What Does Trump’s Inner Party Believe?

Like a lot of liberals, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about Trump supporters. Who are they? What do they want? What are they thinking? And most of all: How can they possibly support this man?

One reason this task is so difficult is that the Trumpist message is not meant for me. St. Paul was an apostle to the gentiles, but there is no Trumpist apostle to the liberals. No one in the administration is out there translating for me, explaining what parts of the message to take seriously and what parts to ignore. No one is trying to resolve the apparent contradictions, or to make the case that my goals can be achieved by his methods. One symptom of this is White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who appears on Fox News, but doesn’t hold briefings for the press in general. (Trump’s previous press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has joined Fox News outright.)

As a result, the most widely available version of Trump’s message is the one intended for committed supporters, who already live inside the Fox News alternate reality, where climate change is not real and racism was solved in the 1960s. So if, like me, you live in a world where where Russia (and not Ukraine) meddled in our election, where health insurance companies would happily let people die if they could make bigger profits, and tax cuts don’t pay for themselves — well, there is no message for you. Trump’s world has an Us and a Them, and you’re a Them. You’re never going to be invited in.

The Inner Party. It’s easy (and very human) to reflect this attitude back at them: People support Trump because they’re uninformed and gullible. Or because he appeals to their deplorable passions: racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or Islamophobia, to use Hillary Clinton’s list. Or because they’re rich and selfish; they just want to pay less tax and stop worrying about how much their industries pollute. Or because they just want power.

And if you look, you can confirm that bias: There certainly are Trump supporters who fit all those descriptions. (I’m not denying that point, so don’t argue it with me.) And I am capable of imagining a movement made up entirely of a cynical core surrounded by gullible and manipulated masses. But I have a test that I run when I’m considering such a theory: I picture it from the other side. If I were in that cynical core, how confident would I be that I could make this plan work?

And the answer in this case is: not very. A conspiracy of pure evil-doers is actually fairly hard to hold together, because the vast majority of people don’t like to think of themselves that way. Once you have a core bigger than a cabal, you need some kind of self-justifying story — not just for the gullible masses, but for your own people. There needs to be an explanation of why you are the good guys and why the things you are doing are right, or at least necessary.

To use Orwellian terms, you need an Inner Party message in addition to your Outer Party message. There are, I assume, lots and lots of Trumpists who understand that the Outer Party message is bullshit. I’m sure that a lot of Evangelicals, for example, realize that Trump’s knowledge of Christianity is superficial at best; that he has lived a life of licentiousness, infidelity, and fraud; and that his current administration is full of corruption. They may say “We are all sinners,” as Jerry Falwell Jr. acknowledges, and explain that Christianity is a religion of forgiveness rather than perfection. But they also know that forgiveness requires repentance, a step Trump has never been willing to take.

Republican politicians, likewise, are not generally stupid or gullible people. Lindsey Graham used to see Trump fairly clearly (and used terms like “loser” and “nut job”). They can’t all be intimidated by Trump’s sway over his base voters, either. Ted Cruz surely remembers Trump’s attacks on his father and wife, and having just won re-election in 2018 (along with ten other GOP senators), he doesn’t have to face the voters again until 2024, by which time everyone may have conveniently forgotten that they ever supported Trump. (George W. Bush was once immensely popular among Republicans, but by the 2008 campaign he had become an unperson.)

A lot of people who support Trump are not ignorant, and they are not all motivated by greed or fear. If this is all hanging together, and it seems to be, there has to be an Inner Party message for such people. What could it be?

The Barr speeches. That’s the context that I put around the recent spate of articles examining two Bill Barr speeches. Both of these speeches were given to what I think of as Inner Party audiences.

  • In October, he spoke to the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame, an organization “committed to sharing the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition”.
  • In November, he delivered a named annual lecture to the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention. The Federalist Society is a conservative legal organization that is responsible for vetting Trump’s nominees for federal judgeships.

In short, these are both audiences friendly to the Trump administration, but are not the MAGA-hat-wearing yahoos that show up at Trump’s public rallies. Both groups see themselves as having intellectual heft as well as moral purpose. Neither would be satisfied with a screed of obvious lies or slogans like “Lock her up!” or “Build the Wall!”

So this is what Barr offered them: To the Catholics, he spoke about the impossibility of maintaining  liberty without Christianity. To the Federalists, he advocated for the Presidency to shake itself free from the “usurpations” of Congress and the Judiciary.

The Notre Dame speech. Barr’s Notre Dame speech lays out the problem like this:

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large. No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity. But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles. …

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings. Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

This cries out for annotation, which I’ll try to keep short so that I can get on with Barr’s argument: If you wanted a poster boy for “the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the public good”, you could hardly do better than to choose Barr’s boss, President Trump. If you allow corporate persons into the discussion, Exxon-Mobil (which knew the danger of climate change decades ago, but spent millions to keep the public confused about it) or one of the pharmaceutical companies that promoted the opioid crisis would be a good choice.

And unless the “transcendent Supreme Being” decides to express Their authority much more directly than They currently do, God’s will is going to be presented to us through “willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize”. For example: the Catholic hierarchy, which for decades — perhaps centuries — had no trouble enabling and covering up the sexual misconduct of its priests.

This far I agree with Barr: If a free society is going to work, the public good needs to be supported by moral values freely chosen, rather than rules enforced solely by government power. However, the countries that seem to be doing the best job of maintaining a free society in today’s world are the least religious ones: the Northern European humanist crescent that flows from Finland to Iceland. In the real world, moral values and religion have (at best) a tenuous relationship.

However, Barr takes this relationship as given and proceeds from there: Traditional Christianity is losing its hold on America, and at the same time a number of social ills have gotten worse: births outside of marriage, divorce,

record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

The causality here is clear to him: All these negative consequences come from an increase in “secularism”. Thomas Edsall offers a counterpoint here: If this were true, you’d expect the worst effects to show up in the most secular parts of society, but this seems not to be the case.

The white working class constituency that would seem to be most immune to the appeal of the cultural left — the very constituency that has moved more decisively than any other to the right — is now succumbing to the centrifugal, even anarchic, forces denounced by Barr and other social conservatives, while more liberal constituencies are moving in the opposite, more socially coherent, rule-following, direction.

Similarly, the highest rates of births outside of marriage are in the Bible Belt states.

Barr continues: Ordinarily, we’d expect the pendulum to swing back towards social conservatism. As people saw the calamitous results of social change, that change would be stopped, and then turned around. But this time is different, because America is not just dealing with the ordinary tides of culture. This time the story has an active villain: people like me, as best I can tell.

[T]he force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today … is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values. These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

Speaking of ridicule, here how cartoonist Jen Sorensen responded to Barr’s speech:

It is very popular in conservative circles to talk about being “silenced”, despite the awesome wealth and power conservatives command. But the truth doesn’t stretch quite that far: Conservatives, and especially religious conservatives, are used to being the only voices in the room. In the days of mandatory Christian prayer in public schools, there was no equal time for atheists or Buddhists. Gays could be characterized as “deviants”, and women who made their own decisions about sex as “sluts”. Conservative Christians could say these things in public, and no one would respond. No one would dare stand up and say, “Wait, I’m gay, and there’s nothing deviant about it.” or “What happens in my bedroom is none of your business.” No one would strike back and say that the Christian was “judgmental” or “bigoted”.

Now, someone will. Maybe lots of someones. That’s what the Constitution calls “freedom of speech”, but Christians are not used to hearing it. When their opinion is not the last word in a discussion, it seems like persecution to them, even though it’s the normal situation for everyone else.

Barr uses another religious-right buzzphrase when he talks about “a comprehensive effort to drive [our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system] from the public square”. As best I can tell, this refers to another revocation of a special privilege. Christians used to be able to use public resources to promote their point of view: prayers at public events, nativity scenes on the town green, and so on. In recent decades, Christians have often been treated like everyone else and limited to promoting their views with their own resources. (Barr may say “Judeo-Christian”, but when have Jews ever tried to install a Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea model on the town green?) This is quite a come-down, but it is not persecution.

Secular moral values, Barr claims, are different from Christian ones, not just in content but in kind.

Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation. The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems. This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

This is absurd on both ends: One one side, the anti-abortion movement Barr champions elsewhere in the speech is not a micro-morality; it is an attempt to use the law to constrain the choices of other people. Conservative leaders (Trump, for example) often exhibit horrible personal morality, but they signal their virtue by opposing abortion or gay rights. On the other side of the question, Barr has completely written off a long Catholic social-justice tradition, from Dorothy Day to liberation theology. As Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara once put it, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.”

To sum up: Christianity is at war against an active enemy. Secularists are not just trying to live their own lives as best they can, they are working to tear down the transcendent moral order. If they succeed, the result can only be anarchy or tyranny.

The Federalist Society speech. Barr’s Federalist Society speech inadvertently illustrates a point from his Notre Dame speech: Willful human beings have an infinite capacity to rationalize.

The claimed topic of the speech is “originalism”, the legal doctrine that tries to find the meaning of Constitution in the thinking of the Founders. Since the Founders faced a world far different from ours and could barely have imagined the issues of the 21st century, originalism provides boundless fields for rationalization. Like scripturalism in religion, the resulting propositions don’t have to justified on their own merits, because we did not think of them ourselves, but only found them in the texts written by our prophets.

What Barr finds in the Founders’ collective mind in this speech is a vision of executive power unbound by the other two branches of government.

In the orthodox reading of American history, the structure of American government got remade on two occasions: by Lincoln during the Civil War and by FDR during the Depression and World War II. In each case, executive power expanded, and has kept expanding in recent years, reaching the point where a President can unleash a global nuclear holocaust completely on his own authority. In my view, relating the apocalyptic power of today’s Presidency to Hamilton’s praise of “energy in the executive” is insane.

But that’s not how Barr sees it:

In recent years, both the Legislative and Judicial branches have been responsible for encroaching on the Presidency’s constitutional authority. [original emphasis]

Congress has encroached by refusing to rubber-stamp Trump’s unqualified and often corrupt appointees, and also by attempting to exercise oversight of questionable (and again, often corrupt) administration actions.

I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power. But the sheer volume of what we see today – the pursuit of scores of parallel “investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas – is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.

In Barr’s view, this is pure harassment. There is nothing unusual in the Trump administration’s actions that invites these investigations. The most he will grant is this:

While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him.

Of course, the people did not vote for him; the Electoral College did. But leave that aside. Fundamentally, the conflicts with Congress arise because, as in the Notre Dame speech, liberals are villains.

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

It’s weird to pull this back to the Notre Dame speech, where conservatives treat religion as their politics. What is an illegitimate “abstract ideal of perfection” for liberals becomes the “moral values” of a “transcendent Supreme Being” when conservatives do it. And what is the conservative project, if not to push women and gays back into an Eisenhower Era “abstract ideal of perfection”? What Barr says here in polemic terms about liberals is just the plain and simple truth when applied to the politics of the Notre Dame speech: Barr quite literally is on a “holy mission” to “remake man and society”. He literally, not figuratively, sees himself “pursing a deific end”.

And that conclusion about using “any means necessary to gain momentary advantage” without asking “whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct” is a hair-pulling bit of projection. I mean, does Barr think withholding appropriated funds to coerce a foreign government into doing the President a political favor should be a “general rule of conduct”? Should the President routinely declare a state of emergency whenever Congress refuses to appropriate money for his pet projects? Should the Senate routinely refuse to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominees when the President is of a different party?

Conservatives, in Barr’s view, have failed by being too nice.

conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means. And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy [fire], especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.

His judicial encroachments on executive power are similar: In his view, the number of court orders stopping Trump from doing what he wants has nothing to do with Trump wanting to do illegal things (like discriminate against Muslims or ignore our asylum laws); it’s just harassment.

Also, he sees no judicial power to arbitrate disputes between Congress and the President, like the current cases about the Wall “emergency” or whether Trump can stop his officials from testifying before impeachment hearings. What this means in practice is that the President has whatever powers he says he has. If, say, the President were simply to instruct the Treasury to start writing checks for all kinds of things Congress had never voted on, it would be a gross usurpation of Congress’ power. But what could Congress do about it on its own? It could pass more laws that the President could ignore, and the usurpations would continue.

He concludes with this:

In this partisan age, we should take special care not to allow the passions of the moment to cause us to permanently disfigure the genius of our Constitutional structure. As we look back over the sweep of American history, it has been the American Presidency that has best fulfilled the vision of the Founders. It has brought to our Republic a dynamism and effectiveness that other democracies have lacked. … In so many areas, it is critical to our Nation’s future that we restore and preserve in their full vigor our Founding principles. Not the least of these is the Framers’ vision of a strong, independent Executive, chosen by the country as a whole.

The underlying issue. Ezra Klein brings in this bit of context.

Robert Jones, president of the Public Religion Research Institute, estimates that when Barack Obama took office, 54 percent of the country was white and Christian; by the time he left office, that had fallen to 43 percent. This is largely because young Americans are less white, and less Christian, than older Americans. Almost 70 percent of American seniors are white Christians, compared to only 29 percent of young adults.

In 2018, Americans who claim no religion passed Catholics and evangelicals as the most popular response on the General Social Survey. … [T]he age cohorts here are stark. “If you look at seniors, only about one in 10 seniors today claim no religious affiliation,” Jones told me. “But if you look at Americans under the age of 30, it’s 40 percent.”

That’s at the root of the sense of panic Barr is voicing. This time really is different, because the white Christian majority in America is being lost forever. But Barr portrays this not as a simple changing of the guard, but as the end of a civilization: White Christians must hang onto power, because the alternative is a society without the moral values necessary to maintain a free society.

This, I think, is the essence of the Inner Party message: Trump offers himself as the bulwark against this looming catastrophe. He is the alternative to the too-nice conservatives who have let immigrants keep coming, let liberals secularize the youth, and have been too slow and too tentative about rallying the white Christian vote, stacking the courts with conservative white Christians, and suppressing all other votes. If he cheats in elections, say by getting illegal help from foreign countries, that’s a necessary evil. If he suppresses any attempt to check his power or investigate his corruption, that, too, is a necessary evil. Ultimately, if he loses at the ballot box and has to maintain office by violence, that may be necessary as well, because the alternative is the end of American civilization.

I’ll give Thomas Edsall the last word:

The reality is that Barr is not only selling traditional values to conservative voters, some of whom are genuinely starved for them, he is also marketing apocalyptic hogwash because, for his boss to get re-elected, Trump’s supporters must continue to believe that liberals and the Democratic Party are the embodiment of evil, determined to destroy the American way of life. Relentless pressure to maintain the urgency of that threat is crucial to Trump’s political survival.

And that, I think, is what the Inner Party believes.

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Comments

  • David Dashifen Kees  On December 2, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I have been, for a few weeks now, reading conservative media sources relating to the the sense that many on the right have that the left is nothing more than a boot on the neck of freedom and liberty. My conclusions are similar to your own: this perception is related to the loss of privilege. Having attempted many conversations both online and in person with conservatives who truly believe in a monolithic, immoral left that’s Hell bent (religious metaphor intentional) on the destruction of all advancements achieved by the West during and since Christendom, I was and remain at a loss about how any bridge can be built between me and them.

    • jh  On December 4, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      I have trump voters in my family. All they hear is “The left is destroying America”. “The left hates Christianity”. “The left hates American values”. They literally cannot understand the concept of sharing. To them, the idea of concern for others, especially minorities or people who are different from them, is an encroachment on their “american” way of life. Oh.. and abortion.

      To put it succinctly, the right hates those of us who are on the left side of the spectrum. They would, with glee, put us in gas chambers. They’ve been fed a constant media message that the “Democrats” (who are both paradoxically weak and inept and strong and cunning) are always winning. To be fair, culturally, the younger generations are moving more and more leftward. But didn’t they move leftward as well? I mean, how many on the right seriously espouse going back to owning black people as slaves?

      When I hear the conservative media – and boy do I hear too much – I understand that they are projecting what they are. They truly feel like they are under attack because they can’t imagine a world where they aren’t listened to and respected automatically just because. Trump is their Jesus and they got their “warrior” to stick it to the libs. (And notice how they always use derogatory usage? Dems. Libs. Libtards, Leftists. How many on the corporate media use those kind of derogatory terms for the conservatives? Very very few and not on the corporate CNN/MSNBC or the main three channels.)

  • George Washington, Jr.  On December 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    The danger with the kind of thinking Barr espouses is that a Democratic president poses an existential threat to the continuation of the United States as a nation. I’ve seen a meme with Trump and the caption “they’re not coming for me – they’re coming for you, but I’m in their way.”

    • Rick  On December 2, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      It’s more than just a meme, it’s an essential part of the Trump re-election campaign. Several weeks ago a Trump supporter misspelled their email address and gifted me with a torrent of Trump fundraising emails. Many of them state quite clearly that Democrats and other Liberals are coming for “you”, trying to silence “you” and reverse “your” vote and thus results of the last election.

  • John Kallio  On December 2, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Here is the crux of the issue:

    “Trump’s supporters must continue to believe that liberals and the Democratic Party are the embodiment of evil, determined to destroy the American way of life”.

    Why do they think that?

    Because they are a cult who believes conspiracy theories rather than objective facts and reason.

    • Mx. David Dashifen Kees (they/them)  On December 2, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      No, I don’t think that’s the case.

      It’s because, in their worldview, we’re coming for their privileges. It’s not a conspiracy theory that if you request a public nativity scene that others are going to want a menorah or the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue or inter-religious tolerance signs by local witches. From our side of the fence, that looks like diversity, pluralism, freedom, and liberty. From theirs, it looks like an assault on their way of life.

      That way of life may largely be based in white, Christian, hetero, cis-male privilege but even my willingness to name those things as privileged is an assault on that privilege.

      • John Kallio  On December 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm

        If you take one specific example and try to assign a reason – then “its an assault on their way of life” makes sense. But I think that’s missing the forest for the trees.

        Do they really see diversity, pluralism, freedom and liberty as an “assault on their way of life”? I bet if you asked Republicans, they would all support such concepts.

        Or do they oppose Democrat’s agenda BECAUSE ITS COMING FROM DEMOCRATS? Which – in their mind – is no better than terrorists?

        And why would they believe Democrats want to destroy America from within? Because they are programmed to believe any crazy conspiracy that comes their way.

      • Mx. David Dashifen Kees (they/them)  On December 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm

        I’m not sure about diversity and pluralism, but yes they’ll claim to love freedom and liberty as much as any one else might be expected to. You’ve a point though, re: healthcare at least. There were any number of articles about how the individual facets of the ACA were a-okay with conservatives until you mentioned that the ACA included all of them. It wasn’t the policy that was the problem, it was who offered it.

  • hat_eater  On December 2, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    When their chosen one fails in the 2020 elections, I shudder to think who will they turn to next to avert the apocalypse.

  • Michael Ignatowski  On December 2, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I find it interesting that you seem to identify yourself as a member of the secular left in this article. In reality, you (and I) are highly religious people and very active in the Unitarian Universalist religion. I think we give up something when we fail to acknowledge ourselves as members of a religious community. It leaves the religious right with the ability to frame this as solely a cultural war of good religious people against atheistic heathens. In reality, much of the cultural war is also a conflict of differing religious views. Let’s not surrender the religious moniker to the other side so completely.

    Beyond that, I agree with what you’re saying. I also found the last sentence of the previous comment from George Washington Jr very chilling – “they’re not coming for me – they’re coming for you, but I’m in their way.” Casting an election in terms of pure tribal warfare.

    • Nancy Banks  On December 2, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Agree. I always find it interesting that I attend church weekly and my conservative – Trump loving brother has not been in years, but is happy to tell me about the persecution of christians.

  • Nancy Banks  On December 2, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Great article and explains some of Maureen Dowds column this past Sunday in the NYT. It was all about the crazy Democrats. At times you go crazy trying to keep up with the Republican narrative – ignoring the deficit, ending strategic alliances and supporting tariffs. I think that is why it is critical for Democratic candidates not to go left. I know the Democratic party has a strong, active and noisy leftwing, but like Trump supporters not a majority or enough of a majority to win a national election unless the economy tanks and then all bets are off.

    • Guest  On December 3, 2019 at 9:08 am

      Respectfully, running to the right/center lost Democrats the White House in 2016, Nancy, so what do you think has changed such that the same process would yield different results?

  • Rebecca Stith  On December 2, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    This might be your best column ever. I just shared it with several family members who share your (and my) bewilderment. Thank you.

    >

  • Mary S  On December 2, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    People afraid to live in a different and foreign-feeling country are desperate, and Trump signaled to them that he will do what is necessary to preserve their culture, even if it means imposing minority rule.

    • Melody H  On December 6, 2019 at 8:23 pm

      “do what is necessary to preserve their culture, even if it means imposing minority rule.”

      “They” understand this change has been decades in the making and they’re well aware they can no longer claim the majority status; Minority Rule is exactly what they want.

  • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 2, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    From a social science perspective, their accusations are true of themselves as unaware we see in the world a reflection of who we are. And yes, power and status are very difficult to let go, in all the ways you’ve mentioned. The answer is not a political one, as much as they want to live in that space of creating a narrative and belief system that fits their status agenda. It’s sad to watch.

  • D. Michael Wells  On December 2, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    An excellent and thought provoking essay. I am not here to argue the point you concede that many Trump supporters fit the profile of those descriptions (racism and ignorance). However, it compels me to ask the following question: To those supporters who deny being racist or ignorant (although apparently concerned with the demographic trends that will make them a distinct minority) will a reasoned discussion that includes the arguments you outline here, make any difference to them or Bill Barr or Jerry Falwell, Jr.? The answer is clearly no. It is analogous to understanding the etiology of a disease for which there is no cure.

  • Thomas  On December 2, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    I read this screed with shame-faced amusement that I once subscribed to the identity-driven, self-obsessed, self-propagating silliness that runs up and down this piece and the entire thread. With the perspective of 50 years living in the Northeast, the benefit of the absolute tip of the private education system, 28 years as a private business-person in Massachusetts, access to the highest levels of business and government and every other advantage that such a life and business could engender, including a doctoral degree, I can say with absolute assurance that that the author and his coterie of fawning sycophants are so full of shit it would take the entire snowstorm crew on full alert for a blizzard at Logan Airport to make a dent in the steaming pile this word salad resembles.

    When you start with a conclusion: all Trumpsters are either idiots or ideology driven cultists – or both – it is simple exercise in self-delusion to write the justification that “supports” the pre-ordained conclusion. Have you ever been to a Trump Rally or do you simply see red hats and alpha males that scare your UU-world of cocktails and simplistic conformity?

    But my favorite is “climate change”, the most loaded term in the liberal iconography. To you “climate change” is code for: We know better and we will tell you exactly what to do because we know you are stupid. Add in “denier” and you get the created straw man: The stupid, red-neck, knuckle-dragging, homophobic deplorable idiot who has no right, title or reason to oppose top-down imposition of non-defined, ridiculously-expensive, untested solutions to a problem you cannot define. To steal a trenchant comment: “Climate Change: a 4.5 billion year-old, on-going problem that only a tax today can solve.”

    Now, before y’all jump back and start in on me, remember, I am one of you until I learned I wasn’t. I am just your reality turned back on you. I know how you think; I used to think like that too. I was luckier than you. A God with a sense of humor and purpose sent me into the real world with real people like Jefferson’s educated farmer and Adam’s bar-keep confidant. Y’all haven’t a clue and, while I have no illusions about the current president, he is one of you too. And he so gets you and so do we, out here where reality lives, that you haven’t a chance.
    So, I’ll leave you with this. I’m laughing as I write this. Laughing at the president’s tweets, the fact that he lives in all your heads rent free 24/7/365, your facile self-delusions and your empty purposeless existences. I am so filled with satisfaction to have cleansed.

    • George Washington, Jr.  On December 2, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      You must be even more amused with the conservatives who still can’t get over the fact that Obama enjoyed two terms as president, and Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump. Hardly a day goes by without some conservative bringing up Benghazi or Heremails.

      The reason Trump “lives in our heads” is because he’s the president and his actions affect us. Don’t worry, once he’s out of office, we won’t devote any more energy to him, other than looking back with amazement at how an unqualified Hollywood idiot could have fooled so many people into literally worshipping him.

      • Thomas  On December 2, 2019 at 6:04 pm

        GW, Jr. thanks for proving my point. 24/7/365.

        I got over it. Benghazi it what it was. Why do you bring it up? “More votes” works in high school student government. Claiming it in a constitutional republic whose constitution defines the election method is the same Cain killed more people but for the Ten Commandments. An argument for the losers that gives solace to the deluded and succor to the sycophants.

        “Unqualified Hollywood idiot”? I am not aware of a lot of Hollywood idiots with their name on dozens of iconic buildings all over the world. How do you define unqualified?

        As for “literally worshiping”, I guess you mean “actually worshiping” . . . haven’t seen that yet but I’ll let you know if I do and, should I, I will even concede your point.. They keep talking about “worship” on MSNBC and CNN but then I get distracted with all the retractions, clarifications and apologies.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On December 2, 2019 at 7:04 pm

        I brought up Benghazi as an example of conservative obsession with trivialities.

        Trump’s only real success was “The Apprentice.” Everything else was either blowing the money his father left him, declaring bankruptcy or stiffing creditors in other ways, leasing his name out for others to use, and borrowing money from Russia. And his performance since he was elected hasn’t done anything to change that assessment. He’s managed to let the economic recovery that Obama started in 2009 continue, good for him.

        When people like Rick Perry start calling Trump “the chosen one” and saying that it was God’s will that he was elected, that sounds like worship to me.

      • Thomas  On December 2, 2019 at 7:38 pm

        I reiterate my thanks GW, Jr. as you simply amplify the delusion. You speak in conclusory, grandiose, liberal monotones. I try to adhere to source-based rhetoric. Let’s try that out. I’ll go slowly.
        1.Benghazi: “obsession with trivialities.” I suggest that Tyrone Woods, Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty and their loved ones might differ on the triviality of the event. Even The Hag didn’t call it “trivial” she just said it didn’t matter any more. Frankly, shame on your partisan blindness to go with “trivial” as the comeback. it just betrays the blackness of your liberal heart and fascist hate you boil each day.
        2. “Blowing the money his father left him.” Facts, my child would be warranted here.
        Here is a selected list of his worldwide holdings as of this year. These are called facts:

        As of 2019, Trump’s net worth,as estimated by Forbes Magazine, is $3.1 billion (U.S.), with about half of that coming from his New York City real estate holdings, and about a third coming from his national and international properties (including hotels and golf courses). Licensing fees paid by outside owners for using Trump’s name on their properties also contribute to his overall net worth.

        Selected completed properties

        The Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza

        The Trump International Hotel and Tower (New York City) at Columbus Circle
        Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan: A 58-story[73] mixed-use tower, the headquarters of the Trump Organization, was developed in partnership with The Equitable, and opened in 1983. Trump bought out the Equitable’s stake in 1986, and now owns the office and retail components of the tower.The building also contains the three-story penthouse apartment that was Donald Trump’s primary residence until he moved to the White House. The value of the tower was estimated at $450 million in 2017.

        Trump World Tower, 845 United Nations Plaza, also in Midtown Manhattan: In 2006, Forbes magazine estimated $290 million in profits and unrealized appreciation going to Trump.

        AXA Financial Center in Manhattan and 555 California Street in San Francisco: Trump owns a 30 percent stake in these two office buildings, resulting from a property swap involving Riverside South. Trump’s stake in the two buildings was estimated to be at least $850 million as of 2013.

        The Trump Building at 40 Wall Street: Trump bought and renovated this building for $1 million in 1995. The pre-tax net operating income at the building as of 2011 was US$20.89 million and is valued at $350 million to $400 million, according to the New York Department of Finance. Forbes valued the property at $260 million in 2006.

        Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago: The entire project is valued at $1.2 billion.

        Trump International Hotel Las Vegas: A joint development with fellow Forbes 400 members, Phil Ruffin and Jack Wishna. In 2006, Trump’s stake was estimated at $162 million. In Forbes in March 2017, the Trump International Las Vegas was described as a 50-50 partnership between Donald Sr. and Ruffin, with Eric as the primary manager for the Trump Organization.

        Trump International Hotel and Tower New York: Trump provided his name and expertise to the building’s owner (GE) during the building’s re-development in 1994 for a fee totaling $40 million ($25 million for project management and $15 million in incentives deriving from the condo sales). Forbes values Trump’s stake at $12 million. In March 2010, the penthouse apartment at Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City sold for $33 million.

        Trump Park Avenue Park Avenue & 59th Street: It is valued at $142 million. Trump owns 23 apartments at Trump Park Avenue, which he rents for rates as high as $100,000 per month, and 19 units at Trump Parc.[75]
        6 East 57th Street: Trump has a leasehold interest on this retail building, adjacent to Trump Tower, through the year 2079.[82] The building was occupied by a Niketown store from 1996 to 2018.[82][83] The value of Trump’s interest was estimated at $470 million as of 2015.

        Mar-a-Lago: A historic estate in Palm Beach, Florida, most of which was converted by Trump into a members-only resort. The property was worth as much as $250 million as of 2013. Trump also owns two neighboring private houses, valued at $6.5 million and $3 million.

        Seven Springs: A 213-acre estate with a 13-bedroom mansion near Bedford, New York. Trump paid $7.5 million for the property in 1995. Local brokers put the property’s value at around $40 million as of 2013.

        Beverly Hills house: A 5-bedroom home purchased by Trump in 2007 for $7 million,[86] and valued at $8.5 to $10 million as of 2013.

        Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.: The Old Post Office Pavilion, historically known as the Old Post Office and Clock Tower, is a property located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The Trump Organization developed the property into a luxury hotel, which opened in September 20, 2015.

        3. “Borrowing money from Russia”. One fact, or even credible allegation would suffice. The only fact here: bullshit.

        4 “stiffing creditors” – facts aside from bankruptcy write-downs or other legal remedies. Those of us in reality land understand bankruptcy in a crashed economy is how an economy recovers.

        5. “The recovery Obama started’. The slowest, least sustained “recovery” ever. Average 1.75% GDP growth over 8 years. Since the Trump Economy after his election, the NYSE is up from 18K to 28K – 51% AS OF TODAY. Deregulation of the Obama Gulag is the primary reason every reality-dwelling business person will tell you.

        6. “performance since the election” . . yep it has just been a suckfest. Lowest unemployment since 1940, in some cases EVER. Black support at 35% today. Tax cuts for every demographic. US now a NET EXPORTER of energy. Shall I go on or do you have facts that suggest differently? I don’t think I need to wait.

        In conclusion, you need a wakeup sweetheart. The liberal dogma is really thin gruel now. As for Rick Perry, oh well , he’s an evangelist. I’ll take him over DeBlasio or Newsome or Schiffty any day. And you claim it’s “the masses” worshipping. I’ll give you Perry but you got several million more to go.

        Keep trying though I admire your effort, weak as it is.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On December 2, 2019 at 9:08 pm

        Thank you for demonstrating how effective the conservative brainwashing is. Clinton didn’t say that the deaths of those unfortunate victims of the Republican refusal to beef up security didn’t matter; she was responding to the endless Republican harping on whether their deaths were the result of a spontaneous response to a video, or a coordinated attack.

        All Trump has managed to do is continue the recovery started in 2009 under Obama. To take one example, please cite the specific policies Trump has promoted, targeted at black unemployment, that has resulted in its reduction. Golfing and emitting tweets doesn’t count.

        If Trump had invested his inheritance in blue chip corporate bonds, and just sat by the pool collecting dividend checks, he’d have more money than he does now. The simplest explanation as to why he’s still refusing to release his tax returns is that he isn’t actually a billionaire. That, and the fact that they may reveal insurance fraud. Not that it matters to you people – as he said, he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight, and it wouldn’t matter. Heck, he extorted a foreign government to interfere in the election on his behalf, and that doesn’t matter to you people either.

        Just curious, if, let’s say, Bernie Sanders is nominated and wins the election next year, how will you respond to that? Or is that too frightening to contemplate?

      • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 2, 2019 at 10:12 pm

        Here’s a more realistic view on the amazing unemployment numbers. I get that where you sit in private business using big words from your top school education, this might escape you, so I thought to share. There’s a better report on it I came upon earlier. If I find it, I’ll drop it here also.

        https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/470769-americas-workers-continue-to-struggle-despite-strong-jobs-reports

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 3:36 am

        Hi Sweetie. Only God guarantees an equal outcome for everyone – heaven or hell. Here in reality land I”l take the job reports over The Hill. Besides, y’all picked the fight, I’m just bringing facts to the fray.

      • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 3, 2019 at 6:59 am

        Sweetie. Hag, earlier. Your anti-woman bias is showing along with the fear of the fact that your money and power and status aren’t all you’d hoped them to be. All the best with that.

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 3:41 am

        Punkin, I go with “rise in jobs” as comared to Odrama’s “no rise in jobs” and “record low job participation rate in the new normal economy.” You’re working hard though and I appreciate the effort. We neanderthals here in the salt mines admire effort, no matter how Sisyphean.

    • Thomas Paine  On December 3, 2019 at 2:43 am

      Yes, clearly you are the enlightened one here and the rest of us mere rubes taken in by a variety of scams and schemes dressed up as thoughtful, logical conclusions of evidence-based analysis.

      My, we are the lucky ones, blessed to receive your insight and wisdom of the way things really are. Why, without them, we might have failed to face the errors of our ways and missed our opportunity to join you in your conversion.

      Our Dear Leader needs a successor. What better person than you to accept his mantle?

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 3:38 am

        Tommy you’re funny. You dudes claim we are knuckle-dragging neanderthals. Then someone uses “wickid big words” and he’s the asshole? How about this on your plane of thought. Kiss my tookas. When you got facts and not defensive stupid vocabulary barbs get back to me.

      • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 3, 2019 at 7:02 am

        Hahahahaha! See, it always comes out. No one here said that. You see only a reflection of yourself no matter what is written or said. Your pain is evident. I hope you get off social media and get some help with that.

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 11:37 am

        Jacquie the mediator, the reconciler goes there? Sweet pea, you are really that deluded? See my comment below to “guest”. Ditto here with an asterisk: you project with the best. But you do intolerance on an Olympic level of skill.

    • Guest  On December 3, 2019 at 9:36 am

      IMO the one kernel of truth you touched on, Thomas, is that Doug started with a conclusion. I don’t think he meant to, but the piece chases it’s own tail a bit. The conclusion that right-wing White Christian Americans are desperate for a bulwark against Demographic Change really does sound like uninformed, gullible, “deplorable” passion-oriented, power hungry greed in drag. To the extent that’s true, the piece has failed to do what it set out to do. The thing is, I don’t see anyone, yourself included, Thomas, who can positively identify an alternative answer. Wish you would.

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 11:35 am

        Thank you for the measured and interesting reply.

        The answer is simple and that you don’t see it demonstrates the abyss that liberal, identity, race-based and gender-based ideology has led y’all. Please indulge me for a minute.

        I was not exaggerating when I said I was once just like y’all. The over-arching point is that I still am to this extent: I am an American first but my views differ starkly from yours in the area of domestic politics, particularly the role of government in my life. As I see it, everything you want depends first and foremost on government being bigger, stronger and more intrusive. That is anathema to me and to the people who founded the town I grew up in, Lexington, MA.

        I am a professional with an advanced degree and I chose to leave that profession because I concluded it was both morally repugnant and utterly unrewarding – to me and those who hired me.

        Part of that decision and the economy where I now work has required me to work part-time at night loading packages for Fedex. It is the best thing I have ever done in my entire work life and I challenge anyone who reads this reply on this thread to do the same. None of you will and none of you would react as I have because you are who you are. I won’t judge you but i will let you ponder why I am so certain that not one of you would last more than a week on a loading dock with real people doing hard work for basic pay. Whether it is in you, I don’t know but I do know, if it is, it is so far buried under every artiface and social construct that none of you could ever find it.

        In this contect, however, not one of you, other than perhaps you, see me as a fellow American, no matter how much you protest to the contrary. I am a fool and you do not suffer fools. That sets me apart from you. I see everyone around me as my fellow participants in the American Experiment. That experiment does not care whether I am Christian, white, male, straight, tall, fat or athletic. You cannot participate in that experiment fairly and humbly unless you view me apart from my identity – but not one of you can.

        And because you view me as an “identity” and not an American you thus fail again for two reasons. First, you believe I act and think because I am the identity you you think I am. I don’t. Second, because you have disdain for the identity you impose on me, you conclude you are better, fairer, smarter and more entitled to the “fruits” of the American Experiment. You are not.

        The answer you think I cannot find is easily found and has been found by all those supposedly stupid, knuckle-dragging, red-neck droids you so blithely lump together as an uneducated mass of lemmings. We don’t care what you do or what you think. We just think you are way to self-important to conclude you are better. You aren’t. In fact, when you act as you do here: intolerant, faux-intellectual, anti-human, degrading and, did I mention, intolerant, you prove, arguendo, that we are better and smarter. Why? We can’t be bothered with your navel-gazing. We have a life to live, jobs to do and families to raise.

        It really is that simple. Prove me wrong with a ral argument and not stereotypes or ad hominems. I’ll fairy argue policy and doctrine any day, anytime. Go there and I’ll run with you. Go back to the intolerant condescension and I”l laugh and move on.

      • Mx. David Dashifen Kees (they/them)  On December 3, 2019 at 11:56 am

        For what it’s worth, I, for one, do think of you as a fellow American and a part of this experiment.

        That said, I categorically disagree with your statement that the American experiment “does not care whether I am Christian, white, male, straight, tall, fat or athletic” — in short: that it does not care about identity. One only needs to recall the Three-Fifths compromise our Constitution itself to see that, from the very inception of the founding document of our Union, identity mattered, continues to matter, and will likely matter forevermore.

        Therefore, it’s up to us to recognize and respect the identities of those around us while also always seeking to ensure that the inclusive, equitous treatment of the diverse persons that now exist in our neighborhoods, school districts, towns, counties, states, and, in fact, the American experiment at large. That should be where we find our difference; not in a weak understanding of reality that ignores the valuable, lived experiences that produce our identities and identity groups, but in a robust recognition of these differences, how they cause us to live, and how our lives intersect and we interact.

      • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 3, 2019 at 1:12 pm

        Thomas, though I see now that you want some kind of acknowledgement that you are a good person “on another side” that deserves to be heard, we know nothing about you save your incredibly presumptive judgements and denigration and condescension of others here. Every one of your diatribes in this thread begs to put others on the defensive, as though you are looking for a fight. It feels to me that you may actually be unhappy and seeking to legitimize choices and circumstances in which you currently find yourself. Is that true?

      • George Washington, Jr.  On December 3, 2019 at 2:48 pm

        But aren’t you reducing all of us to the “liberal type” you have in mind? For example, I paid my way through college, coincidentally working on a loading dock. I’m not doing that work now because I’m incapable of it or because I have contempt for people who do, but because I find the work I do now to be fulfilling and socially redeeming.

        It’s easy to say “small government is the answer” when you ignore the direct benefits and positive externalities of “big government.” Fedex wouldn’t exist without the roads and airports that the rest of us not only paid for through our taxes, but because of the organization and security that government provides. And with all respect to the founders of your town, they founded it a long time ago in a completely different environment.

        In my own case, I was born around the time Thalidomide first became available. It’s possible that the reason I wasn’t exposed to it is because the intrusive, big government FDA blocked it before it could harm me. A libertarian would say that a pharmaceutical company would not release a harmful drug because the free market would put them out of business as a result, but this ignores the reality of the people who would have to be permanently harmed first.

        It’s interesting that the most thriving societies in the world today have fairly intrusive governments.

      • Thomas  On December 3, 2019 at 4:15 pm

        I have many points to make but they will fall on deaf ears I believe. One point I will make is you are missing my point entirely. I respect your views but determinedly disagree with them. Don’t project your us vs. them world view on me. You are a statist and a borderline communist in the positions you take, a view of many and view opposed by many. Carry on. It’s your right and your life. That’s the American Experiment.

        Your analysis of taxes is not valid. Our taxes are paid to our elected government and then used in accordance with our elected officials’ work as our representatives. We all use those public assets and we all pay our taxes – you me and Fedex. There is no implicit “indebtedness” created by the use of common public assets open to all and this is where you align with Lizzie Hiawatha as a statist.

        Building roads and airports is NOT big government. Telling me that I must get 4 different licenses to own a gun and can only carry my gun to and from a practice range non-stop is big government. So was global regulation by Odrama’s regime.

        The “long time ago” argument is a tired, dead and decayed horse. The Bible is old; as is “ancient” Greece. Plato, Plutarch and Jesus are really, really dead. Great ideas and timeless thought are just that. Not even a good try.

        Thalidomide? Your history is wrong. Big government failed in thalidomide, thus proving big government sucks. It took a whole lot of dead and deformed babies and dead and maimed moms before the trial lawyers sued enough times to get the FDA to intervene. I should know. My dad was one of the lawyers involved. Your history and your argument is dead and deformed wrong.

        A libertarian would say that the pharma company should be free release its drug without any oversight but must pay all consequences of its actions. If the pharma company released the drug KNOWING it was harmful, the libertarian would join all in demanding criminal justice. You don’t know libertarian either.

        As to the throwaway, “most thriving societies” had “intrusive governments, ” REALLY? Define thriving and intrusive then source me a source and example me too. The annual list of “most free” societies belies that gimpy comment. Maybe you should ask the “thrivers” in those “thriving” societies you harken to whether they see their society as “thriving.” Just sayin’ since “it’s interesting” to you perhaps you can share with us all.

      • Guest  On December 3, 2019 at 4:57 pm

        Thanks, Thomas! Happy to indulge a fellow American on real arguments. The two answers you provided, which I summarize as protection against big, intrusive government and a critique of identity politics, are just as good, if not more to the point, as Doug’s. These are legitimate concerns/answers, and I want to explain why I don’t find them compelling at all, without resorting to stereotypes or ad hominens as you suggest. First, I want to celebrate our common ground – profound respect for the American experiment and its corresponding ideal that it can and must be available to all Americans irrespective of religion, race, gender, income, political party, etc. That’s something worth celebrating, no? Ok, on to the issues if you’ll indulge.

        The big/small govt issue is an old canard because both Obama and Trump (and by proxy, most Rs and Ds) have shifted back and forth between big and small govt as it suits their purposes at any given time. It becomes a case by case thing. For example, do I want a big govt intrusive enough to implement a mass-surveillance-fuled police state, a mindless War on Drugs and mass incarceration, or to care with whom I’m married or whats going on in my sisters’ uterus? Absolutely not. Do I want a big govt intrusive enough to stop monied interests from implementing slavery, child labor/exploitation, long-lasting environmental damage (destruction of the commons)? Hell yes. You can see the point, and I think if we run down the long list we’d have more in common than many may suspect, even as we disagree on several. In any case, neither Trump nor you, Thomas, have given any compelling reason as to why we should trust him on protecting against the intrusive govt actions that reasonable people can agree to want to avoid. On this point, Trump is even worse than Obama.

        I am very skeptical of identity politics, and for a reason you touch on, Thomas, namely that I think it can serve to entrench identity-based divisions, all at the cost of ignoring deeper class/money/power issues. This is part of why I tend to favor universal programs oriented towards those deeper issues as a healing, uniting, forward moving solution to situations where we aren’t living up to the American experiment ideals (but that’s another thread). Your characterization of identity politics as being based around denigrating the “uneducated” and “knuckle-draggers” as you say is not one that I completely agree with, and I would venture to say that most here, and even most across the country, would feel the same. Can you find people on the internet who really do center their politics on denigration/exclusion? Sure, just like you can find literal Nazis supporting Trump. Though I can disagree on their tactics, the goals of identity politics, at least in these parts, correspond to securing an open, inclusive American experiment. When you or Trump talk about going to bat against identity politics, liberals see this as an attack against those righteous American experiment goals. If you want your critique of identity politics to be taken seriously here, it would go a long way to clarify where you stand on the best intentions/goals of the approach. As it stands, I see no reason to think that Trump has taken or will take action in support of those goals on which we can mutually celebrate.

  • Nancy L Weston  On December 3, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Sign up for shift

    >

  • Kim Cooper  On December 3, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Doug — As a coincidence, I just gave my sermon last Sunday called “Consumer Hedonism and the Formation of Morals” ( in which I quote you a lot.) the other part is about the dichotomy between those who have an internal conscience versus an external conscience. Authoritarians tend to have an external conscience, which means they need the society around them to have a consensus on what is moral. It gives them a lack of tolerance for diversity. This would be another reason they want everyone to subscribe to the same brand of “Christianity” they do. If you would like to see a copy of my sermon, just tell me where to send it.

  • Rickismom  On December 3, 2019 at 6:40 am

    First let me state that I voted democratic last election. I was petrified of what someone like Trump would do to the nation, and unfortunately much of what I feared has come to pass.

    HOWEVER…. There are many religious people like me who are willing to accept the reality that not everyone believes like me… and that people have the right to make their own personal decisions.
    However, what concerns us is NOT what is shown in the cartoon you show, , but issues that effect OUR rights, such as:
    1) when a PRIVATE baker is forced to make a cake for a same-sex marriage.
    2) when a religious school is told they must hire someone who openly acts against the tennants of that belief (and if they are hypercritical here, shame on them…) or they will forfit funding for SECULAR STUDIES, lunch, buses, etc. ., with no tax relief for parents who are shelling out double.
    3) if we must teach evolution but can not even mention that there are scientists with doubts about it….
    4) when there are advocates who insist that if I choose to continue a pregnancy of a less than perfect baby, that I should pay for all therapy (these same people are not advocating cutting aids funding, abortions, etc…. and neither am I)
    And, by the way, cartoons that like the one shown may hive you all a laugh, but to any middle of the road voter with any of the concerns I mentioned, that cartoon will SHOVE the middle to the right, as it shows us that you are not taking our concerns seriously.
    I believe strongly that if we want to win the next election, we need a moderate candidate and we need to listen to the farmers amd people out of work and reassure them that we have their good in mind as well.

    • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On December 3, 2019 at 7:13 am

      I, for one, did not laugh. We are also concerned about our personal freedoms, and that’s what it depicts. The freedom to withhold the freedom of others is not freedom. You have the freedom to think and feel and even express in words how you see the actions of another, but to withhold their ability to live freely, that’s active discrimination. Offense is more often taken anymore than it is meant.

    • Anonymous Poster  On December 3, 2019 at 9:40 am

      1.) In re: Masterpiece Cakeshop, the bakery never even offered to bake a basic wedding cake for the gay customers, so it logically couldn’t refuse to decorate the cake. And as seen in the Azucar Bakery and Hands On Originals cases, a law that compels speech is not the same thing as a law saying an open-to-the-public business must serve the same “menu” to the general public. Oh, and one more thing: For all of its losses in court, Masterpiece Cakeshop was never once forced by the courts to bake a cake for the gay customers. So…yeah. (In other words: If an open-to-the-public business wants to violate non-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people, it should stop being open to the public.)

      2.) Any religious institution that accepts public funding should have to play by the same rules as secular institutions that receive public funding. If the religious institutions dislike that, they can stop accepting public funding.

      3.) Evolution is a widely accepted scientific theory with plenty of evidence to back it up. If scientists have doubts about it, mention as much. But don’t use those doubts as a backdoor to push religious beliefs (e.g., “intelligent design”) into public schools. Teach that stuff at home, church, or a private school.

      4.) If you’re going to bring a pregnancy to term, you should have all the help you can get, including public assistance, if you can’t afford to care for the child on your own dime. (As for abortion rights: Every woman should have the right to choose whether she wants an abortion, even if her choice is “no”.)

      With the exception of #4, your “concerns” seem rooted in religious privilege. The law, and the government by extension, should not show either favor, affection, malice, or ill will towards any religion (and non-religion). Perhaps you should explore why you think Christians should have legal privileges such as the right to discriminate against gay people or the right to push their beliefs into public schools – and, if necessary, why other religious groups should not.

  • Lionel Goulet  On December 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Wow. Nailed it. Again.

  • Bill Dysons  On December 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Doug, any thoughts on how the Inner Party narrative ties back into the American family models – i.e., your article on “Red Family, Blue Family?” Trump, to me, seems to be enmeshed in an extended family environment akin to what James Ault described in the fundamentalist baptist church he profiled in his writings. Despite his problems, don’t Trump supporters ultimately view him as one of their own, someone who intuitively understands and lives the family lifestyle that his supporters value above all?

  • Steve Sidner  On December 8, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Really thought provoking, Doug. I read it twice.

    In this same vein, I am reading Joel Stein’s amazing book, In Defense of Elitism. Hilarious, but very deep. He portrays “elite” as a dog-whistle to populists. He has a chapter on Tucker Carlson that actual makes me think Tucker has some good ideas! Who’da thunk?! Much of this book is making me question my narrative.

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