What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The sum of all fears

"Whatever Trump is thinking or means, the white nationalists and neo-Nazis he's activated will hear his speech with glee because he's channeling text book anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with all the code words and emotional tenor." (Link grokked from John Scalzi) If this had been his first time, it would be easy to dismiss. Unfortunately for us, he long ago placed himself into the neo-Nazi camp willingly. It's about this speech. It's been a very long time since I looked at the rise of nationalism in Germany, but as I remember Trumpster is pretty much cribbing from speeches by Heinrich Himmler and Adolph. "You are great, but you've been subverted, suborn, and are being robbed of your birth right by these people." That pretty much the message of the Brown/Black Shirts. "'Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any costs, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy,' he continued. 'For them, it's a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it.'" This is setting up the crowds to both commit and accept violence.

This is the myth of having a gun for self protection against robbery, rape, and home invasion writ large. You are being robbed. Your country is being stolen from you. People are conspiring against you. It would be concerning even without the NRA commercials glorifying a "2nd Amendment Solution" to protect yourself and saying Hillary Clinton is coming for your guns. This is different than past cycles which were merely "they're coming for your guns, support your rights," these commercials start with "I used my gun to protect myself" (call to normalize violence and put the idea in your head of using a gun to protect yourself), snd then "that person doesn't want you to be able to protect yourself" placing that person on the side of criminals who are going to harm you.

After the last election there was a spate of mass shootings where the perpetrators were recorded talking about or wishing that their actions would be the start of the revolution. I remember at least three of these. And this was the call from The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. They overly believed this would be the start of an armed uprising. The specifically called for groups to join them (only a few did, but people did come from across the US to their cause, Mr. "I just want me weed" was from Ohio). They wanted that to be the Lexington/Concord of the new America.

Our politics have been intentionally polarized for the past 30 years. I'm old enough to remember Conservative Democrats and Liberal Republicans. You don't hear about that too much any more. While the majority of people are politically in the middle, one party has been engaged in a sociological sorting based on symbolic causes (as compared to actual pragmatic programs). This is why you see many Christian Conservatives still supporting Trump even though he is the exact opposite of what they've said they are for. They've even come to the point of openly saying that Trump is a disgusting human being. But Trump has promised them power, promised them he would appoint anti-abortion judges. And because he hits those two symbolic hot points they will be his largest constituency and the leaders have mostly all said they will vote for him. The issue of control of SCOTUS has been very big in these last few weeks. Not by the candidate directly, but by the opening speakers and by his surrogates.

Since the last election this sorting has accelerated. Both sides look at the other and wonder just WTF they are thinking. Can't they see the Truth? It's even been stated in the debates about not know what world the other person lives in. The echo chambers on both sides have become intense. You might remember the studies about how we've sorted ourselves on social media. We joke about unfriending people (relatives) who hold the opposite political view. So even though we actually are mostly alike, we've been convinced by arguments over symbolic differences that we want different things. Abortion is probably the easiest issue to point to.

But what I'm worried about (and have been since March, although I had been chalking it up to my own paranoia) is this time, if Trump loses (and it certainly looks like not only will he lose, but he will lose big) he has already prepared his loyalists for action. He has made them paranoid and fearful that their world is ending and that they won't be safe. His rallies brim with violence against any target that might present itself (real or perceived, a mob isn't exactly rational in their choice of victim). I'm afraid the fire has already be lit, the decades of resentment have built up a reservoir of fuel, together they've seen their strength which is the air, all it needs is someone to pour gasoline on it.

And Trump, in his self-absorbed narcissism, in his desperate need to "not lose" and with his long established knee-jerk reaction of "hitting back", could either knowingly or unknowingly be the one who pours that gas.

I really, really pray I am wrong. I hope this is just my own paranoia. While in 2008 his rhetoric would not have had the same effect, the last eight years has seen the stage set for a violent showdown. Losing this election, possibly losing the Senate, maybe losing the House and state level control might be too much for his followers to accept in their worldview. And as has been shown through both the video of the audience at Trump rallies (what little there is), the profiles of Trump supporters like the PA woman's I shared in a previous linkee-poo, the rise of racist, religious, and personal hate crimes, these are not the most stable of people. They are fragile, and they will feel they've been robbed and are about to be harmed (there's been more than one mention of "re-education camps" in the troll age). They have a palpable need for a strongman figure to "right the world". Their leader is a poor loser and doesn't understand fully what his words and actions are bringing about (while I have some doubts, I do believe this is all narcissism and not actual political planning). Add in the machinations of Putin and we are at a dangerous cross roads.

I really hope this is only my own crazy thoughts.

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