Alternative Dangers

As my post-election posts have rather clearly demonstrated, I have been shaken by the evidence that nearly half of Americans–after 4 years of Trump’s destructive circus and “in your face” bigotries– still support him.

My efforts to understand why have led me to characterize those voters–to treat them, as one commenter complained–as a bloc. It’s a valid observation/criticism, especially since I have a fairly long history of bemoaning a “we versus they” approach to statecraft–or really, to anything else.

And yet.

Probably because I am Jewish, and old enough to remember the Second World War and the hideous revelations in its aftermath, I see dangers in both approaches. There is certainly danger in “writing off” Americans who voted for Trump, in failing to try, at least, to understand the how and why of their world-views. But those of us from families that perished in the Holocaust, or from tribes eradicated in other genocides, see a countervailing danger: failing to understand the depth, persistence and reality of racial and religious hatred.

In the wake of the election, I did what depressed academic types do. I researched the question why “nice Germans”–people who loved their children, helped their neighbors, maintained their properties, went to church–nevertheless actively supported the eradication of German Jews. One good resource was titled “Why Germans Supported Hitler,” and it is an enlightening read.

Even more on point was an article from Psychology Today. Some of its most pertinent observations:

The vast majority of active German participants and passive bystanders had quite normal and stable personalities before Hitler came to power. Their family lives were remarkably similar to those of average middle-class American families today. They had jobs to support their families, sent their children to school, donated to local charities and socialized with friends and family on weekends.

As the author notes, neither the active participants nor the passive bystanders showed signs of having psychopathic or sadistic dispositions prior to the Nazi era. Nor is there any evidence that many participated out of fear or coercion.

Even when explicitly given a chance to opt out, most recruits went on to participate in killing and torture. Out of the 500 ordinary men in Germany who were recruited to do roundups of the 1,800 Jews in the village of Józefów, only fifteen decided not to participate after being told by Major Wilhelm Trapp that they were to shoot the woman, children and the elderly but could step aside if they didn’t want to be part of the killing…

The Germans who voluntarily signed up to do roundups or work at Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Dachau and other concentration camps where the inmates were killed in gas chambers or used as human guinea pigs in sadistic medical experiments came from all social classes and trades. Recruits for camps and battalions included soldiers, police officers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, secretaries, train engineers, factory workers and academics…

While military-trained people were in command of the camps, ordinary Germans executed the actual atrocities. People who had previously lived side by side with Jews, willingly carried out, assisted with or facilitated sadistic human experimentation.

The article has many examples, and in searching for explanation, the author notes that simply the existence of dehumanizing stereotypes didn’t explain behaviors so vicious that the vast majority of Hitler’s executioners would not willingly have subjected their pet dogs to them.

The difference was a hatred with a much longer, deeper history. The majority of German citizens had been conditioned to hate Jews. They had been taught that the Jews had destroyed the economy, that Jews were secretly scheming to destroy non-Jewish Germans and enact a Communist coup.

They “had been mentally prepared for the ugly war long before it started.”

Since well before the Revolutionary War, a large number of Americans have been similarly socialized into racism. Today, they are constantly being told–by Fox News, by their friends on Facebook, their compatriots in QAnon, often even in their churches– that the demographic shifts we are experiencing are a threat not just to their continued dominance, but to the very survival of their way of life. The election of Obama electrified them–and not in a good way.

This is the parallel that causes my angst, my concern that well-meaning, good-hearted admonitions to “reach out” and “try to understand” may be self-destructively naive.

America’s original and persistent sin is racism. It’s our fertile soil, just as Europe’s long history of anti-Semitism nourished and fertilized the Final Solution.

Since the advent of ubiquitous cellphone cameras, we’ve had evidence that–as Sinclair Lewis warned us–it absolutely could happen here.


  1. Thanks Prof. This reminds me of the 80’s when AIDS was destroying the gay community. As long as AIDS was killing Haitians and Gays, there was NO concern. It was as if the US Government was saying “What Problem? Gays and blacks dropping dead? What is the problem with that?”

  2. “I feel your pain”. – Bill Clinton

    One of my favorite NFL football teams way back were the Minnesota Vikings, whose defensive front line were known as The Purple People Eaters. Bud Grant was their legendary coach and although he never won a Super Bowl he won more division titles than any other coach at the time, an honor which held for years.

    At a post-game press conference someone once asked Coach Grant what he did to accomplish such a winning tradition. He kept chomping his gum and maintained his stone-cold expression and replied:

    “I maintain a stranglehold on reality at all times”.

    That quote has stuck with me throughout much of my adult life and I think of it whenever I begin to doubt my own perceptions and judgement in a given situation. So this is where I am today:

    A little over 57% of Hoosier voters believe that you (and them) will be better off in the long run if we retain a racist authoritarian who hates our planet as our President. In my County it is 77.5%.

    That is my reality. I haven’t yet figured out what, if anything, I’m going to do next. I moved here to live among the natural splendor of the lakes of Northeastern Indiana – not for the people or it’s small communities, which continue to decline in population, educational attainment and incomes thanks partially to policies aggressively promoted by the elected officials they keep voting for.

    The pandemic has largely made me a shut-in so nothing really changes in the short-run but as we progress to the safer side of it I will be re-thinking how I engage with people and the local community. As of today, I feel a very strong sense of alienation and otherness.


  3. I believe much of it, but not all, is that old bugaboo “Staunch Republican” mind set which has become a disease under the Trump administration. The southern states were Democratic, the northern states, while fighting to preserve the Union via the Civil War, were not strong abolishionists and President Abraham Lincoln had no idea what he was going to do the the slave nation once they were freed. John Wilkes Booth resolved that problem and the Republican Carpetbaggers from the north took over the southern states, what was left of them, which takes us back to FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    “America’s original and persistent sin is racism. It’s our fertile soil, just as Europe’s long history of anti-Semitism nourished and fertilized the Final Solution.”

    The Republican north did not welcome the black influx of former slaves any more than Europe, and the United States, welcomed the Jews. The combination of Republican unexplained racism, bigotry and FOLLOW THE MONEY brought about Citizens United putting our government on the auction block. Is that term, “Citizens United”, a misnomer or an oxymoron? We will never rid this county of racism and/or bigotry; it is after centuries of belief almost genetic in nature. We have recognized this for almost as long as it has existed but have not resolved the problem and Trump and his sick administration has nurtured it and exposed the ugly under-belly of the disease. Unlike the Covid-19 Pandemic; we cannot develop laboratories to research a cure for this evil. Now that it has been released on this nation, can we even get it back under some control again by reinstating Civil Rights?

  4. How do we move forward knowing now that so many people, family and neighbors, do not have the same values, the same morals, and the same ethics that we hold so dear? I am dumbstruck that so many could go along with the lying, and the cheating, and the cruelty, and the divisiveness and then vote for more!
    I see them now for what they really are, and I am repulsed. Because what I do see are the five hundred and twenty five children who were made orphans by the racist policies of their leader. I don’t want such people in my house – at my table – in my life. They can all just go to hell.

  5. I know Sheila has read Einstein’s famous dictum, but she should read it again. In the beginning, he addresses the very feelings you and those posting above are describing. Many of my friends are posting the same stuff on social media. Mind you, he wrote this in 1949 and we’ve gotten far worse in regards to our capitalist system and objectivism (reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism).

    “I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.”

    Albert Einstein, 1949, Why Socialism

  6. It can happen here?

    It has happened here!

    Those who support authoritarianism or, authoritarian capitalism, or, authoritarian nationalistic socialism, which, by the way, always is promoted by Caucasians in Europe and the Americas, with a fairly shocking number of ethnic orbiters drawn to the possibility of power and status!

    My father, unlike my mother, was ethnic German. he didn’t think like his father who was an actual Nazi!

    My mother and my mother’s family were very ethnically diverse! With native american, African, both descendants of slaves and free Africans that immigrated here. It doesn’t take much to whip up the mob hatred of individuals outside of your Creed and ethnicity. In a way, even though I experienced some really bad things, I was fortunate to grow up and be indoctrinated to both sides! Four of my great uncles were murdered, the other five served in the second world war! Those were all on my mother’s side.

    On my father’s side, only him, my father, joined the military and fought in korea. There are a lot of right-wing paper Patriots that love to wave the flag but never ever picked up a gun against a foreign enemy! Heck, it’s easier to shoot your neighbor or your political opposite than to risk your life slogging through battlefields across the big pond.

    The press, which tried to warn the Germans, was demonized as “fake news,” or Luginpresse. Sound familiar?

    Manifest destiny, was copied by the Germans and it was called “Leibensuram”, or, “room to grow,” & “Blood and Soil” using those in concentration camps and citizens from subjugated countries as slave labor to farm for the Germans and work unpaid in factories producing war equipment.

    The German chancellor, Hitler, made his case that the “restrictive control” on the German war machine and economy by “others,” (others controlled by the Jews or as currently construed, globalists) were unbearable and injurious to the average German citizen.

    We see the exact phraseology here, “Globalist”is just another word for Jews working in the financial fields and trade. A micro version of this IS how the GOP has fostered and promoted their conspiracies as truth to the people, “George Soros.” The hypocrisy is so stench-filled, because George Soros isn’t even close to the Koch brothers shenanigans, at least the one that’s left. The disinformation on George Soros is astoundingly mind-numbing and hypocritical, but, that never stops a good conspiracy now does it? Or, maybe we can say a good projection, because we see how that works on the right.

    Donald Trump is a huge fan of Adolf Hitler, that was verified by the mother of Don jr, Eric, and Ivanka.

    Enough of the world’s population has died off that actually witnessed what happened in world war II and understood what it was. So, when you dumb down the population with Protestant fanaticism and religious schooling programs that
    take away from secular education, you have revisionist history.

    And, plenty know that it’s revisionist history, but it’s an alternative reality, the bizarro world at its finest. Everything is opposite or contrarian. Down is up? Night is day? Left is right? Dry is wet? And on and on and on!

    This is exactly why this society in which we live, is on the rapid decline, and, there will be no rescuing it in the long run. And, speaking of run! Where would you tell your grandchildren or great grandchildren or great great grandchildren where to run to?

    So many who have purposely undeniably aggrieved themselves, because either they didn’t go to school, or they were too stupid to stay in school, or, they decided to support individuals who kept them dumb, poor, uneducated, sick, and hungry! Those are the easiest to manipulate. The easiest to control and the easiest to persuade towards violence and anarchy! All by being self-deluded and willfully ignorant!

    Sheila is absolutely correct, the core of the problem will still be there even if Trump is not. There are plenty waiting to pick up the mantle, and just because you whack the weed off at its base, doesn’t mean it’s dead, it’ll just grow back stronger with many more shoots to promote its survivability.

    The bloodletting will be astounding, no matter when it happens, probably more sooner than later. Look to history, because history cannot lie!

  7. Sheila, I agree with you questioning how so many Americans can vote for Trumpism even after knowing who he is. But I take encouragement in the results of the election so far, because of the effort that was made to push the rock of white supremacy up the mountain against the gravity of tricks that have been promoted by the Trump regime. If the election continues the way it is heading, and Biden wins, and the Senate flips to blue, it will be despite the efforts to sabotage the postal system, the disenfranchisement of 1.5 million former felons in Florida, and the constant diatribes against the democratic process by the right wing. It is difficult to overcome inertia, and I see this election as a beginning, a first step, to defy the momentum of Trumpism. It is a political awakening of tens of millions of Americans that will result in a generational change in the meaning of America. It is a start, and we must continue to apply pressure against the enablers until it becomes a thing of the past. Do not fall into cynicism. Be encouraged, and keep up your good work. We need it now more than ever.

  8. The final three years of my 42 year career with the YMCA at home and abroad began in Ethiopia and concluded as Director General of the Jerusalem International YMCA. The Y’s magnificent architectural symbolism for coexistence hosted leading edge events designed to promote a culture of peace. I collected a library of contemporary books devoted to the idealism for peace in the Middle East and the shelves literally surrounded anyone who visited my office for meetings. Among the collections were pictorial essays on The Holocaust as well as The Palestinian Genocide. Message? Most of the collections focused on a positive path forward with evidence based strategies for the hard work of conflict resolution and developing a culture for peace. Diverse groups of next generation leadership wanted peace but wanted economic progress more. The premise being that if prosperity is built upon a platform of diversity and inclusion, peace will be a sustainable outcome. So some asked why the reminders of The Holocaust and The Genocide in the office library. My answer was a question. While these human tragedies are sober reminders of what mankind is capable of doing to the other, which Wolf at the gate do you choose to feed?

  9. It’s not easy. It never was easy. Still, it must be done. Yes, the people who knowingly voted for the orange menace are a different breed from most of the commenters on this blog, but we know that hate is a learned thing. We have to give our children and our grandchildren a reason not to buy into the notes of discord at Thanksgiving dinner. When that crazy uncle says things that are off the wall just say you can’t agree with that, take the kids aside and explain to them why it isn’t okay to believe that. We’ve already had 400 years of crippling hate. Don’t add to it.

  10. Thank you, Sheila Suess Kennedy and James Todd. While we must acknowledge history and our current reality, each of us must continue the “good trouble,” finding all the ways we can work to be the change the precious people of our state and country need. We can if we care deeply enough and are brave enough. All suggestions are welcome.

  11. I also am old enough to remember WWII. After it ended, we in America began to find out about the death camps in Germany and were horrified. I am still trying to understand what could have led to such atrocities and I still fail to do so. We hear people say that one opinion is as good as another, which is false, because opinions are based in values, and values are the bedrock of character. I have seen enough of Trump’s values at work to realize he is a very dangerous ideologue who wants to lead this country into a destructive downward spiral. He must be defeated before we end up in a mess like happened in Germany. Yes, it could happen here.

  12. Straining to see some light ahead. I see a glimmer in our youth. It reminds me of a famous episode of “Twilight Zone” in which a group of scientists decide to prevent nuclear war by simulating an attack on Earth from outer space – essentially diverting ideological divide with an existential threat.

    We already have that threat – climate change – and young people (here and abroad) are focused on it. As bonuses, they are concerned about racism and are comfortable with diversity. We must harness this. Those older are unlikely to change – they just have to die out.

    Some dramatic actions need to be taken. Ideas – national service focused on pandemic abatement, climate change abatement, underserved community assistance, etc.. Putting a new generation of pragmatic leaders in prominent roles in the new administration – think Stacey Abrams, not AOC.

  13. I believe that no person of color was surprised by this. However, something to also think about is what role a black woman VP candidate played in this. Sadly, I believe that many potential Biden voters were just racist enough to not want a black woman in the second highest office.

  14. As someone who is pro-science, pro-environment, and pro-choice, among other pro’s, I’m keenly aware of single issue voters who only care about overturning Roe v Wade. Unborn fetuses are their only focus, and they’ll put up with anything else to ensure every pregnancy ends in birth.

  15. White grievance, as it’s been so often mentioned on this blog, uses key phrases and misguided definitions for trigger words, like “socialism”. To the Trumpists who rail about how unfair they’ve been treated, the word “socialism” means: “Giving frees stuff to … uh, ‘those people'”.

    “Black Lives Matter” merely reinforces that narrow mindset. Stoking fear is really easy among the ignorant. Ignorance is the situation based on lack of knowledge.

    Lack of knowledge is based on two things: (1) Lousy or no parenting. This pertains to all classes of all demographics. The upper, middle-class family, for example, will have two working parents running on the treadmill of “getting ahead”. They’ll throw a $100 bill at their kids and tell them to do whatever while they go to another Kiwanis meeting. (2) Lousy education in public (and presumably private as well) schools where curriculum has been politicized and dumbed down so administrators can look good on those inaccurate, stupid and incompetent high stakes tests.

    Voila! Mass ignorance. This is precisely what Orwell wrote about, Todd’s guru Einstein said often, and that any school teacher worth a damn has recognized since 1981. This is also precisely the scenario that corporatists want so they can herd those masses to do their will: Make them rich(er) and obedient. After all, labor disputes take money out of the corporate pockets.

    That’s why Trumpism will last for a very long time. His fetid offspring will continue to stir the masses and enflame the meager intellectual talents of those masses. The father will graduate from the Oval Office to some courtrooms in New York to answer for his lifetime of crimes against … well, everything he’s ever touched.

  16. In an effort to probe the source of these problems which seem so intractable, I feel like I’ve hit a Jersey Barrier at 80 miles an hour when I get to the notion of “conservatism.” Of course it’s natural to want to keep things from changing from the time when you found them most agreeable. However, the most inexorable force in nature, including human nature, is change, and those who oppose it are certain to encounter disappointment. All thoughtful people agree that nearly everything changes from minute to minute, let alone from day to day or year to year.

    Facts change. Attitudes change. Reality changes. Darwin went to great lengths to help us understand the nature of change. To some extent, by dint of extraordinary will and effort we can help shape change in a way that proves less hostile. Still, almost half of us insist we are rational despite our never-ending, incessantly losing battle to keep things the same. We call people with this world view “conservatives,” and they are essentially whiney children who are not succeeding in getting their way. They never will, and if we want a functioning society we must help them understand the unworkability of the keep-things-the-same approach to life.

    If half of America refuses to deal with the reality of change, how are we to improve our lot? I suggest we add half an hour daily to Sheila’s proposed K-12 class on civic awareness and use that time to enlighten our youth on why opposing change is an utter waste of time. We can include lectures on how successful people and organizations have dealt with change over time. We can show them that change needn’t be regarded as an enemy. In short, we can help them get a firmer grip on reality and instill in them a will to confront the reality of change. And it wouldn’t hurt to toss in an occasional lecture on critical thinking.

  17. my runs to texas the last few years while in my off season job,had its effect on me to see how rampit the racism was,and still is. living in NoDak its the slam on Native Anericans, and whoever is diffrent,even white folk..texas was a combined pot of cooking racism stew. i made my way to many a nite out at local dives and bars around this country,anywhere..i can sit and mind my own buisness,and hear the cheap talk,and then again in public places and where i load my truck,shop,spend my money..its not a new thing to hear this,my 65 years are proof,its only gotten the social voice of whatever is available. that loud sound from the social media,has pushed the bounderies and made it acceptable to be a racist.(many hide behind that wall,and many dont)at least in my working class world,i probably see and hear far more live and and in techicolor than most people dress says i work for a living,my talk says im not a college grad, my swagger is pure street,even at 65..being i see 99.9% of my day around whitey, its my proverb to do my buisness and move on before i disappoint them that im not a cur of the race i represent..i have few friends here in NoDak by choice..i pick mine that dont see color,and see life as helping keep ones neighbor stay above water.. as a whiteman,since 2014,i witness first hand the voice of what trumps gang has given rise too.. its no secret before him,it was a quiet yawn and so what..
    now its inflated to be the sound of the biggot,and who they want to be,at the cost of our democracy…that democracy gave them the right to voice,and at times,express their opinions and needs..what they overlook is, that same talk gave hitler and the like,to strong arm the people,while they blissfully watch,until it was their turn to be seen as a problem. my work ethic is solid,my view is for all to enjoy our country and what it can provide,for all.. my stance on the monied class is not nice,and it has now shown us what a paid think tank and citizens united can provide to distroy what we all have worked,and many have died for. the working class is divided ,the biggest voting block in America barley made a voice in this election…all it did was show, just how screwed up we have allowed this country to divide itself for the greed of people like trump and company…
    im tired of paying taxes to support the rich,and assholes like trumps family and friends.
    few if any media,has said a damn thing about how the game works,and for who,(and keep that issue front and center in any conversation,)as the band plays on…if Biden is suppose to be the savior of this country now,then lets see it, tax those who have been soooo generous to the people who do the work,bring on immigrant and prison reform, reform the police state that exists, small buisness and main street growth,above corp profits,(small buisness hires far more)and being all of the above depend on a healthy America,to,spur the great profit machine,healthcare without profit,and a dignified wage for all, who enjoy working for a living..maybe then as the arms meet each other,more Americans will see, that racism isnt such a good thing…

  18. Sadly, the human history back to ancient times has numerous examples of organized brutality. Some will actively participate and others will be part of “logistical support”.

    What I marvel at is the way the Trump Cult has determined The Trumpet represents them. All The Trumpet’s character flaws are brushed aside. His Male-Macho-Authoritarianism is actually celebrated. The Trumpet other than big talk has never demonstrated any personal courage. I suppose the Trump Cult sees The Trumpet not wearing a mask or social distancing as proof of some perverted sense of bravery.

    The Trumpet in the spirit of the GOP going back to the 2000 election between Gore and Bush, now wants to elevate the election to the Supreme Court. The Howdy – Rowdies of the GOP are now on their Vote Fraud horse.

    How totally hypercritical of the GOP who now cries out for morality and the rule of law when The Trumpet has repeatably shown a complete disregard for morality and the law, as President and in his personal life.

  19. While there are red and blue voters in every demographic the county level voting preference clearly indicates that Democrats prevail in virtually all urban areas and Republicans elsewhere. I think that’s highly indicative of the trend that you would expect that the younger and more culturally diverse urban cohort tends to on the average vote Democrat and the rest not so much. That should mean that even though Republicans will continue to stand in the way of democracy that they aren’t advantaged by, their strength will decline in time. (Paradoxically the Trump virus is working against their continued success.)That’s the way personal culture works. It slows and tames progress by slowing it to a more or less generational speed. Of course that’s at odds with the current rate of progress which is an ongoing problem for all of us.

    It would be good if the Trump mistake becomes an outlier in American history and now that we have solved the temporary problem it created democracy returns to become the rule rather than the exception.

  20. I have been searching for a better label than Trumpism for the mindset that is so upsetting to commenters here and to me. Two reasons: 1) Calling it Trumpism gives the Orange One more credit than he deserves since I see him as a symptom not the disease and as a tool of both social forces and other people far smarter and more manipulative than him. 2) It could fool us into thinking that moving him out of the way will solve more of the problem(s) than it actually will. We are in a huge tangle of isms and fears and oppressions that involve everything from our economy and government to our education and health care systems and religions. From where we live to where and how we socialize and recreate. It’s metaphysical. But it needs a tagline, a label, to facilitate talking about it. White supremacy covers a lot, but is taken not to cover enough of economic and educational territory, I think. White Elitism? It also has to do with “Is there enough for me?” so we might need to get the idea of zero-sum thinking in there to be debunked, too. Help, please?

  21. Excellent column, Sheila, though I’m not sure your conclusion follows from your argument. You seem to always want to go back to America’s original sin – “racism” – as the reason people support Trump. But I don’t think that’s quite right.

    Here is a line from your argument that I want to emphasize:

    “The difference was a hatred with a much longer, deeper history. The majority of German citizens had been conditioned to hate Jews. They had been taught that the Jews had destroyed the economy, that Jews were secretly scheming to destroy non-Jewish Germans and enact a Communist coup.”

    You’re saying that German citizens had been brainwashed, i.e. conditioned to hat Jews. Bingo. That is exactly what is going on with Trump supporters. Trumpers are conditioned, via their traditional and social media, to believe Democrats are not just wrong, they are downright evil. I guarantee you that if you asked them who is more evil, Hillary Clinton or Vladimar Putin, they would pick Clinton. I bet you could substitute Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton you would get exactly the same result. That’s why the Qanon pedophilia nutty conspiracy has taken off in the Republican Party. They are brainwashed to believe the absolute worst about Democrats.

    As a lifelong conservative and Reagan Republican, I still talk to a lot of GOP types who support Trump. I can’t tell you how maddening it is. All you hear from them is Trump talking points that have been set out by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, etc., which are amplified in social media feeds. You can’t get them to think independently of those talking points, to consider alternative views. Anything bad about Trump is immediately viewed through tribal glasses. If something bad about Trump is coming from D’s they won’t even consider it.

    You want to see something frightening…you should see my Twitter feed. As a Republican, I hear from other Republicans and they are all out peddling conspiracy theories about how Trump is having the election stolen from him. You even have celebrities like James Woods and Kirstie Alley spreading these conspiracy theories. It is absolutely horrifying because you know the Trump crowd is eating up those conspiracy theories, especially since Trump himself is confirming them as true.

    Again, I cannot emphasize enough how brainwashed those Trump supporters are to hate all Democrats. They need to be deprogrammed and I’m not sure how you do it with today’s media.

    I have often wondered why I missed the brainwashing that GOP Trump supporters received. It’s like there is a convention and everyone who had the steak got food poisoning but I am one of the few who ordered the fish.

  22. Connie – super issue to bring up – kudos! We must find a term that clearly connotes to all – very hard as the English language is not good at that AND does not denigrate.

    BUT…putting that broad swath into a single box is the kind of stuff that supports divisiveness anyway…

    And, to add to the brew, by no means are the DEM supporters all the same either…

    We have got to get back to principles/values as a source for identifying differences, to me it might be: – Personal liberty v/s common good as a place to start…

  23. Michael Cohen in today’s Boston Globe:

    It reminds me of a moment from the 2016 campaign trail. At the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, I spoke with a man who was working a table for the county Republican Party. I asked him about Trump, and he didn’t appear to be much of a fan. Did he agree with Trump’s views on immigration? No. Did he think, as Trump was alleging at the time, that the 2016 election would be rigged? He chuckled at that and said he didn’t believe that. Had he supported Trump in the primaries? No. He hadn’t been his first choice.

    So why, I asked, are you supporting Trump? “Well,” the man said, “I’m a Republican, and he’s a Republican.” That was it. It didn’t matter that he didn’t share Trump’s worldview. They were both on the same team and, as was the case on election night for millions of Republican voters, that was more than enough.

  24. Jack,

    We should collaborate on a book about your adventures and observations. You have a keen eye and a strong ethic. You have a good heart and are a true patriot. And I’m a very good writer.

    The nation needs to hear about itself from your eyes. Your piece today must be saved for the Preface.

  25. I agree with Paul O’s comment: we are seeing how a campaign of hate has been systematically applied to Democrats. I also agree that some Republicans are single issue focused on being “pro-life”. I engaged a very nice local business man (R), who told me that DT was prolife, kept his promises, etc. He thought Joe Biden was a liar and dishonest and questioned why Joe didn’t deny about the “laptop“. He was totally unsatisfied that the press hadn’t investigated. So Democrats are liars and cheaters, who knew?
    Also Sheila, I agree with your assessment of the way Nazi thought and power overtook Germans. The New Testament deflected Roman attention Away from the early Christians who were anti-empire power to The Jewish people in the later writings of the New Testament.
    I wondered how the Weimar Republic could fall under Hitler’s sway and Blamed it on the economic hardship following WW1. Now I have seen it in my own country with people like Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell and attack agents like Jim Jordan and his ilk.
    I pray that we can turn this mess around. That means we can’t stand by and be a witness.

  26. Norris brings up a good point.

    But one thing I learned from the man my mother married 20 years after my father’s death, was how much hatred there is towards the colonial powers of Germany Britain France and russia! Fati is from whome I learned a lot about the Muslims and Orthodox Christianity and Judaism and how they related to each other in the middle East, he was an Aramaic syrian.

    All the various agreements
    (Sykes-Picot act) and the (Sazonov-Paleologue agreement) between the powers on how to divide the middle East to get the most profit out of it, was the real reason for the interest there. The Ottoman empire was just in the way, not that it was an enemy! The Ottoman empire was powerful and needed to be dismantled to satisfy the colonials insatiable appetite for oil.

    It was about the oil! It’s always about the oil! And, the artificial boundaries that were drawn up by the colonial white Caucasian powers trampled on ethnic and cultural divides! These colonial Powers installed brutal strong men to control their populations, and it created so much hatred towards the colonial powers in the middle East, it not only was psychologically evident, it was physically malleable! King Farouk was one, as an example, if his vehicle was yellow, no one else in the country could have a yellow vehicle! If, he saw the wife of somebody and he wanted her, her husband or father or both would be eliminated and he was free to take the widow. This is just what my Spanish neighbors would say poquito muestra, or, a little sample.

    This happened across the middle east, the Arabs were lied to, getting them to revolt against the Ottoman Turks, and then, were left high and dry by the colonial powers.

    The colonial Caucasians are not a very nice group of people! They’ve used every single lie and deceitful activity to justify the most heinous and mind-bogglingly ignorant conduct towards their fellow man, just to come to an end that they desired!

    This is not learned, this is genetic, it’s a genetic flaw it’s a genetic defect! And you will not change that genetic flaw or that genetic defect that controls the inner beast because that beast is part of their DNA?

    Now, that’s history! Of course, one cannot paint every single individual with that broad brush! But there are enough of those folks, that the broad brush is deserving for the most part. Because, if you have good folks, and then they remain silent, it just green lights bigotry and hatred of those who feel entitled and Superior because of their self-delusion and genetic flaws.

    In this country, there should be an immediate mandate to locate factories and facilities in the least advantaged areas of this country! Bring some sort of palpable hope to people who are the least advantaged! there will always be those who are self-deluded and willfully ignorant! But, a majority of this civil society will not be! And, as long as the majority stays intact, better things can possibly happen.

    Also, a lot of bad things can happen! The old adage, a horse in every barn and a chicken in every pot, it’s still as attractive now as it was then. But, for some reason these things never get delivered! they are always relegated to the backdrop, and then we just have the same old same old.

  27. Have we seen any evidence that a society can be talked or educated out of fascism? A scholar’s article that I read several months ago (and neglected to save) said that, going back to the Roman Empire, full-blown authoritarianism (or fascism) has never been ended by peaceful civic action. It has always ended as a consequence of a huge destructive event, such as WWII. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic and certainly the climate crisis promise to be such events. IMO, each of them has already entered a stage of rapid expansion to a scale where the loss of life, property, and financial resources will exceed what we can imagine today and what we will be able to rapidly overcome. I think whoever is President will have no choice but to declare a state of emergency or perhaps even martial law in 2021. Survival will replace all the other issues that occupy the nation today, including our fear of the loss of democracy. We can see it in many Third World countries already.

  28. Want to get good and scared? Consider that there are millions to the right of Trump who would follow a Hitler in the blink of an eye. There have always been the Nazi types among us, just as there were Nazis around before Hitler, who merely organized the movement. If we are to survive we must, as one commentator wrote today, educate the young. As the Nazis die out and the formerly young take over, there will be far fewer Trumps in the offing.

  29. Does anyone know of any research into the relative incidence of single party voters between Republicans and Democrats?

  30. On the Big World stage, I am happy to have a glass half full and fill the rest with my Small World commitment to counter intentional disinformation sent by family and other social media connections. Like other peers on this blog, I do exchange with thoughtful concerned Republicans.

  31. Although it now looks as if Biden will win, the fact that Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives really makes me worry. I have been mulling this over for the last few days and I think that what you said is part of it.Sheila points out in the above blog that the majority of German citizens had been conditioned to hate Jews and Americans have been socialized to be racist. My mother’s generation has been conditioned to party loyalty. I see how hard it is for my mother and her friends to vote Democrat. However, we have also been socialized to prioritize wealth over health and to see people as weak if they have a safety net. We have been conditioned to prioritize masculinity (win) over caring (a virtue associated with femininity).

    One of my friends pointed out to me today that her 30-40 year old friends who voted Republican did so because they fear losing their freedoms to another shutdown. What kind of loss of freedoms do they fear? Is it real economic loss or is it just the freedom to socialize a certain way? Have we been conditioned into cramming to bars or sports stadiums as our main social events rather than working in a community garden? If the problem is getting food on the table during a shutdown, we need to address that. If the problem that we cannot imagine a better way, we need to address that also. We need to think through all the other ways we are conditioned because they contribute to racism, sexism, etc.

  32. Hardships – especially economic hardships – are the gasoline fueling the search for scapegoats. Scapegoats are much easier explanations than complicated economic theories or still to-be-refined understanding of COVID or mass migrations, particularly if the scapegoating taps into the latent stereotypes harbored by a significant swath of the community. The ‘aha’ moment is a convenient someone to blame.

    Trump exploited our economic dislocations daily in stereotypical comments and policies against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. He tried to do so on COVID, but the virus attacked him literally and politically, and scapegoating a virus proved much more difficult.

    Trump loves recognition and awards. He surely gets the prize for failing so spectacularly to rise to the occasion.

  33. Pete et al,

    From data showing little ticket splitting…

    Political polarization is even more extreme than many of us thought. Democrats and Republicans are increasingly determining their votes simply by whether there is a D or an R next to a candidate’s name.

    It shows the incredible hold Trump has over the Republican Party, particularly low-propensity voters. Those Senate GOPers who bear-hugged Trump and spent four years enabling his behavior reaped the political rewards.

    Not one red state incumbent who appeared vulnerable lost their race. If anything, they all out-performed the polls.

  34. In regard to the dislike of change, it behooves us to reread the pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, who claimed that one cannot stick their foot into the same river twice. Change is the only constant.

  35. The answer is remarkably more simple than you’re giving it credit for. You were much closer to it when you were viewing it through the “us vs. them” discouragement, however, I don’t think you’ve viewed the paradigm from all perspectives.

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