The Deplorables, the Republicans, and the Media

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The Deplorables, The Republicans and the Media

I will eventually get to the “deplorables” but you must be patient while I make all the connections I need to make in order to make my points believable. Bear with me while I fill in the backstory. Even though it sounds overly familiar, follow along with it one more time. Recent events have their roots in the past, as is usually true with all human endeavors.

Strange Bedfellow Reprise

I once painted a word picture of a bed full of strange bedfellows with the hardworking average Americans on one side of the bed with their corporate bosses who either still employ them or who have abandoned them on the other side and as the pillow that separates these two normally adversarial groups is the Republican Party.

Nestled in with those hardworking average Americans are some right wing fringe groups of Americans, the militia folks who turned out to start a war over Cliven Bundy, and yes the haters, the misogynists, the xenophobes, the homophobes, the anti-Semitics, the racists, those who never accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and even perhaps downright fascists and neo-Nazis. I made it seem to be mystifying that these folks were in the same bed but it really isn’t all that surprising.

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Republican Media and the Strange Bedfellows

The ideological glue that holds these people so unnaturally together is what the GOP has been sending out over the radio waves (the radio!) in those Talk Radio shows of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and others for more than a decade. Republicans certainly knew their audience. They did not aim for Big Business, they colluded with Big Business. Their party was dwindling in influence and size. They needed voters. So the GOP through their media began saying the things that they knew would resonate with truckers on long distance trips, displaced workers tuning-in in garages or in their cars.

They began to say that America was being ruined, that America was being downgraded to a second-rate nation; that our leaders were knuckling under to China and at the mercy of Islamic terrorists. They took little or no responsibility for our factories relocating to the East. They took no responsibility for helping to pass laws that took away penalties, or at least did not levy penalties on companies who took their factories elsewhere where there was cheaper labor and lot of fresh consumers.

They blamed the Democrats for trade deals and high taxes and too many regulations, for being in cahoots with demanding labor unions, and for environmental regulations, although many of these measures had appealed to our officials on both sides of the aisle. They seduced their listeners by speaking back to them the things that they said when they gathered together. For the most part this was guy stuff, although now husbands have brought their wives along with them and many single women who lost employment have also joined the movement.

Once Fox News went on TV and said in living color, in a format that looked exactly like news (but wasn’t) what the Talk Radio people had been whispering in American ears in black and white, the GOP realized that they had hit on a formula that could well put them back in the White House. When they added in the Patriot talk, the veneration of the flag, and took to the airwaves as the sole protectors of our veterans American was theirs, at least the white, immigrated in the 19th century, bunch.

I watched them grow their influence and it did look like the waves of grain that symbolize the American heartland (another word they latched onto with everyone sending each other little hearts on Facebook.) They hypnotized America, they brainwashed America and they turned workers who had no work into pod people. They occupied their brains and promised them exactly what they wanted. They said they would get their jobs back and they made sure that everyone could own a gun just in case they could no longer trust their government.

That is how people who did not wear suits ended up in that bed with all the suits.

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How Republican Media called out to the Deplorables

The Republican Party has been using their own media to demonize Democrats. Media once tried to go for a balanced approach that sort of gave credence to the policies advocated by either side. The Republicans created a deliberately partisan media that spouted anti-Democrat messaging 24 hours a day. It is probably why the new idiom “24/7” was invented.

The GOP made the Democratic Party the party of immigrants so they could blame job loss on immigrants, especially immigrants who did not enter America through legal channels. They told workers who had to take jobs that paid far less than their old jobs that their tax dollars were being given to these illegal immigrants. Their tax dollars were being given to people who had never held a job or never would, and they painted those people’s skins as black. That is how they fed into and strengthened an image of the freeloading “other” that already existed.

Too bad the intelligence we have about terrorists is not as good as the intelligence the Republicans have about the American middle class. Of course the Republicans are the party that created the NSA with the Patriot Acts. When a black man became our President that was truly serendipity. Implying that he was not a true American, that he was not a Christian, that he belonged to a church that spewed hate about white folks in America – bonanza!

Are all of the white Americans who have been wooed and won by nonstop propaganda deplorable? I don’t think so. Are there deplorable individuals who climbed aboard the GOP train because the rhetoric resonated with their own narrow-minded beliefs? Absolutely. Are there quite of few of them? Sadly it seems that there might be. Do people who are not deplorable hold to some deplorable ideas? I would have to say that that is true.

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Is the tribalism that defines the American social landscape deplorable? Will it lead us to anything positive if we are at each other’s throats? Can you make a better future when people are so invested in their own mindset that they want to lash out at anyone who thinks differently? Will dividing America into tribes who defend their territory, separating us all with hate and bile, eventually produce an America that links arms and unites to produce a more peaceful world in which we all can live? How can dividing into separate camps ever lead to unity, tolerance, and the creative spirit we need to meet the challenges of our tiny planet hurtling through space.

The Republicans have exploited our differences and exaggerated our differences in order to gin up votes because they want, they desire, they must control all three branches of our government. They must truly believe that they can restore America to a former glory that has never really been lost. Although we may be in a down cycle right now and recent developments abroad have given us more competition we are still a great nation and a world leader.

The Republicans profess their policies in almost biblical tones. They are trained to repeat talking points, to talk over their opponents, to obliterate foes with data even if the data is made up. They must think that “trickle-down economics” and cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations on business and investment, privatizing everything and building our military while cutting the size of federal government, that all of these strategies are the Holy Grail to reproducing the America that used to be so powerful and so productive.

But the GOP did not trust the American people to understand how successful their policies might be because so many of us do not agree that these policies will improve America. They still had to use propaganda to win. If you have right on your side why would you create this whole matrix of mesmerizing mind games?

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Will Donald Trump and his band of Deplorables Make America Great Again?

Now the GOP is the party of Donald Trump who is the pied piper of the “deplorables”, regardless of how shocked the Republicans act about what Hillary said. In the future qualities like xenophobia, racism, and misogyny will not help us create the global society, which is evolving whether we like it or not. These feelings are backward and really don’t belong in a nation that espouses equality. They will only produce a more primitive American, not a futuristic America. The fact that these people have found a home in the Republican Party with Donald Trump at its helm is the best reason of all to elect Democrats in 2016. We need to fight these feelings in ourselves not give them free rein.

 

How I Became a Political Activist

I got an e-mail yesterday asking me to tell the story of how
I became a political activist. But the roots of my fighting spirit did not grow
in political soil. My parents voted but we did not sit around the dinner table
discussing politics. We talked about who needed shoes and how the family would
be able to afford them.
In fact my father would have been thrilled if we did not
speak at all or if we took turns in an orderly fashion. However, there were ten
people around that table and Dad was not always home for dinner because for
years he worked the second shift. My two brothers sometimes launched a reign of
terror at the dinner table and our meals were always chaotic. Someone often spilled milk which dripped down through the leaves in the dining room table.
Our dinner was more like a swarm of locusts who ate every bit of food and then
moved on.
Dad had a scientific mind. He was an electrician but he
seemed to have an innate understanding of physics even though he left school in
the eighth grade. He loved to read and I read whatever books were available so
since he loved science fiction that is what I read. Science fiction books often
have heroes who fight injustice, although they do it in space. Science fiction
allows a reader to consider how societies function and to be entertained at the
same time. Some futuristic lit was utopian and some was dystopian so this genre
is one that looks at good and evil on a grand scale. Most of the good in sci-fi
is present when a society values fairness and justice. Evil empires are unjust
and do not value fairness. So I don’t know if I was born with a nose that
sniffed out unfairness and injustice in the world or if I learned those values
from the books my Dad shared with me. Perhaps, if those values were hard-wired
in me, my brain was born to fire on all its neurons when reading science
fiction.
Politically, my high school years were dominated by the Cold
War with Russia. We dropped bombs at the end of World War II and I guess we
expected retribution at any moment. My college years were dominated by
assassinations and the Civil Rights’ Movement. As I was leaving college the
Beatles were traveling ever Eastward and we were demonstrating against the
Vietnam War, sort of. We were actually smoking lots of pot, listening to really
great music, dancing, and talk, talk, talking. All the things America
experienced in those years, not just the antiwar movement, but the women’s
rights movement, the effects of the birth control pill, a new air of freedom
that expressed itself even in our clothing and our lifestyles activated my mind
to make judgments about the fairness and justice in America, and America was not
doing very well.
Fortunately I found a career in a program that sent
economically disadvantaged and minority adults to college after delivering some
coursework to help them succeed. For many years this satisfied my craving for
fairness and justice, and many of the issues that I would have wanted to fight
for had been somewhat resolved for the time being. It was time to help those
people who were born with too few choices find their futures and our school’s
staff got better and better at doing this.
When I retired from teaching (and I retired early) my Dad
was sick and could no longer drive. I was the only one in the family who could
retire (although I had other reasons) and help my Mom who did not ever drive. I had little time for political
activism until after Dad died (or traveled to a galaxy far, far away). Save me a spot Dad.
That was when I began to hear from people who were listening
to talk radio and I realized that Dad was not the only one who was going to a
distant galaxy. It didn’t take long from the time I began to hear the nutty
things people were saying for me to tune in to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
After listening to these two accuse a nice young Senator and father running for
President of the United States of being the new “Hitler, the fairness and
justice I was born and bred to fight for made me decide that the world had to
hear equally strong messages that were not so filled with hate. The haters are
still fighting for control of America, ironically at this moment which also
celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
My unfairness/injustice genes have found their moment. I
have tried to speak against the most extreme reactionary and fearful voices we
have heard in America in many years. I decided to fight the fever on the right
by writing about the sanity and compassion on the left. That is the arena where
I decided to fight the good fight and I still am a very tiny voice talking into
a strong wind that is still blowing from the right. I do not believe that the left is always good and the right is always bad; I do believe that the right is currently not selling anything America should want to buy.

By Nancy Brisson

Freedom Grudgingly Granted – Black History Month, 2015

It’s Black History Month and I am not a person of color, unless
you like the color of raw chicken skin (I’m a bit short on pigmentation) so I
should really mind my own campfire and leave this topic alone. However, when
you believe, as I do, that everything and everyone is interconnected then you
tend to take liberties with boundaries, as in the sense that when you look at
earth from space the only boundaries you see are geological.
I am not talking about some hippie-dippy dabbling in Eastern
philosophy kind of interconnectedness. I am talking about the-ripples-from
a-pebble-dropped-in-water, you-and-I-breathe-the-same- air,
drink-the-same-water, share-the-same-food-requirements, and fall-prey-to-the-same-diseases
kind of interconnectedness. While the effects we have on each other were not
quite so obvious or significant when the earth was less populated, now that we
are 7 billion strong, headed for 9 billion real soon, we are beginning to
experience our interconnectedness daily and not always in good ways.
So pardon me as I venture into a space that really isn’t mine,
because I don’t like injustice and I think cultures should champion fairness.
Certain things are true about the lives of many (although perhaps not all)
Americans of African descent which testify to a lack of justice and fairness
that needs to be set right if our grand experiment in Democracy is to continue.
That very fact, that we have not lived up to our own creed is weighing on us
and is negatively affecting our ability to act as a viable example to the rest
of the globe about what is possible.
I know we are just as flawed as any other humans when considered
as individuals. This is why people form societies – with the hope that
collectively we will be able to overcome some of our individual flaws. Often
our human flaws only get magnified because power and wealth are so corrupting
but, in our Democracy, answering to more humble humans is supposed to keep the
corruption in check. What we have done to Americans of African descent in America
is a shameful example of what happens when justice and fairness have been
circumvented.
Yes, we had a Civil War and the slaves were freed. But they
certainly did not go from freedom to inclusion in any quick hurry. Yes, the
Civil Rights Movement, won by brave people who bucked hatred and exclusion, won
by people who spoke out against being bullied into a social position that was
still submissive, a movement won by people who risked their very lives to
insist on a greater share of respect and a greater share in the rights and
privileges that all white people enjoyed, did result in a somewhat greater
measure of freedom for African Americans. Yes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was
signed and many white Americans grudgingly accepted things like voting rights
and the rights of Black Americans to share public spaces.
Hatred, however, is very sneaky and it finds ways to skirt laws.
Many in our society have found nasty ways to show how truly unhappy they were
about sharing rights equally with African Americans, and these same haters
developed ways to use real estate to keep Americans of African descent from
intermingling with white folks, unless they were wealthy enough or
well-educated enough to find their way around the secret exclusionary practices
used by citizens to manipulate the sale of real estate. Now we complain about
neighborhoods populated almost exclusively by Americans of African descent,
neighborhoods we created by allowing unfair real estate practices. We blame the
victims so to speak.
Not only do we complain about so-called black neighborhoods
(which we created) but we complain when the residents of these neighborhoods
show enough zest for life that they turn around and create their own colorful
and compelling culture.
Well I say we need to get a grip – if you keep a group separate
and you show a reluctance to let African Americans live amongst you then you must not be surprised
when they make a culture that gets along without you.
We cannot let the situation remain as it currently exists. We
don’t seem able to let African American people live in peace. It is not healthy
to have a society within a society for one thing. Although we have managed this
exact configuration with Native Americans who supposedly have sovereignty, but
still are subject to the laws that govern America to some extent, this has
always been, and still is, an awkward arrangement.
Americans of African descent are suffering due to their
isolation. They are not buying into the education their children need to get
good jobs. They are being arrested and imprisoned in numbers that are way too
high. Although their culture is thriving in some respects, it is being
artificially stunted in others. We are becoming, more and more, two separate
societies, one with the power to punish, one with only the power to disrupt.
Disruption shows strength, but it shuts down the opportunities to be successful
within the structure of the larger society. All this has been aggravated by the
arc of the American economy. As soon as Black Americans started to get good jobs,
the factories left America. As soon as they got houses (a great big scam on
them anyway) the housing bubble burst.
To continue down the paths of separation that we have been on
will only lead to more of what we already abhor and to the failure of our great
experiment in equality and justice for all. Everyone will lose.
I can see where we are headed but I can’t see how to build a
route out of a more and more divided future. I know I always say that according
to our DNA we are all the same, but cultural differences are very real and have
been intensified by separation. I felt proud when Obama reminded us that we are not a Black America and a White American or a Red State and Blue State America; we are the United States of America!
I truly believe that if we elect Republicans in 2016 we stop any
conversation about these matters in their tracks and we go our separate ways
probably for as long as we all shall live. And once we snip the social safety
net and send all the jobs away we will no longer have any Americans of African
descent because they will have to form their own country somewhere on land that
is currently American land in order to survive. Maybe they will want to live in
the Southern US because the economy there is doing somewhat better than
elsewhere and they have ties to the area. Perhaps they will want Detroit and
Chicago and that will make Wisconsin look attractive also. Perhaps I’m just
pulling your chain, but maybe not.

It is clear that we are making tomorrow’s Black History today
and we need to try to write a much happier chapter than the one we have been
writing.
By Nancy Brisson