12 ways to #RESIST without losing your mind.

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I’m not sure if this a recent photo; the fashions seem to be from the early 1970s.  But I like the photo and it still fits the spirit of this post, so I’m using it anyway.

It’s hard, I know.   The bad news just keeps coming faster than we can process.  Some days I just want to forget it all, give up, and shut out a world that seems to get meaner and more chaotic by the day.  Some days I feel so drained and hopeless I just want to crawl into bed and sleep until things change back to normal (if they ever do).

But we can’t give up.   Sliding into despair, cynicism, hopelessness, and apathy is not an option for us, because it’s exactly what our opposition wants.  It will give them even more power over us than they already have.

We are a nation at war:  it’s not a war fought with weapons (although they have been used in isolated incidents); it’s a “cold” war between those who want authoritarian rule and complete destruction of American democracy as we always knew it, and those who believe in decency and truth and progressive, democratic values.   It’s not even a war between left and right, or between Republicans and Democrats.  It’s literally a war between good and evil, truth and lies.

America is having an identity crisis.  We are so polarized now there seems no way we can find common ground, the way we have been able to do before.  For example, when 9/11 happened, Americans stood together as one nation.  It didn’t matter if we were liberal or conservative, rich or poor, or black or white.  We recognized that we were all Americans and helped each other through a terrible time and the trauma that followed the attacks.

But this time, the enemy is not coming from the outside (in spite of what some people believe and will tell you).  No, the enemy is inside our borders, and many Americans no longer seem capable of recognizing that groups of people that are not like them are their fellow Americans, not enemies.   The war they wage is against Truth, and the empathy and compassion for others that is only possible when the truth is upheld and valued, especially by our leaders.   When the truth itself is said to be a lie, there can be no justice, no goodness, no love, and no compassion.   There can only be chaos, trauma, injustice, divisiveness, dehumanization, hatred, and death.

All this sounds very dire, and it is.  But at the same time our leaders appear to be dismantling our democratic institutions and making a mockery of truth and justice,  people are waking up.  The political apathy that was a hallmark of this nation for so long (and was a factor in helping to elect a malignant narcissist for president) is disappearing, and it’s disappearing fast.

Of course, on the far right, there are people who want to wage war against anyone who feels traumatized by or dislikes this president or the things he and his sycophants and lackeys are doing.   But at the same time, there are many, many more people who are finally speaking out, fighting back — and voting!   The blue sweep across several states a couple of weeks ago proves that most of us know that sitting home is no longer an option.   More proof that the tides are turning is all the women suddenly speaking out against their sexual abusers, even after decades of remaining silent.   Think of America as a teenager, who is experiencing the turmoil and changes of adolescence.  If we do things right and keep fighting the good fight, America will pass this turbulent phase and move into peaceful adulthood.

We can’t give up now, however tempting it might be.   But it’s possible to resist without driving yourself insane.  Here are 12 ways to do that.

1. Take breaks.

If you spend 24/7 ruminating about the political situation, reading upsetting news, begging your representatives to save your healthcare (or any number of other things that are in danger under this regime), or ranting on social media, you are going to get burned out.   This is heavy, serious stuff, and you need to replenish your energy and give yourself time to emotionally decompress.  You may need to stay off the Internet or turn off the news channels for a day or two.   Because the reality-show nature of the news can be so addicting though, it’s not as easy as it sounds.   But it’s necessary for your mental health and stamina.  Take walks, exercise, cook a scrumptious meal, paint, read a novel (not a political book), listen to music, watch a movie, GO to a movie, spend time with a friend or loved one.

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2. Volunteer.

This can be a way to both take a break from all the chaos and still be doing something about it at the same time.    Volunteer at an animal shelter, a food pantry, a botanical garden, a nursing home, or a homeless shelter.  Run errands for the disabled or spend time with lonely veterans.  Join the campaign of a local political candidate you really like.  Tutor kids in math or English, or if you are bilingual, teach English as a Second Language.   If you’re religious, volunteer at your place of worship or give Bible lessons.  Spend time getting to know vulnerable people and learn their stories.   You may not feel like volunteering is making a big difference, but it’s really making a huge difference, and you might even make some new friends.

3. Realize we are watching history unfold.

It might not feel very comforting (a famous Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times“), but we are at a point of history that will be written about in books and taught to students hundreds or even a thousand years from now.   There will be villains and heroes who will be vilified or exalted by history for years to come.   It’s entirely possible that the Resistance might be as well remembered by history as the American or French Revolution.   No positive change in any society has ever come about through passive contentment, boredom, and complacency.    There’s always been bloodshed, struggle, conflict, and often war.   These are the labor pains of history, and we are going through them right now.   They are a necessary part of history unfolding.

4. Tyrants always fall.

History has shown that tyrants and dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and many others always fall into disgrace or die at some point during their reigns.   Without exception, these men have been power addicted sociopathic narcissists whose own malignant narcissism leads to their own downfall.   They are essentially self destructive.  It’s true that thousands or even millions may suffer and die under their tyrannic rule,  but such a regime is by nature unsustainable, and won’t last forever.   Right now, Trump is desperately trying to hold onto the presidency in the face of growing resistance, which now includes members of his own party.    His approval ratings sink lower and lower.  He seems (and is) more dangerous because he’s so desperate.   When narcissists feel threatened, they are prone to impulsive decisions and violence.  While yes, he is very dangerous right now, and more likely than ever to something terrible to maintain his power, remember that the irony here is that it’s because he feels like he’s losing his grip on power (and in fact, he is).   If we can keep him from doing anything drastic, we win.     No matter what happens, this time in history is only temporary.  Things won’t always be like this.

5. Make new friends.

If you protest online (like I do), attend actual protests, are involved in environmental or other activist groups, attend Town Hall or Indivisible group meetings, you are going to meet a great many people who feel the same way you do about the political situation.   Chances are, you are going to find you have other things in common with the people you meet as well.   People with similar political views tend to have similar interests too.   Talk to people, and find out more about them.   Ask them what books, movies, or music they like.   Arrange to do things with them outside a political setting.  This can also be a great way to take the breaks you need, and nurture new friendships at the same time.

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6. Resist with love. 

It may be tempting to hate the people who like this president or what he is doing.  It’s natural to feel this way, when we are so divided and when our opposition seems so full of hatred. But vitriol and name-calling accomplish nothing.  If you are up to it and feel like you’re gifted at persuasion (I’m not), you can try to empathize with them and then present your case as to why Trump will not solve their problems, but usually this doesn’t work.  You can still try to empathize with them though.  Realize that many Trump supporters, especially working class whites, feel like they’ve been ignored and looked down on by the left.   They are not incorrect in their feelings, since many establishment Democrats do seem to care more about Muslims, immigrants, or Black Lives Matter more than they care about blue collar or rural whites.  They feel unvalued and left behind.  Trump promised them jobs and pretended to care about them and they still want to believe him.     That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but try to see things from their point of view and keep on resisting even if they’re not buying the fact that the change you want to see is going to help them too.

7. Violence never works.

Not only is violence unproductive and can get you thrown in jail, it also makes our side look bad.   Worse, in a society that’s declining into fascism and authoritarianism, instigating violence can be an excuse for the Powers That Be to enact martial law or restrict our First Amendment (freedom of speech) rights or our freedom to peaceably assemble.

8. Protesting is fun.

I’ve only been to two actual protests, but I had a blast at both.  Protest events are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, see creative signs, slogans and even costumes, or make your own.   Chanting and marching as a group (sometimes with a drumbeat) is an almost spiritual experience, and it’s hard to explain the solidarity you feel marching and chanting with complete strangers.  See and be seen!   There’s lots of opportunities for photo taking, and you might even get interviewed or get your picture in the paper.

Here are my posts about the two protests I attended (with photos).

Rally for the ACA (February 25, 2017)

Earth Day (April 23, 2017): March For Science

9. Pray for your enemies.

Even if you’re not religious, praying for the opposition can certainly do no harm.  At the very least, send them your good thoughts.   In my personal life, I’ve found that prayer works.  Since it works for me and my loved ones, who’s to say it won’t also work on some Trump supporter and get them to re-evaluate or even change their beliefs?  I really believe it can.  I pray for them every day.   It was hard to do that at first, but with practice, it gets easier.

Hate won the battle, but love will win the war.

 

10. Educate yourself about history, civics and government.

In high school, I used to fall asleep in civics class (I hear most high schools no longer offer it, which is a shame).   I couldn’t tell you the difference between a filibuster or a gerrymander.   I couldn’t even name the three branches of government (except maybe to pass a test).   It all seemed so dry and boring and irrelevant!   I’d stare at the clock and try not to fall asleep.   But now that our government no longer works (and the news is no longer boring), I’m learning all about how government is supposed to work, and it’s actually fascinating. It’s also far from irrelevant.   As members of the resistance, we can make so much more of a difference when we actually know what our government is supposed to be doing and the ways they are breaking laws and undermining the Constitution.    An added bonus to all this civics education is the history lessons you get. This year, I’ve learned all about past presidents and even their cabinet members, as well as other turbulent times in American history that have important lessons to tell us about events happening right now.

11. Avoid fake news.

Back in the days before the Internet, there were a limited number of outlets for the news.  You had cable news, local news, and network news, and then there were the major newspapers and news magazines.  And that was about it.   In 1987, Reagan dismantled the Fairness Doctrine, a useful FCC regulation that kept news from becoming too biased by requiring networks to include opinions from the opposite viewpoint.  The disappearance of the Fairness Doctrine led to increasing polarization and eventually, the advent of extremely partisan news outlets like Fox News.   Since then, the news has become so polarized that the stories you hear on Fox News (and other far right news outlets) bear no resemblance to stories you hear on other news outlets.   They might as well be coming from an alternate universe.

Things have continued to grow worse.  With the growth of the Internet, news websites have proliferated like wildfire.  Some of these sites are honest and try to report the news factually and include sources.  Others are less reputable, and a good many report fake news stories (some of which may even be written by Russian bots or foreign fake news mills).   Fake news isn’t something only the far right is guilty of; it exists as well on the far left.   How can you tell what news is fake and what isn’t?  Well, it can be tricky.  But a good rule of thumb is to avoid articles with sensational or emotionally manipulative sounding titles or clickbaity titles, and “factual” (as opposed to opinion) articles that cite no sources and don’t fact check their their information.   Stay with trusted and well known news sites that use actual experts in their fields and use citations and references.   Ignore what Trump and his supporters tell you is fake news. They are wrong.

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12. Share your concerns and worries with trusted friends or family, or join a support group.

Unfortunately, even longtime friends and family members have become estranged and even sometimes no longer speak to each other because of Donald Trump.   I have had to block Facebook friends because I could not abide all the pro-Trump propaganda they were posting.  I’ve never had to do such a thing until this year.  It makes me sad but I know so many other people who’ve admitted they had to do the same thing.  Even marriages have broken up over this.

While a liberal who voted for John Kerry could still be friends with a conservative who voted for George W. Bush, things have become so polarized and Trump is so threatening and traumatizing to so many of us, that it’s become almost impossible for say, a Hillary supporter and a Trump supporter to maintain a friendship.   Even if the subject of politics is avoided, the tension is still palpable and it’s hard to maintain a friendship with that kind of tension present.  But we still need to be able to talk to trusted friends and family members when we are feeling discouraged, scared, or depressed about the political situation.  Obviously, you are going to want to turn to people you trust who also share your views.  Talking it out with trusted friends who sympathize with your views can help a lot.

Even talking to friends on social media can help.   As an introvert, I don’t have many IRL friends, but I do have online friends, and in February, I even started a Facebook group (Post-Trump Trauma Support Group — click the link if you’d like to join) which now has 143 members.   It’s been very helpful to me, and others have said it helps them too, and that’s a good feeling.  If you can’t find a Facebook group you like, you can always start your own!  My friends on Twitter are a godsend too.

There are also therapists who are actually treating people for Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Although it’s not an official diagnosis and isn’t listed in the DSM, most therapists recognize it as an actual trauma related problem similar to PTSD that many people (including the therapists themselves, who tend to be liberal) are facing.

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There is no bottom to the stupidity of Fox News.

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Two years ago, right wing Fox News loudmouth and conspiracy theorist Sean Hannity (or maybe it was Bill O’Reilly — what’s the difference?) started foaming at the mouth about a fictional “war on Christmas” because Starbucks decided to use plain red coffee cups instead of cups having printed Christmas decorations on them.   Oh, the horror!   Red coffee cups!  No snowflakes or Christmas trees (as if those things have anything to do with Christmas anyway, because they are actually pagan symbols of the Winter Solstice).  Sweet Baby Jesus, Christians are being persecuted!   What’s next, will the libruls start throwing Christians to the lions, like Nero did?

Oh, but the Red Cup Heresy was NOTHING compared to the horrors Starbucks is forcing upon far right evangelical Christians in 2017.  No, now they’re promoting (drum roll, please) The Gay Agenda!    Oh dear God in Heaven, Starbucks is the right hand of Satan!   What will we tell the children?   This is an attack on the Traditional Family!  The Deep State (with George Soros providing the funds) is behind this ungodly propaganda, and the next step is One World Government.   

Now at first glance Starbucks seems to be going overboard making up for those offending red coffee cups of two years ago, because of the excessive busy-ness of this year’s holiday oops, Christmas cups.  They have so many decorations on them that even Santa’s elves might have epileptic seizures.   The most offensive thing about them is that they are tacky.

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But no, tackiness isn’t the problem for these Fox News mainlining, MAGA-hat-wearing, Birther conspiracy believing, Roy-Moore-is-Not-a Pedophile-Well-OK-Maybe-He-Is-But-We’re-Supporting-Him-Anyway-Because-He’s-A-Righteous-Dude group of evangelicals — a group of extremists who see whatever they want to see, even if that thing does not exist.  See, the problem here isn’t tackiness or pagan symbols or the lack of pagan symbols (plain red) on a throwaway coffee cup.  No, it’s the two clasped hands on the upper part of the cup.  Oh Dear God!  Those are lesbian hands!  Starbucks is promoting The Gay Agenda by printing a picture of lesbians holding hands!

Let’s use some critical thinking here (something the types of people screaming about hidden Gay Agenda on Starbucks cups are not too familiar with).  Look very closely at those two clasped hands.   It’s a stretch, in my humble opinion, thinking they even look like two female hands. One or both could be male. One is bigger than the other, after all.  The hand on the left appears to be wearing bangle bracelets, while the hand on the right (the bigger one) is wearing no jewelry.  Even if it is two women, why do they have to be lesbians? Maybe they’re just BFFs. Or mom and daughter.  Or sisters.

Conclusion:  There is no Gay Agenda hidden in Starbucks coffee cups.  It’s nothing more than another stupid distraction so Fox News need not address the real and serious issues our country is facing.

I swear these numbskulls LOOK for this shit.  It’s ridiculous.

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Is this what they see on a Starbucks cup?

Further reading:

10 Reasons Why The War on Christmas is Bogus 

 

 

The insanity of being a news junkie in the age of Trump.

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Every day when I wake up, I check the news headlines. Maybe it’s just hypervigilance and wanting to reassure myself that Trump hasn’t started nuclear war yet.   This presidency makes me feel like I’m back in an abusive relationship and as a result I feel on guard all the time.

But at the same time, there’s a certain thrill I get from reading stories that seem like they would have been headlines from The Onion just a year ago.   It’s not a good kind of thrill, but the kind of thrill you get from doing something you know might kill you but feeling compelled to try it anyway — like, oh, maybe sky diving or trying methamphetamine.    Only the sick thrill is always accompanied by that awful, sinking, helpless feeling you get when you realize you are totally fucked and there’s not a thing you can do about it.    Maybe it’s a familiar feeling to me and somehow comforting, but I know people who didn’t come from narcissistic families or abusive relationships and report they feel exactly the same way about this presidency and the endless stream of unthinkable news that it’s unleashed.

I want my news to be boring again.

On the plus side, more people than ever before are getting an education in basic civics (now that civility is a thing of the past) and how government works (now that it doesn’t).

I think we’re also learning to be more discerning about which news is fake and which is not.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially when the president is waging war on truth.

If you can get angry and stay angry instead of allowing the news to make you depressed or emotionally numb, then there is  hope.    Every revolution in history began because a lot of people were mad as hell and weren’t gonna take it anymore.

Why the Fairness Doctrine needs to return.

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I’m old enough to remember the days when the news was simply the news and the  various networks and other outlets didn’t differ much or at all in what they reported, only slightly in style.   Reporters were mostly emotionally detached and broadcasted the events of the day without much partisan opinion or editorializing.  When they did, an opposing viewpoint would always be presented.     Sure, mainstream news back then could be boring and dry.  Opinion is  based on emotion, and an emotional, sensationalized delivery of the news is more enticing and sells better than the reciting of facts.   Old-school reporters and anchors were well respected even though they never were considered celebrities.

Until the 1980s, American mainstream news was for the most part “fair and balanced,” with only actual facts delivered or both sides given airtime when an issue was politically controversial.   Sure, there were always tabloids that were more sensationalized or opinionated, but they weren’t taken very seriously by most people and even they didn’t usually descend into telling outright lies.   Highly partisan journalism was relegated to op-ed pieces, guest spots, and letters sections.    Opinions were clearly stated as such. There was good investigative journalism like 60 Minutes or Hard Copy if you liked a little more intrigue and excitement in your news, but it was still based on facts, not opinion and pure emotion.

Today, it’s very hard to find an American mainstream news outlet that isn’t partisan.   To do so, you almost have to rely on foreign news outlets like the BBC or public radio (which Trump has marked for elimination in his budget).   On the left, the most famous examples are MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times (the last being somewhat more centrist and less politically partisan than the others); on the right, there is Fox News, Breitbart News (which has become almost mainstream due to its enormous popularity) and many of the tabloid daily papers, both on- and offline.   Now we have Trump TV, an actual propaganda channel owned by the far-right Sinclair Broadcasting that veers dangerously close to state TV like they have in Russia or North Korea.

News outlets are not required to let you know if what they are reporting are facts or opinion, and it’s been this way for thirty years.   The problem has gotten so bad that Fox News can report outright lies — such as the Seth Rich story and denial of climate change — as facts.   On the left, the problem hasn’t gotten quite that bad (yet), but I have noticed the loaded and leading questions posed to right-wing politicians and guests, and a lot of liberal editorializing and opinions without opposing opinions providing a leavening agent.

Newscasters are now celebrities.  Market share and popularity has eclipsed factual, ethical reporting and responsible journalism.  Opinionated pundits (much like our president) rely on the force of their personalities over honesty and public service.   In so doing, they have won rabid followers and have influenced politics itself,  regardless of facts.   I’m not trying to be biased, but it seems this problem is especially prevalent on right-wing radio and on Fox News, where reactionary pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly need not stick with facts at all.  They can tell outright lies and spend the rest of their time building loyalty and vilifying “the other side” using name-calling and demonizing those with different views (that’s how “liberal” got to be a dirty word and “feminazi” Hillary Clinton got to be so vilified by conservatives), emotional rhetoric, and outright propaganda.   The problem exists on the left too, but not to the same degree as on the right.   In general, the mainstream news in 2017 is more entertainment than anything else, and yet people on both sides of the political spectrum take it more to heart than ever.

The problem seems to have started in 1987, with Reagan’s elimination of a little-known FCC policy called The Fairness Doctrine.  According to Wikipedia, The Fairness Doctrine, which was made into law in 1947, did the following:

It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.

The Fairness Doctrine was the reason why the news prior to 1987 seemed less compelling and more “boring” than it does today.   Sticking with facts or giving both sides equal time just didn’t sell as well, and networks wanted to make as much money as they could. The easiest way to do that was to turn the news into entertainment (“infotainment”) and appeal to pure emotion and their own greed instead of education and public service.  Removing the Fairness Doctrine allowed them to market the news the same way a new product or sitcom could be marketed, and not have to bother with presenting opposing viewpoints.   After all, a Ford commercial didn’t have to also present the advantages of buying a Chevrolet, so why should the news have give both sides a voice?

At first, the law’s removal seemed innocuous enough, even harmless.  No one really gave much thought to the way it could lead to democracy itself becoming endangered.   No one seriously considered how  such a little thing could lead to the dumbing-down of the population so they would no longer know how to think critically or consider any point of view outside their comfort zone.   Wasn’t it a good thing for everyone if the news could be made more exciting and entertaining to its consumers, while at the same time making the owners and sponsors more profitable?   It was a win-win, right?

Not by a long shot.   The dangers of removing the Fairness Doctrine were insidious.  Over time, the lines between facts and opinions (and later, outright lies and facts) became increasingly blurred, so that by 2017, most people no longer trust the mainstream media or can tell for certain what are facts and what’s fake news.  Such a distinction — where people know what’s real and what isn’t — is vital to retain a democratic system where an unethical or even dangerous “cult of personality” cannot arise easily or at all.    Another major problem was the way it led to the political polarization we see today.   Being required to present opposing opinions in reporting kept people from drifting to either the very far left or the very far right.  It may seem like a small thing, but it was the Reagan-era removal of this little FCC law that started us down the slippery slope to fake news and political propaganda reported as fact, which in turn led to the political extremism and hatred that divides our nation.

The removal of the Fairness Doctrine is only one example of how dangerously out of control deregulation has become.   It’s time for the FCC to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  It might be the most important way the divisions between us can be bridged and our  democracy be saved.

Fake news flowchart.

Someone posted this very useful flowchart on Twitter today.

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It’s time to stop blaming Trump supporters.

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Credit: Chicago Tribune

I consider myself progressive politically, but I have a bone to pick with some people on the left.    Unlike the modern GOP and their wealthy backers,  we’re supposed to care about the “little people” — the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise vulnerable.   Understandably, we are angered by the millions of working class red state voters who will be hurt by Trump’s draconian policies and cruel budget but voted for him anyway, because we will all suffer as a result of their ignorance too.      Those of us who aren’t swayed by Fox News and right-wing radio and are able to think critically have a hard time understanding why so many poor and working class whites would vote against their own interests and doggedly continue to support a man who is dead set on taking away the little they have.

I understand the anger.   It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around their ignorance — maybe even their willful ignorance.  But I’m seeing so many comments lately from people who consider themselves progressive, yet who not only blame working class Trump voters for the mess we’re in, but who seem to take pleasure in the prospect of seeing them suffer as a result of their folly.   They say things like, “They deserve to lose their healthcare for voting for a monster,” or “let them taste their own medicine,” or “I’ll laugh in their faces when they lose their healthcare and food stamps.”

It’s natural to be angry and even feel a bit of schadenfreude (even though we’re being hit too), but this attitude seems as heartless as the cruel budget and healthcare bill the GOP has unleashed.    How far a leap is it from “she made her bed, now she should lie in it” to the far-right refrain “if she had made better life choices, she wouldn’t be poor, sick, etc.”    Not much, if you ask me.

The country is deeply divided.  Things that were unthinkable in the past have become our new normal.   Mudslinging, namecalling, and even violence abounds on all sides.  This isn’t a left vs. right, GOP vs. Democrat issue.  It’s an all out war and it’s not normal.  Trump supporters hate “libruls” as much as they hate Muslim immigrants and Black Lives Matter — maybe more so.   They are encouraged at Trump rallies to physically attack and intimidate those who oppose them.   Reporters, in particular, are fair game.   But it’s not just on the Republican side we are seeing aggression and hatred.   Democrats who voted for Hillary hate hardcore Bernie supporters (“Berniebots”) who they blame for helping Trump win by refusing to vote for Hillary.   In turn, Hillary-hating Bernie supporters (in some cases they hate her even more than they hate Trump) blame the neoliberal “corporate shills” of the DNC who foisted such a terrible candidate on the nation.  Some even voted for Trump as a vote against Hillary.    I have seen them talk about violent revolution, even homegrown militias to overthrow the government.   Both the far left and traditional liberal Democrats blame working class Trump voters for what’s coming to them, even reveling in the prospect of seeing them suffer or even die when it happens.

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This isn’t an uncommon sentiment on the left.

Like the far right who blame the poor and immigrants for all the nation’s ills, when it’s really social Darwinist policies that target the vulnerable and reward the super-wealthy that are to blame (and create even more poverty in doing so),  some people on the left are just as guilty of blaming the victim.   I’m annoyed and tired of far left ideologues who say, “they made their bed, let them lie in it.”   No one deserves to suffer because they made a mistake — even if they still stick by their mistake.

Granted, some Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, intolerant, full of hate, and admire authoritarian leaders and a “strongman” approach to governing.  Some of them really are terrible people.   But not all of them are.  Most are just ignorant.  They’re not bad people and might even be kind and caring toward others in their daily lives, but they know no better.  Their minds can’t be changed because they have been lied to all their lives and their only point of reference is Fox News and whatever their churches and equally uninformed neighbors and families tell them.  Many lack the education and critical thinking skills to realize they have been misled and lied to.

In Trump, working class red state voters saw an anti-establishment,  colorful character who refused to be politically correct and who shared their their anger at the “liberal corporate elite” — well heeled granola crunching opera-attending types who drive foreign SUVs and seem to care more about Mexicans, Muslims, and blacks more than they care about them, and who look down their noses at their way of life and lack of education.     They heard Trump’s promises of  “healthcare for everybody” and “the Mexicans will pay for the wall” and “we are going to eradicate terror once and for all” and saw someone who would make their lives safer and more prosperous.  Finally, someone who seemed to care more about the white working class (and appealed to their religiosity even though Trump himself doesn’t seem to care much about God) than about immigrants, abortion rights,  and urban gays.

Trump is a swindler and a conman who promised them an easier life and assured them they would not be forgotten.  He played right into their fear and paranoia, and their anger at the corporate elite, who they understandably saw as the enemy.   Without the critical thinking skills or education to know better, how were they supposed to know they were being lied to?  It’s human nature to resolve cognitive dissonance by making excuses for an abuser who blatantly lies to you and is now targeting you.    It’s easier to say, “he doesn’t really mean it” or blame the “fake news” than to say “I was wrong,” especially when you were never trained to think critically about anything or were raised in a subculture that encourages or even celebrates authoritarianism.   Call it willful ignorance if you want, but it’s still ignorance.   As Jesus said in Luke 23: 34, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

It’s not fair to place all the blame on the shoulders of ignorant Trump supporters because there were other factors at play in his winning the election.  These voters are a minority of Americans.   Trump did not win the popular vote, just the electoral college vote, but that’s the one that determines the outcome of our national elections.    We had the same problem in the 2000 election of George W. Bush, who also did not win the popular vote.    The electoral college is obsolete, even destructive, and needs to go.   Are Trump supporters to blame for an outdated and unfair system of counting votes?  No, they are not.

poorly_educated

Another factor — and it’s the one most in the news right now — is Russia’s infiltration into the election.   The far right media loves to target all the stories about Russian interference as fake news,  but there’s just too much evidence for anyone with a working brain to not see that Russia had a lot to do with why Trump won.   Are Trump supporters to blame for Russian interference?  No, of course they aren’t.

There’s also the propaganda pushed by right wing media outlets like Fox News.   People who don’t have much money who pay for cable usually will pick the most basic cable package.   Unfortunately, these bare bones packages often don’t include progressive or even centrist news channels.   So the only news they have access to, besides the local news (which is often conservative) is Fox News, which is included in every basic cable package.   Fox’s selling point is “fair and balanced” and Fox News watchers see (now fallen) pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as one of them.    Both O’Reilly and Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh from right wing radio) have a blue collar image and seem able to relate to their concerns and lifestyles better than a Rhodes scholar like Rachel Maddow ever could.    Is it working class Trump supporters’ fault that they are never exposed to the facts or more progressive viewpoints?  Is it their fault the left makes no effort to relate to their concerns, and seems to care more about immigrants and people of color (who they see as the enemy) more than them?    Is it their fault that well to do liberals very often blame them for their lot and look down on them as much or even more than Republicans do?  No, it isn’t.

Finally, there are the churches, especially the evangelical or fundamentalist variety so common in red states, especially the South. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which is notorious for mixing far right politics into religion, goes as far as warning their parishioners they will displease God if they do not support Trump.   These churches use talking points such as abortion or homosexuality, knowing their followers will vote based on these issues, regardless of where the candidate stands on other issues.  Because they cannot think critically or see the bigger picture, they can’t see that the “pro-life” candidate may actually not be pro-life at all, just pro-birth.   People who can think critically can see how out of touch and easily swayed they are, but to a less-educated person who has been programmed all their lives to believe whatever their pastor tells them and is accustomed to appeals to their primitive emotions rather than their intellect, can we really blame them for supporting he candidate their pastor tells them is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom?”  Is it their fault they have been brainwashed into believing if they vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, they will make God mad and go to hell?   Again, no, it really isn’t.

It’s time to stop blaming poor and working class Trump supporters and start placing the blame on the real problem:  our broken political system where neither of the major parties addresses the needs and concerns of the average American and thus led to the rise of someone like Trump.

The Current Political Situation (reblogged from Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole)

crying_liberty

I’m sure my friend Nyssa from the Hobbit Hole won’t mind me reblogging this post she wrote today.    I think politics is dominating many of our minds these days, especially  for those of us who are survivors of abusive families or marriages and are triggered to the point of hypervigilance and paranoia by the constitutional chaos and hatred that seems to have suddenly taken over ever since Trump came into office.  It’s as if the world has gone mad.

Every day since this president took office is more WTF than the last.   Staying glued to the legitimate media (oh wait, I mean ‘fake news’) is almost an unconscious reflex that has its roots in our C-PTSD.    But our morbid fascination and vigilance doesn’t have to be in vain.  It can and should be a call to take action and (peacefully) protest and expose the truth, instead of listening to the shitstorm of hatred, lies (oops, I mean alternative facts), and national-level gaslighting and projection this Hitlerian president and his army of brainwashed ‘deplorables’ is engaging in, while they gleefully gut democracy in their attempts to turn us into a banana republic with a cruel and dictatorial ruler who wants to silence the free press, dismantle all regulations, build walls, shut down the EPA, and run our nation as if it’s a religious cult.

All I know is this:  If I have to die under this new regime (and many probably will, either through acts of internal terrorism and violence, natural disasters due to unregulated plundering of our natural resources, disease caused by “mythical” global warming, or because they lost their health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or social security – those are all next on the table to be axed under this administration), I don’t want to die as a victim.  I almost did already and I’m never going there again.  I’d rather die fighting for truth and justice, whatever that might mean.   I’m not going to succumb and die as one of the scared sheep who did nothing.

So, here is Nyssa’s article.

The Current Political Situation.

Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole

So much is going on that I can barely keep up.  My friend Lucky Otter calls it hypervigilance, says that the abuse is now happening on a national scale…. We have the flying monkeys in large numbers….

I’m starting to burn out on news from the White House.  It’s nonstop crapstorm every day.  I spend hours just checking news feeds on Twitter. But I keep hearing that we should all be vigilant so we can protest through various channels and keep our voices heard.  But I do have other things to do….

Then I watch movies of the White Rose Society, and hear how Germans didn’t do enough to stop the Nazis, for various reasons.  We can keep the same thing from happening here, and it looks like we just might do so–but not if we stop watching.  But what about the other things I need to do?

I’m following not just American newspapers, but German and British ones as well, to get more global perspectives.  Der Spiegel is about to publish the English version of a scathing series on Trump.  That’s the magazine which also put a controversial picture on the front cover, of Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.

It’s all maddening.  Those of us who have experienced narc abuse and other kinds of abuse, we can recognize what’s going on, but the flying monkeys call us “libtards” and laugh at us.

*****

Read the rest of Nyssa’s article here.

 

 

Small city in Macedonia churned out pro-Trump propaganda during his campaign.

veles_macedonia

Credit: BBC News

 

I stumbled on this story and was just gobsmacked.  Donald Trump seems to have some mysterious and bizarre connections with both Russia and Eastern Europe, but nothing surprises me anymore about this corrupt president and his administration.   The fact that this story comes from the BBC gives it credibility, in my book.  They don’t churn out “fake news.”   I’m surprised this story didn’t get more traction and I’m only hearing about it now.

Macedonia is a small landlocked country in southeast Europe.  It split off from the former Yugoslavia and established its independence in 1991, so it’s a fairly new country with a struggling economy.    Macedonia is one of the poorest European countries, but in the past few years its economy has been improving.  Still, there are young people seeking to get rich quick in a place that seems to offer them few opportunities.    Why not write fake news stories and disseminate them on right-wing websites to earn a fortune?      Most of these “fake news” stories have been traced to Veles, a small city in that country.   Most of the articles are written by kids looking to make a buck.

I wonder if someone in the Trump administration–or even Trump himself–might have paid off these Macedonian kids to write pro-Trump “news” stories? Who knows?  I wouldn’t put anything past him.    Here is the BBC article.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38168281?post_id=10212631627813467_10212631633893619#_=_