When people fear the collapse of their society, they want order and national greatness, not a more nurturing government.
In an article quoting from Thomas Frank’s book: What’s the Matter with Kansas, Ira Chernus offered these observations:
People who aren’t anywhere near rich vote Republican because they feel like ‘victims besieged by a hateful world,’ Frank wrote, ‘downtrodden … helpless pawns caught in a machine.’ They ‘crave the solid rock of certainty.’ But they can’t find it because life seems to have ‘gotten too far away from the natural order of things’; ‘civilization is in decay’”; the world has ‘forsaken the true and correct path….’
And they feel powerless to do anything about all this except to ‘join in mutual outrage against a common enemy”’ and go on battling ‘on behalf of the victimized.’ Voting Republican is their way of joining together, fighting back, and thus creating an illusion of control regained.
But the Party and media leadership can’t very well let on that their agenda is almost always different than the one voters expect. So, that steady diet of half-truths, fear-mongering, and whatever other integrity-free tactics are within easy reach are tossed out to muddy the waters enough to keep a large block of the conservative voting public in a state of barely-controlled panic.
Since the focus continues to be on heightening their levels of anxiety coupled with the projected strength their authoritarian candidate of choice offers them—as their needs require—What Happens Then? should their candidate actually win simply isn’t occurring to Trump supporters at the moment. There’s no room for broader considerations when fear predominates. That’s unfortunate for all of us.
[B]eing the most effective at exaggerating the dangers the country faces and preying on voter anger is not an achievement; it is a moral failure.
THE DOWNSIDE OF FEAR-MONGERING
Agitated voters stay agitated. Contemplation and analysis of motivations are not on the checklist when fears are paramount. Facts are relegated to secondary importance. That’s never a good approach to problem-solving.
But just in case inquiries are made, there’s always another opportunity to raise emotions to Condition Red so that those lapses are brushed aside in the face of the newest Emotional Terror Alert. There’s also the option of simply hurling insults, or the by-now standard saying … whatever—truth be damned.
The easiest way to promote Trump’s ever-expanding narcissism and outrageous approach to serving as President is to keep loyal followers properly confused—with cup or two of sheer terror tossed into the pot. If that requires a healthy dose of embellishment—as it always does—so be it. And so it is—every single time that Trump speaks.
The list of enemies and threats is always front and center: immigrants first and foremost; liberals with their assorted grievances and policy proposals—each and all clearly anti-red-white-and-blue; terrorists—here and elsewhere; atheists; feminists; the always-terrifying and double top secret “homosexual agenda”—so top-secret that even the gay community doesn’t know about it—Big Government Itself [of course], and on and on it goes.
Misrepresentation of fact is now much more the norm than the exception. If facts must be cast aside in favor of imaginary nonsense to preserve that state of terror among supporters not especially inclined to obtain either confirmation or alternative perspectives, so much the better.
It is also clear that thumbing their noses at the Establishment in its many variations—feckless leaders, the liberal intelligentsia, and assorted other targets—affords those same followers leverage they’re unable to obtain otherwise. The collective power they now have over the elites is surely intoxicating, and that new-found strength is one they’ll cling to as long and as firmly as they can. Rational justifications—even irrational ones—don’t factor into the mix.
WORDS MATTER; ACTIONS, TOO
As Robert Altemeyer noted in his previously-cited, and fascinating/disturbing study on authoritarians and their followers [most of whom are found on the conservative side of the fence]:
You’ve got to feel some sympathy for authoritarian followers at this point, don’t you, because they get nailed coming and going. First of all, they rely on the authorities in their lives to provide their opinions. Usually they don’t care much what the evidence or the logic for a position is, so they run a considerable chance of being wrong. Then once they have ‘their’ ideas, someone who comes along and says what authoritarian followers want to hear becomes trustworthy. High RWAs [Right-Wing Authoritarians] largely ignore the reasons why someone might have ulterior motives for saying what they want to hear; it’s enough for them that another person indicates they are right.
It certainly helps the cause when behaviors evidenced on a daily basis—and long-attributed to those followers—further muddy the waters by confirming what a large body of research concludes are their defining traits:
[R]igid adherence to convention; submission to the authorities of the in-group; aggression against those who deviated from convention; opposition to imaginative, subjective or soft-hearted experience; superstition and rigid belief categories; obsession with strength and powerful father figures; generalized hostility and anger at humanity; the tendency to believe that wild and dangerous things are going on in the world, a projection of repressed emotions; and an obsession with sex.
What this all adds up to: A narcissistic demagogue as clueless as is humanly possible about both national and international policies, practices, standards, and relationships has somehow managed to incite millions of Americans. Legions of angry, low-information voters are being pandered to by Trump’s seemingly bottomless stream of tough-guy yapping; misstatements; adolescent—dangerous—button-pushing; fabrications; pseudo-facts, and breathtaking nonsense!
This is now the standard for national political office? Not just any political office, either. Who will question that the Presidency of the United States is the most important and influential responsibility on the planet?
Voters want to entrust that responsibility and their future to him?
~ My Photo: Sunrise at Good Harbor Beach, MA © 09.05.05
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
~ ~ ~
As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?