get rid of Trump so you can return to your GOP and get back to your conservative and religious business. Then maybe progressives can fix the DNC once and for all without the center-right contingent of bandwagon jumpers from the Republican Party, which got demolished by the Koch led Tea Partiers.

    The DNC also needs to be burnt to the ground and has its strings detached from Wall Street. Nothing will change in this country until the political class has at least one party representing the interests of workers.

  21. Way2go Marv!

    Understanding history does not change it! I know we’ve brought up those parallels before, the reichstag fire which was a false flag operation, they burn down the reichstag and blamed it on the Communists which allowed them to go after the Communists and basically eradicate them and Nazi Germany. We now have our rice dog going on here, the false flag operations with the nationalists embedding themselves in protest because everyone’s wearing masks. They are stoking violence in these protests, they are also killing people in neighborhoods to foment retaliatory killings thereby increasing the violence in black and brown neighborhoods. They’ve learned the lesson from history, they are repeating history for their own benefit. Everyone else seems confused and the infighting starts in earnest. The next step, might be night of the Long knives where the competition is eliminated within the party itself, in Germany it was a night of murder, here, who knows! Mitt Romney might want to get some really good security guards!

    Just like Hitler and Mussolini for that matter told people that it was okay for them to be who they really were, Donald Trump is telling that to his fiefdom, and they willingly obey.

    Marv might be more optimistic than me, but I would look at his website, it really is very good! Marv’s really a brilliant man when it comes to this sort of thing, he’s put his life literally on the line several times on behalf of his fellow man, and has been threatened by forces much larger than us. So, when he speaks, everyone should listen.

  22. To All: This is from the Sportsmanship Guy:


    “Baseball legend Yogi Berra is credited with coining the phrase “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The statement seems like a redundancy; of course nothing is over until it’s over. However, in sports and in life, we think that way.

    And we couldn’t be more wrong. Just look at the last year in sports.

    Cleveland was down 3-1 to Golden State.

    The Chicago Cubs were down 3-1 to Cleveland.

    New England was down 28-3 with three minutes left in the third quarter to Atlanta.

    The Cubs broke the curse, the Cavaliers ended the drought, and the Patriots did the impossible.

    Yogi was right. These teams proved that a champion has to be willing to go nine innings over seven games, 48 minutes in basketball or 60 minutes-plus in football to get it done.

    Never kneel, lie down, or get down on yourself. Two outs isn’t three. Five minutes left on the clock is still five minutes. No matter how bad it looks, don’t give up. Former President Obama said, “The only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world.”

    Or for those of us who speak fluent Yogi…

    It ain’t over till it’s over.”

  23. By the way, I just saw that Steve Bannon was arrested for fraud, supposedly defrauding donors 25 million dollars to build the wall, lol! I was wondering where he was getting all of that money to fly all over the planet stoking fear and division throughout Europe. I wonder if he’s still in Trump’s good graces? Will he be begging for a pardon also?

  24. Our reichstag over here not rice dog, LOL! But, that’s what happens when you’re trying to post while driving.

  25. I often posed the question as to why the Republican party dumped 16 viable presidential candidates and nominated Trump; wish I could remember who on this blog provided an answer so I can thank them. The answer was that the party voted on all wannabes and Trump received 20% of the votes which was the highest. My immediate thought was that left 80% against Trump so the only answer I could come up with was that the Republicans UNITED and ORGANIZED to support Trump and here we are.

    Yes; the Democratic party does have it’s problems and the major problem is the lack of UNITY and ORGANIZATION. The Roll Call last night was evidence that the party has not united if Bernie Sanders remained on the ballot after opting out and asking his supporters to put their support behind Joe Biden as he did regarding Hillary Clinton. If they remain divided we can plan on four more years of Trump and prepare for a full dictatorship with our closest ally being Vladimar Putin and Russia.

  26. The Conservatives in times past had their William F. Buckley. Buckley was certainly an intelligent man, who could present a thoughtful analysis. I can say, I never agreed with all his opinions.

    Then, Rush Limbaugh’s took over the “intellectual leadership” mantle of the Conservatives, along with his fellow travelers like Glen Beck. Whether the leadership within the GOP liked it or not Rush and his fellow travelers exerted an enormous influence on them in terms of policy and philosophy. The race was on within the GOP to swing as far right as possible.

    Concurrently with Rush was the blind obedience the GOP had with the Tele-Evangelicals.

    Except for Nixon’s creation of the EPA, I cannot think of any program the GOP has authored that benefits society.

    There is as noted here no redeeming qualities of The Trumpet or his rabid followers.

  27. I vaguely recall a blog by Ms Kennedy quite some time ago that talked about how we had been able to keep the voices of the extreme bigots down to a minimum, but these voices are becoming louder and more empowered. If I recall, she compared the voices of hate to weeds that had been suppressed for so long, but were now coming up uncontrolled everywhere. How did we keep the weeds at bay? I wish I could find that blog you did some time ago.

  28. john Sorg, Understanding history does not change it, but understanding history will change the way you react to the history being made today.

  29. Absolutely Teresa,

    I’m back home in front of my desktop, so hopefully no faux pas’s, LOL, but yes!

    As Marv and I were discussing yesterday, about the Reichstag fire and night of the Long knives and Kristallnacht, and comparing it to movements around the world, there are those who understand history and what was successful in nefarious ways, and learn from that and repeat it.

    Our current president was a student, A student of Hitler and his speeches. His wife, Evanna admitted as much during their divorce trial. Hitler surrounded himself with some of the most nefarious criminals that he could find, and a lot of them met their comeuppance after the fall of the Third Reich. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some of the most nefarious criminals he could find, and look, at every single one of them has been indicted or serving prison time.

    Obviously the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree concerning nefarious activities.

    But what happens? What happens when evil raises its head? People tend to ignore it. Our freedom of speech has allowed evil to grab a foothold here. And that’s what happens in free societies. Because everyone is supposed to have a voice, the evil voices seem to be the loudest. Then, when things take a turn for the worst, those evil voices sound more appealing. People who might not have ordinarily given it a 2nd thought, suddenly find themselves followers of a nefarious philosophy.

    Once people get a taste of that sort of thing, it’s very hard to turn that aircraft carrier around. History is littered with powerful kingdoms and countries that collapsed because of the moral decay rather than being taken down from an outside force. And, we know morals are not just sexual in nature, it also has to do with compassion, civility, empathy, love, being your brother’s keeper, lifting up the less fortunate, and having pity on your fellow man.

    There is none of that now, and, if history is a guide, it’s going to be extremely difficult to stamp out this infatuation with inhumanity.

  30. My old, old friends, the ones I grew up with and would not even know now if it weren’t for social media, are running off the cliff like lemmings on acid spiked with meth. They are spectacularly uninformed, do not understand simple science, can not even recognize decent critical thinking, and have swallowed QAnon like its their last meal. This is the result, to some extent, of a pathetic rural Indiana education system, and much more so generations of self selection of population that has left the countryside bereft of thinkers and decent parents.

    I agree with you, Sheila, there is no escaping Trumpism and the far worse affliction, “conservatism,” because they bubble up from a stew of idiocy and ignorance. For years I have been saying “countries get the leadership they deserve,” and oh, how that stings now. The only answer I know is to take the path of the founding fathers and limit democracy to save it from itself. The real political question before us is whether we limit through brutal authoritarianism (the GOP solution) or through constitutional limitations that up to now would have been seen as unthinkable.

    Frankly, I doubt we can pull it off. There was a reason only white male landowners were allowed to vote. It wasn’t only racist, sexist and classist. Primarily it was a proxy for education. We must use our technology to modernize our system in such a way that we make similar compromises to our progressive values to enable the more educated among us to guide us forward while minimizing the damage to those same values. Or we allow the jackbooted thugs of the next Republican president kick our doors down. You can guess which way I think it will go.

  31. If it is one thing that seems to unite the Trump supporters and the GOP types I have personally encountered in recent years is FEAR. The Trumpet’s bombastic insults and challenging experts like Dr. Fauci are perceived as strengths to the followers of The Trumpet.

    The Trumpet owns the GOP lock, stock and barrel.

    I look at the Democratic Party and I see an inclusiveness that welcomes people of different races, ethnic backgrounds, gays, etc. This inclusiveness is terrifying to the Republican voter of today. Their insularity and provincial view of the world is shaken by inclusiveness – They do not look like us, they do not Thump that bible hard enough.

    An AOC and The Squad as a whole frighten the GOP beyond rational bounds. The fact that these woman have such powerful intellectual voices are a threat to their Macho-Male-Strongman image.

    The women in the GOP are intellectually vacant like Sarah Palin or totally lacking any backbone like Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

    There is room in the GOP ranks these days for a Marjorie Taylor Greene who embraces QAnon. Greene said, stating that “the most mistreated group of people in the United States today are white males.” “There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it,” she said, referring to Trump.

    My Biden for President Signs are on order One 4 me and one 4 my neighbor.

  32. Might I add,

    There are programs in place already that have not been used very often. Such as FEMA being in charge of relocation of populations and even concentration camps. Executive orders already exist for a lot of these programs. Just research them, FEMA can be given carte blanche to deputize National Guard and other state forces to work exclusively for the feds. They have their own personal military if they do this.

    If the president declares a national emergency, he has the absolute authority to get rid of civilian courts and install military tribunals. Now, is the military corrupted enough to go along with this program? Who knows, if Trump declares a national emergency and thereby martial law, and they’re using military personnel, will know the answer to that question.

    If, and that’s a big if, Trump declares a national emergency thereby martial law, he doesn’t have to be worried about the courts, because they will be on hiatus! The Supreme Court did say that if the president would declare martial law he could still leave civilian courts intact, but does anybody really think that if Trump does that, he would leave civilian courts intact?

    Marv quoted Yogi Berra saying it ain’t over till it’s over, the point is, it’s going to be very dicey before that final strike at the end of the ninth-inning! And, we can blame it all on the Cubs, LOL, because it all started with them winning the World Series. Some of us were saying, this must be the end of the world, the Cubs have won the World Series, maybe we were on to something!

  33. So long for a while. The next time we can discuss more in detail: PEISNET “America’s Third Force.”

    As I’ve quoted many times: “I skate to where the puck is gonna be, not where it has been.”
    ~Wayne Gretzky, NHL hockey great [having had a professional basketball player father hasn’t

  34. John Sorg – Yeah, I saw that Bannon and others were arrested for fraud, some of the last remaining wheels in Trump’s world who had not yet been arrested and/or convicted. So it appears that Bannon’s “deconstruction of the administrative state” and all these other high-sounding convictions from Breitbart News and others are covers for looting, which should come as no shock to any of us. I am now wondering what Trump’s take was from this excursion via phony shell corporations and how much it played into his insistence that the wall be built.

    As for pardon, Bannon can depend upon it, since he can threaten Trump with spilling the beans on this and (probably) other fleecings of our treasury if Trump doesn’t go along. Meanwhile, since this is an SDNY thing, expect Barr to show in New York for a “conference,” if he’s not already there in person or by phone. The plot thickens – and sickens.

  35. Who are Republican/authoritarian/Trumpians? It seems that they always must have been among us and now they are concentrated in power, organized and energized I believe by the simple fact that Capitalism’s one rule, make more money now regardless of the impact on any others ever, when realized by pervasive entertainment media as the pathway to wealth creation through uber loyal audiences, demands effective government regulation. Politics got trumped by the wealth creation realities of propaganda/advertising/marketing. Politics for money requires regulation despite the first Amendment. What’s been concentrated is the power of the past among the entitled aggrieved by their loss of privilege.

    Speech can’t be free when it is weaponized wealth redistribution up. Of course there’s precedent for that in the FCC Fairness Doctrine of 1949,honest%2C%20equitable%2C%20and%20balanced.

    We solved this problem once, surely we are smart enough to do it again.

  36. I have preached this sermon before…the problem is not Trump, the problem is Trumpism. Trump is merely the symptom off a much broader problem in my Republican Party.

    If you were to take a poll of the fewer and fewer people calling themselves a Republican and ask them who do they look at more favorably, Putin or Obama (you can substitute Hillary Clinton for Obama if you like), Putin would win easily. I am not kidding. It is not that Trumpers don’t think Putin helped Trump win the election. They do and that’s why they like Putin.

    There is no question that a personality cult has taken over the GOP. The problem in breaking the cult is that the cult followers only get their information from sources, whether it be Fox News, OANN, Rush Limbaugh, or their Facebook and Twitter feeds, that confirm the opinions they already hold. They are not open to listening to anything else. That’s “fake news.”

    How do you break that? I’m not sure. But a big loss by Trump at the polls will get the message to many Republicans. But I’m not sure that kills Trumpism. The GOP may just continue to shrink and shrink, winning only state and local elections in the reddest of areas. It certainly can’t survive as a national party winning only white male voters w/o college degrees.

    Further you have, within that personality cult, radical movements. The Qanon people are bat shit crazy, but it is starting to look like you have to support Qanon to win GOP primaries. Frightening.

    The Democrats need to be on guard. There is no reason to believe personality cults and crazy conspiracists are endemic to the Republican Party. This may be a problem Democrats have to deal with down the road.

    I’m in the burn it down camp. Again, Trump is not the problem. The problem are the enablers, the people who elevated Trump to the presidency and refused to hold him accountable for anything he does. The Trump presidency did not have to turn out like it did. Once burned to the ground, I don’t think the Republican Party can or should revert to 1980s Reagan conservativism. There are things that worked from that era, other things that didn’t. A political party has to evolve over time, meeting new challenges with new ideas.

    But there has to be two functioning parties or the Republic is in trouble. I think it will take 15-20 years (at least) for the GOP (or whatever conservative party that takes its place) to recast its ideas into product voters would be interested in buying.

  37. What got us here is the original sin of very smart people to pretend that religion – founded in the stone age, and wishful thinking – had something to offer the world. If those people had adopted the Greek approach to how to get on with their lives instead of the Jewish approach of how to perpetuate ancient myths, we would not, today, have otherwise rational people preaching about imaginary realities. Some of those unrealities, like Qanon, are far removed from religion, but the magic thinking of religion lays the bedrock for accepting that anything one can imagine might be real. Religion is a form of epistemology, one that advocates checking your gut feeling and what your parents told you and an ancient book to see how you think and feel about life’s most important issues. An alternative epistemology, science, advocates examining and analyzing reality instead of the accepting the immeasurable evil that results from the stories that old men fabricated to secure their power and subjugate those unable to argue back.

    Science offers little when it comes to the crucial subjective side of life. Religion offers wonderful music, awesome architecture, heart-wrenching burial ceremonies and myths that we wish had some substance – but they don’t. Some middle philosophy, based on reality, must supersede man’s willingness to accept fairy tales to address and analyze his human side. We could work at discovering and articulating that, or we can allow the mindset that says my gibberish is as good as your science to continue. Instead of insisting that we ground our thoughts and opinions in reality, we accept and insist on respect for ideas that are so internally inconsistent that they cannot possibly be true. A world based on inaccuracies has a hard time according the proper level of respect for truth as we learn each day when we turn on the news.

    Optimism and hermeneutics will not save democracy. Promoting rigorous, reality-based thinking may. Let’s think about giving it a chance. Out with the old! And, by the way, let’s toss in the principles that Sheila has advocated over the years about achieving literacy in civics.

    Does anyone on the planet like having the creator of the universe watching their every move and condemning them to burn in hell if they step out of line? Not my cup of tea. Besides, I don’t trust His judgment.

  38. Not to worry: Trump is already distancing himself from anything connected to Steve Bannon.

    Welcome back, Marv! I’ve missed your wise, and most often brief, counsel.

  39. Theresa, Hope it’s okay to share your statement, “Understanding history does not change it, but understanding history will change the way you react to the history being made today.” It mirrors my thoughts precisely. Thank you.

    Marv, Good to ‘hear’ from you. Hoping the Jacksonville area, including our second home on Amelia Island, survives this hurricane season intact.

  40. Apparently, the misogyny, racism and xenophobia have been there simmering all along, and then along comes a black President, fueling further feelings of resentment by white, non college educated people. Trump comes along and because of his narcissism and need for attention and adulation, would literally say anything to get what he wants, so he panders to these people. The more they cheer, the more he panders.

    However, despite all of his griping and bluster, Trump really craves the approval of those he most complains about, because deep down he really respects them because they have earned their kudos: Pulitzer-Prize winning publications like the NYT and the Wa PO, plus the praise of respected journalists of mainstream media. That won’t happen because they can’t be bullied or charmed into ignoring all of his failures, faults and utter lack of anything qualifying him to hold the power of the presidency. And, despite all of his complaining , he would really love it if the City and State of New York kissed his ample ass, too. After all, he’s their hometown boy. That’s not going to happen, either. In fact, the Trumps have been disliked in NYC for decades, and for good reason: they cheat contractors, they engage in racism in housing, their apartment buildings are overpriced dumps and their “foundation” is nothing but a tax-free personal slush fund. Trump took down the Bon Wit Teller building to build his gold tower and scrapped some art deco bas relief sculptures on the outside that he promised to donate to the MOMA just for spite, which people still have hard feelings about.

    Biden has his work cut out for him to try to heal the divisions Trump has fueled, and it won’t be easy. Despite Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic and the recession he has caused, resulting in people getting sick, dying and the US being brought into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, he still enjoys 30+% approval of his hard-core supporters, which is terrible and can only be explained by Trump stoking resentment and fear. He sure can’t run on his record. The Democrats have done a marvelous job of preaching for the need for healing, acceptance and unity. I hope it takes.

  41. Betty,

    Good hearing from you, as always.

    Poor Steve Bannon. He advises Trump to play the Jews against the Blacks and everything will be just fine. However, early on, he sees that ain’t going to happen in the U.S. [ I had warned the U.S.Civil Rights Commission in a closed session convened in Jacksonville, as early as 1992 to be aware of that maneuver]. So he “jumps ship” and lands in Europe where he can spread his fascist venom.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump lets him “burn.”

  42. Theresa,

    “john Sorg, Understanding history does not change it, but understanding history will change the way you react to the history being made today.”

    If the pro-democracy intelligence is FLAWED as I’ve been warning, for over five years, as a participant in this blog, then our reaction to the history being made today will be flawed and worthless in the long run. It’s a failure of CONTEXT, not ability.

  43. I grew up in an era of mostly center-right Republicans and center-left Democrats, but Republicans had their “Rockefeller” wing and Democrats had their “Dixiecrats” (and Ray Dzendzels, a Michigan legislator who was pro-union, but not for civil rights or equal rights – we young-uns eventual got him dumped). There were tons of fringe parties on both the far right and the far left for everybody.

    Now you have a Brian Williams on that “liberal” MSNBC asking if the “far left” of the Democrats could unite with the “moderates”, except that the “moderates” are center-right and the “far left” are New Deal 2.0.

    First, we have to call a spade a spade. Democrats have always eschewed the pure socialists and the communists; Republicans used to eschew the neo-nazis. Now, the Republicans embrace Qanon while the Democrats are slowly reconciling with their New Deal past, having sidelined the Later Day New Dealers under the Clintons.

    I remember how New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean gave a truly great speech for Reagan, bringing up the proud legacy of the Republican Party, its abolitionist heritage of Lincoln, its trust-busting heritage of Roosevelt — and then somehow made it seem like those were the positions of Reagan, who began his campaign in Philadelphia, MS and was a pro-business union buster.

    Either the Republican Party needs to be allowed to wither away while a new party becomes the center-right party, or it needs to be bashed, maybe over multiple elections, until the remnant that are left either leave, or fall prey to a take over by the old school Republicans.

    We don’t need to fear that number of Americans who prefer a dictator (as long as it’s “their” dictator). When it is no longer acceptable for them to admit their views; when their views are returned to the classification of unacceptable fringe thought that they have a right to believe in, the majority of people will set the stage for a more civil future. The young people give me hope that after a generation or two, the numbers in that part of the electorate will dwindle — not disappear, just dwindle.

    One more thing is required. The Democrats, assuming a sweep, need to avoid their two big failings: (1) trying so hard to serve all of the people that they neglect the ones that brung ’em, and (2) in-fighting and timidity leading to no real progress, just nibbles. Much can be done, but if they don’t deliver tangibly in their first two year (not everything, but something), then they will lose their majority and the “squishy center” will abandon them and all hope of healing our nation’s wounds.

    Of course, that’s just my hopeful view of things.

  44. Len,

    “Much can be done, but if they don’t deliver tangibly in their first two year (not everything, but something), then they will lose their majority and the “squishy center” will abandon them and all hope of healing our nation’s wounds.”

    “Of course, that’s just my hopeful view of things.”

    You’re a quality guy, but, unfortunately, out of touch with reality. There’s not going to be any election. This WACHO FASCIST isn’t that stupid.

    We have to start preparing for a DOMESTIC WAR right now. The Democratic Party Leadership is more out of touch with reality than you are.

    I suggest you might want to read: “James Dobson’s War on America: An inside, behind-the-scenes look at the private life of the militant moral and political activist credited with the power surge of the Religious Right” by Gil Alexander-Moegerle [a co-founder of Focus on the Family] (Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1997).

    You’re a good guy, but, unfortunately, completely out of touch with reality

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