39 Comments

I admit that it took me awhile to realize this. I see no reason to give anyTrump supporter the benefit of the doubt.

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By now, gah, no one should give MAGA the benefit of the doubt. I don’t care what outer appearance they portray - if they can find it within themselves to STILL support Trump, they are damaged goods for sure.

They try to compartmentalize him to pretend they aren’t like him even if they support him. In the sad efforts they try to hide behind his Fox News generated, nonexistent success record. Or blame their hatred of Dems as leaving them no choice but to support him. Bullshit. They even have other conservative candidates to choose from.

Truth is they ARE like him & absolutely love trumps vision of America - an America that looks like the delusional utopia they wax nostalgic about - those glorious 1950s black-disabled-atheist-woman-lgbtq-Muslim-Hispanic-SexEd free-quiet abortion days of America! They think if allll of these sectors were limited/out of sight/and most all, punished, it would put them at the head of the power tables in society. He is the closest they’ve ever come to seeing this dream come true!

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I guess my counterpoint is that ‘those glorious 1950s’ you mentioned weren’t actually delusional: the system was actually set up to privilege a certain minority of people — my grandfathers and their brothers, to be honest — and it was a pretty nice setup for them.

The tragic delusion become visible when you realize is that most of the Trumpist’s grandfathers were on the other side of that WASP utopia: just a car and a GI bill crabgrass plot away from being the ‘great unwashed’ — folks who came in steerage to work (and die) in the mills, the tunnels, and the garment factories.

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We are making the same point overall - it was great, but indeed only for a very small % of people.

The MAGA advocating for Trump imagining such a dream now are delusional to think it would apply to them; they are far more likely to be among the unwashed masses.

Granted, they tend to be so hateful and bitter, they would ultimately be ok living a hardscrabble life under a dictator. Sure, they may stand in lines for stale bread and old potatoes, but as long as they were viewed as being in better power and position than those they feel are beneath them, it’s okay.

They need to know someone is behind them in that bread line, getting even less and even worst bread.

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Of all the failures of the people who are supposed to keep us informed in this country, the root one might be the failure, eight years after Trump waddled down the escalator, to have ever asked him or any of his supporters, “great like when?”

Assuming they do mean the 1950s, the things that were ACTUALLY great about that era--a much narrower gap between rich people and everyone else, thanks to union membership and taxes on rich people--are exactly what Republicans are working to destroy.

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The media will rarely ask pointed questions. I’ve only seen this asked by street media personalties who attend rallies and comedically get supporters to answer such questions and expose their utter ignorance.

Walter M asked this about the 1950s dream and respondents enthusiastically named what they heard and loved the idea. He then says yes all of that was great except for black people, women, etc.

At that moment, they stutter and stumble over their words, faces contorting to hide their ignorance and hatefulness, until giving up and admitting they don’t care how others lived as long as they are first and openly considered best again.

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The media I deal with in my job lead the league in stupidity.

I have dealt with media people who cannot tell me who Winston Churchill and Nikita Khrushchev were. The first mobilized the English language and sent it into battle, the latter pounded his shoe on the desk and nearly incinerated the world.

The worst was the media person who did not know what the Gettysburg Address was. "Is that the speech that starts 'Four score and seven years ago?"

She was representing something called the "Grumpy Cat," and wanted my then-boss, Mayor Cory Booker, to meet the cat. This on a day when I had been ordered to turn down interview requests from NBC and CNN in connection with his Senate campaign. If I let Cory pose with a cat, NBC and CNN would have come after me with grenades.

I suspected that she would do just fine if she was doing an interview with Kim Kardashian about her nail care line. Or the cat. One meow means "Yes." Two meows mean "No." Three meows mean "I want to go out back and prowl the garden for a bit."

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Oh, I wrote about the lousy media on my substack here.

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Dec 21, 2023·edited Dec 21, 2023

And, oh by the way, Trump’s family was among the most pathetic of those immigrants: three generations sniffling and snuffling at the gates of high society, try to funge their whoreslum cash into elite respectability. Jared & Ivanka may finally clinch the con, SOB.

My grandmother — my last contact with that generation (and she deserves credit for working, literally, to build a new, greater America)— DESPISED DJT, knew him and despised him. She is sorely missed, she lived a full life and was active and until the end; but I often think it is a mercy that she passed a few months before November 2016.

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The point is well taken, though the problem is deeper. Trump and his rhetoric is part of a long-established, near-majority political tradition in this country. The exploitation of immigrants, exploitation of enslaved peoples, and systematic efforts —at the same time— to maintain divisions amongst the ‘working classes’ is deeply intertwined with our history.

Indeed, ironically — and terrifyingly — this atavistic strain may be more deeply rooted in American political culture than it was in Germany’s post 1920. There is no question that the Nazis and Brownshirts were deplorable scum, but there is also a strong argument that Germany’s downfall grew out of the tragedy of 1848 and the culture-shattering trauma of 1914-1918. Germany attempted national suicide, in part as a result of these traumas

American History, by contrast, chronicles a struggle to surmount the original sins of expropriation, genocide, and enslavement.

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Dec 21, 2023·edited Dec 21, 2023

I find it amazing that most people writing about Trump NEVER mention what his true aim in being president really is: It is about real estate! He wants a cushy, elegant, fawning jail cell. Trump knows the jig is up, he will be found guilty. He simply doesn't want to go to jail; he will have no power, or illusions of power, there, no easy chair. You have to admit he is using the distraction of political drama to perfect effect: keep 'em trying to figure out his schtick, play the game, but make sure he wins at any cost. Plus it's plumping up his ego, making him look like a World Player, A sort of Prince-->King.

The next best thing is the presidency. He doesn't CARE about policy, politics, "the Future of America" or anyone else's wellbeing. He is a sociopath, he is without ANY empathy for anyone else, and he has calculated that since he couldn't pardon himself in the first presidency, he will need to wipe out the justice departments and pardon himself in the next presidency, and assure it all stays that way by "being a dictator." He might live to his 90s; he could have all the protection and pleasures he needs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, until he croaks. He doesn't CARE about his voters, he is saying whatever will float their boats and get their votes for this one time. After he's in, he reasons, he can make things be what he needs them to be. Everyone else can just go eat beans. He is, in other words, treating the country like he treats his wives and family, and he is making sure DJT will have a fine retirement that doesn't look at all like a jail cell. He has NEVER cared about anyone else, because he cannot. None of this is about "policy" or political ideals, or parties. He is doing what he did on "The Apprentice": reading the room to get what he can out of it for himself. Those poor sods the Trumpers will think whatever, buy the hats and wave the flags; but once he's in, he will mock them too.

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Yes, real estate is his big interest in life, but so is feeding his own ego.

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"But so is feeding his own ego." --Yes, which is why I wrote, "...he is without any empathy for **anyone else...** he lets his fellow sociopaths and people who are scaredy cats about migrant workers, immigrants, POC, Muslims, Jews, disabled people, women. He is his own primary best friend, spouse, peer group, because sociopaths are not "social", they do not interact with others; they USE others. The reason he has any power is that others decided they would trust him because he is resentful, snarky and distrusting of other people-- perhaps they recognize parts of themselves in him. But none of them are trustworthy or able to act for the benefit of others unless it also benefits THEMSELVES.

It isn't simply "feeding his own ego." It is all he does and can do. Others use him, too. I meant "real estate" in a tongue-in-cheek sense because the real estate of a cell block is one thing quite different from the real estate of a White House with its servants, pompous formality, gold leaf and historical treasures, vistas and visiting dignitaries. He could pretend he is president-for-life and --safe. Safe from powerlessness in a cell block.

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I often wonder if he actually has any real friends. He has subordinates, flunkies, obedient drones, ass-kissers, relatives, lawyers, accountants, bodyguards, cooks, maids, butlers, and high-priced female "escorts." But I don't think he has any friends that he can confide in, who tell him the truth.

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Good observation -- but that is the loss of the sociopath: because he has no empathy for others, he has nothing with which to build a relationship with others. Other people are just chess pieces, part of the landscape. He has no personal, close, friends, I am quite sure. He doesn't think in a responsive way; he has no inhibition -- he can, does, and will blurt out anything if he thinks it useful to get what he wants. He simply doesn't CARE about other people. It is hard for other people to see it, because it is so unimaginable. He can't be shamed, belittled except as a 'tactic' and he responds by upping the ante. He never apologizes, backs down, says sorry. You saw his reaction about not "admitting" he lost. Of course he knew he lost; what he wanted was to use that idea to pose as victim, to try to throw the election. When that didn't work, he changed tactics and became a candidate again. He is transactional--he gives only with the expectation, the requirement, that he will receive. He won't 'volunteer" or "donate" (remember he and sons had a phony cancer charity--actually a slush fund.) He HAS no empathy, so he can't use it or be affected by it. He is either satisfied, or angry. That's it.

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Exactly....decent human beings would want nothing to do with him.

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* I go back-and-forth as to whether Trump voters are bad people. Certainly many are, but I know others whom I couldn’t characterize that way. Weak-minded and fearful, but bad is a stretch. The problem comes when such easily-led people become part of a mob. The right recognizes this and is creating a permanent mob. It’s the capacity of people to be sucked in that is frightening.

* For the Nazis, anti-semitism was part of a ugly brew that also included a distorted view of German nationalism and a resentment toward the Treaty of Versailles that was directed inwardly against an elite(1) that had stabbed Germany in the back. Hitler was aided immeasurably by a schism between the communist left and the center-left, neither of which trusted the other. A unified left could have stopped him.

* I don’t share Oliver’s view of the nature of liberalism, but perhaps that’s a generational thing. To me, liberalism is about the primacy of the individual (as opposed to individualism); a truly free society is one where each person can pursue life, liberty, and happiness as they understand these. This is best achieved by a society that ensures equal rights, encourages free inquiry, enables a broad, general prosperity, protects children, extends the franchise to all adult citizens, devalues culture (as in Kultur), and has durable institutions and shared norms. Collective action is one of many tactics necessary to get from here to there, but it is not an end in itself.

(1) Roughly, Jews, communists, intellectuals, and what we’d now call globalists.

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It was Margaret Thatcher who said “There is no such thing as society,” but Republicans have been living by it for 40 years. It’s long past time to stop pretending this isn’t who they are. Unfortunately a lot of people who are paid tremendous amounts of money to inform Americans what’s going on in politics are now chiefly motivated by it being threatened and/or refusing to admit that they missed this four-decades-in-the-making story.

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As with so many things, she was tragically mistaken. England is still paying for Thatcherism.

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They dream of being bigshots in a right-wing police state, where they can make up for their utter lack of any humanity and ability by having an important police job in their home towns.

They want to strut down the main street of that town, in a fancy black police uniform, pistol and bullwhip in their belt, brandishing a bottle of booze in one hand, a smokin' hot blonde in the other, dispensing bonhomie and brutality as they stride along.

They'll go into a McDonald's to whip the teacher who failed them back in eighth grade a couple of times, knocking him flat into the street, and kick him in the face and gonads. Then they'll share the bottle with the buddies who watch the beating and laugh, and wave the pistol menacingly at people who are shocked, and say, "You want to be next?" At which point, the critics will shut up or flee or both.

Then the owner of the McDonald's will emerge from behind the counter, and present the blackshirt with his free lunch and weekly payoff for "protection" from "antifas" and "libtards."

That's the world they dream of.

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Kiwi I disagree. There are two, at least, forces going on in the US. The main one is made up of Caucasian Christians whose fears are rooted in the American Civil War: the (1) belief that non-Caucasian ,and non-Christian, people are poised to "overrun" the country, wanting jobs and healthcare and autos and houses and education. These "nons" include local and foreign POC/migrant workers and immigrants. (2) They know local POC and Indigenous People have every reason--still, with no reparations/apology/atonement, and continuing disenfranchisement, harassment and bigotry--to seek revenge for their ancestors' 416+ years of abject, cruel, horrific slavery, continuing bigotry; and for U.S.government efforts to wipe out language, rights, culture and sacred spaces of those whose land Caucausians stole. The second force is the political snake in the grass, DJT and especially those CC who see in him a chance to grab not only the South but the whole shebang. It is a Perfect Storm, as sailors say. And for the same reason: with other storms in the pipeline this is the best time to make the grab. It has NOTHING to do with political theory, or even history, outside of post-Civil War resentments and fears. Loaded as they are for bear, those Trumpers, Republicans, Independents, billionaire cronies and especially the Trumplets whose lives are unsatisfactory and who thus feel very threatened by the global warming multitudes who must escape unproductive land & climates--they all are willing to, and have done, join forces to capture the flag, the Supreme Court, the power of women, the voting rights of Black people, attempted the capture of the Constitution and electoral college. So: belief that they will be overrun by people with good reason, and belief that this is their chance to overrun, win the country for "the South" --which means Caucasian Christians only. It is intoxicating to many of them.. Trump doesn't matter except to capture the Presidency and as a figurehead. No one cares what he thinks because he doesn't think and he doesn't care; he ONLY wants to live out his possibly next 15 or so years in the comfortable White House cell. He. Does. Not. Want. To. Be. Incarcerated. And he WILL do anything to avoid it. He has already told us. Maya Angelou advised: "When somebody tells you who they are, believe it." We are seeing, I believe, an act two of the Civil War, if Trump wins. It won't stop with the election in 2024, but if Biden wins I think we have a far better chance of keeping our Constitution and our democratic institutions. Wish us good luck.

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What you're saying is very true, but I am thinking more about the folks who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, and the rhetoric they spout.

Yes, if Biden is re-elected, democracy and the Constitution are saved. But if the Bloated Yam is re-elected, he will devote his life to exacting revenge upon his manifold enemies, bopping interns, and playing golf at Mar-A-Lago.

His supporters and flunkies, will be the men who create the dictatorship I described, with Proud Boys, White Nationalists, and Three Percenters turned overnight from jailed fringe lunatics and keyboard commandos into the national Secret Police I described.

In most dictatorships, the most powerful person is actually not the secret policeman -- even though they are often better-known than the real police -- but the "blockwart" or "block warden." He is the man on each block in every community in the nation whose job is to monitor everyone else on the block, keep files on everything they say and do, and report the slightest dissent to the secret police.

East Germany led the league in that with their wiretaps and bugs. Ice skater Katarina Witt lived a life of luxury to keep her from defecting. In return, her house was a mass of microphones. The Stasi even timed her sexual encounters with her boyfriends -- they averaged nine minutes. After the Berlin Wall fell, she posed for Playboy, and it was one of their best-selling issues.

Anyway, after the Block Warden makes his report, the Tonton Macoutes, the NKVD, the State Research Bureau, the Bureau of State Security, the SD, the Stasi, or the Securitate swoop down on the hapless family, usually in the middle of the night, and take them away for a round of harsh treatment, making their lives "nasty, brutish, and short."

The Proud Boys will be OUR versions of the secret police agencies I described above, and their members will ruthlessly exploit their position and power to torment others and enrich their pockets. One of the more bizarre problems the SS had was that too many of its members violated Himmler's dictum: "It is not permissible for our members to personally benefit from our acts." They profited big-time, and were rarely punished. Except when they took Jewish mistresses in the concentration camps. That was "race defilation."

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What was REALLY SICKENING after seeing him kill a million people and spend four years lying, insulting our allies and every decent human value there is...

MORE of those people* voted for him in 2020 than 2016.

*Terrorists

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Agreed. What his voters are FOR is as bad as what they're against.

I'm still incredulous that after four years of failure, no legislative accomplishments, his lying, impeachment, mishandling Covid and the deaths, all the failed promises and making America less safe, that 12,000,000 MORE people want more of that.

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Thank you for that. I completely agree. Who said I should suffer fools, or in this case, reactionaries and fascists, gladly. Call it as it lies

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The Innuendo Studios version of this argument gives a bit more light into how so many people could buy into this toxic worldview, IMO-- the core philosophy is one of scarcity and supremacy, where (1) they believe that not enough resources exist and so some must be exploited as an underclass for themselves to be protected, and (2) some people are inherently Better Than Others and Deserve to be in charge where others don’t matter and shouldn’t be Democracy-ing up the situation. https://youtu.be/agzNANfNlTs?si=zJjB2IHK41kB7JFh

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These people want to hurt people I love.

“They have done harm, and they will do harm and I say god damn them, every one.”

(To paraphrase Tiny Tim)

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Shhhh!

Kal-El is sleeping.

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If we ignore their grievances, how does the nation become less polarized?

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Ignore their “grievances” that black people and foreigners are ruining “their” country? Become “less polarized” by compromising on the idea that marginalized groups matter and shouldn’t be put in a meat grinder for their convenience?? When you insist that we ought to “listen” to them and become “less polarized”, you should pay attention to exactly WHO you are idealizing the concept of “less polarization” between and who inherently is being discounted in your calculations: https://open.substack.com/pub/armoxon/p/polarization-and-strife?r=pt63o&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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Sorry if I was a little harsh in my phrasing, I might have fallen prey to Poe’s Law.

As the article I linked describes, refusing to compromise on the idea that People Matter and fighting for them, demonstrating through our actions and treatment that they count, that they deserve life and inclusion in society and that everyone is better off for it, is the true way to “reduce polarization” on the idea that people’s lives matter. To put in everyone else’s faces, constantly, that people who aren’t like them EXIST and deserve everything that life has to offer them, that everyone you meet has infinite worth. Not letting them get pushed out of the spotlight where these “Conservatives” can look away and pretend that they aren’t real people who can be chewed up and spit out offscreen to give them a leg up. Not letting anyone define immigrants or homeless people or black people or brown foreigners overseas as grist that America can just allow to be MILKED and rendered and sidelines like chattel for the country’s “security” or shameless economic benefit.

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You're very close to getting it. The answer is: if we gave them everything they wanted, could they ever be satisfied?

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No, they will always find something to whine about,.

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I read about a neo-Nazi who left his party after he asked a pal, "What are we going to do after we kill all the Jews?"

The buddy said, "Well, we'll find someone else to hate," and shrugged.

That made the first guy nervous, and he started wondering where and when it would all end. Revolutions are always nourished by the blood of their makers. Hitler had the Night of the Long Knives. Stalin had his purges. Castro knocked off all of his supporters. Mao had the Cultural Revolution. Even America had a few...Thomas Paine died in France, in obscurity.

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No. “Obama’s birth certificate” proves the point.

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No, they'll just keep whining about their goiter, their liver, and how kids today listen to awful music, have loose morals, don't show respect for their elders, and don't come to see them in the assisted living home and listen to their stories about winning the BIG WAR singlehandedly (whichever on that was) in awe, wonder, and reverence, at least ONCE a week.

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The picture of Ken-El is so peaceful we should all wish for this level of peace in the new year! Love to your dachshund! Give him an extra belly rub!

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Thank you for writing this piece. I think it’s absolutely on point. I have felt threatened by the right-wing for the last 40 years or more, and I have watched the rise of these groups, especially the Christian evangelicals with a great deal of anxiety. They have worked hard to take over the Republican Party, and the brass ring is within their reach. And they are much worse than merely “deplorable”.

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