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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Like Jimmy Kimmel, It’s Hard for Me to Understand Trump’s Larger Following

  Last Friday, Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show on ABC was a re-run of his Nov. 4th show, providing his first monologue after election day, and it resonated with me for the following section, which I had to transcribe for you (emphasis added):

I’m shocked that it was this close… It is unimaginable to me that close to half of American voters saw what this man has done to this country over the last four years, how he kowtowed to Vladimir Putin, he cozied up to Kim Jung Un, he alienated us from our allies, he put children in cages, he villainized the free press, he hid his tax returns, he tear gassed peaceful protestors, he pardoned all his criminal buddies, he extorted Ukraine, he misled us about Covid, he dismantled the pandemic response team, he dismantled health care, he called neo-Nazis “very fine people,” he hired a never-ending parade of imbeciles, he lied, he lied, he lied, and then he lied some more. He’s a liar and a cheat who wants them to stop counting thousands of legitimate votes – and almost half of us are apparently okay with that.  Half of us want to keep it going for four more years. Which, listen, I don’t care what you think of Joe Biden. If Joe Biden stopped by my house every morning to key my car and pee in my pool, still there’d be no question which one of them I would vote for. None! I mean, what more would Donald Trump have to do to show us he’s insane and not fit to lead this country?  I feel like I overestimated the American people, and I underestimated the village people…

   Here’s the bottom line: Donald Trump is going to serve another term.  We just don’t know whether it will be in Washington or in prison yet.

Yes, ten million more people voted for Donald Trump in 2020 than did in 2016.  Joe Biden only won because of a historic voter turnout by right-thinking Americans, but it’s still amazing that so many other Americans like this man.

As I’ve written in previous columns, many or even most of his supporters agree the man is a poor excuse for a human, but they like his policies — some because they are wealthy and it has made them wealthier, but others because he speaks to the nascent racism in them which they can’t always express outwardly, but which they can silently express with their votes. As many Trump supporters have said, “He speaks what I’m thinking.” 

I have to admit that I have lived a sheltered life. I was raised in New England by parents who instilled in me that lying and cheating is not acceptable behavior. This was reinforced by the private schools I attended (on scholarship, since we were poor) for 7th grade through 12th grade, where lying or cheating could get you expelled. That is still true, I’m sure.

Having been an employer rather than an employee all my adult life, I have encountered lying and cheating, and every time it was a firing offense.

You probably have the same mentality about it. Namely, if someone lies to you once or twice, or cheats you even once, that is not forgivable. It’s a red flag reflective likely of future behavior which is simply unacceptable.

Willful lying is so offensive, even in political life, that it took a year or longer for the media to use the word. They used softer phrases like “misstated” or “was not truthful,” but hesitated to say, “the president lied.”  That’s how big a deal it was to use the word, yet now it is easily stated multiple times per day by every news organization that isn’t partisan by its charter. And even the supporters of the president must recognize some of his lies, such as when he said in October that we are “rounding the corner on the pandemic,” and that “they won’t talk about it after the election.” Here’s the corner that we were rounding as he spoke:


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  2. From Michael Stipek:

    How do you define a cult? In my mind, it has a leader who will create a cult that will eventually make decisions that will cause the most harm to the most people.

    Throughout history, there have been many leaders, some good, some bad, many in between. But the cult leader always stands out, because some time under his (always a male) leadership, he will make decisions that cause chaos and darkness, that some time under his leadership, he will bring destruction and death even to his own followers.

    We can see this happen with minor cult leaders, such as David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Jim Jones (Kool-Aid), Bhagwan Rajneesh (gimme gimme gimme), some current fake Mormon leaders, Peter the Hermit (1st Crusade, the Children’s Crusade). Then there are the major cult leaders: Hitler (an extraordinarily devoted cult following, even after he purged many in the original following, often having them executed), Stalin (history conjectures that more of the Russian peoples died under his rule than during WWII), Hirohito (not directly, but allowed the Japanese military the “spiritual right” to invade and enslave many nations), Mussolini, Franco, Idi Amin Dada, and so many others who created a core group of devoted followers who allowed themselves to be led from what appeared originally as saving this “minority” to inflicting pain and death on the “majority.”

    And now, under Donald Trump, his followers, dedicated to all things Trump, don’t seem to care that our fragile democratic institutions are under threat from their indifference to those norms that have nourished this country since before the American revolution began. Every one of the actions you listed in your last blog are with the destruction of a greater good just for the benefit of increasing his power, his sway over the minds and hearts of his followers.

    There has always been something dark in the souls of people, that something that drags countries and nations into unjustified wars (WWI) with the enthusiastic approval of so many. And this “many” is not necessarily the majority of the populace; often it’s just the most organized, the most focussed, the most supportive of a leadership that wants to create this cult based on the power to sway this group of people into doing whatever this leader action wants them to do.

    Why are Americans (and also currently Germans, who should know better, who have required classes since the first grade on the horrors of war and the Holocaust; the Poles, the Serbs, the Ethiopians, etc.) going along with Trump in his executive orders to destroy the climate, the environment, health care, social services (that was being saved for his second Adm.), the economy (oh yeah, that is on the list), racial injustice, fair immigration laws, and so many others? And doing so with great enthusiasm and a total disregard to whatever future these orders may bring (the rallies).

    Pundits are currently wringing their hands, trying to figure out why 70 million+ Americans voted for Trump. Even with the fact that so many of these followers believed that his economy, before Covid, was the best ever in the history of the world, that the white race will be saved from the colored races (which doesn’t explain why so many people of color did vote for Trump this time around???).

    With his overweening respect, even adoration of totalitarian leaders, such as Putin, Xi Ping, Kim Jung Un, Duerte, he is planting the seeds for the eventual diminishment of the US. And still this cult is following.

  3. Completion of Michael Stipek's comment:

    Last night, on TV, a graph showed that 77% of Republicans think the election was fraudulent, that the Presidency was taken illegally from Trump, when there just isn’t any basis in fact that the election was not “the most safe and secure ever.” And if Trump convinces just a few Republican-led State legislatures that they should choose their own rogue Electors, this election could be thrown into chaos. Which would lead to the Supreme Court…. This is showing the rest of the nation, those who voted against this nascent tyrant and those who chose to just not vote, there is a growing darkness that somehow must be shown the power of Light.

  4. From Bob Romero:

    I just read your latest blog and I have also wondered on how Trump supporters can be so stupid. The point of Trump making them wealthier may be true, but so did Clinton and Obama. My 401k quadrupled when Clinton was in office. I was ready to retire in 2000. Lucky thing I didn’t because my 401k then went down by a third when Bush was in office. Then it doubled during Obama’s two terms, and I was able to retire at the end of 2014. Trump inherited a booming economy and it continued. He also got rid of regulations that helped corporations, but those regulations helped protect consumers including the food we eat and the air that we breathe.

    But you have to remember where the Trump supporters get their information, namely Fox News, QAnon, Newsmax, and OANN(One America News Network), among other far right organizations. I think that you stated that in one of your columns. However, it mainly started with Fox News when Fox News was launched in 1996. In 1987, Congress repealed the Fairness Doctrine which stated that news outlets had to give equal time to opposing viewpoints. Rupert Murdock hired Roger Ailes to head Fox News. Roger Ailes was a media consultant to Richard Nixon who used the “Southern Strategy”. Civil Rights was passed across state lines and not party lines. So Ailes used the Southern Strategy to court the Dixiecrats in the South and get their votes. He did the same for Reagan and George H.W. Bush, but they did not use it to govern. He brought that strategy to Fox News to help Republicans get elected. Trump saw that and exploited it, but the dog whistles turned into blowhorns.

    The opinion hosts on Fox News portray people of color as being lazy, criminals, given jobs that they don’t deserve, and on drugs. The other outlets are much worse. Fox does have some credible reporters. Media Matters had an excellent video of Sean Hannity spouting lies and then Shep Smith debunking each one. When Shep Smith was asked about it, he replied that they have much more leeway on the Opinion side, and he has to report the news. He finally left after getting fed up. Talk Radio is also about 90 per cent conservative, and if you go to a rural community, that’s mainly what you’ll hear on the radio. Remember when Rush Limbaugh got fired from Monday Night Football for making racist comments about Donovan McNabb? But that’s what people are hearing on talk radio and believing it.

    I worked as a consultant at Consultant on data analysis and reporting for the top execs in Philadelphia. While I was there, I did some research on Fox News on my own. When Fox News first started, they paid the cable companies to carry their network. It’s usually the other way around. So that way, Fox News was automatically carried in every cable package. When you went into banks, hotels, restaurants, athletic clubs, customer waiting rooms, and other businesses that have TV’s, Fox News was usually on and especially in rural areas. The more outlandish lies and conspiracies that they tell, the higher their ratings are. And that’s what it’s all about for Fox, is ratings.

    I like what Pete Buttigieg is doing by going on Fox News and explaining true democratic policies. We need more of this, and for Congress to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.