Yesterday, I highlighted two articles about Trump supporters. The first by George Lakoff examines the “strict father” conservative/”nurturent mother” liberal frames and tries to understand Trump supporters by looking at why Trump is effective with them. The second article by Emma Lindsay looks at how racism plays into the liberal-consesrvative debate. She argues that for liberals to call someone “racist” is the end of the argument. It implies they are morally deficient and that they now have to leave the field of debate. But Trump strategically uses racist language to consolidate his base. It is important to understand how and why this works if we are to actively engage in restoring self-worth and human dignity in our country.
Today I want to add Chris Hedges’ recent column on the Trump phenomenon, The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism. (Thanks John D for sending this one in!) Hedges’ historical review of the rise of fascists movements in Europe and what they teach us about today is very good. His tone is somewhat grating and you have to wade through some far-left rhetoric. He concludes that civil society has to figure out how to re-enfranchise the base because the established political parties have abandoned the base. Here’s an excerpt:
The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.
The Republicans, energized by America’s reality-star version of Il Duce, Donald Trump, have been pulling in voters, especially new voters, while the Democrats are well below the voter turnouts for 2008. In the voting Tuesday, 5.6 million votes were cast for the Democrats while 8.3 million went to the Republicans. Those numbers were virtually reversed in 2008—8.2 million for the Democrats and about 5 million for the Republicans.
But do read Hedges whole piece for the analysis of fascism. And also see Jim Wallis’ America’s Flirtation with Fascism. By raising this explosive “f-word” one needs to be cautious not to blithely personalize it. “If fascism is happening, then these people must be fascists.” Not necessarily because it’s not true, but because it’s not helpful. Facism is an ideology that can be used to achieve certain ends. We have to understand it in order to fight it.
Very nice piece by Chris Hedges (The People’s Bishop) about retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard’s ministry to and with the Occupy movement. I have only one question. Where are the Catholic bishops? Here’s an excerpt:
“Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in New York City on Tuesday night as he participated in the May 1 Occupy demonstrations. He and 15 other military veterans were taken into custody after they linked arms to hold the plaza against a police attempt to clear it. There were protesters behind them who, perhaps because of confusion, perhaps because of miscommunication or perhaps they were unwilling to risk arrest, melted into the urban landscape. But those in the thin line from Veterans for Peace, of which the bishop is a member, stood their ground. They were handcuffed, herded into a paddy wagon and taken to jail. …
‘‘Arrests are not arrests anymore,” Packard said as we talked Friday in a restaurant overlooking Zuccotti Park in New York. ‘‘They are badges of honor. They are, as you are taken away with your comrades, exhilarating. The spirit is calling us now into the streets, calling us to reject the old institutional orders. There is no going back. You can’t sit anymore in churches listening to stogy liturgies. They put you to sleep. Most of these churches are museums with floorshows. They are a caricature of what Jesus intended. Jesus would be turning over the money-changing tables in their vestibules. Those in the church may be good-hearted and even well-meaning, but they are ignoring the urgent, beckoning call to engage with the world. It is only outside the church that you will find the spirit of God and Christ. And with the rise of the Occupy movement it has become clear that the institutional church has failed. It mouths hollow statements. It publishes pale Lenten study tracts. It observes from a distance without getting its hands dirty. It makes itself feel good by doing marginal charitable works, like making cocoa for Occupy protesters or providing bathrooms from 9 to 5 at Trinity Church’s Charlotte’s Place. We don’t need these little acts of charity. We need the church to have a real presence on the Jericho Road. We need people in the church to leave their comfort zones, to turn away from the hierarchy, and this is still terrifying to a lot of people in the church and especially the church leadership.”–Chris Hedges