Living Large In Carson City: Of Libturds, demented Democrats and Go Butt A Stump Radicals Edition

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Okay, I confess. Sometimes when I get tired of picking fuzz out of my navel, I go on conservative websites and spar with the jolly good people who inhabit that darkly, sinister, conspiracy world. Don’t get me wrong, I usually have a reason for doing such a hollow and unsatisfying endeavor, but normally my actions are prompted by an article or image that I run across that gets my hackles up, and I can’t stop myself.

Today, it was on the conservative website American Update. By chance, a couple of weeks ago, I came across this site and on a whim signed up for their newsletter. I know; I’m a glutton for punishment, but really, I felt like I was living in a liberal bubble where everyone agreed with me. I decided in the spirit of expanding my understanding of the issues I should hear what some of the opposition has to say. Honestly, I didn’t understand Trump supporters, and what they professed. It ain’t pretty.

The story that caught my attention came from American Update with the headline Meghan McCain Slams Roseanne and Trump Fans in One Swift Blow. Now, you would think that the discussion would take into consideration Barr’s ugly racist tweet she made a few weeks ago, and the discussion would center around the fact that in a polite society one takes a civil approach to debate on the merits of the topic. Think again.

One post stated that Meghan and John were not really Republicans and neither should claim they are part of the Republican Party. The post went on to say that John was irrelevant and did not speak for the righteous of the Republican Party and hoped that John would soon be six feet under.

Not quite the civil discourse I expected, but hey, this is America and everybody has their First Amendment rights, yes? This post came at the beginning of the queue and marked the spot were things went south . . . way south. Soon, the tenor of the debate went full metal jacket with most of the respondents calling the McCains RHINOs and painting them, especially John, as a traitor and a “songbird”, a term I assumes comes from the fact McCain confessed to high crimes while being tortured by his Vietnamese jailers.

To be clear, I have never had much love or affinity for McCain, but the spewing of hatred and derision for him as he faces an agonizing  death shocked me. I never served in the military, but my dad, my father-in-law, and even my brother did, and I have a naive belief if someone gave up time in their life to protect our national interests their service qualifies them as heroes in my book. Okay, so Vietnam was not exactly our country’s high water mark ethically, but it still qualifies. I think for me McCain became a hero when he gave a thumbs down on the floor of the Senate in a bitch slap to Trump and his harebrained scheme of the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare.

As you might expect, I was the only liberal posting today, and I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know. One woman wanted to know if I had been smoking “that stuff” and ended by calling me “the blind one”.  Later in the thread, she called me “backward” and that I should “go butt a stump”. For all of its incomprehensibility, I kind of liked the idea although I am still not sure if she knows I am not a goat. Maybe goats and liberals are the same in the world of the Tea Party. Another post accused me of spewing liberal propaganda which demonstrated my lack of intelligence. Irony is wasted on these people.

My favorite beyond being called a libturd, anti-American and a demented Democrat was this jewel, “Go smoke your blunt you hype. Or a pole if you’d like.” I would have loved to have had that one explained to me, but by this time, the gig was up and most of the respondents simply questioned my sanity or equated my existence to the spawn of Satan. One poster said he served in the Navy and met many Navy pilots who he deeply respected, “. . . more so than another disgusting whiny pontificating liberal that “claims” to know about members of the Republican Party.”

True, but I have to say, I know a lot more about the Republican Party now than I did this morning. The vitriol and hatred that permeates the responses was frankly quite shocking. The tenor of most posts was vile and ruthless in their condemnation of McCain and his daughter. To her credit, I think Meghan was referring to the “basket of deplorables” that Clinton pointed to in the run up to the election. It’s alive.

This is the real issue about American politics today. We are so polarized that parts of the Republican Party are so disassociated with reality that they actually believe that Trump is good for America, and he is making America great again. In a fit of false “patriotism” , they are willing to overlook the Orange One’s kowtowing to Putin and the Russians and think it is a good thing. I wonder what they will say if and when Mueller reveals Trump colluded with the Russians to tweak the election results. Or that his financial statements link him to the Mafia, Russian oligarchs and/or money laundering or any number of other counts of larceny, deceit, philandering, or collusion. I worry about this. From the vile statements posted on conservative websites, I do not think these people will go quietly into the night.

The idea that the Republican Party is representative of all America is hard for me to believe. If there are respectable Republicans out there, they have their work cut out for them. The Tea Party movement and the Freedom Caucus seem hell bent on destroying this nation, or maybe, remaking it in their own image to assuage their angst and fear of losing their white privilege. They tend to cherry pick the Constitution to fit their current bitch about what they think is wrong for America. I fear that if Mueller does come back with illegal acts and/or condemnation of Trump in some form these people aren’t going to take it lying down. That would certainly be the constitutional crisis so many believe is coming.

Living Large in Carson City: The Center Is not Holding Edition

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This past week (running through the weekend) I did something I swore not to do ever do again. It happened so suddenly I was knee deep into it before I knew it. Having sworn off more times than I care to admit, I engaged two deeply loyal Trump supporters on Facebook as to why I thought they were wrong in their beliefs. It was a tag team, wink and a nod offensive on their part, and honestly, I blame no one but myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew better from past skirmishes with other equally loyal fans of Trump, and it turned out no better.  From the beginning of Trump’s presidential campaign, I have been baffled how seemingly, normally intelligent people could fall for the charade that is Donald Trump. All one has to do is stay awake and marginally focused on what is going on in the country to see the dire straits America has fallen into at the hands of the Orange One.

Actually, I learned early on that engaging people who deny climate change, accommodate serial lying, cheating on their wives, and are literally clueless about governance at the federal level was a waste of everyone’s time. After all, if a person refuses to follow minimal standards of decorum in public office, there is not much of a chance that anything I say will change loyalists’ minds.

To my credit, my issue with the two gentlemen this past week was not to “change” their minds, but something much more specific. Both of them began their posts by dredging up the past sins of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama did this. Hillary did that. They were never punished. Why? The simple answer to this is the rule of law. Had they overstepped too far and broken the law then there would have been consequences. Of course, one would have thought I poured gasoline on my two adversaries and set them on fire judging from their responses.

To me, it is maddening when Trump supporters constantly blame Obama and Hillary for the turmoil gripping America today. The very fabric of our nation is under siege from incompetence, greed, assumed privilege and the total disregard for how a nation should be run. I tried to make these point to my two fellow Facebook posters. They would have none of it. In their minds America is on the highway to greatness with a Trump firmly in the driver’s seat. The swamp is draining and people should be happy.

So, the question remains: Why? What would make a fairly large bloc of voters to disregard the lessons of their parents and history and simply embrace a man who is shaping up to be the worst American presidents on record. The answers are legion; none of which satisfy this black hole of a dilemma.

Here is one explanation,

As the social psychologist David Dunning wrote during the campaign, “Some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes.” In other words, it’s not that they forgave Trump for being wrong, but rather that they failed “to recognize those gaffes as missteps” in the first place. USAToday

I heard a speaker put it this way recently, “They are just too dumb to know what they know (or don’t know).” This statement makes me think of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables”. The assumption was  that die-hard Trump supporters were under educated, mostly white, and often as not, religious and highly pissed off for circumstances beyond their control. While that description might be true for some of Trump’s base, I don’t think it is a true representation of the vast majority of Trump’s most rabid troops. The two Trump supporters I engaged at the end of last week were intelligent, well-spoken (or written) and knew their talking points backwards and forwards.

The problem, however, is they were wrong on just about every topic. Like Trump, they are climate change deniers. Like Trump, they think Washington is a smoldering swamp that Trump has been preordained to drain. They seemed to fall lockstep into all of the bad things that Trump supporters hold true and dear to someone like me. On the big issues like guns, global safety concerns, diplomatic integrity and a what it really means to put America first, there is no denying that these are issues that divide the vast majority of Americans. Yet, there is more there.

Empathy towards others does not seem to have much meaning for many of Trump’s base. They have become so attached to their monetary and material possessions (or lack thereof) that human life and dignity mean nothing to them. Or maybe it is because they have lost so much over the years as factories closed or moved overseas leaving them jobless and without the promised retirement fund they worked toward only to have it snatched away by giant corporations or Wall Street firms.

With a lack of empathy comes a sense of us versus them, Black versus white, gay versus straight, anti-choice versus choice when dealing with women’s bodies and on and on. These are serious divides that Donald Trump has no inclination of solving if he understands they exist at all. Sure unending war, climate change, the scourge of drugs, the exploding Republican deficit, poverty, and  a whole host of other issues are simmering on the back and front burners. But if America can not regain its empathetic foundation when dealing with our own, we will become more and more fractured as a society until our democracy becomes the ultimate victim.

One thing is clear: Trump over the past two years has become the emblem of exclusion and divisiveness. No president has played the race card and vilified those who he sees as less than patriotic, often based on the color of their skin, than Donald Trump. Additionally, the idea that Trump following is a working class phenomenon has been debunked since those heady days of the campaign when “Lock her up” and the attacks on the wicked media were his stock and trade supposedly aimed at the angry, white working class voters.

Then there is this.

It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.

When journalists wrote that Trump was appealing to working-class voters, they didn’t really know whether Trump voters were construction workers or CEOs.

Moreover, according to what is arguably the next-best measure of class, household income, Trump supporters didn’t look overwhelmingly “working class” during the primaries. To the contrary, many polls showed that Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans. For example, a March 2016 NBC survey that we analyzed showed that only a third of Trump supporters had household incomes at or below the national median of about $50,000. Another third made $50,000 to $100,000, and another third made $100,000 or more and that was true even when we limited the analysis to only non-Hispanic whites. If being working class means being in the bottom half of the income distribution, the vast majority of Trump supporters during the primaries were not working class.

The article goes on to say the same can be said about education. While a significant number of Trump followers didn’t have college degrees, the numbers show . . .

Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.

So, what is the motivation behind the solid 33 percent Trump base that seem enthralled with the Orange One in such a tunnel vision manner?  If economic uncertainty is not the motivation or lack of education, what drives these people into a rabid, frothing at the mouth hysterical devotion to a man who obviously cares little for anything that does not underscore his “greatness”?
Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds
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