The Source of Our Division

I started this blog after the “…very fine people on both sides” comment made by Trump in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. I had already found Trump as unacceptable to be president based on his despicable behavior during the campaign leading up to the November 2016 election. He was morally, ethically, mentally and intellectually unfit for the position. However, his refusal to emphatically denounce white supremacy and racism totally shattered my perception of my America. What was really mind boggling to me was that other people were willing to overlook Trump’s unfitness, his abhorrent behavior, his destructiveness toward our government and our democracy.

I’ve spent the last four years trying uncover why people support him and his destructive policies. I researched news sources and propaganda that shapes attitudes and perceptions. I found a network of radio, cable and online platforms that present an alternate view of reality based on far right beliefs. This “network” convinces consumers to not believe or trust mainstream media, government, experts, science and even democracy, leaving them at the mercy of talking heads and conspiracy theorists.

These far right beliefs have always been with us, but existed on the fringes of society. However, over the past half century a small group of ultra-wealthy Americans have poured billions and billions of dollars into think tanks, academia, right-wing media, politics (including funding the Tea Party Movement and supporting Citizens United which allows unlimited money to finance campaigns) and dubious “philanthropic” entities effectively dividing America.

The worldview (Billionaire agenda) of this ultra-wealthy force of power and greed was shaped by the John Birch Society, the Freedom School, the Libertarian Movement, ideas from author Ayn Rand, and the myth of a purely free market economy. It is for small government and against any social safety net. In other words, they don’t want any government regulation including laws that protect the environment and worker’s rights and they don’t want any government funded programs that help the less fortunate.

This worldview is harmful to the majority of Americans. But somehow this worldview that gives carte blanche to a few billionaires morphed into a populist movement that has a contorted and deformed sense of patriotism. Ordinary Americans have become anti-democratic and anti-government “patriots.” AMERICAN PATRIOTISM IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH ANTI-DEMOCRATIC AND ANTI-GOVERNMENT THINKING! A patriot who doesn’t believe in democracy doesn’t make sense. It’s like a fish that doesn’t believe in water or an Evangelical who doesn’t believe in Jesus.

Ordinary Americans are being swayed by culture wars that are at times exaggerated or outright false including but not limited to the areas of immigration, religious freedom, gun rights, abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, government overreach, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, voter “fraud”and vaccine/mask mandates. As a result of this misinformation, these ordinary Americans will only vote for those who profess this same misinformation. So, well educated, well off people in power are willing to knowingly outright lie to the American people to perpetuate the false right-wing narrative that is hurting the majority of Americans just to get their votes. And, they are willing to deny or hamper the voting rights of those who don’t agree with their destructive agenda.

Ordinary Americans are unknowingly supporting the anti-democratic anti-government Billionaire agenda by voting right-wing. They are supporting the American oligarchy and giving up their own opportunities and protections. This poisonous thinking has radicalized patriots into domestic terrorists. These toxic views are caused by too much influence from too few people!

We must reclaim America for all. We must honor truth, democracy, civility, citizenship, civil rights, the social contract between stockholders and stakeholders, fairness, and opportunity for all. We need security, stability, livable wages, education and healthcare. Remember, without the foundation we provide, the billionaires would be out of business.

Now that I know the source of our division, I am at a loss as to what to do. I’ve tried fact checking and sharing what I’ve learned, but people just believe I’m repeating some liberal narrative or talking points. I hope that we can save our democracy before it’s too late. Otherwise our lives and freedoms will be dictated by the Billionaire agenda that has no respect or use for ordinary Americans.

Trump brought the darkness of the radical right into the light. Now that we see it for what it is (the Billionaire agenda), we need to save our democracy for all of us. We will only be saved by truth!

Billionaire Backed Misinformation

Consumers of mainstream media are often perplexed by the views and beliefs by consumers of right-wing media. The views at times seem counterintuitive, possibly self-destructive and un-American. Mainstreamers wonder how such views could originate in their peers?

As it turns out, right-wing media misinformation is funded by billionaires who want to take all they can without responsibility for all they destroy in the process. They consume our resources, pollute the environment, exploit workers and evade taxes. Their anti-government stance isn’t based in some ideology of American “freedom,” but in pure greed. The government is the only force that could hold them accountable and so they fooled ordinary Americans into becoming anti-government, anti-democracy and anti-intellectual by feeding them exaggeration, falsehood and phony culture wars in order to maintain their unchecked power.

People are arguing over the life saving masks and vaccines crucial for surviving a once in a hundred years pandemic, while billionaires are spewing benzene in the air, dumping mercury onto the ground and destroying democracy!

Ask yourself, who’s funding the lies and why?

Billionaires and the Radical Right?

The volcano that erupted spewing Trumpism and destroying democracy has been building deep underground since the end of WWII. Consumers of mainstream media were aghast and bewildered by the 2016 election results while the consumers of right-wing media welcomed their messiah. Somehow an unlikely alliance had formed between the billionaire class, the working class and evangelicals.

I’ve only read the first three and half chapters of Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right and have found many answers to my questions of what’s happening to our country?

How can the most technologically advanced, most successful democracy and standard bearer of human rights in the world become an anti-intellectual/anti-expertise, anti-government, anti-democratic, anti-union autocracy?

A few billionaires (often recipients of inherited wealth) don’t want to pay taxes or abide by government regulations so they funded right-wing think tanks, foundations, politicians and media platforms to undermine confidence in the government thereby disempowering it. They’ve convinced the very people who are served and protected by the government to destroy it and vote against it. They’ve deemed any government program that helps ordinary people as socialism or communism as a scare tactic. They’ve created an alternate reality of disinformation that causes the masses to give all their power over to to the few at top. Unbelievably, these people who are giving over the very democracy that gives them power believe they are somehow patriots!

These billionaires who’ve usurped our power and restructured the government in their favor have no clue what it means to earn a living and raise a family from scratch. We need to take back our power and make America fair!

Is it too late to save our democracy?

I always thought anti-government sentiment came from backwoods socially isolated men who garnered their sense of power from gun ownership and joining a militia, but I was partly wrong. It’s not just them, it’s also the super, uber wealthy who want to pay zero taxes and run their multi billion dollar businesses with zero government regulation, so they can damage the environment while denying climate change, exploit human capital by paying substandard wages and benefits, and underfunding sorely needed social programs like healthcare and education.

Within the culture of Trumpism, this anti-government sentiment permeated ordinary working and middle class people who then cheered Trump on as he spent four years undermining and dismantling the government, damaging democracy. Sadly, the only thing protecting these ordinary Americans from the power grabbing wealthy class is democracy and government.

As long as ordinary Americans support anti-government politicians democracy is doomed! Government is us! We must be civically involved, find the truth and hold our elected officials accountable. It may be too late as we allow the plutocrats and oligarchs takeover.

Superfluous to the American Oligarchy

The American oligarchs see the rest of America, you and me, as superfluous! Superfluous in this instance means unnecessary or needless. Honorable and dignified work that is essential to America’s survival is undervalued by the upper classes who see those who perform essential work as undeserving of a comfortable life. They seem to believe that essential workers are not worth $15/an hour. They seem to despise civil servants as they are seen as failures who couldn’t make it in business. The attitudes of the rich towards hard working Americans is despicable. They see themselves as all deserving and the rest of us as leeches when we, in fact, are the backbone of America. America can’t survive without us!

The enemy of America and democracy is not minorities, the poor or immigrants, it is the greedy, unregulated, law-skirting wealthy class. Some ignore and even reject decency and compassion, and internalize a willingness to engage in legally and ethically questionable actions in order to grab more money. They have used their wealth and power to change government policies and legislation to favor themselves with lower taxes, deregulation, reduced workers’ rights and reduced social services like healthcare and education. The result of all this is immense income inequality that has half of America struggling to earn a decent living that, in turn, is causing great discontent which is leading some or even many to extremism!

Four decades of government policies and legislation favoring corporations and the wealthy at the expense of working Americans fueled the anger that led to the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Sadly, the anger is misplaced and the insurrectionists blame minorities and immigrants rather than the rich and powerful and keep voting for the status quo that keeps them down. You are not superfluous and stop voting for those who see you as superfluous!

The current right/left division in America is heartbreaking. This sense of brokenness hit me really hard while I was watching the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics represent peace, harmony and goodwill in the world, a feeling I’m not getting from the U.S. right now. When I saw the U.S. Olympic team enter waving their American flags, I cried as flashbacks from January 6th entered my mind. The anger displayed, and the disrespect and violence directed toward our sacred seat of democracy and the police officers charged with protecting it pushed aside all feelings of American pride that I would usually feel during the opening ceremonies when I would see our team enter! We must heal our brokenness and stop the real source of our division, those who see us as superfluous!

Cost of The Big Lie

General Mark Milley feared a “Reichstag moment” in the final days of the Trump administration. The January 6th, 2021 insurrection was the manifestation of this fear. This coup attempt failed, but it could happen again as the big lie continues.

The “Reichstag moment“ marked the end of German democracy as Hitler rose to power through a propaganda campaign (a big lie). In an instant, most civil liberties were suspended, including habeas corpus (protection of unlawful and indefinite imprisonment), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly, and secrecy of the post and telephone (Google).

The big lie is going to cost us our democracy and our freedoms. There was no voter fraud! The autocrat wannabe lost and democracy has been temporarily saved, but it is still at risk!

“We could lose our democracy in the next four years,” Yale History Professor and author Timothy Synder (July 16, 2021).

The possible loss of our democracy is real and imminent! Do those who support autocracy believe they will maintain their freedoms while the “other” will be subservient? They are mistaken! Freedom denied for one is freedom denied for all!


Gun Culture, Toxic Masculinity and False Patriotism

According to Josh Horwitz, the idea of violent insurrection against the American government is at the heart of American gun culture where weapons are purchased for fear of government tyranny not self defense, individuals get to decide what’s considered tyranny, guns are seen as a tool for political dissent and people with guns will get to set the political agenda and settle political disputes. He states that “White men, especially, are feeling that the political reins of power are pulling away from them, and their grip on power is falling away. Guns are a way to exercise power…” He insinuates that insurrectionists are traitors not patriots and that the purpose of the right to own a firearm cannot be to kill government officers. (Guns are a way to exercise power: how the idea of overthrowing the government became mainstream by Lois Beckett in an interview of Josh Horwitz 10/18/2020

Gun culture and toxic masculinity are shaping the perceptions that underly false patriotism. According to Danielle Campoamor, “…we can’t deny that systemic issues like racism, misogyny and toxic masculinity all work to radicalize young men to carry out massive acts of violence and that politicians turn a blind eye to these factors in order to preserve the American gun culture they so cherish.” Gun culture and toxic masculinity embolden “…young men to use violence to solve problems, whether those problems are perceived or real, …half of all gun owners say gun ownership is an important part of their identity, and guns are often made synonymous with manhood, strength, and the ability to dominate others.” Sadly, “…the fangs of the gun culture and its ties to toxic masculinity and misogyny impact every young person…” (I Am So Tired of Shouting Into the Void About America’s Young Men and Their Guns by Danielle Campoamor 4/16/2021 Now guns and toxic masculinity are the basis of false patriotism.

To me, a true patriot cares for their family, works hard, pays their fair share in taxes, serves their country and helps others, while false patriots wave flags and intimidate others by carrying weapons into communities to compensate for their feelings of powerlessness. This false patriotism is destroying America. Sadly, “In recent decades many Americans have conflated liberty with selfishness, adopting the notion that freedoms are self-sustaining, that liberty is a birthright that no longer requires sacrifice or collective action. In turn, this attitude has denigrated the institutions and traditions that yielded our freedoms in the first place and served as the connective tissue holding the nation together” (The Myth – and Liability – of America’s Obsession with Rugged Individualism by Scott Galloway 3/15/2021 These estranged, disaffected, white men have lost their way. They are no longer citizen in good standing. They are anti-American and anti-democracy and they don’t know it! Gun culture, toxic masculinity and false patriotism are dangerous to America and democracy!

Acting on Shallow Knowledge is Dangerous

People are acting on the basis of emotional trigger words. Buzzwords, derogatory labels and anger words are shaping beliefs and perceptions while stifling reason and critical thinking. False patriotism and false definitions of liberty are fueling anger.

People have become estranged from their friends and families, have broken the law, engaged in violence, killed and lost their lives all based on superficial, unexamined words. Anti-science, anti-intellectual attitudes are keeping people from the truth.

Some of the trigger words and phrases include terrific, horrible, patriot, liberal, lousy, banned, socialism, stolen, fake news, crooked, illegal immigrant, Antifa, nasty, coastal elites, Black Lives Matter, disaster, faith-based, hostile, and radical just to name a few.

These single words and phrases are causing people to act dangerously against their fellow Americans and democracy! Be aware of trigger words and look deeper. Find the source and the motivation behind their use. Theses words and phrases are being used to cause you to act against your own best interests and are destroying democracy by giving more and more power to the American oligarchs at the expense of ordinary Americans.

Think before you act!

Our Perception of Reality is Manipulated by Propaganda

Reality is the state of things as they are, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. Each individual has his or her own PERCEPTION of reality. Reality is fixed, however, perception of reality is variable.

Our perception of reality can be easily manipulated by propaganda. Propaganda is not objective, it presents facts selectively, uses fear and loaded language to produce emotional rather than a rational response.

Name calling and stereotyping that labels others or ideas with a pejorative name manipulates our perception of reality.

Socialist, communist, and leftist are labels that have been used for decades by the right as scare tactics to produce an emotional response causing ordinary people to vote against their own best interests rather than looking deeper into the facts.

Labeling an idea as “socialist” for instance causes people to reject it before they know what it is.

In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy, used the label of “communist” to attack his political opponents with unsubstantiated accusations for his own self-aggrandizement and grasping of power. He ruined countless lives with his outright lies and got away with it for years because others were reacting emotionally to the word “communist” rather than rationally to the facts.

Be aware of pejorative labels and how they alter your perception of reality. Don’t be manipulated!

Road to Recovery: Healing our multicultural, multiracial democracy

Today is the first time that “Juneteenth” has been recognized as a federal holiday. Juneteenth is an annual holiday observing the end of slavery in the U.S. and marks the day (June 19, 1865) when news of emancipation reached people in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas (Google), a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This day has been celebrated in many communities around the country for 156 years, but many of us were unaware because it was not taught in all communities. The bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday had overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. As enlightening and wonderful as this is and what an accomplishment this is for those who fought years for it, it is somewhat symbolic and only a first step.

Other topics related to this issue in the news lately include Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project. Critical race theory is an intellectual movement and a framework of legal analysis according to which (1) race is a culturally invented category used to oppress people of colour and (2) the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, political, and economic inequalities between white and nonwhite people (Google). Critical race theory developed in the 1970s as an effort by activists and legal scholars to understand why the U.S. civil rights movement had lost momentum and was in danger of being reversed. Their approach emphasized general and systemic features of the legal system that served to perpetuate race-based oppression and white privilege (Google). The 1619 Project, among other topics, shows that people of African descent have been part of the development of America since the beginning. In fact, historians report that people of African descent were here as early as 1493.

The point is that America has been multicultural and multiracial since the beginning. Tragically, ethnocentrism and narrow knowledge caused European Caucasians to see others as inferior deserving a lesser status, creating the space for America’s original sin, slavery! Overtime, minds and attitudes were changed and after more than 240 years, slaves were freed, sadly, it took nearly another 100 years to pass the Civil Rights Act and to end segregation.

However, the country still remains un-healed and has taken several steps backward. Since the election of our first black President, Barack Obama, a backlash of white supremacy and white nationalism has reared its ugly head and was further fueled by the Trump presidency. In order to heal, we must hear the truth. Ignoring the truth will not make our sickness go away.

In fact, steps four through eight in Alcoholic Anonymous’ 12 steps to Recovery, address what we need to heal our country. Fourth, we must make a moral inventory. Fifth, we must admit to God, ourselves and at least one other person the nature of our wrongs. Sixth, we must be ready to have God remove our defects of character. Seventh, we must ask God to remove our shortcomings. Eighth, we must list all persons we’ve harmed and make amends to all.

Therefore, we must recognize that racism exists in our country, we must admit that our behaviors and laws perpetuate racism, we must look at our own character and shortcomings that allow racism to continue, and we must make amends to all we’ve harmed by learning the truth and supporting civil and human rights for all Americans.

We can do this by studying Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, and by celebrating Juneteenth! The only path to healing for all is learning the truth! Happy Juneteenth!