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.
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!
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!
STOP THE BIG LIE!
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 http://www.theguardian.com)
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 cosmopolitan.com). 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 marker.medium.com). 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!
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!