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Posts Tagged ‘The True Believer’

The Perversion of Democracy by Donald Trump and the Republican Party

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. – Edward R. Murrow

Introduction

     The people of the United States have been on a roller coaster ride since June 2015 when Donald Trump came down that escalator in New York and declared his decision to run for President of the United States. In 2020 the Nation will do more than just vote for a president; this coming election is also a referendum on democracy itself. That is, the future of democracy is on the ballot. The underlying question of this election is: Who are we as a people? The best way to discern who we are is to be look back at our history. One of the most important and influential books of the 19th century was Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

     Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was a French sociologist and political theorist who traveled to the United States in 1831 to study its prisons and returned with a wealth of broader observations that he codified in “Democracy in America” (1835). With its trenchant observations on equality and individualism, Tocqueville’s work remains a valuable explanation of America to Europeans and of Americans to themselves.

     As “Democracy in America” revealed, Tocqueville believed that equality was the great political and social idea of his era, and he thought that the United States offered the most advanced example of equality in action. He admired American individualism but warned that a society of individuals can easily become atomized and paradoxically uniform when “every citizen, being assimilated to all the rest, is lost in the crowd.” He felt that a society of individuals lacked the intermediate social structures—such as those provided by traditional hierarchies—to mediate relations with the state. The result could be a democratic “tyranny of the majority” in which individual rights were compromised.

     Tocqueville was impressed by much of what he saw in American life, admiring the stability of its economy and wondering at the popularity of its churches. He also noted the irony of the freedom-loving nation’s mistreatment of Native Americans and its embrace of slavery.

     Tocqueville’s works shaped 19th-century discussions of liberalism and equality, and were rediscovered in the 20th century as sociologists debated the causes and cures of tyranny. “Democracy in America” remains widely read and even more widely quoted by politicians, philosophers, historians and anyone seeking to understand the American character.

Questions for you to Ponder with the 2020 Election

     You are at a crossroads my friend and you better get your head straight before you vote this November.  

     Are we as a people worthy to overcome a country where our behavior often does not act in sync with the very principles of a true democracy? The principles I’m referring to are those expressed in the original documents that were laid down in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights by our founding fathers.

     The notion of people in a democracy always being a “work in progress” has always seemed to me like clever conservative rationalizations for keeping the status quo. If you’re always a “work in progress” then by implication with respect to democracy, one doesn’t really need to move quickly toward a more perfect democracy.   

     That status quo in 2020 is the reality of slowly transforming ourselves into a fascist dictatorship with a new monarch—Donald Trump. It is he who overtly wants a “King Trump Dynasty” that would last a 1,000 years. As Dirty Harry once said to a police bureaucrat in the movie of the same name, “You’re a legend in your own mind.” Also, Trump is envious of dictators around the globe, and he despises our allies all the time.

     As Mary Trump reported in her new book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in the world.

     Trump’s quixotic world view is based on Adolf Hitler’s world view. Trump’s brown shirts are ultra-right wing extremists who are “un-American to the core.” They are the Republican Congressman and Senators who are soulless banshees who hide behind closed doors plotting to do everything they can to keep POWER and screw over the American people.

     Trump continues to surround himself with people who only agree with him despite how treasonous his own behavior might be. His current administration is run by totally ineffectual small minded sycophants. If this is what you want to vote for, then you are no more America than Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong un.

     Beyond Trump, who is headed for a trial and a possible prison sentence sometime after the election, his near term political destiny is actually rather clear-cut. More than 65% of the country disapproves of the job Donald Trump has been doing. The level of disapproval has been growing ever since he first entered office.

     Trump’s job approval rating is the death knell for his reelection. People who disdain his job approval are not likely to suddenly turn around and vote for him. That’s why I think job approval rating is a significant metric. In November the vast majority of voters in the United States are going to tell Donald Trump—“You’re Fired! And get the f@#k out of Dodge!”

 Where are we in the Upcoming Election?

     As of September 19, 2020, polls are showing Biden is leading in several battleground states and overall nationally. And, it’s true national polls are more accurate than state polls where the standard error rate in sampling is much higher.

     Instead of “Election Day,” we need to rethink the 2020 election as, “Election Month.” We have to be concerned that Trump is illegally trying to cheat to win re-election in 2020. It is likely the election could end up being decided by the United States Supreme Court. With that in mind, here are some polls that have been done so far in September.

     New polls in four key battleground states show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with the edge over President Donald Trump. A set of New York Times Upshot/Siena College surveys released Saturday had Biden leading Trump in Minnesota, 50 percent to 41 percent, and more narrowly ahead in Wisconsin, 48 percent to 43 percent. The polls show close races in two more states: Nevada, where the results showed Biden at 46 percent and Trump at 42 percent, and New Hampshire, where Biden had 45 percent to Trump’s 42 percent.

     Back on September 12, 2020 CNN (which shows the national average or poll of polls) shows Joe Biden leading 56% to Donald Trump’s 43%. Politico reports that a Quinnipiac poll shows Biden up by 10% among likely voters. Even Fox News, not known for its objectivity, shows Biden up by an upper single digit lead over Donald Trump. Quite interestingly, only 86% of Trump original voters in 2016 will vote for him again in 2020. Basically, he has now lost 14% of his original 2016 base.  

     Based on the polls so far in 2020, Donald Trump will lose the election by a landslide to former Vice-President Joe Biden. Technically, a candidate for political office just has to earn one more vote than its rival candidate to win a state. One has to remember that even a one-half percent lead in a state may represent thousands of votes. If Biden currently leads nationally by 7-13% he will win a major landslide over Donald Trump. How great a landslide will it be? Now, I do need to point out that landslides in political contests do differ from one another. Consider the following historical facts:

Electoral College

  When Nixon beat George McGovern in 1972 it was one of the largest landslides in recent United States History. Richard Nixon received 520 Electoral College votes to McGovern’s 17 Electoral College votes. Only the District of Columbia (3) and Massachusetts (14) were won by McGovern.

        The Economist publication analyzes three sources of data that includes polling, economic and demographic data. According to an article in the Economist a few days ago, Joe Biden is very likely to beat Donald Trump in the Electoral College. Since there are a total of 538 Electoral College votes Joe Biden is predicted to receive 334 Electoral College votes to 204 for Donald Trump. Only 270 Electoral College votes are needed to become President.

Popular Vote

     In terms of the popular vote, Richard Nixon won 60.7% of the popular vote while McGovern won only 37.5% of the popular vote. In history of the United States only Franklin Delano Roosevelt won larger popular votes (88.9%) in 1932 and (98.5%) in 1936. If we go back to 2016 there were a total of 128,864,246 votes cast in the election.

     Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9% over Donald Trump. There were 65,884,610 votes for Clinton and 62,979,636 for Trump. There is currently a 97% probability Joe Biden will win the popular vote in 2020 and a 3% probability for Trump. I would conclude from these data that Biden’s landslide win over Trump will be large but not the largest in American History in terms of Electoral College votes or the popular vote.

     After the first one hundred days of the Biden administration, legislation should be introduced to reform government procedures. Part of the process should be to initiate a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate the antiquated system of an Electoral College in deference to a popular vote. Had Congress done that prior to 2016, Donald Trump would never have been elected in the first place. In my opinion the Electoral College should have disappeared at the beginning of the twentieth century. Those in the younger generation these days like to say, “That’s my bad!” Well, for many older generations during the last 120 years failure to get rid of the Electoral College was “our bad!”

     I know Donald Trump is a habitual liar, a thief, and a cheat who is doing everything he can to pervert democracy and remain in office for at least another term. Worst case scenario, Donald Trump is reelected. However, consider this: If the Senate wins a few more seats for the Democrats in 2020 (and it looks like it will), the Democrats will become the dominant party in Congress plus Kamala Harris will become the deciding vote (as Vice President) if ever there is a tie in the U.S. Senate. If that happens, they will impeach Donald Trump again with a plethora of criminal and violations of government offenses during his term. But this time he will be permanently removed from office. Either way, Trump’s days are likely numbered.

     Let’s just hope his tactics are thwarted by the courts and he is overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box this November.  

How Republicans Failed American’s Interests

Lack of true Governing

     Trump shoots himself in the foot every day where political issues are concerned; it is very unlikely anyone will suddenly see a surge in his popularity. For now I’m going to address the issue of the Republican Party.

     In a bestselling book (The Impostors) by Steve Benen, he describes the underlying motivations of the Republican Party over the last decade. I think the Republican’s metamorphosis actually started in the mid-term election of 1994 when people were told the Republican Party was putting forth “A Contract with America.” Years later it became clear they failed to implement any part of their “Contract with America.” It was just more Republican bullshit because nothing happened. It became so obvious that President Bill Clinton once remarked that he thought “The Contract with America” was really more like a “Contract on America.”

According to Steve Benen:

“Most American voters innocently assume the two major parties are equally mature and responsible governing entities, ideological differences aside. That belief is due for an overhaul; over the past decade, the Republican Party has undergone an astonishing metamorphosis, one so baffling and complete that few have fully reckoned with the reality and its consequences.

Republicans, simply put, have stopped governing. As MSNBC’s Steve Benin chart’s in his new groundbreaking new book, the contemporary GOP has become a post-policy party. Republicans are effectively imposters, presenting themselves as officials who are ready to take seriously the substance of problem solving, but whose sole focus is the pursuit and maintenance of power. Astonishingly, they are succeeding—at the cost of pushing the political system to the breaking point.

Despite having built itself as the ‘party of ideas’ the GOP has walked away from the hard but necessary work of policy making. It is disdainful of expertise and hostile toward evidence and arithmetic. It is tethered to few, if any, meaningful policy preferences. It does not know, and does not care, how competing proposals should be crafted, scrutinized, or implemented.

This policy nihilism dominated the party’s posture throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, which in turn opened the door to Donald Trump—who has cemented the GOP’s status in ways that were difficult even to imagine a few years ago. Voters routinely elect Republicans such as Mitch McDonnell and Mike Pense to powerful offices, expecting GOP policymakers to have the technocratic wherewithal to identify problems, weigh alternative solutions, forge coalitions, accept compromises, and apply some level of governmental competence, if not expertise. The party has consistently proven those hopes misguided.

The result is an untenable political model that’s undermining the American policy-making process and failing to serve the public’s interests. The vital challenge facing the civil polity is coming to terms with the party’s collapse as a governing entity and considering what the party can do to finding its footing anew.”                      

     Please see an earlier blog of mine on WordPress that gets into the influence Russians have over the Republican Party titled:

What Really Underlies the Impeachment Decision to Acquit Donald J. Trump?

[The Republican Party in Congress and Their Ties to Russian Money and Foreign National Donations]

Here is a little excerpt from that Blog:   

 “The Republican Party in the United States Senate has just taken a dump on the American people (and that includes also craping on that part of the electorate that voted Trump into office in the first place). In addition, the United States Constitution has just been shredded while the Republican Party has thumbed their noses at all of us with glee.

     Along with our democratic principles, and our moral convictions of what is right and wrong, the country has just been unceremoniously screwed by the Republican Party. People are outraged throughout the country, and do you want to know why the Republican Party voted as they did?”

Past and Current Concerns with Donald Trump    

     Just how much can Americans tolerate not having a real President in office? People often forget but Donald Trump came into office in 2016 having never held any public office. Now he’s the President and has been in office almost four years. Has he been a responsible President and government servant faithfully carrying out and respecting our laws? Absolutely not!

     Donald Trump is currently calling himself the “law and order” president. That’s really funny! Trump could care less about the laws he breaks, and he constantly disregards any laws he perceives as not in his own personal interest. His phoniness extends to everything in his life. I don’t know about “order,” but I do know he needs a good dose of the “law” right now.

     With respect to Donald Trump we know he has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). You see Donald Trump did not write the best-selling book, “Art of the Deal.” Most people don’t know this, but Donald Trump used a ghost writer who ended up writing the entire book on his own. The real author of the book Tony Schwartz said this of Trump, “He has a short attention span.”  He also called Trump a “sociopath.” And, Tony Schwartz absolutely regrets having done this favor for Trump back in 1987.

     I have been covering as a Blogger Donald Trump since 2015. During this 5 year period, I have reported on this man in terms of criminal activity and his deviant behavior psychologically, sociologically and financially, in both his public and private domains.

     I have covered his conduct from his many business failures to his fraudulent undertaking with Trump University. Later I looked at his connection with Jeffery Epstein, a registered sex offender. Along the way there was a federal investigation of his racist attempt to abuse and violate federal civil rights laws. This pertained to apartments he owned in connection with federal Fair Housing Statutes. Racism, angry hate in general, and abuse of women make up his core values and behavior.

     Just consider his racist views of the Central Park Five in New York. Also, he and Jeffery Epstein raped and beat a 13 year old prostitute in 1994. During that time Trump also threated to destroy the family of the child. As it turned out during this time, Jeffery Epstein was committing felonies related to the slave-trafficking of teenage girls.

     The moral repugnancy of this type of behavior didn’t bother Donald Trump in the least. But Epstein also provided the place where all criminal activities occurred. Who was Jeffery Epstein? Jeffery Epstein was a very wealthy millionaire (net worth in 2019 was 559 million) and a registered sex offender, and a very close friend of Donald Trump. At that time, they were rich compatriots in “evil.”

     As we all know from many news reports over the years, Donald Trump has been accused by many women of either rape or sexual assault. And, he was not above using hush money to quiet women from coming forward. Nevertheless, many women have shown much courage in coming forward to report such sexual crimes committed by Donald Trump. Many of these offenses have yet to be adjudicated in the courts. In a way, Donald Trump is very much like the late John Gotti, Jr. a crime and mafia boss in New York known as The Teflon Don. Maybe Donald Trump can be called The Teflon President.”

     In addition to his core values of systemic racism, angry hate and misogyny Donald Trump has engaged in treasonous behavior as well. On May 10, 2017 Trump disclosed classified information to two Russians, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

     The classified information came from Israel. The data was given by the Russians to Iran and resulted in Trump’s disclosure endangering the life of a spy placed by Israel in ISIL –held territory in Syria. Nobody in the intelligence business, foreign and domestic, would ever trust Donald Trump again.

     In 2019, the highlight of my year was watching Donald Trump being impeached by the House of Representatives. As we all know Donald Trump deserved to be removed from Office of the Presidency. The Senate Republicans held a “fake trial” and Donald Trump was subsequently acquitted. The Democratic presentation was great, even awe inspiring, but the Republican Party’s response at Trial was a complete and total farce.

     Since last February people in the United States began to see the real consequences of the Pandemic known as Coved-19.  The “King Trump Dynasty” treated the warning signs of the seriousness of this disease like it was all just “fake news.” Trump said it was because he didn’t want to panic the people. This was a lie. If he really didn’t want people to panic in general, why is he still trying so hard to scare the public into believing the nation will be victim to all that anarchy, doom and gloom? Now he is the “sky is falling” president. Trump actually wants people to panic; he could care less if people are scared or panicky. HE WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET RE- ELECTED!!!

     Very soon there will be more than 200,000 Coved-19 deaths nationwide. It is very likely that a significant number of those who supported Donald Trump will not survive the Coronavirus because Trump continues to promote anti-healthy activity like not wearing a mask or not practicing social distancing. As a result more Trump supporters will die disproportionately from Coved-19 compared to all other demographics.  

     Other than Trump’s slowing down our country’s efforts to deal with climate change, I can’t think of any other issue that will adversely affect the United States more than Coved-19. Your health is the most important thing in your life. If you don’t have your health, by comparison all other concerns you may have are secondary or tertiary in importance.

     In the last few weeks several devastating issues have surfaced. These issues include: (1) Donald Trump’s abusive behavior calling deceased World War I marine’s losers and suckers, his continuous jealous rant with deceased John McCain over John’s POW hero status, and his general disdain for both American service members and military veterans. He also continues to call them losers and suckers. (2) Bob Woodward’s book detailing, from filmed interviews, that back in early February 2020 Donald Trump knew how deadly the Coronavirus really was. And, that the virus could be transmitted by air. His National Security Advisor had advised Trump earlier of all dangers of Coved-19 and the greatest threat to his presidency. This was back on January 28, 2020.

     As I reported earlier, Donald Trump is destined to go to prison following his removal as President of the United States. To Trump supporters who have pulled away from him since 2016, you are to be congratulated. As they say, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

     Eric Hoffer in 1951 wrote the seminal work, “The True Believer.” Shame and dishonor awaits the diehard Trump believers who are fooled again by him in 2020. Why would anyone act so stupid and allow themselves from being fooled twice?  

     One way to look at these phenomena is through the lens of mass movements. That’s because they possess unusual psychiatric characteristics that can only be described as sociopathic in nature. They are the closest group form of mentally disturbed White Trash that ever voted. They are all “True Believers.”

Root Causes of Pain and Turmoil in America   

      Surprisingly, there are really only two root causes that are responsible for all the pain and turmoil we as Americans have had to endure. One problem is sociological in nature related to our culture, and the other root cause is psychological in nature arising from Donald Trump’s mental illness.

     The essence of the sociological root cause is White Fright and White Flight. There has always been systemic racism from the very beginning of this country. Sad, but true! However, White Fright and White Flight began to make a bigger impact on the white population when whites began to realize that national statistical projections were showing that white America was fast becoming a majority minority. Twenty-five years from now (2045), America will be 49.7% white. With less than 50% population, white America will be a minority racial group for the very first time. It will still be the largest minority, but a minority nonetheless. I wish I had enough space to explain why I think whites have nothing to fear and also every reason to be glad about it.

     It’s time to focus briefly on the second root cause—Donald Trump’s mental illness. As an ultra-liberal person I have to step away from the politics for a moment. To be really objective I have to say, like cancer, mental illness is a scourge on society.

     Part of me really feels sorry for Donald Trump. The very real internal pain, anguish and suffering he probably experiences are only protected by his fragile ego. That kind of suffering I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. His mental illness is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder? According to the Mayo Clinic:  

“Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

•Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance

•Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration

•Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

•Exaggerate achievements and talents

•Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

•Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people

•Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior

•Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations

•Take advantage of others to get what they want

•Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

•Be envious of others and believe others envy them

•Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious

•Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

•Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment

•Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted

•React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior

•Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior

•Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change

•Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection

•Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

People with narcissistic personality disorder may not want to think that anything could be wrong, so they may be unlikely to seek treatment. If they do seek treatment, it’s more likely to be for symptoms of depression, drug or alcohol use, or another mental health problem. But perceived insults to self-esteem may make it difficult to accept and follow through with treatment.

Causes

It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with personality development and with other mental health disorders, the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is likely complex. Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to:

•Environment ― mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive adoration or excessive criticism that is poorly attuned to the child’s experience

•Genetics ― inherited characteristics

•Neurobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking”

Suggestions for the Voting Public

     As you begin to head to your favorite polling place this fall, or send back your ballot in the mail, just keep this in mind: The future of democracy is on the ballot this year.

     This November 3, 2020 election is going to be the most important election in modern American History. I have felt for some time that the train wreck that is Donald Trump’s Presidency would eventually come to an unceremoniously inauspicious ending. You can have a voting role here that will be truly historic. Please get out and vote. The country needs you in its time of need.

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Citizen’s Guide to Evaluating Donald J. Trump’s Fitness for Office of the Presidency

Introduction

     As everyone knows by now the House of Representatives are about to charge the President of the United States with several articles of impeachment. Monday, December 9th is going to be a significant step forward as the House Intelligence Committee presents the actual evidence for impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee.

I’m only speculating but the charges put forth most likely will be Bribery, Abuse of Power, Obstruction of Congress, Obstruction of Justice, and possibly Witness Intimidation (just like a Mafia Boss). The overriding question is this: Is Donald J. Trump fit for the Office of the Presidency? The next question to follow should be if convicted, should he be removed from Office?

As citizens we are not involved with this process. We are principally just bystanders via our TV sets. I think we should nonetheless form an opinion based on many factors alongside the formal impeachable process and evaluation. What do I mean by this? There are at least two categories of concern we should be thinking about as we try to form an opinion. One category are other offenses and the other category is a more broader widespread criteria of evaluation, that is, any evidence of high moral character and any evidence of good citizenship.

I personally think that the other offenses that should be applied to Donald J. Trump, among the public’s evaluation, are treason, incompetence in foreign policy such as failure to stand by the Kurds in Syria.

In addition, all the evidence obtained from the Mueller investigation on Obstruction of Justice needs to be included. Also, all Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause (so to prevent him from personally enriching himself in the future at the expense of unwitting taxpayers) needs to be included as well as evidence showing his penchant for human rights violations (putting kids in cages), and his general wanton disregard of all our laws including the United States Constitution.

Aside from this, House and Senate Republicans have shown very little respect for Trump supporters by telling them how to think, and not think, for themselves. Trump supporters are an easy mark for Republican propaganda since Trump supporters fit very nicely into the mold of gullibility and The True Believer/Identity Fusion paradigm.

More Comprehensive Evaluation Criteria

If you believe that no one is above the law, would you also believe that everyone for public office needs to be evaluated with the same criteria as the average citizen? And like a job interview, do you believe everyone in society needs to be treated equally and fairly in the process of evaluating someone for a job? And that includes presidents as well as the average citizen. I certainly do. Giving deference to anyone just because of their social status is sending society the wrong message. It is antithetical to our inherent values of fairness and democracy.

The President needs to be evaluated just as John Doe does in a job interview. You want someone to be able to do the job, and have a record of competence, experience and an absence of morally corrupt behavior such as a criminal conduct for fraud, or stealing from employers among other offenses; you want someone who is a good citizen and of high moral character. That’s what the public expects as part of normal everyday job hiring. The employer in this analogy is the voting public. The job seeker in this analogy is Donald J. Trump.

I make use of this analogy not to minimize or lighten the tone of the impeachment inquiry, but simply to help readers of this blog understand how the impeachment inquiry and a job interview are very similar in nature. It’s all about fitness for a job.

Think of impeachment as a way to evaluate the fitness and moral character of Donald J. Trump. Think of Donald J. Trump’s tenure as President as his probationary period of evaluation. With that concept in mind—read on!

If the public fails to keep an eye on the performance of any president, or job applicant, they are not being good Stewarts of proper citizenship. Just because you have the right to vote does not make you a good citizen. And, the impeachment process is a very important part of any evaluation of a President as laid down in the United States Constitution by the Founding Fathers. This is particularly true since probable cause is so intuitively obvious with this particular impeachment. The case, as Jerry Nadler says, is rock solid. There is a plethora of evidence developed during the impeachment inquiry, testimony given, and documentary data.

Impeachment (in my opinion) is not just about Treason, Bribery or High Crimes and Misdemeanors. It’s a political process rather than a legal one, although legal and constitutional issues this time are inextricably interwoven with the looming impeachment of Donald, J. Trump. And if you’re going to impeach a president, shouldn’t the criteria of evaluation be as comprehensive as possible? I argue that the answer is “yes” to all of the above questions. Congress may disagree with my assessment of what is needed but then, that is their prerogative. I just think Trump’s behavior before his election, as well as the various patterns of his behavior overall (like 10,000 lies or more) should be relevant to the question of his fitness for Office of the Presidency.

I believe a President should be evaluated based on the total package, that is, what he/she has done in terms of both past and present behavior. Impeachment by itself only looks at what a president has done during his tenure in office. In a job interview one’s past is just as important as present behavior. His/her fitness for the Office of the Presidency, the highest office in the land, requires nothing less than a thorough examination of the facts—not alternative facts, fake facts or no facts at all—but real facts. As Sergeant Joe Friday said many times on the 1950s TV show Dragnet, “Just give me the facts mam.”

As a political process, elements of good moral character and principles of good citizenship should apply. Why? It’s because our values as a nation are at stake now as well as the moral turpitude of a struggling nation to remove the abject chaos in the White House, and put our democracy back in order.

If one fails to properly evaluate a President’s behavior, past and present, one is unworthy of calling themselves an American in a democratic society. To be brutally honest many core Trump supporters act and think as if they had recently been kicked in the head by a horse. Perhaps instead of wearing a baseball shaped cap that says “Make America Great Again” maybe they should instead wear a black and white T-shirt that says, “Look out, recently I’ve been kicked in the head by a horse.” That horse, of course, is Donald J. Trump.

As soon as the evidence is presented by the Intelligence Committee the impeachment trial should  soon follow. If Moscow Mitch is unwilling to settle on a fair compromise with Chuck Schumer over the rules to be followed during the impeachment trial, there  is no guarantee that a trial will be conducted in the U.S. Senate at all.

If the Republicans try to structure the trial to only their advantage of stonewalling for an acquittal of Donald J. Trump, the repercussions of such actions will send the country into a tailspin causing the electorate to wonder if America is still a democracy.  Under this scenario the Republican Party will soon cease to exist.

We want all our presidents to be both fit for Office and good citizens. And the underlying elements of fitness should involve more than what someone does wrong or is illegal. Equally important factors of fitness should be the extent a president shows good citizenship and high moral character. Between good citizenship and high moral character I think high moral character is the more important criterion.

What is high moral character?

High moral character is composed of five critical traits: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage. Anything less than this is to load up the presidency with mediocre near-do-wells, or worse yet someone who will do actual harm to the country and its people, and simultaneously dishonor the Office of the Presidency.

Behavior before being elected

Has Donald J. Trump acted with high moral character prior to his being sworn into office on January 20, 2017. There are at least 12 areas (and many others exist) of prior behavior the public can use to evaluate whether Donald J. Trump was a man of high moral character prior to his becoming President.

     These areas include:

His case with the Federal Government on racial discrimination in the 1970s

His lifetime of misogynistic behavior with women and unwanted touching

His cheating on his wife Melania all during their marriage and when she was pregnant

His alleged rape and beating of a 13 year old prostitute supported by his friend Jeffery Epstein

His predatory behavior with a woman on a plane

His alleged rape of a woman in the backroom of a New York store

His close (buddy-buddy) relationship with Jeffery Epstein, a registered sex offender

His discrimination against the Central Park Five

His hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and others

His fraudulent creation of Trump University

His fraudulent behavior and cheating as a businessman

His misrepresenting who actually wrote, “Art of the Deal.” It was not Donald J. Trump

Behavior since being elected

If I were to list in detail all the things Donald J. Trump has done wrong as President of the United States, I would fill up a Blog or report of at least 4,000 pages (almost 10 times the size of the Mueller report). I’ll whittle it down to just four words: Gross incompetence and Treason.

Final Comments

Based on the total picture and behavior of Donald J. Trump, he deserves to be removed from Office of the Presidency. Standards of morality evidently must have been very low in 2016, at least for a portion of the population.

The data showed that there were 250,056,000 people who were eligible to vote in 2016. But only 61.4 percent of eligible voters actually voted in 2016. Of the total eligible only (24.7%) actually voted for Donald J. Trump. These voters basically supported a person of low moral character and with little evidence that he showed any good citizenship. But their voting for him at all is not that puzzling.

Let us not forget the underlying sociological reason that they supported Trump in the first place. A predominantly  white population favored Donald J. Trump in 2016. It was based on racism, plain and simple. Both his racist views and his personal degenerate hall of fame status were known by the voting public prior to the election. Yet, 61, 943,670 (out of a possible 250,056,000 eligible voters)  voted for him anyway knowing who and what he was. There is no mystery here. White Fright/White Flight is the subliminal, and at times, not so subliminal, cause of why people voted for him.

The other factors involved were interference by the Russians and the legally insidious cheating through gerrymandering. Before or after he leaves office, the Congress needs to remove his conspirators as well. They include Moscow Mitch, Mick Mulvaney, and Mike Pompeo. Others of great concern are Leningrad Lindsay, the three amigos (Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry), and the bagman Rudy Giuliani. Want to convict these people? Follow the money!

It’s time now that all these actors of deceit get their legal and moral comeuppance. It’s time for the disposal companies around the country to pick up the garbage. First stop—Washington, D.C.

Let’s cut to the chase—Donald J. Trump needs to be removed from office followed by standing trial for felonies he had committed in New York as well as  for when he was in Office. His conspirators need to be brought to justice as well. No country club prison for this Cagle of misfits. They need to do hard time at Leavenworth Prison for treasonous un-American activity and conduct. They have disgraced this country as well as themselves. And, they have no one else to blame but themselves!

If I was calling the shots, I’d put the entire Trump Administration in our one remaining Supermax prison. It is reserved for those that are a serious threat to both national and global security. This is the United States federal system, ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado.

Republicans always whine about the need for a “law and order” society. That is, a “get tough stance on crime.” I don’t know about order. But, I do know they are about to get a good dose of the law. Turn on your televisions tomorrow morning. Get your cup of hot coffee and sit in that comfortable sofa or chair of yours. Now, let the entertainment begin!!!

 

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The Psychology of the Narcissistic Personality and the

Trump Core Supporter:

Their Relationship to the True Believer and Identity Fusion

Introduction

     This Blog article builds on my last one, The Fall of Donald Trump that was posted October 1, 2019. The basic question I posed in the last blog was: What is it about the Trump supporter that makes him or her so in line with such an authoritarian leader that causes them to unwaveringly support him? This is what I said in my last Blog:

“I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now, it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, education, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper psychological look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.” Back in the early 1950s this was President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite author and book. In fact, Ike shared Hoffer’s book with many in his cabinet.

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will soon become much clearer as you read on. Why does such an identity issue lead us to yet another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.”

Both explanations may provide answers to why there is a Trump supporter in the first place.”! However, one must look to first explaining what the Trump supporter is identifying with in order to understand The True Believer and Identity Fusion. Low and behold, I will now share with you an important article on the psychology of early childhood and the development of the narcissistic personality. Gee Whiz, guess who I am referring to?

On January 29, 2017 and article was posted titled “Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Nipping a toxic mental illness in the bud.” The authors were:

Brian D. Johnson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and training clinic director at the University of Northern Colorado. Laurie Berdahl, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and speaker on parenting and adolescent wellness.

“It’s estimated that up to 6 percent of the U.S. population has narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism for short), which is more common in men and has its roots in childhood. Extremely resistant to treatment, this severe mental condition leads affected individuals to create chaos as they harm other people. Before discussing how demands for support of ego and desires can go off the rails, let’s start with an overview of pertinent normal child development.

Small children are naturally selfish as a normal part of development in which they work to get their needs met and can’t understand other people’s needs and desires. Then as teenagers, kids are still typically self-centered as they struggle for independence.

As opposed to self-centeredness that should gradually decline, children need to develop healthy, lasting levels of self-esteem to be able to protect and care for themselves while caring about others, to resist dangerous influences, and to stay connected to family and society. Healthy levels of self-esteem indicate a child’s belief that he or she is loved and worthy as a person in the family and in society, and thus doesn’t deserve and is more resilient to mistreatment. In a nutshell, self-esteem isn’t self-centeredness because it doesn’t lead to putting oneself first to the detriment of other people’s needs and rights.

Typical childhood self-centeredness must change to pave the way to mental health in adulthood. To grow up able to function well in families and society, kids must gradually gain both the ability to see other people’s viewpoints and empathy for other people’s suffering. So, healthy kids should gradually show sincere signs of caring about the well-being of others. Not developing empathy while growing up is a warning sign of developing a serious personality disorder as an adult, including the narcissistic type.

How do people with narcissistic personality disorder (narcissists for short) act? Besides showing lack of empathy (as judged not by words but by actions), narcissists filter information and react on the basis of the effect on their egos. Their actions reflect grandiose beliefs of superiority and uniqueness as well as their need for admiration and worship.

Narcissists are arrogant and preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited self-importance, success, and power (including that they alone can do something) and exaggerate their accomplishments and popularity. They exploit or take advantage of people for personal gain including feeding their egos and thus require excessive admiration. They pit people against each other to get what they want—they divide people to conquer and gain power over them. They manipulate others by influencing emotions like fear and anger, and with threats and lies. Another manipulation technique used is redefining reality by repeatedly fabricating fiction and arguing about it as if it were fact (such as presenting alternative facts), which leads listeners to question their own understanding of reality. Victims often experience a “twilight zone” sensation that is accompanied by anxiety.

Narcissists make others miserable and get aggressive with people who won’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to, expecting automatic compliance. These traits are often found in dictators. Like most personality disorders, narcissism is very difficult to treat because people affected aren’t able to understand that anything is wrong with them and thus are not motivated to change.

A narcissist is toxic to situations and people, except perhaps to an inner circle of supporters—at least for as long as they continue to support the narcissist’s agenda.

Now let’s go back to youth. Preteens aren’t developed enough to manipulate and given that teenagers are typically self-centered, clinicians are reluctant to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder before age 18. Still, you might notice one or more of these warning signs in teenagers indicating risk of developing narcissism:

Persistent bullying behaviors such as making fun of, threatening, degrading, or scapegoating people (including parents and other adults)

Persistent need to win no matter who is hurt

Persistent lying to benefit oneself (will lie about lying, turn lies into someone else’s fault, deflect accountability by attacking messengers who point out lies)

Egotistical view of extraordinary self-worth

Preoccupation with getting own needs met over other people

Entitled attitudes which lead to acting as if they deserve special treatment and to get whatever they want, no matter the circumstances

Aggressive responses to being criticized, wronged, or upset

Repetitively blaming others for bad outcomes

And being much more competitive than cooperative.

If your child or one you know behaves this way, you can save your family and society from harm by focusing on doing the following:

Teach empathy

Value character traits like honesty and kindness over being tough or dominant

Change entitled attitudes and stop entitled actions

Squelch greed (say, “You’re acting selfishly and that’s not okay”)

Insist they put other people first routinely, remembering that actions speak louder than words (narcissists often say they are doing something to benefit others when they are really doing it for themselves)

Build healthy self-esteem (low self-esteem can also lead to entitlement and using others to support one’s ego)

Don’t allow false blame of other people for one’s own problems and failures.

Also avoid parenting styles linked to developing narcissist personality, such as neglecting, indulgent (spoiling with privilege and possessions, and promoting entitled attitudes) and cold, over controlling authoritarian methods which insist on perfection, winning, and toughness from a child.

On the flip side, you can also help teens and young adults learn to recognize narcissists so they can avoid their toxic harm or survive it. A necessary foundation for this is the ability to think critically about what someone says or does, which starts to develop during adolescence.

Critical thinking skills help us tell lies from truths and determine when someone is manipulating to take advantage of or scam us. Parents and mentors can help teach these empowering life-skills that protect against deception by con artists and abusive bosses, friends, and partners.

You can give your child life-long protective gifts of healthy levels of self-esteem and critical thinking skills while squelching entitlement and narcissistic traits to benefit you, your child and family, and all of us. And don’t forget that there is no shame in seeking help to get it done—seeking knowledge and help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Trump’s childhood was terrible. He suffered from the neglect of his lawyer mother and a domineering father who was also a racist (Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 for attending a KKK riot in New York.) Later in the 1970s Donald was charged with racial discrimination (surprise surprise) against blacks in Trump housing properties. As an adolescent Donald Trump was shuttled off to military school.

Now we get to the psychology of the Trump supporter. Here is an excellent review of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer.

The True Believer

 

“Summary of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents … Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer’s book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance …

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain… (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that “appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.” (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves.” (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the “new poor,” those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated—those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves—and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people—those who experience creative flow—aren’t usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a “total surrender of a distinct self.” (p. 117) thus a follower identifies as “a member of a certain tribe or family.” (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and “loathe the present.” (p. 74) by regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and its entire works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more—and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation … (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.” (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude … presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine … simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources … but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength … He sacrifices his life to prove his worth … The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned—they are regarded with certitude—and they are spread through “persuasion, coercion, and proselytization.” Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow “the frustrated to … hear the echo of their own musings in … impassioned double talk.” (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.” (p. 106) the urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.” (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner.” (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the “hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing …” and “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure.” (p. 85) through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: “men of words”, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” Men of words try to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and create a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don’t find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the “practical men of action” take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant’s findings in The Lessons of History.) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: “All mass movements … irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance.” (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2.

 

Identity Fusion

Identity fusion is a unique form of alignment with groups to which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group. This construct relies on the distinction between the personal self and the social self. The personal self refers to the characteristics that make someone a unique individual (e.g., tall, old, intelligent), while the social self pertains to the characteristics that align the individual with groups (e.g., American, fraternity brother, student council member, etc.). As the name suggests, identity fusion involves the union of the personal and social selves.

When fusion occurs, both the personal and social selves remain salient and influential but the boundaries between them become highly permeable. Although the personal and social selves are joined together they remain independently salient and agentic. In addition, fused persons come to regard other group members as “family” and develop strong relational ties to them as well as ties to the collective. Therefore, fused persons are not just bound to the collective; they develop a bond that ties them to the individual members of the collective.

The potency of the personal self and relational ties distinguishes identity fusion from other forms of alignment with groups, such as “group identification”. In group identification, allegiance to the collective eclipses the personal self and relational ties to other group members. Given the lack of involvement of the personal self and relational ties in identification, it follows that measures of identity fusion should be more predictive of extreme pro-group behavior than measures of identification. In fact, there is growing evidence of this idea. Measures of identity fusion are particularly powerful predictors of personally costly pro-group behaviors, including the endorsement of extreme behaviors such as fighting and dying for the group.

Theoretical Foundations

The identity fusion construct builds upon earlier work by emphasizing aspects of the relationship of people to groups that were deemphasized within the social identity perspective (i.e., social identity theory and self-categorization theory. Like social identity theory, identity fusion theory rests on the distinction between the personal and social identities. However, the social identity approach assumes that there is a hydraulic relationship between personal and social identities, such that increases in the salience and influence of one diminish the salience and influence of the other. One important implication of this assumption is that as the group identity becomes salient and apt to guide behavior, the personal identity becomes less salient and less likely to guide behavior. In contrast, within identity fusion theory, both the personal and social identities can be salient and influential simultaneously.

Social identity theory also suggests that group members are only linked to one another through their allegiance to the collective; theoretically, personal relationships between group members do not foster identification with the group. In contrast, fused individuals feel deeply connected to other group members as individuals, as well as to the larger group as a whole. This is reflected in measures of identify fusion. For example, the verbal measure of identity fusion taps feelings of reciprocal strength between the individual and the group (e.g., “I am strong because of my group”; “I’ll do more for my group than any other group members would do”) as well as feelings of oneness with the group (e.g., “I am one with my group”; “My group is me”). Also a threat to the group is highly likely to produce a perceived threat against the personal self.

The unique characteristics of Identity Fusion Theory have been summarized in the form of four principles: Agentic-personal self-principle, Identity synergy principle, Relational ties principle, and Irrevocability principle. If you’re interested in these principles I recommend you do a little research. Limitations of space dictate I move on in this Blog.

This month, in the journal Nature: Human Behavior, Kunst and Dovidio examined fusion specifically involving Donald Trump. In a series of seven studies using various surveys, including Swann and Gomez’s “identity fusion scale,” the Yale and Oslo team found that Americans who fused with Trump—as opposed to simply agreeing with or supporting him—were more willing to engage in various extreme behaviors, such as personally fighting to protect the U.S. border from an “immigrant caravan,” persecuting Muslims, or violently challenging election results.

The fusion might explain some apparent contradictions in ideology, Dovidio says. Even people who typically identify as advocates of small or no government might endorse acts of extreme authoritarianism if they have fused with Trump. In fusion, those inconsistencies simply don’t exist, according to Dovidio: Value systems are only contradictory if they’re both activated, and “once you step into the fusion mind-set, there is no contradiction.”

Fusion seems most likely to happen when there is a charismatic leader, particularly of an authoritarian bent. “Humans are social, and the individual person has a power over us that abstract thought doesn’t,” Dovidio says. “The leader is a concrete manifestation of ideas, but allegiance to individuals will trump allegiance to ideas.” In that sense, the idea of fusion might help some people explain how family members or colleagues whom they view as fundamentally good people might seem to suspend their typical sense of morality and do things like downplay Trump’s bragging about groping women; enriching himself at taxpayer expense; defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia; or failing to release his tax returns despite multiple promises to do so.

Read: The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity

The idea of identity fusion is not, the researchers assure me, some effort to use science to overlook or excuse bigotry or racial hatred, which are distinct elements in the formation of identity. Though fusion tends to happen with authoritarian leaders, the fusion is not itself antisocial or bad. It can be seen in political movements of all sorts; Kunst cites followers of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Fusion might have arisen as a psychological adaptation to facilitate cooperation among kin in the face of extreme adversity, explains Harvey Whitehouse, chair of social anthropology at Oxford. Even so, Whitehouse warns, “social institutions could hijack the fusion mechanism in novel ways.”

A sense of deprivation—real or perceived threats to socioeconomic status—also seems to leave people inclined to fuse. “When we primed people to think of relative deprivation, this increased their likelihood of fusion with the leader,” Kunst says, noting that economic recessions have often preceded authoritarian movements. The findings from Kunst and Dovidio’s study suggest that Trump’s continued emphasis on the relative deprivation of his base—and his promise of the power and resources presumably under his control as an apparently wealthy Manhattan real-estate developer and reality-TV star—probably helped his election by increasing his followers’ fusion with him.

Even if this personal enrichment didn’t come to fruition for his voters, the researchers found that fusion with Trump only increased after his election. The presidency itself made him more powerful, and hence a more attractive target to fuse with.

Fundamentally, fusion is an opportunity to realign the sense of self. It creates new systems by which people can value themselves. A life that consists of living up to negative ideas about yourself does not end well. Nor does a life marked by failing to live up to a positive self-vision. But adopting the values of someone who is doing well is an escape. If Donald Trump is doing well, you are doing well. Alleged collusion with a foreign power might be bad for democracy, but good for an individual leader, and therefore good for you. “Fusion satisfies a lot of need for people,” Dovidio says. “When you fuse with a powerful leader, you feel more in control. If that person is valued, you feel valued.”

The process of de-fusing, then, might involve offering alternative systems of creating consistency and order. If people who are inclined to fusion have the option to fuse with entities that do not wish to exploit them, and that are generally good or neutral for the world, they might be less likely to fuse with, say, a demagogue. “But, of course,” Dovidio says, “that’s hard.”

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General Comments

In my opinion Identity Fusion is a structural construct, or larger framework for understanding mass movements. Eric Hoffer’s book by comparison defines the motivations underlying how individuals become swept up in a mass movement, and his explanation fits into the notion of letting your personal self becomes a social self-unrestrained by normal conventions of decency and personal responsibility.

Donald Trump is expeditiously on his way out of the White House. The country is in shambles as a result of his presidency. I think after reviewing the research literature on the Narcissistic Personality, The True Believer and Identity Fusion, there is now a real plausible set of explanations that define the Trump core supporter. Not all Trump core supporters may be true believers or be pathologically tied to Trump through Identity Fusion. However, as a social scientist interested in empirical data, I’d have say that the convergence of existing data strongly suggests that too many Trump core supporters have fallen into the abyss and have become a real member of a mass movement. A large chunk of Trump core supporters may be near-do-well fanatics and true believers.

The evidence provided by these theories is psychologically provocative. And, they are very telling. As Eric Hoffer pointed out in his book,” What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless. This is certainly a sad commentary on American life that so many Trump supporters manifest feelings of incompleteness, self-doubt, alienation and estrangement from the larger culture.

Post Script

When this nightmare with Trump is over, all of us as a nation have to put the democratic policies and protections back into place. Politics is not the all-end-all of a society. Politics can be defined as the art of compromise or, setting policies to help the common man by judiciously handling the nation’s scarce resources. But more importantly, as a nation, we should endeavor to always strengthen our nation in terms of its democratic principles as reflected in our U.S. Constitution. Whether left, right or center that is our most important responsibility.

My politics are always upfront; I am an ultra-liberal and I value human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and complete acceptance of all people on earth as having more similarities than differences. We basically all have the same human needs, whether you live in the United States or elsewhere around the world.

But I do have my conservative moments. I am a U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War. I support a strong military and national defense, veterans and wounded warriors and I am a bit of a hawk. For the moment what I think we ought to do about the Russians and North Korea I’ll keep to myself.

One of my closest friends is an ardent Trump supporter. Although we are very different politically, we don’t let our politics get in the way of our 36 year friendship. Friendships are very important in life; politics by comparison can shift with the wind at any moment. Ellen DeGeneres said the other day she had a genuine friendship with former president George W. Bush. She was accused of being a hypocrite. And she was praised by many for her honesty and even an inspiration to some who saw what it takes (courage) to go beyond the simplicity of political thought where the mantra is always “us or them.” Ellen certainly knows how to think outside the box.

Unfortunately, there are too many people, left and right politically, who are not capable of doing what Ellen has done. I think it is important to be upfront as to whom you are as a person. Said another way, just be honest and not show disingenuousness about your political self as well as your true self.

As Fusion theory demonstrated, it can be very difficult to stand outside your social self (whether fused or not) in deference to your individual self. I know. I think there is nothing wrong with being a conservative Republican; after all, nobody’s perfect. Sorry—couldn’t resist my social self!!

In a few weeks or months the pantywaist mafia style degenerate in the white house will be gone. Then maybe this democracy can return to normal. Then perhaps real leaders can tackle the problem of the Turks and our abandonment of the Kurds. This country needs real leadership, not Republican cowardice, dishonor and disgrace!!!

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Weak and Feckless:

The True Believer in American Society 

Their impact on Democratic Institutions

“It is above all in the present democratic age that the true friends of liberty and human grandeur must remain constantly vigilant and ready to prevent the social power from lightly sacrificing the particular rights of a few individuals to the general execution of its designs. In such times there is no citizen so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, and there are no individual rights so unimportant that they can be sacrificed to arbitrariness with impunity.”

― Alexis de Tocqueville (Author, Democracy in America)

    

Introduction

One of the most important sociological facts in the study of society is the existence of “The True Believer.” Who is the true believer? According to the late Eric Hoffer, “He’s a guilt-ridden hitchhiker who thumbs a ride on every cause from Christianity to Communism. He’s a fanatic needing a Stalin (or a Christ) to worship or die for. He’s the mortal enemy of things-as-they-are, and he insists on sacrificing himself for a dream impossible to attain. He is today everywhere on the march.”

Although Eric Hoffer’s seminal sociological work was published in 1951, his book made a crucial impact on sociology and our understanding of fanaticism and deviant behavior. And that understanding applies historically to the most ancient of times as it does in the present day.

Fanaticism as the most ideological deviant of human behaviors continues to plague all of us in democratic societies worldwide. And what do we see today as we look out at the world?

We see ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the malevolent murderous dictators in Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, we have long witnessed entire countries run by dictators who violate human rights every day. This includes such dictators as Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Xi Jinping serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un who is a dictator of one of the ugliest regimes of all time.

     Unfortunately, America, a democratic country with democratic institutions, is not immune to fanaticism. And this fanaticism has come from both the left and the right.        

A Short History Lesson

Throughout history in our country the True Believer has existed. In the modern era two prime examples come to mind in the political arena where the True Believer is concerned:  The Era of Eugene Victor Debs and the era of Donald Trump, the former a Socialist and the later a White Nationalist. Let’s begin by exploring these two people.

The Father of American Socialism

One of the most influential people during the early years of the 20th Century was Eugene Victor Debs.  He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1855 to a family of French Alsatian immigrants. Making his way in the railroad industry, Debs formed the American Railway Union in 1892.

Two years later he found himself leading one of the largest strikes in American history — the great Pullman strike. When its workers refused to accept a pay cut, The Pullman Car Company fired 5000 employees.

To show support, Debs called for the members of the American Railway Union to refrain from operating any trains that used Pullman cars. When the strike was declared illegal by a court injunction, chaos erupted.

President Cleveland ordered federal troops to quell the strikers and Debs was arrested. Soon order was restored and the strike failed. Eugene Debs was also one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies), and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States. Through his presidential candidacies, as well as his work with labor movements, Debs eventually became one of the best-known socialists living in the United States.

Debs was not originally a socialist, but his experience with the Pullman Strike and his subsequent six-month jail term led him to believe that drastic action was necessary. Debs chose to confine his activity to the political arena. In 1900 he ran for President of the United States as a socialist and garnered some 87,000 votes.

The following year, leading sympathizers joined with him to form the Socialist Party. At its height, the party numbered over 100,000 active members.

In the election of 1912 he received over 900,000 votes. After being arrested for antiwar activities during World War I, he ran for President from his jail cell and polled 919,000 votes. Debs died in 1926 having never won an election, but over one thousand Socialist Party members were elected to state and city governments.

Eugene Victor Debs left an indelible mark among candidates for President of the United States. Eugene Debs ran as a Socialist candidate for President of the United States five times, including 1900 (earning 0.6% of the popular vote), 1904 (3.0%), 1908 (2.8%), 1912 (6.0%), and 1920 (3.4%), the last time from a prison cell. He was also a candidate for United States Congress from his native state of Indiana in 1916.

Why Were Socialists beliefs popular?

Despite the success of the American Federation of Labor, American radicalism was not dead. The number of those who felt the American capitalist system was fundamentally flawed was in fact growing fast.

American socialists based their beliefs on the writings of Karl Marx, the German philosopher. Many asked why so many working Americans should have so little while a few owners grew incredibly wealthy. No wealth could exist without the sweat and blood of its workforce. They suggested that the government should own all industries and divide the profits among those who actually created the products. While the current management class would stand to lose, many more people would gain. These radicals grew in number as industries spread. But their enemies were legion.

While most Americans today would feel sympathy for Eugene Debs and his cause for fairness between management and labor in an era of crass capitalism gone amuck, it is still a fact that there were fanatics among many of his supporters.

There is an uncanny resemblance I can see between Eugene Deb’s fanatical supporters and Donald Trump’s core base of Republicans where violence several times has made its way to attacking reporters. In addition, his white racist lunatic supporters have even attacked Trump’s own African American supporters who show up at Donald Trump rallies. Oops! I digress for a moment. Back to Eugene Debs and the saga of the Wobblies.

The Wobblies

Even more radical than the Socialists were the members of the Industrial Workers of the World. This union believed that compromise with owners was no solution. Founded in 1905 and led by William “Big Bill” Haywood, the “Wobblies,” as they were called, encouraged their members to fight for justice directly against their employers.

Although small in number, they led hundreds of strikes across America, calling for the overthrow of the capitalist system. The I.W.W. won few battles, but their efforts sent a strong message across America that workers were being mistreated.

When the United States entered World War I, the “Wobblies” launched an active antiwar movement. Many were arrested or beaten. One unlucky member in Oregon was tied to the front end of an automobile with his knees touching the ground and driven until his flesh was torn to the bone.

Membership declined after the war, but for two decades the I.W.W. was the anchor of radical American activism. This minority of Wobblers were indeed “true believers” in their cause.

This leads to my example of fanaticism from the right in politics. What makes this relevant is that this new era of political fanaticism is occurring in the here and now.

The Trump Administration and the High Priest of Hate

Donald Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States in 2016. Based on a philosophy of white nationalism, similar in tone to the promoters of Aryan beliefs fostered during the reign of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Brown Shirts (Sturmabteilung a.k.a., Storm Troopers), Donald Trump is be-loved by the Aryans of today as reflected in the violent confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 as well as at his political rallies.

After the 2016 presidential election, it became crystal clear that the American voter had made an egregious mistake in judgment when picking a person to be the Commander in Chief and President of the United States. Immediately, women and independent voters who had got him elected pulled away their support when their error in judgment came home to roost.

Now following the 2016 election, research has shown that Trump voters were lacking education, lacking intelligent insight, devoid of basic humanitarian values, overly naïve in their beliefs, and simply lacked adroitness to the maximum degree. In my opinion all of these things may have been present in the Trump voter in 2016.

Russian collusion and interference, un-democratic gerrymandering, voter suppression and the unnecessary (and undemocratic) Electoral College system conspired to give the presidency to Donald Trump. Scandal after scandal has plagued his presidency both before and after his becoming president.

He has committed both impeachable offenses (including treason) as well as engaged in criminal behavior. Donald is an infantile mental case and has delusions of grandeur about his self-worth. He is a wanna-be mafia don. I can understand Donald Trump’s infatuation with the concept of “fake news.” After all, since January 20, 2017 the United States of America has had a fake president.

At no previous time in the history of the United States has a president or his administration brought such dishonor and disrespect. As a result the United States has lost status as a protector of human rights in the eyes of the world.

Given the bomb threats that have been made against liberal democratic politicians including the attempted murder of two prior American presidents, the FBI need to investigate these incredibly serious criminal acts leaving no stone unturned.

And, the racist connections to Donald Trump continue to shed a light and give direction to such an investigation. The motivation of the bomber(s) is very clear. Just how deep racism runs rampant through Donald Trump and his supporters is reflected in an article written back in 2016.

In May, 2016 Robert L. Tsai wrote an article for Slate Magazine, titled: “What Aryans See in Donald Trump—He is the Aryan warrior, come to save whiteness itself.

By Robert L. Tsai

May 26, 2016•3:49 PM

“In recent years, white supremacists have tended to avoid taking part in national politics in the belief that both parties have been conquered by nonwhites who pursue their own racial interests over others. This year represents a sea change. Rarely have so many open racists flocked to a presidential candidate’s banner as they have done for Donald Trump. They have shown up at rallies to do gleeful battle with Black Lives Matter protesters and jumped at the opportunity to serve as Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention.

The reasons for white nationalists’ renewed hope in mainstream politics are more complicated than the caricature of jackbooted youths saluting one of their own. Trump has disavowed the endorsement of overt racists such as David Duke, but somehow white nationalists have “never been more optimistic.” Despite Trump’s profession, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” his brand of race-fueled populism promises to reforge broken psychological ties among large swaths of demoralized white voters, whether or not they self-identify as white nationalists or belong to extremist organizations. Trump seeks to recreate a coalition that includes dislocated rural workers and dissatisfied denizens of urban democracy, the relatively prosperous and the hardly working, weary defenders of the Old South and armed isolationists in the Pacific Northwest. Through a mix of policy and symbolism, Trump unites them all with a sneering form of nationalism that, more than ever, helps rekindle the racial consciousness of mainstream white voters.

A key to Trump’s appeal is that his agenda to “Make America Great Again” revolves around an iron-fisted leadership style for which many disaffected white voters have been searching. The fractured elements of white nationalist America, meanwhile, perceive Trump to be the embodiment of the Aryan warrior, a mythic figure who will liberate white people from their current state of malaise, infighting, and almost certain extinction. White nationalists trace their lineage through Northern Europe (some claim to descend from the Lost Tribes of Israel) and find their role models in the various soldiers and statesmen who supposedly defended the purity of the white civilization. Today, any person of Western European stock can theoretically become an Aryan warrior by swearing to preserve the white race, but some white supremacist groups believe a single figure will be called from among the people to fulfill a more unifying role. Trump, who is of German and Scottish ancestry, fits the ethnic profile of this savior to a T. But it’s Trump’s political self-presentation that is truly arousing.

Unhappy white Americans are not monolithic; Trump’s appeal goes beyond his potential Aryan saviorhood. In a Republican Party that has tilted decidedly rightward, he outflanked Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz—figures who are more faithful conservatives than Trump—by shrewdly appealing to a complex belief system shared by many disgruntled white voters.

But for the most extreme of these resentment-oriented citizens, Trump’s appeal is manifold. These citizens believe that the founding generation established the United States as a republic for the pursuit of liberty and happiness as white people alone define those ideals. Members of this alt-community despise pluralism, bristling at any emphasis of race, sex, or gender differences.

Many distrust liberal education, which is blamed for fostering white guilt and destroying a sense of racial identity among whites. A number of them fear the global economy. Sensing their influence greatly diminished, such individuals have opted out of electoral politics. They have felt abandoned by the old Democratic Party after it became the party of black civil rights and betrayed by the modern Republican Party, which has cynically used dog-whistle politics to gain their votes without, in their view, doing enough to safeguard their interests. Some of the discontented have become radicalized, joining patriot groups, separatist strongholds, or white supremacist organizations.

Anxiety about biological and cultural extinction is pervasive among these disaffected whites. Before his downfall and death, Richard Girnt Butler gathered self-identified Aryans to his compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. On social media today, racially conscious whites assemble around the hashtag #WhiteGenocide or lodge their grievances at Stormfront.org. (Trump once actually retweeted a user named “White Genocide.”) The late David Lane, an influential Aryan thinker and member of a violent organization called the Order, helped popularize the view that the white race was “now a small minority in the world,” beset by forced integration, intermarriage, and “inter-species compassion.” According to this worldview, only those who aspire to the ideal of the Aryan warrior can restore the civic republicanism of America’s forefathers and save the white race. Enter Trump.

The cultural image of the Aryan warrior combines romantic masculinity, chest-beating race pride, and a relish for legal violence. Lane’s writings put the Aryan warrior in explicitly political terms. His tract 88 Precepts prophesies the coming of the “strongman,” who will emerge in the late stages of a dying democracy. That figure will display a keen ability to see that “political, economic, and religious systems may be destroyed and resurrected” in ways to prevent the eternal destruction of the white race. Some will call the strongman “a dictator,” but Lane insists that a ruthless leadership style “is the only way to restore order out of the chaos caused by a democracy.”

Trump’s style of governance seems to fulfill this prophesy: His entire self-presentation is a rebuke to liberalism and gradual legal change. Instead, he promises political revolution through charismatic leadership. Trump’s vulgar, unvarnished manner of speaking and his penchant for favoring extreme measures—the very characteristics deemed un-presidential and dangerous by his critics—are seen as not only refreshing but also as essential for the rebirth of the Aryan nation-state.

When Trump calls Hispanic immigrants “criminals, drug dealers, rapists,” and vows to “take our country back” from those “taking our jobs” and “taking our money,” white nationalists hear Trump telling the same uncomfortable truths about the sorry state of white society they have voiced for decades. Every time he eggs followers on to forcefully confront detractors or swears to “take out the families” of terrorists, he projects a muscular approach to protecting the white republic.

His calling card is a plan to build a massive wall between the United States and Mexico to stem illegal immigration and somehow force Mexico to pay for it. Policy analysts have scoffed at this proposal, but its real power lies not in policy but in metaphor, one that taps into a hardened, survivalist mindset. It is an image that resonates with a community that already believes it is losing the war against nonwhite civilizations. When Trump ritually invokes the wall or recommends the creation of a national deportation force, he signals to this constituency that he agrees the future of the white race is at stake.

To Aryans, a resurgence of public masculinity is central to sovereignty. They believe that the power to command others, and then to spark a revolution, emanates from one’s power to control the traditional family. This is why Trump’s crude comments about female appearances and the proper role of women excite rather than repulse these core supporters. It is also why, in trading on fears of white male helplessness, his claims that “Mexico sends its people” to rape and pillage and that China is “raping our country” through unfair trade practices appeal so powerfully to the racist mind. For Trump, as for the white nationalist community, sovereignty and maleness are forever interlinked.

Additionally, the scorn heaped upon Trump simply confirms for these racially motivated white voters that they have discovered the right leader, one who might defeat the forces of liberalism and multiculturalism that have corrupted American law. Lane urged white people to select a strongman “wisely.” “Choose one who has sacrificed all in the face of tyranny; choose one who has endured and persevered,” he writes. “This is the only reliable evidence of his worthiness and motives.” On this front, Trump has more than proved his mettle by drawing the arrows of his enemies in the Republican primary and emerging more powerful for it, while the battlefield is littered with opponents who underestimated him.

How far can he go? Trump has actively courted fringe parts of the electorate by assenting to their racially inflected diagnosis of what ails America and has thrown his support behind whites-first prescriptions. From this point on, Trump’s ceiling as a vehicle for white nationalism will depend on the willingness of mainstream voters to take responsibility for his promise to restore white self-governance and his systematic scapegoating of nonwhites.

By casting himself as a virtuous guardian of white people’s welfare and claiming a “mandate” to be provocative, Trump has gotten further than any similar politician in recent years. Win or lose, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, he is already more successful than Pat Buchanan or David Duke, which makes him the most prominent Aryan warrior of the modern age.”

The Commonality of Unifying Agents among Differing Fanatical Groups

According to Eric Hoffer true believers for any cause have certain things in common. They include: Hatred, Imitation, Persuasion and Coercion, Leadership, Action, Suspicion, and The Effects of Unification. Given the limitations of this Blog I will only discuss the unifying factor of hatred.

 Hatred

According to Eric Hoffer, “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents…Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” He also reported that, “The theoreticians of the Kremlin hardly waited for the guns of Second World War to cool before they picked the democratic West, and particularly America, as the chosen enemy.”

For Donald Trump the devil is liberals, democrats, the free press and anyone else who criticizes him. By his stoking the fires of hatred, it has led to the discovery of several bombs reported on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 whereby democrats, liberals and the free press were targeted for murder and assassination.

Donald Trump, as an advocate of violence at his rallies, no matter how surreptitiously displayed, bears great similarity to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin. These latter historical figures of World War II along with Eugene Debs and the Wobblies share an important characteristic with the fatuous oaf in the White House—They were all ‘True Believers.’”

Final Comments

The evidence shows that fanaticism and the “true believer” has been around for thousands of years. As long as mankind exists and, in the absence of a world-wide nuclear catastrophe, people of extreme views and mindsets will likely continue to exist in the future.

Groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the American mafia, including different ethnic versions of it, were filled with members who might have manifested the characteristics of a “True Believer.” And, there may have been some who had additional motives like avarice and greed.

The real test of the degree of being a “True Believer” is whether or not (as Eric Hoffer pointed out) one is willing to sacrifice oneself for a dream impossible to attain. We know that some people cave-in to pressure while others do not. This applies to anyone in any group. Measuring this attribute of people in fanatical groups of “True Believers” is probably impossible to do.

I could have chosen to write about other groups as evidence of the “True Believer,” but I chose instead to write about Eugene Debs of the 20th Century and Donald Trump in the 21st Century. I think I have shown that “True Believers” runs the full political landscape or gamut from left to right, However, I want to zero-in now on Donald Trump.

I do this because the effects, and soon-to-be after effects, are happening now in this day and age. Critical to all of this is motivation of people, particularly those who supported and those who continue to support Donald Trump. And it pertains to comments made by author, Robert L Tsai.  I may too have some insight to contribute in this regard.

      In 1900 there was no television, cell phones or the Internet. In today’s world we get pummeled every day with a barrage of “breaking news” on a nearly 24 hour basis. In a few prior blogs I pointed out the sociological concept of “White Fright—White Flight.” This concept has generated intense psychological fear among a sizeable portion of white voters.

The underlying reason many whites are terrified is not economic; rather, it is an irrational fear of losing one’s social status in society. This is sad, but true. The insecurity of losing one’s status seems to reinforce the idea that constitutional principles of freedom and justice for all people under the United States Constitution, must somehow take a back seat to one’s loss of social status.

No one knows what American will be like in 30 years when there is no majority, only minorities of different population sizes. As a social scientist there is one question that begs to be answered. As a result of population changes favoring no one and favoring everyone at the time, will there be less stress and strife among groups in society as a result of this?

Intuitively, I think the United States Constitution will still be the law of the land. Hopefully people will strive for the good life as individuals no longer burdened by some arbitrarily defined social group label or status. If we see everyone as individuals, not members of some group, I think this would be a very good thing. However, I don’t know definitively if this will be the case. I can only speculate and say I am a very optimistic person and hope for the best all the time.

On the negative side today, I make this pronouncement:

If these attempted assassinations are connected to Trump himself or his voters and core supporters, drastic steps may need to be taken when the House and the Senate are changed by the mid-term elections.

It may very well be that such individuals responsible will need to be incarcerated for life if they are proven guilty of attempted murder and assassination.  Given the more civilized nature of the Democratic Party, I doubt children of the Trump supporter will be locked in cages, permanently separated from their parents or forcibly sent to Mexico or Guatemala.

If Donald Trump is behind the plot to assassinate two prior American presidents he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. In spirit his cell mate just might be Eugene Victor Debs or “Big Bill Haywood.” A more likely scenario is that Donald Trump will die in prison then spend eternity being guided by Virgil through Dante’s 9 circles of hell for Trump’s deadly sins of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.

Coming back to today’s reality Donald Trump is simply a racist, weak, feckless, and immoral human being. He is also the worst politician in American History.

 

 

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Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Sociological Context of Values
Social values form an important part of culture in society. The broadest conduit through which values are formed includes folk ways, mores, and codified rules known as laws.
It is a sociological observation that values influence every aspect of human behavior and belief in every society. It is “a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Some values are relatively unimportant while the principled “inner-core values” of an individual are ingrained from childhood and are considered of great importance. Why are ingrained values so important? It is because principled core values form the basis of one’s own identity.
So what are Values?
Values are defined as, “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” Besides beliefs about the value of something, at a higher level of abstraction, values are tied, not just to objects or minor preferences, but to human conduct with a moral assessment (or belief) about what is considered “right” and “wrong.”
Donald Trump’s Values
Much of human behavior in this and every other society is the result of values people hold. In America today, under the Trump administration, there are hidden values that belie and confute as a smokescreen for white nationalism. White nationalism is itself the antithesis of long-standing American values that are embodied in both the people of this country and documented through the United States Constitution.
What motivates most White nationalists is a fear of losing power and privilege in what sociologists so accurately describe as “white fright/white flight.” The nexus of this social phenomenon of “white fright/white flight” is its unadulterated circumlocution to racism.
Live and let live is a concept that is absolutely foreign to the White nationalist in America. And, it is important to point out to my reader that any world view is also influenced by one’s core and collective values. Never are these values more socially destructive as when prejudice translates into behavior known as discrimination.
Donald Trump’s World View
Donald Trump’s world view of white nationalism is reflected in his disguised view of his own racially motivated behavior. This includes: (1) his racial discrimination in preventing African Americans from renting Trump properties in the 1970s (2) his ruthless morally critical and cruel castigation of the Central Park Five (five African American young men that were falsely incarcerated in the Central Park jogger case). This case concerned the assault, rape, and sodomy of Trisha Meili, a female jogger. That crime occurred on April 19, 1989), (3) his repudiation of a Hispanic judge over a legal case involving Trump himself, (4) his total disrespect of the Muslim Kahn family, a gold star military family, that had lost their son in Iraq, and (5) more recently, his incompetent offensive mishandling of a condolence call to the widow of La David Johnson, an African Staff Sergeant who was killed in Niger. These racially biased views of Donald Trump and his White nationalism protecting whites and their historical position of dominance and privilege, reflect his values.
Values can either bring people together or split people apart. Values are just values until one gets to the notion of “value judgments” made collectively or by individuals. Donald Trump’s base reflects the values of racism and White nationalism as a collectivity, In Washington D.C. today the mouthpiece for these White nationalist values falls primarily on just one individual—Donald Trump.

Nationalism as a World View
Nationalism is the belief that your country is superior, without question or doubt. In some cases, nationalism can inspire people to break free of a foreign oppressor, as in the American Revolution, but nationalism can also lead a country to cut itself off from the rest of the world. American isolationism prior to the onset of World War II was a self-protection world view.
“From a political or sociological outlook, there are three main paradigms for understanding the origins and basis of nationalism. The first, known as primordialism or perennialism, sees nationalism as a natural phenomenon. It holds that, although the concept of nationhood may be recent, nations have always existed.
The second paradigm is ethno symbolism, which is a complex perspective seeking to explain nationalism by contextualizing it throughout history as a dynamic, evolutionary phenomenon and by further examining the strength of nationalism as a result of the nation’s subjective ties to national symbols imbued with historical meaning.
The third and most dominant paradigm is modernism, which sees nationalism as a recent phenomenon that needs the structural conditions of modern society to exist.” Also, “National symbols and flags, national anthems, national languages, national myths and other symbols of national identity are highly important in nationalism.” Does this ring a bell anyone?
Trump’s appreciation and fondness of world dictators is a very troubling insight into his character. Trump’s general manifestation of paranoia is tied to his psychological suspicions of the American values of inclusiveness, an open society, and a country stepped in the values of the Bill of Rights. Donald Trump, the wannabe dictator bears an uncanny similarity to a very vicious nationalist of the 1930s—Germany’s Adolf Hitler, who kept his secret agenda away from the German people until he had seized total control and power.
In order to better clarify this often perplexing phenomena of differing values one must glean at least some semblance of insight from the field of sociology. The emotional life of the individual is best understood by studying psychology. But our emotional life is definitely intertwined with our identity, reflected in the many beliefs and values one holds.
To understand any group is to look at their professed and sometimes hidden values. To understand the individual is to focus on the mental or emotional state of the individual and its interplay with the values one holds. This type of scientific study or analysis is a very complex undertaking when it seeks to test hypotheses across academic disciplines. One very influential book written tying individual needs or characteristics to sociological constructs of beliefs and values was the seminal work of Eric Hoffer’s 1951 book, The True Believer.” I recommend this book to everyone. Despite the fact this book was published more than 66 years ago, it is of great relevance today. It will provide great insight into the bizarre, confusing and strange government we have now led by Republicans.
Final Comments
Collectively, values can either pull people together in a common cause and direction (e.g., during a hurricane or during a terrorist attack like September 11th), or split people apart along the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or no religion), education, age, or social class.
The values of Donald Trump, his supporters and white nationalists, favor the politics of division. They are the dividers in our society with hidden motives related to the sociological concept of “white fright//white flight.”
Currently political values are playing a major role in dividing people like never before. My sense is that hatred between the political right and political left is at an all-time high. Ideologues and intransigent demagogues on both the far right and the far left care little about democracy. And there unfortunately has been a decline in those of the political center. These are people and voters I would characterize as rational centrists.
Rational centrists tend to see the world through the prism of data and logic, not exclusively by dogma or bias. They value the principles this country was founded on—equality, justice and freedom for all.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that there is an inescapable “truth. And that “truth” is that bias and prejudice exist in all of us, yet, it is also true that we possess a living document more sacred than the Bible, Torah, or the Koran put together. And for Americans that document is the Constitution of the United States and its most honored principles—The first 10 amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
Right now our country has a colossal failure in the White House. He is a miserable, insecure, mentally unbalanced buffoon. Nevertheless, the predominantly Republican Congress can’t seem to differentiate between real moral conviction in protecting democracy, and their own self-serving, self-aggrandizing motives.
As French sociologist and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said in the 18th Century, “everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.” What is the cure to all this widespread American misery? It’s called impeachment.

Breaking News
And, as I write this Blog putting the finishing touches to it, there is great news. On Friday October 27th Special Counsel and Investigator Robert Mueller announced that a grand jury he had convened has brought the very first charges into the Russian probe of the 2016 election.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “At least one person was charged Friday in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the matter. That person could be taken into custody as soon as Monday, these people said. The number and identity of the defendants, and the charges, couldn’t be determined.
A spokesman for Mr. Mueller, Peter Carr, declined to comment. The news of the charges, marking the first in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, was reported by CNN on Friday.”

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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part V

 

Understanding the Context of Religious Terrorism and Fanaticism

One of the greatest influences in my life as a young college student back in the 1960s was the written works of sociologist, longshoreman, philosopher and columnist—Eric Hoffer.

It is with the context of Eric Hoffer’s seminal 1951 book, The True Believer that I offer an explanation for groups as diverse as ISIS, The Ku Klux Klan, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, or other international, national or locally grown fanaticism groups.

Such diverse groups really have much in common as far as their psychology and sociology are concerned.

 

The True Believer

 

     The True Believer: Thoughts On the Nature of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by American writer Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.

The book analyzes and attempts to explain the motives of the various types of personalities that give rise to mass movements, why and how mass movements start, progress and end, and the similarities between them whether religious, political, radical or reactionary.

Hoffer argues that even when their stated goals or values differ, mass movements are interchangeable, that adherents will often flip from one movement to another, and that the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable. Thus, religious, nationalist and social movements, whether radical or reactionary, tend to attract the same type of followers, behave in the same way and use the same tactics and rhetorical tools. As examples, the book often refers to Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, Christianity, Protestantism, and Islam.

The first and best-known of Hoffer’s books, The True Believer has been published in 23 editions between 1951 and 2002.

 

Summary

 

Part 1. The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer argues that mass movements begin with a widespread “desire for change” from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions.

Feeling their lives are “irredeemably spoiled” and believing there is no hope for advancement or satisfaction as an individual, true believers seek “self-renunciation.” Thus, such people are ripe to participate in a movement that offers the option of subsuming their individual lives in a larger collective.       Leaders are vital in the growth of a mass movement, as outlined below, but for the leader to find any success the seeds of the mass movement must already exist in people’s hearts.

While mass movements are usually some blend of nationalist, political and religious ideas Hoffer argues there are two important commonalities: “All mass movements are competitive” and perceive the supply of converts as zero-sum; and “all mass movements are interchangeable.”

As examples of the interchangeable nature of mass movements, Hoffer cites how almost 2000 years ago Saul, a fanatical opponent of Christianity, became Paul, a fanatical apologist and promoter of Christianity. Another example occurred in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s, when Communists and Fascists were ostensibly bitter enemies but in fact competed for the same type of angry, marginalized people; Nazis Adolf Hitler and Ernst Rohm, and Communist Karl Radek, all boasted of their prowess in converting their rivals.

Part 2. The Potential Converts

    

     The “New Poor” are the most likely source of converts for mass movements, for they recall their former wealth with resentment and blame others for their current misfortune. Examples include the mass evictions of relatively prosperous tenants during the English Civil War of the 1600s; or the middle- and working-classes in Germany who passionately supported Hitler in the 1930s after suffering years of economic hardship. In contrast, the “abjectly poor” on the verge of starvation make unlikely true believers as their daily struggle for existence takes preeminence over any other concern.

Racial and religious minorities, particularly those only partly assimilated into mainstream culture, are also found in mass movements. Those who live traditionalist lifestyles tend to be content, but the partially assimilated feel alienated from both their forbearers and the mainstream culture. (e.g., “The orthodox Jew is less frustrated than the emancipated Jew.”)

A variety of what Hoffer terms “misfits” are also found in mass movements. Examples include “chronically bored,” the physically disabled or perpetually ill, the talentless, and criminals or “sinners.” In all cases, Hoffer argues, these people feel as if their individual lives are meaningless and worthless.

Hoffer argues that the relatively low number of mass movements in America is attributable to a culture that blurred traditionally rigid boundaries between nationalist, racial and religious groups, and which allowed greater opportunities for individual accomplishment.

Part 3. United Action and Self-Sacrifice

In mass movements, an individual’s goals or opinions are unimportant. Rather, the mass movement’s “chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice.” To this end, mass movements have several means.

Mass movements demand a “total surrender of a distinct self.” One identifies first and foremost as “a member of a certain tribe or family,” be it religious, political, revolutionary, or nationalist.

Every important part of the true believer’s persona and life must ultimately come from his/her identification with the larger community; even when alone he/she must never feel isolated and unwatched.

Hoffer identifies this communal sensibility as the reappearance of a “primitive state of being” common among pre-modern cultures. Mass movements also use play-acting and spectacle designed to make the individual feel overwhelmed and awed by their membership in the tribe, as with the massive ceremonial parades and speeches of the Nazis.

While mass movements idealize the past and glorify the future, the present-day world is denigrated.  “The radical and the reactionary loath the present.” Thus, by regarding the modern world as vile and worthless, mass movements inspire a perpetual battle against the present.

Mass movements aggressively promote the use of Doctrines that elevate faith over reason [sound familiar] and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.”

The Doctrine of the mass movement must not be questioned under any circumstances. Examples include the Japanese holdouts who refused to believe that WWII was over, or the staunch defenders of the Soviet Union who rejected overwhelming evidence of Bolshevik atrocities.

To spread and re-enforce their doctrine, mass movements use persuasion, coercion, and proselytization. Persuasion is preferable, but practical only with those already sympathetic to the mass movement. Moreover, persuasion must be thrilling enough to excite the listener yet vague enough to allow “the frustrated to […] hear the echo of their own musings in the impassioned double talk.” And, as Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.”

 The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of Doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.”

Successful mass movements need not believe in a god, but they must believe in a devil. Hatred unifies the true believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner” attributed with nearly supernatural powers of evil. For example, Hitler described Jews as foreign interlopers and, moreover an ephemeral Jewishness alleged to taint the German soul was as vehemently condemned as were flesh-and-blood Jews.

The hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing, as with the condemnation of capitalism by socialists while Russia under the Bolsheviks saw more intensive monopolization of the economy than any other nation in history. Without a devil to hate, mass movements often falter (e.g., Chiang Kai-shek effectively led millions of Chinese during the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and ’40s, but quickly fell out of favor once the Japanese were defeated).

Fanaticism is encouraged in mass movements. Hoffer argues that “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure” and thus uses uncompromising action and personal sacrifice to give meaning to his life.

Part 4. Beginning and End

Hoffer identifies three main personality types as the leaders of mass movements, “men of words, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” No person falls exclusively into one category, and their predominant quality may shift over time.

Mass movements begin with “men of words” or “fault-finding intellectuals” such as clergy, journalists, academics, and students who condemn the established social order (e.g., Gandhi, Trotsky, Mohammad, and Lenin). These men of words feel unjustly excluded from, or mocked and oppressed by, the existing powers in society, and relentlessly criticize or denigrate present-day institutions.

While invariably speaking out in the name of disadvantaged commoners, the man of words is actually motivated by a deep personal grievance. The man of words relentlessly attempts to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and creates a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” A cadre of devotees gradually develops around the man of words, leading to the next stage in a mass movement.

Eventually, the fanatic takes over leadership of the mass movement from the man of words. While the “creative man of words” finds satisfaction in his literature, philosophy or art, the “noncreative man of words” feels unrecognized or stifled, and thus veers into extremism against the social order.

Though both the man of words and the fanatic share a discontent with the world, the fanatic is distinguished by his viciousness and urges to destroy. The fanatic feels fulfilled only in a perpetual struggle for power and change. Examples include Jean-Paul Marat, Maximillian de Robespierre, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.

The book also explores the behavior of mass movements once they become established as social institutions (or leave the “active phase”). With their collapse of a communal framework, people can no longer defeat their abiding feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole.

If the isolated individual lacks opportunities for personal advancement, development of talents, and action (such as those found on a frontier), he will seek substitutes. These substitutes would be pride instead of self-confidence, memberships in a collective whole like a mass movement, absolute certainty instead of understanding.

The “practical men of action” take over leadership from the fanatics, marking the end of the “dynamic phase” and steering the mass movement away from the fanatic’s self-destructiveness. “Hitler, who had a clear vision of the whole course of a movement even while he was nursing his infant National Socialism, warned that a movement retains its vigor only so long as it can offer nothing in the present […]

The movement at this stage still concerns itself with the frustrated–not to harness their discontent in a deadly struggle with the present, but to reconcile them with it, to make them patient and meek.”

The focus shifts from immediate demands for revolution to establishing the mass movement as a social institution where the ambitious can find influence and fame. Leadership uses an eclectic bricolage of ideological scraps to reinforce the Doctrine, borrowing from whatever source is successful in holding the attention of true believers.

For example, proto-Christians were fanatics, predicting the end of the world, condemning idolatry, demanding celibacy and sowing discontent between family members; yet from these roots grew Roman Catholicism which mimicked the elaborate bureaucratic structure of the Roman Empire, canonized early Christians as saints, and borrowed pagan holidays and rites. In the absence of a practical man of action, the mass movement often withers and dies with the fanatic (e.g., Nazism died as a viable mass movement with Hitler’s death).

Mass movements that succeed in causing radical change often, but not always, exceed in brutality the former regime that the mass movement opposed. The Bolsheviks in Russia and the Jacobins in France ostensibly formed in reaction to the oppression of their respective monarchies but proved themselves far more vicious and brutal in oppressing their opponents.

Hoffer does not take an exclusively negative view of “true believers” and the mass movements they originate. He gives examples of how the same forces that give rise to True Believer mass movements can be channeled in more positive ways.

“There are, of course, rare leaders such as Lincoln, Gandhi, even F.D.R., Churchill, and Nehru. They do not hesitate to harness man’s hungers and fears to weld a following and make it zealous unto death in service of a holy cause; but unlike a Hitler, a Stalin, or even a Luther and a Calvin, they are not tempted to use the slime of frustrated souls as mortar in the building of a new world …. They know that no one can be honorable unless he honors mankind.”

— p.147

Hoffer argues that the length of the “active phase” of a mass movement — the most energetic phase when fanatics are in control — can be predicted with some accuracy. Mass movements with a specific goal tend to be shorter-lived and feature less terror and bloodshed (e.g., the American Revolution). In contrast, an amorphous goal tends to result in a longer active phase of decades rather than months or years and also include substantially more bloodshed (e.g., the Bolsheviks in Russia, National Socialism in Germany).

In either case, Hoffer suggests that mass movements are accompanied by a dearth of creative innovation because so much energy is devoted to the mass movement. For example, in England John Milton began a draft of his epic poem Paradise Lost in the 1640s before turning his literary talents to pamphleteering for the Commonwealth of England, only to finish the poem and his other major works after a change in government in 1660.

Reception

     U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower read The True Believer in 1952, gave copies to friends, and recommended it to others. In 1956, Look Magazine ran an article calling Hoffer “Ike’s Favorite Author.”

Allen Scarborough chose The True Believer as one of 25 books that “you need to read to know just about everything.”

     The True Believer earned renewed attention after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and, also after the Tea Party Protests and Occupy Wall Street protests a decade later.

 

Bibliography

 

The True Believer Quotes

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

Preview — The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”
“People with a sense of fulfillment think it is a good world and would like to conserve it as it is, while the frustrated favor radical change.”
“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”
“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”
“There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.”
“The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.”
“The enemy—the indispensable devil of every mass movement—is omnipresent. He plots both outside and inside the ranks of the faithful. It is his voice that speaks through the mouth of the dissenter, and the deviationists are his stooges. If anything goes wrong within the movement, it is his doing. It is the sacred duty of the true believer to be suspicious. He must be constantly on the lookout for saboteurs, spies and traitors.”
“Propaganda … serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our propaganda.”
“A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action.”
“Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience… The desire to escape or camouflage their unsatisfactory selves develops in the frustrated a facility for pretending — for making a show — and also a readiness to identify themselves wholly with an imposing spectacle.”
“The conservatism of a religion – its orthodoxy – is the inert coagulum of a once highly reactive sap.”
“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”
“The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others.”
“Jesus was not a Christian, nor was Marx a Marxist.”
Final Comments

     The purpose of this five part series has been to describe the characteristics of religious fanaticism in the world today. It is clear that there are definite behavioral characteristics of individuals who choose to start, or be part of, radical or extreme groups. Eric Hoffer has definitely captured in his Theory of Mass Movements the psychological appeal such movements have.

     The sociological side to religious fanaticism or global movements reflects the facts that, particularly in the Muslim world, three strikes against them give rise to extremism—low literacy rates, low educational levels, and high unemployment.

     There needs to be a renaissance in learning throughout the Muslim world if they are ever going to escape their vulnerability to extremist mass movements and the appeal of radical Jihadists.

     Ever since the Ottoman Empire down-played the importance of education and learning for their people, millions upon millions of Muslims over the millennial have suffered the consequences.    

 

 

 

 

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Why California Will be a Significant State in Banning Sharia Law

 

Background

California’s significance lies in its size of its population (38.8 million as of 2014). California is the largest state in the union as to its population. Otherwise, Alaska claims the trophy for land mass, with California in third place.).

California is the most populous sub-national entity in North America. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world. It has a larger population than all of Canada and Australia. Its population is one third larger than that of the next largest state, Texas. California surpassed New York to become the most populous state in 1962.

No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California’s population, making the state a minority-majority state. Non-Hispanic whites make up 40.1% of the population. Spanish is the state’s second most spoken language. Areas with especially large Spanish speaking populations include Los Angeles metropolitan area, the California-Mexico border counties of San Diego and Imperial, and the San Joaquin Valley.  Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English, a proportion far higher than any other state.

 

Muslim Population in the United States and California

     There are an estimated 5 million Muslims in the United States. Twenty percent or 1,000,000 Muslims live in California.

 

     Geographical Distribution:  The table below represents a breakdown by states of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. It shows that there are an estimated 3.3.  Million Muslims in these states. The figure represents 62 percent of the estimated 5 million Muslims living in the United States. 

Muslim State Population Table 

  Muslim Population   (1,000)  Percentage Total Muslim Population  Percent of Total State Population 
California 1,000 20.0 3.4
New York 800 16.0 4.7
Illinois 420 8.4 3.6
New Jersey 200 4.0 2.5
Indiana 180 3.6 3.2
Michigan 170 3.4 1.8
Virginia 150 3.0 2.4
Texas 140 2.8 0.7
Ohio 130 2.6 1.2
Maryland 70 1.4 1.4

* Estimates under column 2 have been rounded to the nearest even number.

The list below shows the number of facilities used by Muslims for religious activities and community affairs:

Mosques/Islamic Centers 843
Islamic Schools 165
Associations 426
Publications   89

There are 165 Islamic Schools in the United States, of which 92 are full time. Figures here for Masjids/Islamic Centers are based on directory listings.

Note: The exact number of businesses owned and operated by Muslims is unavailable, but they are estimated in the thousands. These preliminary findings represent data collected during 1986-1992.

Controversy

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized because of perceived conflicts between their religious beliefs and mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis –Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner. There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientele.

Based on data from a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, their graph records the distribution of feelings of U.S. Muslims on the topic of suicide bombings, separated by age group.

Terrorism that involved Muslim perpetrators began in the United States with the 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. The latest was the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in Massachusetts. After the September 11 attacks and the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, there was concern about the potential radicalization of American Muslims. A 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, on the other hand 11% said it could be “rarely justified.”

Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). A March 2010 Bipartisan Policy Center paper points out an increasing number of American Muslims are playing high-level operational roles in al-Qaeda and aligned groups, as well as a larger numbers of American Muslims who are attaching themselves to these groups.

Between 2001 and the end of 2009, there were 46 publicly reported incidents of “domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism” that involved at least 125 people between 2001 and the end of 2009. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to 13 in 2009.

While the seeming increase in cases may be alarming, half “involve single individuals, while the rest represent ‘tiny conspiracies,’ ” according to Congressional testimony.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by the University of North Carolina indicated that the yearly number of cases of alleged plots by Muslim-Americans appears to be declining. The total of 20 indictments for terrorism in 2011 is down from 26 in 2010 and 47 in 2009 (the total since 9/11 is 193). The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism also fell, from 27 individuals in 2010 to just eight in 2011 (the total since 9/11 stands at 462). Also in apparent decline is the number of actual attacks: Of the 20 suspects indicted for terrorism, only one was charged with carrying out a terrorist act. This number is down from the six individuals charged with attacks in 2010. The study’s author concludes that the “limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim-American terrorism would escalate.”

Muslim Americans are significantly represented among those who tip authorities off to alleged plots having given 52 of the 140 documented tips regarding individuals involved in violent terrorist plots since 9/11.

Extremism in the United States

At least one American not of recent immigrant background, John Walker Lindh, has been imprisoned, convicted on charges of working with the Taliban and carrying weapons against American soldiers. He had converted to Islam while in the United States, moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and then went to Pakistan, where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Another American that was not of recent immigrant background, Jose Padilla (prisoner), of Puerto Rican decent and the first Hispanic-American to be imprisoned and convicted on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb (“dirty bomb”) attack.

He was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. He had converted to Islam while serving his last jail sentence in prison, and went to Pakistan where he was recruited into Al-Qaeda.

Islamophobia

     A 2011 Gallup poll report has stated that there has been an increase in Islamophobia over the past decade and defined it as “An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.” A 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating, which is lower than the 41% cold rating received by atheists.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also drawn fire for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan-Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money.

Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state. Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush’s actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler’s actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison’s remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was “inappropriate” for him to have made the comparison.

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Muslim Arab Americans, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture’s holidays were not included.

Local parent Elizabeth Zahedan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group’s goal.” I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people.” However, the district’s superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they “tone down” activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

Comments

     Totalitarian regimes based on a religion carry no more weight than totalitarian regimes whose primary motives are based on greed for resources such as land, oil, or raw power and control over others. Sometimes such regimes are one and the same.

In a civilized world people’s individuality is put first in harmony with the community in which they live. People are free to pursue their own individual dreams and live out their lives to the best of their ability according to common sense and the rule of law, and supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights espoused in 1948 by the United Nations.

In the weeks and months ahead, a five-part series will be posted that delves into the psychology and sociology of Religious Fanaticism. In part five of the series I will present the seminal work of the late sociologist/philosopher/longshoreman, Eric Hoffer.

I leave you now with one of his many quotes about—The True Believer.

“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” ― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

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