Friday, July 29, 2022

Reprint Heaven: The Bomb In The Backyard

 Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

(Originally from December 31, 2020. Hate being right about stuff [the 'sedition' I expected on 1/6], but have been just as wrong [Trumpo, having to shuffle into a Rightist twilight world].)

Where the title of the previous post [i.e., 'previous' as of December, 2020] , 'End Of The Beginning', came from is obvious. The major events which began or rose to prominence in 2020 will, aber naturlich, continue to play out in the New Year.  We can party, but it's only the close of a Beginning. There is more shit to come.

The greatest threat, the most dangerous unexploded munition waiting to go off in America, are the 70 million persons who voted for Donald Trump. They didn't vote for him, exactly; they voted for how he made them feel. How he still makes them feel. 

Since the mid-2000's there has been a struggle between traditional, Good Ol' Boys of the GOP (McConnell the current figurehead), and 'Alt-Right' 'Tea Party' revolutionaries originally created by the Koch brothers, later taken over by evangelical 'christians' and anti-democratic opportunists  (Trump their current Leader), to control the Republican party. 

(Incidentally, the January 6th showdown over electoral college votes in the 2020 election is a contest between these two factions. Aside from being an act of sedition, this power play will show how much control over the Republican party McConnell and the traditionalists still hold -- and how much the GOP belongs to The Leader, and his howling Base.)

Trump's ability to connect with and direct his cult followers determines how much influence he has on the party. And in a larger context -- even with potential legal issues, reportedly precarious finances -- his popularity determines how useful he will be to the Bannons and Adels, the LePens and Weidels, the Hofers and Farages of the world.

These heads of more global, proto-fascist, nationalist movements will tolerate the cons which Trump runs on banks and 'investors' -- after all, as Bannon's indictment shows, they all have their own cons to run, their own sheep to fleece. In turn, Trump will make as much (or more) use of them as they of him.

But, Trump -- in his mid-Seventies, obese; addictions, unspecified health issues -- will eventually dwindle to a sideshow. He'll make incendiary remarks, appear at rallies for "Trump-True" candidates; 'write' books. Fueled by hate and his own inner demons, he will not go quietly, but go he will have to.

Meanwhile, the Murdochs, Mercers and Bannons want to find a 'Better Trump' -- charismatic, gifted; a worthy successor to the fascist energy of the 1930's -- to finish what Bannon Trump started. Someone who can speak to and mobilize the Base with A New Message for All Those Of (Dominionist christian) Faith, and American (Right-Wing Political) Strength -- All (White Heterosexual, Male) People; and those with full use of the 'physical gifts with which god has graced them'.

Which leaves us with 70 million unexploded bombs of Trumpism in America. 70 million people who believe -- one way or another -- in what Trump said and did, then voted on those beliefs.

They voted for white supremacy, for Dominionism. They voted for keeping a knee on the neck of every George Floyd, forever. That SARS-CoV2 is a hoax, and science is wrong. That America and the world is ruled by satanic pedophiles, through a bureaucratic Deep State. 

They voted for a liar and a con artist. They voted for forced separation of children from families. They voted for tax cuts to the wealthy. They voted that a sitting President could take money in exchange for favorable treatment, and to coerce the leader of another country to attack the President's political rival. That all political Liberalism equals Socialism, equals tyranny -- and so they voted for Trump as a way to "own the Libs".

Trying to comprehend how 70 million people can think this way (abandon fact-based reason; act more like superstitious Dark Age peasants than citizens in an industrial society) and follow a person like Trump, has been an enduring question in America for four years.

We've had nationalist politicians, rabid populists, in American politics before, but they've always had relatively few followers. Their ideas have never threatened to become mainstream belief. The malignant spread of Trump's hate-filled messages through the The Base -- which includes Congressional Republicans -- leaves the American Left dumbfounded. We pause and sputter, try to reason with them, find 'bipartisan consensus'. It fails, every time.

The Europeans I know are even more alarmed at Trump and 'Trumpism' than we are. They understand in their bones what fascist politics look and feel like. They've seen The Base before. And, they understand that Trump's expansion of the American Presidency into autocracy is only a symptom of a possible future even more malignant and terrifying -- and that Trumpism's followers, the Proud Boys and militias, will be waiting for the next Leader to appear and pick up where Trump left off.

If you're a Left / Progressive voter; if you're a Person of Color, LGBTQ; if you're poor, homeless, an immigrant -- and if you believe The Base are people, Americans like you, who have the capacity to be compassionate and rational... if you believe that Republicans in the House and Senate want the best for all Americans, and that their behavior is just political theatrics ... remember: A majority of  The Base's 70 million, and those Thugs in Congress, do not believe you are even human.

They believe you are agents of Satan, Socialists who want to destroy America. They believe this as fact. You are the enemy. Think about that.

In reading through Digby, I came across a Tom Sullivan piece, "What's Reason Got To Do With It?", which I recommend:
... Trying to understand Trumpism is like asking a hoarder why she/he hoards. ... The questions assume there are rational answers when rationality has nothing to do with it. For his followers, Trumpism is about how they feel... 

UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild tells The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson that Trumpism “exists beyond the logic of policy“... Hochschild wrote in her 2016 book, “Strangers in Their Own Land” that there is a “deep story” playing out with a large faction of Americans:
The deep story went like this: You are an older white man without a college degree standing in the middle of a line with hundreds of millions of Americans. The queue leads up a hill, toward a haven just over the ridge, which is the American dream. Behind you in line, you can see a train of woeful souls—many poor, mostly nonwhite, born in America and abroad, young and old. “It’s scary to look back,” Hochschild writes. “There are so many behind you, and in principle you wish them well. Still, you’ve waited a long time.” 
Now you’re stuck in line, because the economy isn’t working. And worse than stuck, you’re stigmatized; liberals in the media say every traditional thing you believe is racist and sexist. And what’s this? People are cutting in line in front of you! Something is wrong. The old line wasn’t perfect, but at least it was a promise. There is order in the fact of a line. And if that order is coming apart, then so is America.
Hochschild tested this allegory with her Republican sources and heard that it struck a chord. Yes, they said, this captures how I feel. In the past few years, she’s kept in touch with several of her connections from the Deep South and keenly tracked their philosophical evolution. 

She’s watched the locus of their anxiety move from budgets the entrenched and “swampy” political class. She also witnessed the Trumpification of everything. “There used to be a Tea Party,” she said. “Now it’s all Trumpism.”

The logic of policy has nothing to do with it. Trump is a kind of dancing orange dinosaur who has captured the imaginations of his base. He gave shape to their feelings. He gave voice to them.

Hochschild explains, “From his first rallies, Trump’s basic message has always been ‘I love you, and you love me, and we all hate the same people.’”

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