Entrepreneurs of hate

This is an important article for a dark time in history.

Please leave comments on the original post.

disorderedworld

Is it possible to transform politics around values such as empathy, solidarity and love? Many progressive commentators think so, and have laid out different plans to put these ideas into practice. But empathy and love seem in short supply in the actuality of politics today, crowded out by hate and intolerance.  In one society after another fear-mongering proceeds apace against poor people, immigrants, minorities and anyone else who is not part of the dominant group.

This article first appeared on Open Democracy Transformation.

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My biggest takeaway from the midterm election.

yourvotematters

I’m condensing and editing this from a Twitter thread I wrote the day after the midterm elections.  

Now that the midterms are finally over (although they aren’t really:  there are still votes coming in in some places, and there may even be recounts in states like Florida and Georgia),  my biggest takeaway is this: we can never, ever take democracy for granted.  We can’t assume it’s a gift that once given, just stays.

Because that is not the way democracy works.   It must be constantly maintained, not by politicians, not by pundits on TV, not by activists.  It must be maintained by regular people like you and me.  Unfortunately, for many years, we took democracy for granted and thought we could stay uninvolved in politics and let others do the hard work.  But once a large percentage of the population ceases to care to the point that they don’t even vote,  democracy is in trouble.   The very term democracy indicates that its existence depends on The People.   It depends on us.

Republicans were able to seize so much power because we let them.  Although other factors played a part in Trump winning, in 2016, we didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers at the polls to overcome everything that was stacked against us.   But those things were never insurmountable.   There are just too many of us.   Yes, Hillary won the popular vote (and I’m one of those people who think the electoral college should be abolished), Russians may well have influenced the results, gerrymandering and voter suppression  in some states is out of control, etc.  But, in spite of all the obstacles the GOP tried to set against us, the results in 2016 were still close.   Had we all voted (and not voted for third party candidates like Jill Stein), Trump would have lost and instead of becoming POTUS, today he’d be just another washed up and forgotten reality TV star who once ran for president.

But he is president, and now that we are stuck with him (for now), we are all learning an extremely sobering lesson in just how fragile democracy is, and just how easily one despotic man with too much power can start to dismantle all our checks and balances, and destroy democracy itself.   Many Americans, including myself, used to think about Nazi Germany and wonder how it could have happened.    We are now seeing in real time how it happened:  specifically, how seemingly normal people could come to support a murderous fascist tyrant.

We woke up, perhaps at one minute before midnight, but still not too late to flip Congress back to Democratic rule, which will mean there will be some vital checks put back on this presidency.  As a result, Trump, though he will still rage and threaten and bully the free press, our institutions, and everyone he doesn’t like, won’t be able to push through his tyrannical and cruel policies the way he has been able to over the past two years.  We will be able to relax just a little.  But we can never again become complacent.

Were it not for the efforts of the Resistance, and even more importantly,  regular folks of all races, creeds, religions, income levels, and lifestyles, turning out in record numbers to vote (many voting for the first time because they realized democracy itself was on the line) and had this election drawn a tepid turnout like other recent elections, we would have lost the House.   Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, we’d be staring down into a black abyss of unfettered tyranny right now.

Had we lost, we would now be freefalling into fascism and Trump would have unchecked power, free to do anything he wanted to do. We would have lost our democracy and would soon become a dictatorship.

Things are far from perfect. We still have a heavily Republican Senate and a Judiciary that is moving further to the right and will most likely continue to do so as long as Trump retains the presidency.  But the good news is, Trump can no longer just do anything he wants, and he can’t break the law, because the new Congress will hold him accountable if he does.  The Russia investigation will continue, and the new Congress will make sure Trump doesn’t get to run away from or obstruct justice, unlike our current GOP Congress, which enables his crimes and lack of ethics.  He can also be forced to show his tax returns.  So even though Republicans are still top heavy in the Trump White House, we are in much better shape than we were before the election. Trump can scream and toss insults and threatens all he wants, but at the end of the day, he simply  won’t be able to get much done.

A Democratic Congress can also start impeachment proceedings. Before last night, Democrats had no power to do anything. The only power we had was our vote. And we exercised it in record numbers. Had it not been for us using that hard won right, and sitting at home, democracy would have died.

We’re not out of the woods yet though.   This isn’t over.  We still have a lot more work left to to do. Trump has done incredible damage which may take generations to repair.  Republicans (which has become a fascist party since Trump) still have too much power. But we, the People, took back some of that power with our votes, and that is a good beginning.

I hope we all learned a lesson that democracy takes WORK.  We have the right to vote, and we need to use it — or possibly lose it!   Losing our right to vote can happen much more easily than you think.  There are people in high levels in government that would love nothing more than to take away our right to vote.   We can never assume others will do the work of democracy for us. The responsibility falls on us.  A government run by the People requires the input of the People.   There’s no way around it.   Voting in record numbers is essential.

If we continue to vote in the kinds of numbers we had on Election Night, we can eventually overturn this entire sorry regime  and finally have the kind of inclusive, compassionate, prosperous, caring, honest, and fair government WE, not the oligarchs and religious extremists, want: one that works for the People, not just the ultra rich and corporations.

If you voted, you should feel proud that you helped to save democracy. I think last night proved that no amount of voter suppression or GOP cheating is enough to overcome huge numbers of people voting.

We still have a long road ahead of us and a country to save.  Let’s get going!

13 ways to get the most out of voting in the midterm elections.

voting

I have never voted in a midterm election before.    In the past, they never seemed that important.   Of course, I was wrong about that.  They are always important, but never before has a midterm election been more important than the one coming up on November 6th.   In fact, this midterm election is more vital to America’s future than any presidential election in history.   It’s a make or break moment in American history.

I think all of us who oppose Trump’s regime (I refuse to call it a “presidency”) know why this election is so important.   We currently have a situation where both the House and Senate are controlled by the craven, criminal, and corrupt GOP, which now is in lockstep with Trump and no longer even pretends to care about “We, the People.”   And now, with sexual abuser, woman hater, and far right Trump ideologue Brett Kavanaugh about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court (unless a miracle happens, he’s almost certain to be confirmed today), the Judiciary is about to be hijacked by Trump GOP as well.

Folks, I’m not going to lie.  We are in grave danger of falling into authoritarianism and fascism.

We, The People are no longer being represented by any branch of government.    The Founding Fathers set up a system with three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) that are supposed to provide a check and balance on a despotic president’s abuse of power so we don’t fall into tyranny.  That system has failed us.  We have become a nation of almost complete one party rule.   The election coming up will complete that process — or give us another chance to save our freedom and our rights.

Our last and only chance to save our democracy and regain our reputation as a moral nation that cares about its people, represents its people fairly, and respects and honors the Rule of Law is the midterm election, which is exactly a month from today.    If we fail — and that is a real possibility due to voter suppression, gerrymandering, Russian influence, GOP tampering with voting machines, etc. — any semblance of democracy will be gone and we will be in free fall into fascism and a miserable future for our children and grandchildren.

But I think if everyone who hates this authoritarian system they are trying to install gets out and votes, that we can overcome Trump’s GOP and reclaim democracy.  Even if we still have to put up with Trump for a couple more years, the consolidation of power we have been witnessing will be greatly curtailed.

Here are some handy suggestions for voters and potential voters.

1. Make sure you are registered.   You can check your status here.  Check it weekly, since many states are doing voter purges and just because your name is there this week, doesn’t mean it will be next week.

2.  If you aren’t registered, do it now!  (It may be too late in some places).  Here is a site where you can register.   Procedures may vary by state.   Here is where you can also find out how to submit an absentee vote if you are going to be away from the polls on Voting Day.

3.  Don’t believe the polls and news stories that crow about a “blue wave” happening.   It may not happen and these reports of the surety of a blue wave can lull you into complacency and make you think we have it in the bag.   We don’t have it in the bag, and you need to vote, no matter what the polls say.

4.  There’s a lot of disinformation on the internet, and in recent years there are websites that tell you you can vote online.   Ignore these!  You cannot vote online.  These sites are fake, and probably a sneaky voter suppression technique (if you “vote” online, you won’t show up at the polls).   They can also be dangerous and hack into your personal information or install malware on your computer.  Avoid them!

5.  Bring someone with you who has never voted before.  Explain to them why their vote is so important.   Educate them about what is happening to America right now, if they don’t follow the news.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t.  I used to be one of those people, until Trump.

Here’s something that happened.  The other day at the grocery store I overheard two ladies talking and one of them didn’t even know who Brett Kavanaugh was.  She said she doesn’t follow the news.  Millions of people really have no idea they are about to lose everything, all their rights and freedoms, even as we in the Resistance watch our beautiful country go down in flames. It’s our responsibility to educate these people, and get them to vote.  It’s a lot easier to educate an uninformed person and take them to the polls than wasting time trying to change the mind of a Trump supporter, who follow their own fake news stories and whose minds apparently cannot be changed.

If the person has no way to get to the polls, offer to drive them there.

6.  Even if you don’t bring a new voter to the polls with you, at least talk to people who have never voted before about why their vote matters.   Elections have been decided on one or two votes!   Your vote holds more weight in a midterm election than in a presidential one.   If there are any doubts, have them read this article (or read it yourself):

10 Elections Decided by One Vote or Less 

7.  Offer to carpool for people who want to vote, but have no transportation or can’t make it to the polls for other reasons (handicapped, etc.).   Put a sign offering this on a community bulletin board at your church, school, library, or another public place.  Many grocery stores have a community bulletin board.  Or put your offer on your social media page (if you’re a woman, be careful with this though and don’t offer to take a man with you unless there’s at least one other woman along for the ride).

8.  If you don’t have the day off work (most people don’t, which is a shame and one of the reasons voter turnout in America is so abysmal), take the day off!  Don’t feel guilty.   You are doing your patriotic duty to help save our country from creeping authoritarianism.   Lie and say you’re sick if you must, but get to the polls.

9.  Don’t be a purist.  This is not the time to vote for an Independent, Green Party politician, or for a member of any party that isn’t one of the two main political parties.  If you’re a liberal, moderate, or Never Trumper, a vote for another party candidate is really a vote for the GOP.    I hope you vote Democratic.   The new GOP is not your father’s (or even your older brother’s) Republican Party.   If you care about saving democracy, you must vote Democratic, even if you don’t particularly like the candidate, or don’t agree with their entire platform.   Hold your nose if you have to and just do it!

10.  Be prepared for long lines.   There are going to be many more people waiting on line to vote than in normal times, or even during presidential elections.   Bring a book or a Kindle with you so you can read while you wait, or at least your smartphone so you can browse the internet or text your friends.    Even better, strike up a conversation with other people standing in line.   Bring snacks and drinks too because you are probably going to get hungry or thirsty.

11.  If possible, demand a paper ballot.  You may not have that option, but it’s worth asking.  Paper ballots are safer because they can’t be tampered with like electronic voting machines can be.   Or submit an absentee ballot to get around that.

12.  If you get one, display your “I Voted” sticker proudly.   You just helped save democracy!

13.  If you don’t vote, don’t complain about what happens later.

If you think of any other voting tips, please put them in the comments.  Happy voting!

Going forward…

I found this meme that shows tips from Robert Reich and wanted to share it because I think it’s really important going forward.   Please share.

RobertReich

Why I resist.

makeamericakindagain

Some people have asked me why I resist Donald Trump.

There are many reasons.  Perhaps the two most important ones are these:

I resist so my adult daughter can enjoy the same freedoms women have for the past 45 years and not have to go back to a time when they did not.  Even if you don’t believe in abortion (which is perfectly fine), it’s not the government’s job to decide what a woman can and cannot do with her body.   That’s up to her and her doctor (and perhaps her husband and/or church should have a say IF she’s conservative).   I also worry about governmental attempts to restrict access to birth control and contaception education (both which prevent abortion).

I resist so my gay son can love who he chooses and not be persecuted or discriminated against for that.

But there are other reasons why I resist too:

I resist so future generations (including my descendants, if there are any) can enjoy a safe environment and clean air and water.

I resist so we don’t lose our right to speak our mind and feelings freely without fear of censorship or punishment.

I resist so migrant children and babies aren’t separated from their mothers and fathers and put into cages and abused both physically and emotionally.

I resist because I believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

I resist because I hate racism, sexism and any other form of making others “less” for things they have no control over.

I resist because I hate the culture of cruelty and exclusion this administration is encouraging and enabling.

I resist because I don’t believe criminals, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, abusers, hypocrites, greedy Ayn Rand worshipping assholes, white supremacists, religious extremists, and Russian traitors should be running our government.

I resist because I think science is important and takes precedence over religion in matters that affect Americans’ health and wellbeing.

I resist because every working American deserves fair treatment and a wage they can actually live on.

I resist because religion and government should never be merged.  Every time in history and in every country religion and government become intertwined, it always leads to violence, fear and hate, terrible suffering, and war.   You are free to be as religious as you want to be, and you are free to share your beliefs with others, but you are not free to impose your religious beliefs on others who disagree with you.

I resist because I hate fascism, authoritarianism, and extremism of any kind.  Donald Trump checks every box for fascist/authoritarian traits.

I resist because I believe empathy and kindness are important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown absolutely no empathy or kindness.

I resist because I believe a good leader attempts to bring people together, not divide them and tear them apart.

I resist because a good leader cares about ALL Americans, not just their own base (actually, Trump doesn’t even care about them, they are just useful to him.  Being the malignant narcissist he is, all he cares about is himself).

I resist because bullying and good leadership do not go together.  Ever.

I resist because I believe humility and the ability to admit when you’ve made a mistake is important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown no ability to ever own or take responsibility for their mistakes, or for their cruel and deliberate actions.

I resist because I believe the vulnerable (poor, elderly, children, women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ, disabled, sick, etc.) should be cared for and listened to, not silenced, demonized, and treated like lesser beings.

I resist because I believe every child has the right to a free quality public education.  If you don’t like public schools, you are free to send your child to a private or religious one (or homeschool your child, though personally I think there should be certain standards for that), but you are not free to restrict other people’s children from being able to access an education.

I resist because I believe the wealthy and corporations should pay higher taxes for the greater good.  In every moral and civilized society, that is the way things work, and that is the way things used to work here too.   Greed and the lust for power has destroyed all that.

I resist because I believe the Second Amendment must be tempered with good old fashioned common sense, and that means background checks and age restrictions on gun ownership.   We are not living in the Wild West.

I resist because the President is not immune to the rule of law, and our system of checks and balances should be functional, not complicit and enabling of his unethical and extremist behavior.

I resist because a free press is vital to democracy, and Trump is trying his damndest to demonize any press that is critical of him, while glorifying “news” outlets that do nothing but lie and spread pro-Trump propaganda

I resist because I don’t like the values Trumpism promotes: wealth and power reign supreme,  “might makes right,” toxic masculinity, nationalism and white supremacy, disdain for empathy and other “feminine virtues” as weakness, etc.

I resist because I used to feel safe in my country, but no longer do.

I resist because we are stronger and safer when we work with our allies, not against them.

I resist because I believe in democracy, not fascism.

I resist because I believe in truth, not lies.

I resist because Donald Trump is a terrible example for our children.

I resist because I believe in America, not One Party Rule or a “Cult of Personality.”

I resist because I believe that’s what the real Jesus would do.

March for Our Lives!

There is a new Moral Majority in America. And it isn’t white evangelicals, the NRA, or the supporters of Trump. It is the majority of the country who believe in integrity in government, compassion, the rule of law, and justice. They are raising their voices daily. Especially today. — Matthew Dowd

Millions of people gathering to peacefully march against gun violence in every city in the country, and across the globe.  The enthusiasm and passion of the kids leading the movement gives me hope that maybe America will be okay after all.

Listen to 11 year old Naomi Wadler.   Hear this young woman roar.   THIS is what democracy looks like.

Here is Emma Gonzalez’ powerful speech and 6 minute moment of silence.  If you aren’t moved by this, you don’t have a soul.

Watch out, GOP, you old dinosaur.   The new generation is going to change things, and they are NOT going to vote for you.

 

Can we ever stop the hemorrhaging?

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America is sliding backwards in almost every way imaginable.   Like it or not, as a country we have become far more superstitious, fearful, intolerant, and tribal than we were twenty, forty, or even sixty years ago.   Such a worldview is incredibly dangerous to any real progress and the sustainability of democracy.

The following article will provide a background of why this happened, its historical roots, how our situation compares with the rest of the world, and what, if anything, we can do to reverse our destiny and restore democracy as we used to know it.

The Middle Ages.

feudalism

Hundreds of years ago, tribalism and irrational fear of the “Other” was the norm in the West. During the Middle Ages, the only form of government was basically a theocracy with “one party rule” by the medieval Catholic Church.  Feudal lords ruled over the serfs with an iron hand, with meager benefits, such as a small patch of land for a family to subsist on, handed out in return for loyalty and backbreaking labor.   There was very little to no chance of a common peasant or serf escaping their grim reality, or ever rising to the merchant class and certainly not the nobility (the oligarchs of those times).   For almost all who weren’t part of the nobility or merchant class,  life was “brutal and short.”  Harsh punishments were meted out liberally against those who dared question the regime or their overlords.  It was a life not much better than slavery.   Science was considered heresy and education was discouraged.  Higher education was limited to the clergy and the nobility, and even that was primarily religious education.

During these “dark ages,” which lasted approximately a thousand years following the fall of the Roman Empire, there was little to no progress, scientifically or otherwise.  Each generation lived pretty much the same way as the one that came before, and people did not live very long.   Daily life revolved around religion and the church and people were very superstitious.  Women were considered the property of men, their only role (besides backbreaking labor alongside the men) was producing as many children as possible as quickly as possible.  Most of those children died of illness before the age of 5 or so.   In fact, infant mortality was so common that medieval women didn’t bother to name a child until he or she was several years old, and more likely to survive.   Not naming a new child made it possible to not get too attached to the child and enabled the mother to take its death in stride without undue grief.

Modern feudalism and third world countries.

shantytown

Today, there are such societies. But they are not in the West. You can find feudal-like living conditions under harsh dictatorships and theocracies in third world countries in South America, Africa, and other parts of the undeveloped world.   Unlike advanced western democracies, these developing countries have not advanced in any discernible way, and do not contribute knowledge to the rest of the world. The vast majority of their people live much as Europeans did in medieval times.  The rulers and kings of these impoverished nations may themselves be very wealthy, but they keep their wealth for themselves at the expense of the populace, who have no chance to ever live a good life within their own countries.  These regimes are rife with corruption, oppression, sexism, and violence.  They are societies where hatred, fear, tribalism, and often religious superstition take the place of rational and enlightened thought and higher values such as inclusiveness and empathy for others.

Random violence and harsh and unforgiving laws are common in these societies, and people live in fear of their own government, who care nothing for them and treat them as vermin or at best, as inconvenient burdens.  Some people have been fortunate and able to escape from these regimes.  Many of those refugees emigratred to America for what they believed would be a better life, and for the most part, they have not been disappointed.

Tyranny outside the third world. 

sharialaw2

Islamic theocracies in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran are slightly better as far as quality of life than impoverished third world countries (most people have access to modern technology and generally have at least the basic necessities for survival), but are still rigidly authoritarian states that tolerate no dissent from the national religion and Sharia law. These regimes especially fear feminine power — a power which draws from the higher human values of empathy, altruism, and inclusiveness — and so women have been oppressed and denied a voice.    The rulers of such nations are always men, and they rule with an iron fist.   Toxic masculinity, where power, wealth, violence, and complete control are lauded as virtues, ensures that the “feminine” is kept silenced and where qualities associated with the feminine are dismissed or even considered evil (in medieval times, these qualities were usually associated with witchcraft).   Keeping women in line and obedient safeguards against the risk that the power of the feminine could ever threaten the hypermasculine regime’s control.

The Enlightenment.

foundingfather

While these harsh conditions used to exist in the West during medieval times, since the Renaissance and Enlightenment they have gradually been discarded.   Since then, the West has come to embrace rational thought and democratic, humane values over superstition and religious intolerance — and has changed their beliefs and laws in keeping with that.   The recognition that science (over religious dogma) is about truth and secular and higher education is valid and desirable, coupled with the idea that different kinds of people can and should learn from each other — and that difference is not something to be feared but something to be celebrated — paved the way for western countries to establish new policies that greatly enhanced the quality of life for all their citizens.  Policies that recognize that each human being is intrinsically valuable and worthy (instead of valued only for what they own or the power they wield) and should therefore be nurtured and encouraged to develop their full potential instead of punished and controlled for attempting to assert that potential has led to greater happiness, prosperity, and longevity for almost all people who live in those societies.  This recognition by the west that the “feminine” is as important (or more important) to the advancement of humanity as the “masculine” is the foundation for democracy, the most spiritually advanced and humane form of government that currently exists.

“Manifest destiny” and the roots of American tyranny.

americansoldier

America was, unfortunately, founded at least partly through the invasion and oppression of the native people who lived peacefully and sustainably on this continent for thousands of years.  This unpleasant reality has always hindered us as far as advancing in democratic values as easily as other western countries have been able to do. There has always been that undercurrent of violence and intolerance of the “other” that has darkened our path to true progress — even though our Founding Fathers did everything they could when writing up the Constitution to protect against tyranny, whether religious tyranny or some other form of it.

Since the Enlightenment, this reality has been concealed, even to ourselves.  We have convinced ourselves America is the most advanced, prosperous, and humanitarian democracy that ever existed, a concept known as “manifest destiny.”   We have long believed we are the one shining example of morality, liberty, and prosperity to the rest of the world — and that they should follow our example (even if by force at times).  But the reality is, while we lurched toward democracy with the rest of the west,  we were never a true democracy.   We have always been more hubristic and narcissistic than other countries, believing ourselves to be morally and in every other way better than anyone else, but it’s proven to be a slippery slope that has led to the serious problems we are facing right now.    In fact, our narcissism and belief in “manifest destiny” is causing us to slide back into a more medieval, almost feudal, type of society.   We are being sucked into a moral vacuum that was formed by our fear of the “other” and the feminine strengths that, for at least a while, forced us to face those fears and attempt to toss them on the ash heap of history.   The Roman Empire fell for the same reasons we are now.   In fact, America’s system of government was based on ancient Rome, and just as the ancient Romans did, we are eating ourselves alive with our wrongheaded belief that we are the rightful Masters of the Universe and should be treated as such by the rest of the world.

True democracy cannot exist when there is a moral vacuum where feminine qualities and higher human values that recognize all humans are intrinsically valuable are dismissed, ignored, or oppressed.   Toxic masculinity and “strongman” policies are, ironically, born in a crucible of fear.  Fear leads to nationalism and tribalism, which leads to hatred, which inevitably results in violence, oppression, and even tyranny.  The undercurrent of terror and superstition that has always existed in America is poisoning our fragile democracy, which never had a chance to fully flourish and become what it could have been.  Other western countries are far ahead of us in this sense, and now we are falling even farther behind.   We can no longer even pretend to be the “shining light on the hill” to the rest of the world, and to do so would only make us even more laughable to the developed world than we already are.

For over 240 years, in spite of our issues with narcissism, we were still able to make much progress — but we never let go of our need to regard ourselves as superior and make others treat us that way.  And because of our prosperity, our enviable technology, and our comfort with great power and wealth, other countries  did in fact look up to us as the rightful leaders of the free world.   Yet most of this was their perception — that being nothing more than an acknowledgement of the glorified image we wanted to project — not the actual reality of things.    No other western country ever had any concept of themselves comparable to “manifest destiny.”   The erroneous belief that we are “best” and should be admired and emulated by the entire world has kept us from developing sufficient humility to be able to empathize and take care of each other, never mind those “foreigners.”  Humility — the opposite of hubris — is necessary for the development of the feminine and the humane in any society, and that is why other western countries have had a much easier time adapting to true “social” democracy and the concept that good governance means “we’re all in this together” and not “I’ve got mine, screw you.”   Power and wealth has become more important in America than compassion and inclusiveness, and probably always was, if truth be told.  Democracy and unbridled, unregulated power cannot coexist. Since the days of Reagan, the idea that deregulated power and unlimited wealth trumps compassion, inclusion, and humanity (demonized by the right as “socialism”) has increased exponentially.

Our experiment with democracy.

Spirit_of_America

“Spirit of America” by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978).

For a relatively short time — from sometime in the 1940s through the late 1970s — we experimented with social democracy.   Following FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, American life and prosperity improved immensely for most (though racism and sexism were still issues, no one anywhere had really recognized those things as problems yet — reform was to come later).   The middle class grew and poverty diminished greatly, though it was never completely eradicated (and probably can’t be anyway).  Still, the uniquely American concept that some people were “better” or more “deserving” than others by virtue of their wealth, social status, or what they owned were still the true measures of human worth, even though this remained hidden or denied during those decades where we experimented with real democracy.  The truth is, we were never entirely comfortable with democracy.  Reaganism came as a relief to many people who feared the kinds of changes democracy could bring about.   Reaganism also began the slow unraveling of our developing, but still fragile and easily derailed, progress toward a more fair and humane society.  Forty years later, we are confronted with the terrifying spectre a near- fascist regime whose moral bankruptcy, brutality, ruthlessness, and lack of any semblance of conscience and empathy seems to have no limits.

We all know (or should know) how Reaganism eventually morphed into Trumpism, so I won’t detail the whole story of how that happened here.  Trump is not really the problem, nor would his immediate removal stop the hemorrhaging.   Trump is merely a symptom of a very deep and pervasive problem we have always had and that has become cancerous in the past four decades.   Other western democracies don’t have this problem, at least not to the extent America does. Because humility and “feminine” values (seen by tyrants as “weakness”) are not anathema to them, and narcissism and hubris hasn’t taken over their concept of themselves, they have always been more immune than we are to backsliding into tyranny.  That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in other countries, but it is less likely and their far right factions wield less power.  Our own fear and narcissism is destroying us from within.  We are regressing.

America is no longer a first world country.

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We have arrived at a point where we are not far ahead of places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia. While these are not third world countries in the strict sense, they are second world theocracies or dictatorships where the common people have no freedom (though they may be told they do and believe they do), lies are passed as the truth, history is rewritten, the free press is replaced by state propaganda,  and fair elections are either outlawed or a sham, dissent is punished, journalists are jailed, and the “different” are ostracized or even eliminated.   Such regimes have a number of things in common: oppression of women, criminalizing perceived “immorality” (homosexuality is an almost universal example in all these regimes), general intolerance for outsiders, an emphasis placed on buildup of the military,  police states, suppression of the arts and humanities, disdain or hatred for scientific thought, silencing the free press, revisionist history, the merging of religion and state, and state propaganda (whether religious or not) that passes itself off as “education” (in Communist regimes, atheism is treated as the state “religion”).

Lies are their currency; truth is always the enemy. Compassion is seen as weak and toxic masculinity (violence, controlling others, harsh punishment) is seen as “strong.” Higher human values — gentleness, inclusiveness, empathy — are not just regarded as weak, but sometimes as outright evil.   Such regimes are prone to constant wars and violence. Poverty is a given.  The wealthy few rule.  There is no middle class and it is not possible for a person to move upward from one class to another.  The “values” that are rewarded — wealth, power, total control — are often aided and abetted by authoritarian religion whose beliefs dovetail with the regime’s hypermasculine values.  American evangelical right-wing Christianity has much in common with radical Islam and organizations like ISIS.  In theocracies, whether the state-sanctioned religion is Islam, Christianity (so far, we have managed to avoid a religious theocracy here, but it existed during the Middle Ages and in Puritan times), or something else, there is no separation between religion and state and the leaders rule over the masses with an iron fist.  Any deviation is not tolerated.   As I mentioned earlier, this was par for the course during medieval times, but this form of governance was discarded by Europe hundreds of years ago when rational thought supplanted superstition, tribalism, and fear.  America, though denying it, was never able to completely let go of it.

Looking in the mirror.     

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Trump did not cause our decline, but through his hyper-masculine “strongman” words, actions, and tweets, has emboldened those who have always secretly wished for a return to authoritarian, medieval-like conditions and have never been comfortable with democratic values because such values demand we accept those who are different or more vulnerable than we are.  It also demands we embrace so-called feminine values, and that we recognize that every human being is intrinsically valuable. To be able to recognize the value in all people requires empathy, a quality that may be lacking in many Trump supporters, or seen as a “weakness” by people — usually men — who cannot accept any feminine softness within themselves.

But the proverbial phoenix rises from the ashes.  Fortunately, those of us who believe in true democracy and embrace higher human values over base ones like wealth and power greatly outnumber those who do not.   Trump, as bad as he may be, has done one very good thing:  he has provided a mirror for us to see ourselves as we really are, and how sick a nation we have become.   Sometimes the cure for cancer is painful, sometimes more painful than the disease.  Trump has  woken us up from our complacency and our apathy — which, had they continued, would have allowed the incipient authoritarian regime to take full control.   Though unwittingly, he gave us a window of opportunity to recognize the truth and finally take action against the horror that faced us.   Had Clinton or someone else been elected, we might have missed the opportunity.   There would have been no Resistance movement, we would have continued to sit home during elections,  and the thoroughly corrupted new Republican party would have continued to consolidate power and increase their stranglehold on our democracy without us ever realizing it until it was too late.    The cancer America is battling would have metastasized to the point that our destruction was inevitable.   Yes, Trump is extremely dangerous and yes, we could still self destruct just like the Roman Empire did, but I think with things having happened as they did, such an outcome is actually less likely, even as close as we are to destruction now.

The future. 

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We have a long and difficult journey ahead, if we are ever to liberate our country from the jaws of fascism and return to the democratic, humanitarian values that leaders during the WWII and postwar years recognized were necessary for us to thrive and become a real inspiration to the rest of the world, instead of a flashy sham of one.

There may be war. It’s inevitable people will die.  No revolution ever occurred without bloodshed and great sacrifice. We can’t be cowards and just wait for things to change, because they won’t on their own.   Inaction is death.   America’s soul is in the balance: do we want democracy or tyranny? The choice is ours.

Trump’s tax bill: we are in deep trouble.

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Holy cow.   Trump’s tax bill is bad enough for the average person who isn’t a corporation or a billionaire, as well as threatening the ACA (by removing the individual mandate), but look what else is hidden inside it.

Every American needs to be aware of this.   There’s all kinds of horrible things (many which I’m sure I’m not even aware of) hidden inside the tax bill, but this is probably the most dangerous and scary thing I’ve heard yet.    The plan, if this bill passes, is to remove any remaining separation between church and state, allowing a free and uncontrolled flow of dark money between the evangelical right wing churches and the government.

I wonder if many of the Senators who are going to be voting on this bill are even aware of this hidden clause.  The GOP seems to do just about everything in secrecy and darkness, without transparency (typical of authoritarian regimes).

The intent is to establish a “state religion” (remaking America as a “Christian nation”), which will result in the marginalization (and maybe worse) of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their brand of toxic Christianity, which has nothing to do with actual Christianity and is really a political movement disguised as “Christianity.”

This is straight up authoritarianism & a great danger to democracy. These evangelical Christofascists are using Trump to carry out their wishes, and it’s all about money and power.   I wish this was just fake news, but I can tell you with confidence that this is real.

Hidden in GOP Tax Bill:  A Plan to Turn Churches into Dark Money Spigots

If you’re not freaking out about this, you’re either not paying attention or are part of the problem.  We cannot allow this to happen.  We are not Saudi Arabia.

Call your senators.  They may not be aware what they are about to vote for. 

Here’s another article, from Mother Jones.

Republicans Are Sneaking Right-Wing Social Policies Into Their Corporate Tax Cut. 

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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.

friends

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.

How narcissistic abuse prepared us to resist the Trump regime.

The other day, I promised to write a new article about the spiritual battle we are facing in America (and the world), but then I realized that back in July, I’d already written about this, so I am posting it again (with the title slightly changed from the original).

One thing I would like to add: Even though our democracy appears to be in grave danger under the Trump regime (and is in grave danger still), good things are happening. The Resistance has grown stronger, and women are finally speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment. Sexual abusers, whether politicians or entertainers, in Hollywood or Washington or Alabama, are being exposed and held accountable.

Due to the heartless and immoral actions of today’s Republican party, there is a strong backlash against it. Good people with empathy are no longer staying silent. A week ago (or was it two?) there was a blue sweep across America, as Democratic nominees in many states won over Republicans. Even a transgender woman won a House seat in Virginia, and Hoboken gained a Muslim mayor! That’s progress if you ask me.

People are also demanding changes to our gun laws. There is more gun violence in America than in any other country, and yet nothing is done. Mass shootings continue and are forgotten within a week. The gun lobby and NRA are powerful and wealthy, but We, The People are more powerful and eventually we will win this fight too.

So, things are changing, but we are not out of the woods yet. We can’t become complacent over a few victories. We must continue to fight for our democracy, and there probably will be more bloodshed before it’s all over. We are currently being confronted with what Jung called our shadow, and after 40 years of the sort of policies we’ve had, Trump (or someone like him) was the inevitable result. But the situation is far from hopeless. I think we will win, but we have to keep going.

Here is the original article I posted on July 18 of this year.

How Narcissistic Abuse Prepared Us to Resist the Trump Regime.

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Credit: “Woman Warrior”/unknown artist

I’ve hesitated about writing about this because it sounds both a little grandiose and a little woo-woo.  But for quite some time now,  I’ve believed those of us who were hurt badly and broken emotionally by narcissistic parents, spouses, lovers, or friends — and who were able to rise above that and escape our prison and begin the long healing journey that made us realize exactly what we had been dealing with — have been rewarded with a kind of vision and clarity about the world that the average person who never suffered this kind of abuse doesn’t have privy to.

We have learned — the hard way — how to discern lies from truth, and good from evil, and we are courageous and observant enough to call out lies and evil when we see it.  Without the excruciating educations we received years ago, we would not fully understand the spiritual darkness that undergirds what has happened in our country now.   We have developed emotional armor and X-ray vision that keeps us from being taken in by the lies and the manipulation and the coldhearted evil of the cabal of bullies and sociopaths who have hijacked our once-benevolent though never perfect nation.

Trump isn’t the problem.  He is merely a huge mirror reflecting back to us our own darkness as a people: greed, avarice, lack of empathy for the most vulnerable among us, and massive-scale narcissism.   Carl Jung would call this our shadow.    Trump is really doing us a great service by showing us what we became – but that still doesn’t mean he’s not a grave danger.   We must be on our guard.

The problem in America didn’t start with Donald Trump.  It has existed for decades, starting with Reagan’s feel-good rhetoric about self sufficiency, positive thinking, and bootstrap-pulling.   It was seductive and happy rhetoric, but was also a slippery slope that led to the jettisoning of empathy and eventual scapegoating of the most vulnerable.  Soon we were placing the blame for all the nation’s ills on our most vulnerable citizens,  deriding  fictional “welfare queens” (always imagined as black or Hispanic, even though most people on welfare were actually white), poor single mothers, and the LGBTQ community and their non-existent “war on family values.”    The list of the nations’ scapegoats who were blamed for the bad economy and everything else that went wrong soon expanded to the working poor, the addicted, the middle class, non-Christians (especially Muslims), and in the last stages of our national sickness, even to the disabled, elderly, chronically ill, liberals, and even children.   Why?  Because we are all “takers,” “parasites,” and “worthless non-producers.”   We all became scapegoats of this soulless cabal of wealthy grifters, liars, narcissists and criminals and we are at the moment at their mercy — of which they have none.

Along with this divide and conquer strategy of separating and fomenting hatred between the “winners” and the “losers” and the wholesale scapegoating of the “least among us” came deregulation (the dismantling of laws that protect us from corporate exploitation and environmental hazards), more and bigger tax breaks to the most wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poorest and weakest citizens, the naming of soulless corporations as “people,”  billions of dollars given to fund the prison-industrial complex instead of college grants and money for schools,  the denial of both climate change and science itself, the beginnings of voter suppression, gerrymandering districts, rich donors like the Kochs and Mercers using their vast wealth to ensure a Republican takeover, more and harsher prison sentences for minor drug offenders (mostly poor or of color) at the same time defunding rehabilitation and mental health programs that could help those with addictions.

All this evil was done with the blessing of the Christian Right, a loosely organized group of evangelical and fundamentalist churches and religious groups that believe in a strict, legalistic, authoritarian brand of dominionist, Calvinist Christianity based on the Old Testament (rather than the Gospels), whose doctrine teaches the prosperity gospel:  the unbiblical idea that unlimited power and wealth are bestowed on the most righteous (God’s elect) and the rest of us are weak, sick, disabled, powerless, and lack wealth because we are somehow morally lacking and therefore deserve our sorry lot.   Like all narcissists, they blame the victims.   These fake Christians self righteously proclaim we only need to be “saved” and the riches and health will come, as if God is a cosmic lottery machine.  And they call us the elitists!  This is spiritual abuse.

But all this is nothing new.  It’s been going on for decades.   It’s only worse under Trump because we finally reached the point where we were ready for someone like him to rise to power.   He’s like the nasty boil that erupts that makes it no longer possible to deny there’s a serious underlying infection (and yet many still deny the infection in spite of clear evidence right in front of them).

We got what we deserved, and Trump is only mirroring back to us our national sickness.  The sickness I speak of is pathological narcissism on a national scale, which perhaps began as the result of too much pride following our WWII victory.    Even as far back as the sixties, there were glimmerings of what was to come, but it was only seen in what was once dismissed as “the loony fringe.” It didn’t really begin to come into its own until the 1980s and the era of deregulation and tax cuts for social programs, tax breaks for the powerful CEOs and corporations, and the aggressive union-busting that went along with that (the last bastion of protection for the working class).

My point is this.  All the traits of pathological narcissism we know well from our own toxic families are now writ large on the national scale.    We survivors have been schooled in how this illness works and what it does to individuals and to families.  Now we are seeing what it does to an entire country.     America is a huge dysfunctional family, with narcissistic parents (the president and his underlings) who shower gifts (but never love) on their golden children (the wealthy and powerful and white and those who make them look good) while shaming, scapegoating, smearing, and threatening to punish (by taking away healthcare, education, regulations that protect us, and clean air and water) those who are different, don’t make them look good, call them out on their hypocrisy and lies, or dare to blow whistles on them.   They gaslight us by calling what we know to be true ‘fake news.’   Scapegoated children are always silenced, but we won’t be silenced, just like our own narcissistic families failed to silence us.  Instead, they  trained us. They were our harsh teachers.  We told the truth about their toxic behavior and emotional abuse, and made our own way in the world anyway, even though we might have lost our families’ blessings, money, or their fake love.

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the great army of us who discovered that our own brokenness was a result of narcissistic abuse came about a mere ten or twenty years before this conscienceless, sociopathic cabal of self serving narcissists, con artists, criminals, and their flying monkeys (enablers and sycophants) rose to take power over our nation and maybe the world.  I truly believe that as painful and unfair as our suffering was, if we were able to recognize it for what it was and escape from it,  we are the ones with the right sort of training and emotional resilience to lead the fight against the darkness that is threatening to destroy the world.  It’s a kind of holy war, but it has nothing to do with religion.  It has to do with good versus evil, and because we got to see firsthand in our own families of origin (or our abusive marriages or other close relationships) how damaging and pernicious this type of evil can be, we  have a huge advantage over most of seeing through to the truth of things (and where there is truth, there is goodness and justice).   We have to be careful not to let this knowledge go to our heads or become arrogant about it, because that itself can lead to its own form of narcissism and defeat our goal of returning goodness, love, and caring to the world.   I don’t think it’s too late.  Because there are no coincidences, I think there was a reason we got the harsh preparation we did (most often, we were the truth tellers, the most vulnerable, and the most emotionally healthy people in our own families), and the time has come to put our hard won skills and our capacity for empathizing with the underdog to use.

As for people who endured narcissistic abuse and are aware they did, but who still support this president and his dangerous and heartless policies (unbelievably, some of these folks completely deny his narcissism),  I believe most of them are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in which they are still identifying with their abuser unconsciously and still haven’t completely come to terms with their own anger and shame.   I can only hope and pray they see the truth and join us in the fight.

I want to post a long comment from a reader of the N-Continuum, a better than average blog about narcissism and narcissistic abuse.  Pay attention to the way this reader (who is a survivor of narcissistic abuse) makes excuses for Trump (I have bolded the more outrageous assertions) and completely denies his obvious narcissism (calling it “healthy narcissism,” LOL).  S/he also buys into the delusion that Hillary Clinton was a far more dangerous narcissist (a common sentiment among Trumpsters), that Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement was a good thing, and that climate change is a hoax:

It’s so interesting that Hillary is displaying many signs of NPD post election. She is too angry to hide it. Her latest interviews are full of delusions and blame towards others. Even the interviewers are scratching their heads.

Those that know her want her to stop talking and also are revealing she has never admitted to failure on any count in her entire life. It’s all out there on youtube, even left wing media (which is most) are looking embarrassed.

I have still only seen Trump doing his best for American citizens, constantly under fire by manufactured “scandals” 7 days a week. All of which amount to nothing.

A little information for those that don’t know. Trump has been very interested in and commenting on politics plus has been considering running for 25 years. He didn’t just suddenly change.

That Travelgate debacle Hilary was involved in was black hearted. Really nasty, accusing the guy that worked at the WH travel agency of embezzlement because he wouldn’t use her friend’s charter service for general contracting. She could have just fired him, but no, she made a false accusation. This is all on record. He had to go through the court system and was found innocent. This is the kind of thing a toxic narcissist does. Her false statement is officially called False by the courts. This is just one shady truth about H.

I don’t think people should say Trumpers have diseased brains (Silver) or they are uneducated, have the wrong life experience, are “just seeing what they want to see”. Maybe none of this is correct and those that think Trump is a narcissist is wrong? anyone on here consider that?

I still have heard and seen nothing in particular that suggests he has NPD. I see healthy narcissism but not NPD.

I ask this question of people at the Forum and none are given. It is always the immediate leap (conflation) to full blown NPD with nothing offering the bridge to this OBVIOUS CONCLUSION that everyone on here seems to agree with.

Can someone point out just ONE thing that would tick the NPD box please? just one? besides being a bit sexist and rude on occasion? The “experts say” thing just isn’t it. Experts say “these pants will make you thin” also. Experts can be bought, can be partisan. Trump is so dividing people are abandoning their own principals to announce him NPD.

He is doing his best to keep his promises. Does anyone watch his speeches? his exiting the Paris Agreement speech today was full of heart and real concern, he picked through the layers of concern. He isn’t lying. What does he have to gain? money? power? he already had that, he didn’t need to be POTUS. Could it be he wants to help?

If he HAD stayed in the agreement the media would have said he broke his promise. Instead the news tonight opened with calving icebergs at the top of the hour. . . . disaster, the world is ending.

Actually we are in a normal interglacial period and return to an ice age is more likely. Anyone else notice “global warming” has become climate change? (so if it gets colder it’s still “correct”).

In a later comment, this commenter reveals that she has recently become “born again” and realized that God has deemed that men should have dominion over women.   Perhaps it’s simply sexism that causes some religious Trumpsters to hate Hillary so much?  Because she’s one of those “uppity women” that upsets the patriarchal apple cart of white Christian male supremacy?  Does this abuse survivor really think an abusive narcissistic husband is in his right by abusing his woman, just because he has God’s blessing to do so?  One has to wonder.

Here is a PDF article I just read that has a similar message to mine: the idea that survivors of narcissistic abuse have a special role in helping to guide the nation through this dangerous historical minefield.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Do Not Lose Heart: We Were Made for These Times