Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Look, you either support Trump and his politics, or you don’t (in other words, this is about reality, not ‘reality television’)

Trump’s views and policies are, as a preponderance of evidence attest, racist, plain and simple (they’re also nationalist, mercantilist and xenophobic; plutocratic and kleptocratic; in short, neo-fascist, but we’re leaving that aside for the moment), thus it is egregiously implausible and irrational to assert or argue otherwise. Those individuals in this country who refuse to believe this are displaying symptoms of an authoritarian character structure (e.g., ‘tendencies to compliance, to idealization of and identification with authority,’ as well as sadomasochism, all of which is psychologically anchored in if not fueled by states of denial, self-deception, wishful thinking, and so forth), in keeping with their uncritical loyalty to Trump and his political preferences and desires as expressed in a rhetoric further corroded and disfigured by narcissistic megalomania. Trump’s incendiary and grotesque anti-democratic rhetoric, alongside the fact that allies or members of the radical right are part of the White House, has contributed to a social and political climate in which racism, including expressions and acts of hatred as well as rage and violence, find a nation-wide ethos of political and cultural legitimacy, hence headlines like, “self-described Nazis and white supremacists are running as Republicans across the country;” hence statistics citing the growth of white supremacist groups (not identical to those of yesteryear although firmly within the orbit of belief of their racist forebearers); hence widespread social media documentation of shameless public acts of callousness, mean-spiritedness and illiberal intolerance.

Any self-described “moderate” or traditional “conservative” among Republicans or “independent” voter who nevertheless continues to support the President, who makes no effort to distance himself or herself from his rhetoric and policies, is morally and politically complicit in the acts of moral wrongdoing traceable in one manner or another back to Trump and his administration: through his rhetoric, personal behavior, or the regressive and reactionary political and economic policies. There are of course different types and degrees of engagement with others who would and in fact do wrong and our allocation or distribution or assessment of specific responsibility and culpability should reflect those differences. Some individuals and groups are directly engaged in wrongdoing as a result of their political compromises, actual acts of complicity, or simply slavish devotion to The Leader, while others may do wrong indirectly, “through the causal contribution of their action to the wrongdoing of others” (e.g., a vote, or refusal to vote, monetary contribution, institutional support, public endorsement, rhetorical encouragement, willful ignorance, deliberate neglect, etc.). None of us are “wholly” innocent, as it were, but those actively opposed to the President and his policies have not made the dubious or nefarious political compromises, or engaged in the sundry acts of complicity that together serve to undermine what is left of our democratic values, institutions and processes, that fan the flames of intolerance, hatred, and violence. This is no reason whatsoever for complacency or smugness on the Left, but at least we can be confident that in a dark and apocalyptic-type time and place, we have chosen to fight our battles from a moral high ground, our sights set on what is right and just, leaving Trump and his supporters to act out their aggression and destructiveness from positions firmly entrenched in the (often immoral) muck and mire. This knowledge alone should steel us for current and coming struggles.

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