Facing Reality

At this moment, it looks as if Joe Biden will win. But no matter who is President when the smoke clears and the votes are all counted–if they are– we learned some things on Tuesday. And the lessons weren’t pleasant.

The most obvious–and ultimately least consequential–is that polling is not nearly as “scientific” as the pollsters think. The effort to figure out what went so wrong will undoubtedly occupy pundits and nerds for a long time.

The far more painful lesson concerns the nature of our fellow-Americans.

I read about the thuggery leading up to the election–the “good old boys” in pickups ramming Biden’s bus, the desecration of a Jewish graveyard in Michigan with “MAGA” and “Trump” spray paint, the consistent, nation-wide efforts to suppress urban and minority voters–but until election night, I’d convinced myself that those responsible represented a very small segment of the population.

I think what I am feeling now is what Germany’s Jews must have felt when they realized the extent of Hitler’s support.

I am not engaging in hyperbole: the research in the wake of 2016 is unambiguous. Trump supporters are overwhelmingly motivated by racial and religious animus and grievance. White nationalist fervor has swept both the U.S. and Europe over the past few years, but it has taken firmer hold here. The QAnon conspiracy has clear roots in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and America’s racism–our original sin–has provided fertile ground for the alt-right sympathizers who defend tearing brown children from their parents, treating both immigrants and citizens of color as disposable, and keeping women in “our place.”

Trump didn’t invent these people, but he has activated them. Indeed, he is one of them.

I thought it was tragic when Trump’s approval ratings forced me to recognize that more than a third of America fell into that category. I find it inconceivable–but inarguable and infinitely depressing–that the actual number is close to half.

Evidently, the America I thought I inhabited never really existed. I’m in mourning for the country I believed was mine.


  1. Allen,

    Like I’ve mentioned before, all of these Central and South Americans you claim are voting because there’s so much better off than they were before it’s kind of ridiculous! Because right now they definitely aren’t better off than they were before.

    The area I live in, right here in Goodall illinois, the population of this city is 75% hispanic. And I’m not talking about any particular Hispanic group, it’s from all over mexico, Central america, South America, and cuba!

    My neighbor to the north is mexican, Sam’s neighbor to the north is Colombian, her neighbor is a regular old white guy, lol! Across the street as a retired African-American Navy officer. Next to him is a Guatemalan, next to him is another Mexican family, next to him is Filipino family period and that’s just on this dead end street. Every single one of my neighbors is a fantastic individual, and I’ve never heard them talk about socialism! every single one of them can’t stand the current president.

    If people claim to be religious and then Roil again socialism, they are clueless about the religion they claim to follow. Because, like I mentioned to Todd Jesus Christ was a socialist! Everything he did was socialist. Share the wealth, have love of your neighbor as yourself, have love for your enemy, love your god, take care of the foreign resident and the widows and orphans!

    As Christians we are not commanded to keep the sabbath, but, Christ’s law supersedes that and tells us to practice all of the above mentioned.

    Authoritarian capitalistic dictatorship is not socialism! Too bad so many have no clue as to what socialism really is. So, them being ignorant, allows them to aid and abet the authoritarian nationalistic dictator in waiting.

    that’s why the politics of those countries need to stay in those countries and not be imported here as some sort of pseudo foreign protest! Foreign residents should be respected in the community by everyone, just as they themselves should respect their new home and not try to impart their flawed beliefs in a society that they need to blend into, not change.

  2. JoAnn, “A college education is not the answer to all problems and does not guarantee a successful life”

    I agree. But having people merely trained for support positions, tradespersons, cleaners, food prep, etc., is failing immensely to prepare them as citizens. A bachelors degree doesn’t prepare them either so long as the bachelors degree is focused on job preparation. It is the liberal arts courses, with or without a degree, that make the citizen. And it is the Citizen in Full that we need to focus on producing, not the half-citizen who merely fixes our bathroom stool and then dumps on the rest of citizenry in every other way that counts.

    Viva liberal arts courses K through whatever.

  3. Sheila: you echo my thoughts exactly. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Hitler and Trump. The parallels between Hitler and Trump include their arrogant charisma and ability to pander to and foster some fundamental sentiment. Hitler created resentment of Jews by blaming them for all of Germany’s post WWI ills, and since he gradually took over all the newspapers and radio, there was no push-back. In Trump’s case, he panders to fear: for non college educated white males, fear that they will fall behind educated women and blacks, exemplified by Obama ascending to the presidency, fear that brown people from south of the border will take away their jobs because they’ll work cheaper and there’s so many of them, fear that educated women will rise to power, like Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Gretchen Whitmer and Hillary Clinton. Trump has yet to criticize his followers for plotting the kidnapping and murder of Gov. Whitmer–in fact, his rhetoric helped create this situation because he criticized her for taking measures to try to stop the spread of COVID.

    This is, of course, racism, xenophobia and misogyny, and his followers don’t just agree with his rhetoric–they are passionate about it and about him because he validates their fears instead of telling them they are wrong. He makes no effort to bring people together, and that makes America weaker. There is no other explanation for Trump, because he has failed in just about every way a president could fail. He has shattered relationships with US allies. He was impeached by the House of Representatives for trying to gin up false accusations against his opponent and 48 US Senators voted to remove him from office. Yesterday, the daily COVID -positive count reached 100,000+. Deaths are setting new records, too. Unemployment is over 10%. The trade deficit is the highest in 14 years. The economy is the worst it has been since the Great Depression, and yet, this person still enjoys considerable support. Everything about him is un-American, including his use of the White House as a stage prop for vainglory rallies, his attempts to stop the vote counting where he is ahead, but push ahead where he is behind, trying to suppress the vote in minority communities and his implied threat not to allow the peaceful transfer of power. That an unfit person like him could still have considerable support is scary, indeed and the things it says about a large segment of America are not good.

  4. The fact that Christina Hale did not win and the Democrats have a net loss of seats in the House of Representatives at the National level and may have expanded their super-majority at the state level is what makes me do some soul searching.

    You and Rabbi Sandy Sasso and Christina Hale have worked so hard in Women 4 Change and I had hoped that the Republican wall was started to crumble on Indy’s north suburbs and that Christina would win the election. By the way, like you, I am a former Republican. The party left me, I did not leave the party.

    As a university professor and an adult Sunday School class teacher, I know that I am making progress in changing hearts and minds but it is not showing yet. I have wonderful people in my Sunday School class and in church who voted for candidates who make me cringe. I saw how hard it was for my 94 year old mother to vote for Democrats but she did it! My cousin sat on my back porch a few weeks ago talking about her fears about Biden and I realized that her fears about Biden have a lot in common with my fears about Trump. My friends who have benefited from Obamacare are some of its most vociferous opponents – I just don’t understand.

    Who we elect is a symptom of how we think. What can each of us do to change hearts and minds to bring in a time when everyone is valued and respected and we elect honest, wise, and caring leaders?

  5. We need also to consider the still significant number of people who just won’t engage with the electoral process. What about them?

  6. “But having people merely trained for support positions, tradespersons, cleaners, food prep, etc., is failing immensely to prepare them as citizens.”

    Larry; with that one sentence you have managed to insult the vast majority of generations of American citizens; all races, ethnic origins, religions, sexual orientations, levels of intelligence. levels of lower education and the hardest working segment of Americans. Drive down streets, walk through business districts, malls, neighborhoods where citizens live and work and see how many are working to keep this country functioning. You have insulted me, my ancestors, my immediate and extended family members, my neighbors and those who serve me…and you…when you shop for food, gas or at your pharmacy, department and big box stores. You live on a level of reality of educational snobbery and you are outnumbered by millions of hard working, responsible Americans. Fortunately; they will not be aware you are looking down on them and will serve you to the best of their ability whatever products or services you need.

  7. John Sorg – Your last observation today points up what should have been the headlines today, to wit: Our first ever in excess of 100,000 new virus infections per day with predictions that it could soar from that number as we congregate indoors for the next several months. If an effective vaccine is not found and the morbidity rate follows the rate of infection, one can see in the long run or even the medium run with our crashing birth rate and anti-immigrant policies that we may not have all that many of us left to hate or be hated, as when the black plague decimated Europe.

    You also correctly raised the question of how the mere mention of socialism disaffects, among others, voters. It worked for Republicans in Miami-Dade County among survivors of such regimes from Cuba and Central America, and may have been responsible for giving Trump Florida’s 29 electoral votes. As you suggest, it’s a cheap shot, but I think it more than that, as follows.

    It also leaves the false impression that capitalism cannot be just as suppressive of the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens as socialism. Truth be told, and beyond those you correctly mentioned as socialistic, we already have socialism for the one per cent, a one percent who cries socialism as bogeyman! to the rest of us when their power base of money is threatened, citing its misuse in Cuba, Russia and elsewhere, but conveniently failing to mention that any ism can be used as a tool of repression by the ruling class – who (as in our case) use propaganda, money and fear rather than naked force of a Castro or Stalin to retain power while showering propaganda on the rest of us with quaint stories of American exceptionalism and other myths and simultaneously financing politicians who ensure their ownership of our economy with “campaign contributions” and renaming of university business schools with the names of these terminal capitalists – along with the authorship of their curricula in order to pass such socialism down to their progeny (a problem treated at length by Piketty in his Capitalism in the Twenty First Century (my secular bible).

    So, hate thy neighbor because he or she is operating under the haze of Trumpism? Argue that such stances can only exist because of ignorance, poor me (ism), lack of civic education etc.? My thesis is that any ism can be repressive and that pretty is as pretty does; that there is no genuine controversy that we do not presently have an admixture of capitalism and socialism; that neither in isolated context is desirable, and that the only real question is how large a dose of either should be added to the mix in quest of the common good. Perhaps we can start our redistribution of isms by requiring capitalists to act more like the true capitalists as envisioned by Adam Smith. Perhaps, but don’t bet the ranch. Water does not run uphill.

  8. Back in my anti-war protest days we were told “America, Love it or Leave it.” I didn”t then but wish I could now. If I were younger and had the money needed, I would leave. Knowing that half of the population would support eradicating me because of who I love is a chilling and lonely place to be as every African American has known all of their lives. Surviving by denial is no longer possible. I live (for now) surrounded by alien monsters disguised as benign neighbors. I no longer have faith in “my fellow Americans.” Even as I write this, I do know that these darkest of times are part of the process of dismantling patriarchy. More lives will be lost and democracy might as well but ultimately the gross imbalance of patriarchy will lie in the dust of ancient history. I think we are living in the “bottoming out” of the addictive nature of capitalism as we know it and of white fear driven racism. The inevitability of the demise of white majority & white superiority will allow us to eradicate systemic racism and we can become decent human beings sharing the only home we have.

  9. Natacha, The parallels to Hitler are apt, especially about newspapers and radio. Trump has discredited almost all of the news papers (fake news), and has taken over 75% of the social media and just enough of the broadcast media to make it all seem plausible. I am pretty sure if you lean to the right just a little bit, you will have no problem getting sucked into the vortex of lies that makes it seem like Trump is doing a great job.

    I have no idea how a political poll actually works, but how they are doing it is not reaching the people that are actually voting. Maybe there is another QAnon conspiracy out there that tells everybody “in the know” that if you answer a poll, say you are voting for Biden.

  10. JoAnn – WADR, I think you took Larry’s comment the wrong way. I think in no way was he disparaging “front line workers” at all. I am guessing it was the workers whose jobs seem to require a college degree – accountants, hi-tech manufacturing, coders, medical technicians, etc.. The programs that prepare them often neither require nor contain “electives” in civics, critical thinking, sociology, psychology, etc. that might “round out” their adulthood to think a bit deeper when voting.

    Larry – I can’t speak for you – just guessing. Apologies if I am off your mark.

  11. I am 51 and Todd-you defined my views on America–” he American Dream was a facade…exceptionalism isn’t even close to being true. Our religion doesn’t look anything like the man who brought it about.” This whole idea of pulling up by your boot straps is a fallacy and Capitalism is amoral and I see regulations as a way to reign it in so that the many can benefit.

    My dad had to explain to a farmer who was rattling on about socialism that the farmer actually benefits from socialism like roads, fire, policy, oh and then he asked if he receives gov’t bail outs and the farmer said ‘yes’ and my dad said ‘that is socialism’ Farmer was stopped in his tracks when my dad then pulled out the dictionary definition of socialism.

  12. I don’t care if you are trained as a dog catcher, a plumber, a physician, or an architect, if your education was short on liberal arts, your chances of being a Citizen in Full is stunted.

    I don’t care if your fire fighting expertise saved my house, your medical care saved my children, your mechanical prowess fixed my car, or your bricklaying skills built my castle, if your education was short on liberal arts, your chances of being a Citizen in Full is stunted. There is much more to being a fully functioning citizen than mowing your yard, paying your own way, and amassing an estate.

    America must stop educating itself for the workplace and begin educating itself for civil responsibility, because civil responsibility already contains workplace skills, but mere workplace skills give us only vainglorious Deplorables.

  13. Gerald, ??

    Absolutely brother I couldn’t agree with you more!

    I definitely believe this kobit thing is going to be brutal in the next several months. It’s going to make the former months of this pandemic seem like the good old days.

    If it wasn’t so pathetic and mind-boggling, it would be kind of humorous in a way concerning the cry of socialism! Everyone wants socialism until someone says that it is socialism! Go figure. And yes, I’ve never witnessed water running uphill yet. I don’t know, maybe in a vacuum? Now, that raises a lot more issues LOL! ???

  14. I am going to rip off Betty Tonsing, PhD. It is going to be my new quote on Facebook. Thanks you Betty.
    “That the vote is so close is disturbing. It is not the ’emperor’ who has no clothes; America stands naked before the world.”

  15. Learning how to think independently and critically is where our education system fails. I’m not sure an education system can help a large portion of the population.

  16. Also appalled. But my comments to someone earlier earned me the true statement that my rant was certainly divisive. (One of Trump’s specialties, which I was moaning about being accepted – embraced?- by his supporters.) Kind of opened my eyes. And also this, for anyone interested in reading it. All credit to @tylerthrasherart.
    “White Americans are the only ones who are shocked.”

  17. I can tell you as a nurse that I don’t know where I would have been without all our support staff who cooked the food, cleaned the patient’s rooms, kept our computers going, etc. Once upon a time nurses had to scrub floors, cook food, wash dishes which pulled us away from the bedside of patients.

    I went to a liberal arts school which gave me a much broader education than just the science/art of nursing. One of my friends who had a BA in English was never able to make much use of her degree. There are many courses taught in college where the only way to make money is to teach or write a book ie philosophy, history. And yet I believe that we need
    these people to help us be fully human, to evolve in ways that move us toward becoming beings of compassion and wisdom and not just scientific progress.

    I can only hope that in this moment of our country’s history that Trump has exposed how vulnerable we are to fascism, how America has a long way to go with getting rid of racist systems, how wealth inequity is damaging our economy and political systems.

    Go Joe Go!!! County EVERY VOTE!!!!

  18. Our state’s Chamber of Commerce and business community deny it verbally, but their actions speak louder than words. For more than 2 decades, they have pushed our schools hard and successfully to prepare for career or college preparation for career readiness as if the only reason for an education is for a job. Preparing students to be good citizens, good parents, and good neighbors is nowhere on their radar screen. Preparing students for fine arts appreciation, participation, and creativity isn’t either.
    But then they complain about the lack of workers’ ‘soft’ skills like the ability to work with others, the lack of a strong work ethic, unwillingness to do more than the minimum, irresponsible parenting, failure to accept responsibility, inability to think ‘outside the box’, and more.

    A liberal arts education of the whole child connects the dots.

  19. Too many comment to comment on – I will just say “right on” to Larry – as my high school educated father told me “I don’t care if you are a garbage collector, you will be a college educated garbage collector.” Education is an end in itself, not job training. By the way, Paul, not just law. MDs spend years after getting a degree learning be to doctors. I didn’t know how to really do science until after my post-doctoral years – and I had worked in a top lab before graduate school.

    Now for the good news – Fady and trends, (also the Michigan Supreme court was flipped to Democratic control thanks in part a YouTube ad by the cast of West Wing) – trends – suburban women, Georgia, Texas, and even Arizona – no, not a dramatic flip, not a blue wave, but a steady erosion of Republican dominance. Perhaps a bunch of anti-democratic rural bigots (the noun is bigot, not rural so you know whom I am talking about) came out for the first time and voted. I suspect they will go back to their non-voting ways after an election cycle or two. The biggest problem is that Mitch will try to ruin the Biden presidency. Biden has to use the bully pulpit against the “do-nothing” McConnell senate in 2022 and 2024 (or Harris or whoever then), but by then, we may see those long term demographic trends finally fulfill expectations.

    We began digging this hole with Reagan, or maybe Nixon’s “Southern strategy”. I will take years to recover, but eventually, the Democrats will rediscover FDR, and some of the people who say “I don’t mind an Autocrat if I have a job” will say “I don’t mind a commie Democrat if I keep this good paying job.”

    The commonality I find among Trump supporters is not “stupidity”, it is gullibility. They are buying into outrageous lies. Jesse Pitts, my old sociology prof used to say that the real purpose of a college education if to develop a crap-detector. You can do that without college, but with or without college, Trump’s supporters seem not to have any crap-detecting ability. I am not talking about people who think that a braggadocio idiot is a fun President. I am talking about the people who believe every word coming from Fox and Trump and company.

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