Seven Years Late, Media Elites Finally Acknowledge GOP’s Radical Ways

Source: NationalMemo

Author: Eric Boehlhert

Emphasis Mine

This article originally appeared on Media Matters

Now they tell us the Republican Party is to blame? That the Obama years haven’t been gummed up by Both Sides Are To Blame obstruction?

The truth is, anyone with clear vision recognized a long time ago that the GOP has transformed itself since 2009 into an increasingly radical political party, one built on complete and total obstruction. It’s a party designed to make governing difficult, if not impossible, and one that plotted seven years ago to shred decades of Beltway protocol and oppose every inch of Obama’s two terms. (“If he was for it, we had to be against it,” former Republican Ohio Sen. George Voinovich once explained.)

And for some of us, it didn’t take Donald Trump’s careening campaign to confirm the destructive state of the GOP. But if it’s the Trump circus that finally opens some pundits’ eyes, so be it.

Recently, Dan Balz, the senior political writer for the Washington Post, seemed to do just that while surveying the unfolding GOP wreckage as the party splinters over Trump’s rise. Balz specifically noted that four years ago political scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein examined the breakdown in American politics and zeroed in their blame squarely on Republicans.

“They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party — in particular its most hard-line faction — as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing,” Balz acknowledged.

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional,” Mann and Ornstein wrote in The Washington Post in 2012. “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”

They continued: The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Tough stuff.

And what was the Beltway media’s response when Ornstein and Mann squarely blamed Republicans during an election year for purposefully making governing impossible? Media elites suddenly lost Mann and Ornstein’s number, as the duo’s television appearances and calls for quotes quickly dried up. So did much of the media’s interest in Mann and Ornstein’s prescient book.

“This was far too much for the mainstream press,” noted New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. “They couldn’t assimilate what Mann and Ornstein said AND maintain routines and assumptions that posited a rough symmetry between the two parties. (‘Both sides do it.’) It was too much dissonance. Too much wreckage. So they pushed it away.”

For anyone who still harbors the naïve notion that the political debates staged by the Beltway press represent free wheeling discussions where anything goes, the Mann/Ornstein episode helped shed some light on the fact that certain topics and analysis remain off limits for public debate for years — even topics that are accurate, fair and essential to understanding our government’s current dysfunction.

See:http://www.nationalmemo.com/seven-years-late-media-elites-finally-acknowledge-gops-radical-ways/

Nominating Trump Would Be An Electoral ‘Bloodbath’: ‘Weekly Standard’

2000px-ElectoralCollege1928.svg-1-e1458884980368-668x501

Source: National Memo

Author: Matt Shuham

Emphasis Mine

We’ve written a lot recently about Donald Trump’s poor prospects in the general election, should he become the Republican nominee: he motivates Muslims and Latinos to register to vote (against him), he’s repulsive to Mormons and others who value religious liberty, and the international community would consider his success a complete disaster — something we’ll surely hear more about as this cycle rolls on.

On top of all that, Trump’s electoral strategy — essentially, it’s just “bring out angry, disengaged conservatives to the polls” — forgets the fact that the vast majority of voters are some combination of young people, minorities, and women, most of whom find him entirely unelectable.

It’s not just us lefties ranting about how bad Donald is for our politics, though. After all, the #NeverTrump movement started with conservatives on Twitter who swore they would never support Trump as their party’s standard-bearer, and has since become a slogan for anti-Trump activists of all stripes.

Take conservative outlet The Weekly Standard, whose Trump coverage is particularly bleak. In an episode of their wonderful near-daily podcast on Monday, staff writer and number cruncher Jay Cost laid out his forecast for Trump’s general election chances, and they’re not pretty. I’ll let Cost explain, in one of the best electoral math rants I’ve heard in a while:

Let me state flatly and unequivocally that if Donald Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton’s floor in the electoral college is 400 votes. That’s the floor, number one. Number two, kiss the Senate goodbye. I mean, it’s not even going to be a close call. It will be a bloodbath. Number three, and this is a little more controversial at this point, but I would give the Republicans no better than 40 percent odds hold the House of Representatives.

This guy is an abject disaster for the Republican Party in November, there is no other way to put it. And the notion that he’s going to bring in some tranche of voters is just a complete fiction, for two reasons: number one, there aren’t enough of them, okay?

I live in Western Pennsylvania. I live right near places that, up until very recently, were voting Democratic. And yeah, can Trump bring some new voters in from Beaver County? Yeah, maybe he can. But I’m telling you what, I live in Butler County, which has been voting Republican since 1856, and he’s going to get killed in Butler County. He is going to get killed in the Cranberry Township suburbs in Butler County. Because people are going to look at him and they are going to think, “No Way.”  You watch, suburban women in Cranberry Township are going to bolt [from] him in droves. And the same thing’s going to happen… replicate that times 100 in the Philadelphia suburbs. It’s going to be an absolute slaughter.

And I think that he can hold the line, maybe, in the South. I see him winning Mississippi and Alabama, and maybe Louisiana. I think he loses Georgia, I think he loses North Carolina. But I think… that’s only one area where the Republican Party is strong. You go to the Great Plains, right… So the Great Plains starts with Texas and then goes up to the Canadian border, and then it goes west up though Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah. He is going to punk out all through that region. These people want nothing to do with this guy. Maybe they’ll vote for him over Hillary Clinton, because they find Hillary Clinton so objectionable, but he is not going to win those states by anything approaching a solid margin. If you want a view of what Trump looks like on election day, I think the best map you can look at is probably the 1928 map between Al Smith and Herbert Hoover. And Herbert Hoover massacred Al Smith. It is going to be an absolute, total bloodbath for Republicans. It will give the Democrats not only control of the White House and the Senate, but very possibly the House of Representatives That 1928 electoral map is about as one-sided as Trump’s electoral predictions get. I can’t say I’d look forward to such a lopsided win, mainly because I don’t want to think about the type of politician who will be able to capitalize on disappointed Trump voters (just as Trump spoke to disaffected Tea Partiers). Still if it means dealing a serious blow to the darkest corners of Trump’s twisted rhetoric, I’m all for it:

1928
1928

See: http://www.nationalmemo.com/nominating-trump-would-be-an-electoral-bloodbath-weekly-standard/

Republican Party’s Nightmare Coming True as Trump Gets Closer to the 2016 Nomination

Trump is positioned to win big on Super Tuesday.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party is running out of time and options to stop Donald Trump after winning as expected in Nevada’s Tuesday night caucuses, although party insiders are increasingly desperate about what to do.

Trump, who was leading in Nevada polls—where he has a big Las Vegas hotel-casino—won his largest percentage yet in any of 2016’s caucuses and primaries, with 46 percent of the vote, which was almost twice as much as both Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ted Cruz (21 percent) received.

So far, 1.2 million Republicans in four states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada—have participated in caucuses or voted, in contests where 133 delegates have been at stake under party rules where 1,237 are needed for the presidential nomination. Cruz won Iowa. Trump has won everything since. And next week is when 12 states, with 632 delegates, will vote on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

Right now, the latest polls in those states listed on RealClearPolitics.com show Trump ahead in nine of those states—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont. Cruz is ahead in Texas and Arkansas. And Ben Carson is ahead in Colorado, but that survey was taken in November, rendering it meaningless. If Trump wins all these states, he stands to gain upward of 400 delegates, where as the prior states only had 133 delegates in play and awarded some to non-winners.

Beyond the math, the Republican Party establishment is in a real tizzy over what to do. An array of scenarios have been floated—such as pundits like Larry Sabato suggesting Rubio and John Kasich team up, creating a way to likely win Florida and Ohio in the fall. Others have pushed a Cruz-Rubio ticket. Still others have said true conservatives may need to back a third-party candidate. And other GOP strategists have suggested that maybe New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg might be more acceptable than another Clinton presidency. Or they are saying principled Republicans might just have to sit this one out, while others respond that’s impossible, they cannot surrender the party’s brand.

No matter the fanciful fantasy embraced, the reality is the clock is running out on the GOP to stop Trump’s hostile takeover of the party. This is not a conclusion based on the particulars of Trump’s showing in Nevada—as he is very well-known there—but more on the weaknesses of Rubio and Cruz as seen in that state. As Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com noted, Rubio still hasn’t won a single state, and Cruz lost badly in Nevada and before that in South Carolina among constituencies thought to be his best supporters.

He carried only 27 percent of the white born-again and evangelical Christian vote, behind Trump’s 41 percent. Cruz also lost this group in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Silver and Harry Enten co-wrote. “Cruz also trailed among ‘very conservative’ voters in Nevada, 34 percent to Trump’s 38 percent.” In short, even if Cruz wins his home state of Texas and nearby Arkansas next Tuesday, as RealClearPolitics’ latest polls have him 4 to 5 points ahead of Trump in both states, it is looking like the beginning of the end of the Cruz campaign.

Of course, the only thing certain about the 2016 campaign trail is nothing is certain. But next Tuesday’s dozen GOP contests with half of the delegates needed to secure the nomination in play is going to be a milestone that can’t be ignored. It is likely that the most virulent voters in the party’s base, who have embraced Trump’s boasts, bullying, bigotry and brashness will be on their way to vanquishing their party’s pro-corporate elites.

Where this goes next is unclear, but it’s surely not toward scenarios where cooler heads will prevail—even if Trump will surprise everyone by trying to sound more moderate after fanning the flames. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of GOP tirades (pro-choice women, LBGT individuals, voters in communities of color, climate change scientists, undocumented migrants, labor unions, etc.) or suffered from their obstructionism—as epitomized by Senate Republicans refusing to consider a Supreme Court nomination—knows the modern GOP has been extremist for years.

The difference now is Trump’s ascent seems to have brought an old and ugly form of mob rule into mainstream view, whereas pledges years ago by now-Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to impede President Obama at every turn and create a failed presidency were cloaked in more “acceptable” partisan gamesmanship under Washington’s political rules.

As many people have noted, Republicans have sown the seeds of Trump’s increasing electoral successes for years. But now they have to live with the consequences, which may mean the end of their party as many know it. The time appears to be running out to stop Trump from gaining the nomination, making the immediate future a belwether for where one of the country’s major parties is going—over the edge and toward a darkening unknown.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/republican-partys-nightmare-coming-true-trump-gets-closer-2016-nomination?akid=14008.123424.GcZEKd&rd=1&src=newsletter1051277&t=4

Donald Trump Is Wrecking the Conservative Movement: How the Billionaire Is Exposing Its Most Toxic Secret

Conservative activists have spent a generation building up their movement — and the Donald is ruining it all.

Source: Alternet

Author:Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has done for the leaders of the conservative movement, the Christian Right and the Republican party it’s that he’s teaching them a necessary lesson in reality: It turns out that a large number of their supporters don’t really care about ideology, morality or even their supposedly mutual loathing of the hippie Democrats on the other side. Their concerns run to something much more primitive.

Sure they all called themselves Republicans and/or conservatives. For decades they played on the same team. But all that stuff about “family values” and “drowning the government in the bathtub” and “constitutional conservativism” were just slogans they chanted for their team. They meant no more to them than “rah, rah, sis boom bah.”

National Review slowly came around to the knowledge that something terrible had happened to their movement and last week put out their ineffectual “Against Trump” issue. They realized too late that all the movement propaganda meant nothing to a whole lot of right wing voters. In fact it looks as though the constitution itself means nothing. And the conservative movement of activists, writers and grassroots organizations has suddenly awakened to the fact that a good many of those they considered true believers are completely oblivious to conservative ideology.

Poor social conservative and movement warrior Ted Cruz is finally recognizing that his fealty to the cause was a sucker move. It bought him the enduring enmity of the party electeds and too many of the movement conservatives just don’t care about any of that. That’s not to say he isn’t trying to rally the faithful. The Christian Broadcast Network’s John Brody aired some footage of Cruz desperately begging Iowa pastors to do everything they can to stop Trump:

“[I]f Donald wins Iowa, he right now has a substantial lead in New Hampshire, if he went on to win New Hampshire as well, there is a very good chance he could be unstoppable and be our nominee. And the next seven days in Iowa will determine whether or not that happens. So even if you’re thinking about another candidate, the simple reality is there’s only one campaign that can beat Trump in this state, and if conservatives simply stand up and unite, that’s everything.”

You can’t help but wonder if he regrets all those months of “bear-hugging” Trump now. In fact, it makes you wonder if the whole field regrets not unleashing hell on him from the very beginning. They couldn’t possibly be any worse off than they are now.

But as sad as Cruz may have been when he started the day yesterday, realizing that he’d devoted himself to a conservative movement that turns out to be an empty shell, imagine how he felt when Jerry Falwell Jr endorsed the libertine billionaire later in the morning. Falwell might as well have looked into Cruz’s face and laughed at his gullibility. All these years Cruz believed that following the Evangelical Christian code of conduct was a requirement and the man who inherited the legacy of the Moral Majority supplicated himself to a degenerate billionaire who says it’s never been necessary to ask God for forgiveness.

Sarah Posner wrote about this strange course of events for Rolling Stone yesterday:

For Falwell, Trump is a strongman who can save America where the Christian right has failed to do so. Falwell’s endorsement is a tacit admission that his father’s mission to rescue America from the supposed scourges of feminism, the “homosexual agenda” and secularism is now a defunct fundamentalist dream…

Trump has other qualities that many evangelicals admit they admire: wealth and success and — don’t let this surprise you — ruthlessness. Trump first addressed a Liberty University audience in September 2012, after his failed presidential bid. In his remarks, he suggested to students that they need to “get even” with adversaries in order to succeed, prompting

an outcry over whether this advice was compatible with Christian values.

At the time, Trump’s special counsel, Michael Cohen — without pushback from Liberty — told ABC News that he conferred with a Liberty official, who confirmed, in Cohen’s words, that “the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees and Christians believe that Jesus even got even with Satan by rising from the dead. God is portrayed as giving grace, but he is also portrayed as one tough character — just as Trump stated.”

Falwell later told a Christian radio program that he took Trump’s advice to mean that often succeeding in life requires “being tough.”

See? No need for all that weak tea about the meek and the poor. And surely when it comes to their driving obsession with sexual morality and abortion, it just takes a real man to put his foot down. And it’s clear who is the Real Man in this campaign. Donald Trump is an Old Testament leader for a New Testament world.

According to this poll, evangelicals are flocking to Trump.

Perhaps the most puzzled by what they’re seeing is the conservative movement old guard who spent decades creating the organizations that in recent years have risen up to challenge the Republican elites for supremacy of the party. They have made great strides, primarying apostates, defeating RINOs and even taking out good conservatives just to show they could. They showed the entire country that they are willing to destroy the government itself if that’s what it takes to demonstrate their commitment to their principles. They take no prisoners, give no quarter. And finally, after decades of hard work and strategizing, they are on the verge of total dominance.

Or they were until Trump came along and proved that many of the people they had been counting on to be the foot soldiers in this conservative revolution weren’t paying attention. In fact, they don’t even care that their new strongman leader openly says things like this:

“I’m going to be able to get along with Pelosi — I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi,” Trump said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to the House minority leader. “Reid’s going to be gone. I’ve always had a decent relationship with Reid,” Trump said, referring to Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate minority leader. “I always had a great relationship with Harry Reid.”

Trump said he thought he’d get along with “just about everybody,” including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), likely to be the next Senate Democratic leader, who Trump said he was “close to … in many in ways.”

“I’ve been in politics all my life, I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life,” Trump said of whether he would have any friends in Congress.

The man who has made a fetish of being politically incorrect reassured his ardent fans at a rally this week that it was all an act:

When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen,” Trump said at a rally in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday.

In what began as a typical Trump speech, the presidential candidate — who made headlines in December for saying he would ban Muslims from entering the US — said the reason for his tough rhetoric is twofold.

First, political correctness takes too long and “we don’t have time,” and second, with such a full slate of Republican candidates, Trump says he needs to be aggressive. “Right now they come at you from 15 different angles. You have to be sharp, you have to be quick, and you have to be somewhat vicious,” Trump said.

“When you are running the country it is a different dialogue that goes, and we can do that easily.”

(He seems to believe that he has experience at doing this, perhaps in a dream.)

The Republican establishment is under a tremendous amount of stress right now. Donald Trump has the party functionaries running around like his personal factotums and the elected officials are all figuring out the angles to ensure they come out on the Donald’s good side. It’s possible it may not survive in the form we’ve come to know it.

But the conservative movement is equally under pressure.  They thought their years of carefully growing and indoctrinating the right wing of the Republican Party had resulted in a common belief in a certain conservative ideology, strategic vision and commitment to a specific agenda.  It turns out that a good number of the people they thought had signed on to their program just wanted someone to stick it to ethnic and racial minorities and make sure America is the biggest bad ass on the planet — authoritarian, white nationalism. If you’ve got a man who will deliver that you don’t need ideology. And he doesn’t need democracy.

The mystery is why all these smart conservatives didn’t see this coming. They unleashed this beast a long time ago with the hate radio and the media propaganda and the ruthless politics. It was only a matter of time before it turned on them.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/donald-trump-wrecking-conservative-movement-how-billionaire-exposing-its-most?akid=13923.123424.Md0AhW&rd=1&src=newsletter1049730&t=4

GOP Establishment in Freak-Out Mode: They Can’t Stop Trump or Cruz From Grabbing Nomination

“The party has been hijacked,” says one GOP insider.

Source: Alternet

Author: Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party has added a new twist to its renowned blame games. Its Washington-centric establishment is saying the race for the 2016 presidential nominee is all but over before the voting starts.

As national news organizations are reporting just days before Iowa caucuses, it looks like either Donald Trump will mount a successful hostile takeover of the GOP, or the senator most despised by its establishment, Ted Cruz, will grab the nomination. That realization has prompted a growing chorus of GOP strategists and party insiders to chime in with last-minute advice to avoid what others say is inevitable, or simply panic.

“Whoever is not named Trump and not named Cruz that looks strong out of both Iowa and New Hampshire, we should consolidate around,” Henry Barbour, a Mississippi-based strategist told the New York Times, in a piece this week emphasizing time is running out for a “credible alternative.” His uncle is ex-RNC chair and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

This whole thing is a disaster,” Curt Anderson, ex-RNC political director and veteran operative, told Politico.com in a piece that asked who let Trump get this far. “I feel the party has been hijacked,” said RNC member Holland Redfield. “It will be a major internal fight.”

“All of the hand-wringing and alarm-sounding within the Republican establishment is sound and fury signifying nothing,” Chris Cizilla, the Washington Post’s top handicapper wrote Wednesday. “The train has left the station. The boat has left the dock. The genie is out of the bottle. Pandora’s box is open.”

And what a box it is! Before Trump hijacked the headlines by trying to bully Fox News into dumping Megyn Kelly as a moderator for Thursday night’s debate, and then walked away because he didn’t get his way (his press statement said, “this takes guts”), he was drawing the worst GOP publicity hounds. In recent days, that’s included Sarah Palin, Jerry Falwell. Jr., Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Donald Rumsfeld.

“I see someone who has touched a nerve with our country,” Rumsfeld said of Trump. But the one-two punch of Palin’s and Grassley’s support is seen as influential among Iowa Republicans, who are disproportionately right-wing and evangelical. That’s why Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 and Rick Santorum won in 2012.

No matter the reason, the finger-pointing has begun. Republicans who tried to ignite a stop-Trump movement told Politico that the super PACS and donors that lined up behind their more mainsteam candidates—Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie—misspent millions by slamming each other and not attacking Trump or Cruz. “It’s not just campaigns that are coming under fire—it’s also donors, many of whom were presented with the opportunity to go after Trump but didn’t pull the trigger,” Politico wrote. “Much frustration has been directed at the RNC, which some believe has been pushed around by the party’s surprise poll-leader.”

Trump’s Fox News Gambit

Going into the week before the Iowa caucuses, polls showed the dark mood of Republicans favors Trump and Cruz. The base is in a “sour” mood, the Post reported, although that’s too genteel. Ninety percent say the country is on a wrong track. Eighty percent don’t like the way the federal government works. Sixty percent say people like them are losing influence in America. Forty percent say they are “angry” about all of this—hence Trump’s standing: he has the support of 37 percent or so of likely GOP primary voters and has been leading for months.

Trump yet again showed how he can uniquely manipulate the media by reviving his fight with Fox News’ anchor Megyn Kelly. He deliberately picked a fight with her the way he picks fights with protesters at his rallies. The timeline of this latest attention-grabbing gambit saw Trump threaten to pull out of Thursday’s TV debate unless Fox pulled Kelly from one of three moderator slots. But Fox did not budge, forcing Trump to follow through on his threat or look weak—a cardinal sin for him.

The great negotiator might have pulled a dumb move on the eve of what was lining up to be the biggest night of his life—winning the Iowa caucuses to begin his hostile takeover of the GOP. As he will see, politics ahbors a vacuum and he just gave Cruz, who’s slightly trailing, and the posse of other mainstream candidates more airtime to attack and make their case. Undecided Republicans will see other choices without Trump hogging the limelight. Whether that’s a masterful move by the master negotiator remains to be seen. The Washington Post Wednesday reported that Trump supporters are parroting his lines that Kelly is biased and Fox can’t be trusted.

What’s most notable about this latest made-for-media dustup is what it reveals about Trump’s character—how thin-skinned he is when faced with critics who don’t fawn over him. On Tuesday night, Trump held a rare press conference and clashed with reporters who repeatedly asked him to respond to charges that he should not be endorsed by evangelicals because of his past marital infidelities. Come Wednesday, the Times’ campaign blog speculated that Trump knows he will be attacked for past pro-choice stances and would not be able to monopolize the debate coverage by attending. The Times also blogged that his campaign was walking back remarks about not attending the debate.

As the Boston Globe noted, “Cruz continues to work on his Iowa ground game while Trump continues to fight with the media.”

Not Republican, But Authoritarian

Whether he shows up or not, what the country is witnessing is not just a candidate whose uncanny ability to provoke and manipulate the press has upended previous rules of presidential campaigns, rendering mainstream competition all but irrelevant. Voters are also witnessing what an extreme authoritarian looks like and how he operates. That searing conclusion comes from former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who has written many books about political authoritarians and their rise in the Republican Party.

Trump, after decades in the glare of media attention, instinctively understands exactly how to manipulate the fourth estate better than any political figure in modern America,” he recently wrote. “By being himself, he is taking the country to school on how to dominate public attention with his inflammatory rhetoric, which he intuitively employs through unfiltered social media.”

Dean wrote that people who know Trump say he’s not behaving any differently on the campaign trail than he does in his business life. “I spoke with an attorney who has been involved in a number of real estate disputes with Trump, over many years, who said Trump acts in a very similar fashion in his business dealings. He insults and belittles opponents, and is an extremely sore loser, whose standard operating procedure is to try to bully and bend the rules his way.”

“We are going to know a lot more about authoritarian politics when the 2016 presidential race is completed,” Dean said, referring not just to Trump but also to the vast numbers of Americans who are drawn to following extreme authoritarians. What that says about the fate of the modern Republican Party also remains to be seen, but you can be sure that its mainstream leaders see the writing on the wall and are finding it disconcerting.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/gop-establishment-freak-out-mode-they-cant-stop-trump-or-cruz-grabbing-nomination?akid=13921.123424.JgWJCy&rd=1&src=newsletter1049697&t=2

Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican Party Is a Threat to Human Survival

Sanders has the best policies; GOP must be stopped at all costs.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Susan Lazare

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: Democracy itself is at risk in the 2016 US Election.)

Renowned scholar and activist Noam Chomsky declared this week that the GOP and its far-right front-runners are “literally a serious danger to decent human survival.”

Speaking with The Huffington Post on Monday, Chomsky cited the Republican Party’s refusal to tackle—or even acknowledge—the “looming environmental catastrophe” of climate change, thereby “dooming our grandchildren.”

He went to rebuke the Republican party for its “abject service to private wealth and power” and dispossession of the poor.

But Chomsky made it clear that his conviction that “the Republican Party has drifted off the rails” and must be stopped by no means amounts to an endorsement of Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton—who he has previously criticized as hawkish and opportunistic.

In fact, he told The Huffington Post that the United States has what amounts to a one-party system—with both Democrats and Republicans united by business interests. Yet, within those parameters, he argued, small differences do matter, given the immense power of the American political system.

And Senator Bernie Sanders, Chomsky recently told Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera’s UpFront show, “would–of the current candidates–be the one who would have, from my point of view, the best policies.”

“I agree with him in a lot of things, not in other things,” Chomsky said, calling him “basically a new dealer.”

“I frankly think that in our system of mainly bought elections, he doesn’t have much of a chance,” he continued. However, recent polling in early primary states bodes well for Sanders, and one survey found him more electable than Clinton when matched against Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.

Whatever happens, Chomsky told Hasan, he plans to strategically vote against the GOP, which he says wants to “destroy the world.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, Sarah co-edited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/noam-chomsky-why-republican-party-threat-human-survival?akid=13918.123424.vHFpnz&rd=1&src=newsletter1049641&t=4

The Donald and the Chump Factor

Source: NY Times

Author: Paul Krugman

Date:2015-15-12

Emphasis Mine

I suppose there are still some people waiting for Trump’s bubble to burst — any day now! But it keeps not happening. And it’s becoming increasingly plausible that he will go all the way. Why?

One answer — probably the most important — is what Greg Sargent has been emphasizing: the majority of Republican voters actually support Trump’s policy positions. After all, he’s just saying outright what mainstream candidates have implied through innuendo; how are voters supposed to know that this isn’t what you do?

I would, however, add a casual observation: at this point Trump has been the front-runner for long enough that it’s very hard to imagine his supporters suddenly losing faith, because it would be too embarrassing.

Bear in mind that embarrassment, and the desire to avoid it, are enormously important sources of motivation. Consider, as a weird, self-aggrandizing, but I think relevant observation, what has happened to supposedly smart guys who predicted soaring interest rates and runaway inflation 6 or 7 years ago. Almost none of them have conceded that they were wrong, and should have done more homework. Instead, many of them — especially the academics — have become ever more obsessed with claiming that they were somehow right, and/or trying to tear down the reputations of those of us who were in fact right. Nobody likes looking like a chump, and most people will go to great lengths to convince themselves that they weren’t.

Now think about someone who has been supporting Trump since the summer. For the Trump bubble to burst, many people like that would have to slap their foreheads and say, “Wow, he’s not a serious person! What was I thinking?”

And very few people ever do that sort of thing. Someone who has spent months supporting Trump despite establishment denunciations — which means something like a third of Republicans — will go to great lengths to avoid conceding that he has been foolish. At this point such people will insist that any negative reports about Trump are the product of hostile mainstream media; Trump’s very durability so far is likely to make him highly resilient looking forward.

To make another analogy, it’s a “When Prophecy Fails” sort of situation.

And this also suggests that even if Trump does finally decline, his support is likely to flow not to an establishment candidate but to another outsider figure. Everyone who knows Ted Cruz well hates him; in this environment that probably enhances his appeal.

The general election will, of course, be quite different. But it’s getting really hard to see how the GOP establishment reasserts control.

See: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/the-donald-and-the-chump-factor/?_r=1

Terrorism Expert: We’re Too Focused On Muslims While Ignoring Domestic “Militia” Threat

11896117_10206397582751186_7636156920747422504_nSource:occupy democrats

Author: Shannon Argueta

Emphasis Mine

We’ve all heard the Republican Party tell us over and over that the biggest threat to our national security is Islamic terrorism. To listen to them, you would believe that we are all in constant danger of being blown up by Muslims two continents away who “hate America” and spend every waking moment plotting death to America. However, multiple government and private agencies have disputed the severity of those claims and instead warn that domestic terrorism by anti-government extremists is a bigger threat to our nation. In fact, once upon a time, there was an entire branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that was charged with studying homegrown terrorists, specifically anti-government groups, to provide the federal government with analysis about the groups — until Republicans decided it was unnecessary.

Daryl Johnson is a former federal analyst for the Extremism and Radicalization Branch (ERB) of the DHS. In 2009, the branch released a report, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, that warned federal authorities that right-wing extremists had capitalized on the election of the first African-American president to fuel new recruitment. It also found:

The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

This mention of returning veterans caused the Republican Party to lash out and condemn the report. According to Johnson, the analysis of the groups was retracted after GOP lawmakers and right-wing media called it unfair while applauding the anti-Obama conspiracy theories that circulate among the paranoid militia groups, including their belief that the military’s Jade Helm 15 exercises was actually an attempt to impose martial law upon Texas.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to respond to the backlash by dismantling the ERB and apologizing to veterans, whom conservatives said were targeted in the report, while it is common knowledge that veterans make up a large population of the militiamen. Johnson said that in the years after his job was yanked away from him by Republicans, there has been no replacement for the branch; instead, the right has focused all their money and resources on fighting Muslims.

The D.H.S. is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism,” Mr. Johnson said. “The same patterns that led to the growth of the antigovernment groups in the 1990s is being played out today. D.H.S should be doing more.”

Since President Obama’s 2008 election, right-wing extremism has exploded. Before Obama took office, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that there were just forty-two anti-government groups but by 2011, that had mushroomed to 334.

One of those groups, the Sovereign Citizen Movement — which Cliven Bundy and his sons belong to — was deemed America’s biggest terrorist threat by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism. In 2014, 364 law enforcement were surveyed and eighty-six percent of them agreed that the movement is a tremendous threat to law enforcement and citizen alike. Last year, the elder Bundy and a bunch of his radical friends pointed automatic weapons at federal officers during a standoff at his Nevada ranch. Republican politicians heavily supported these actions and blamed law enforcement for the stand-off. A year later, his sons, emboldened by their father’s success at forcing the Fed’s to retreat, have taken over a federal wildlife sanctuary. While this is happening in Oregon, GOP lawmakers are pouring money into efforts to fight ISIS and resist resettling Syrian refugees.

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined fifteen lawmakers and signed a letter asking President Obama to reopen the branch of the DHS that analyzes and watches these dangerous groups. Ellison said:

“The Department of Homeland Security needs to deal with Muslim extremists, but don’t ignore every other kind of threat…Right-wing extremists have launched an average of 330 attacks a year and killed about 250 people between 2002 and 2011. These are dangerous people.”

In spite of the overwhelming evidence, Republicans refuse to acknowledge that right-wing terrorists are a threat to the safety of our country. Instead, they roll out their usual inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, African-Americans, the president, women, minorities, et cetera, in order to appeal to the base and appease their supporters. The fact is, it is no surprise that there has been an explosion of violent attacks from the right when the GOP actively fans the flames of hate for the government. Their party has been hijacked over by Tea Party nutjobs who literally hate the federal branch and want to do everything they possibly can to destroy it. In 2013, Teahadists shut the government down and proved exactly how much they loathe our democracy.   President Obama and Democrats are called “tyrants” every single time they attempt to pass any law to make the country better. Obama has been accused of all kinds of outlandish thing, conservative voters regularly threaten to kill the president while groups like the Bundy militia idly talk about overthrowing the government by force and the GOP encourages this behavior with their vile, anti-American talking points and their assertions that the president wants to hurt their families. They’d rather spend taxpayer dollars on the mythical Syrian refugee terrorists, disguised as widows and children, than focusing on the real threat to this country: their voters.

See:http://www.occupydemocrats.com/terrorism-expert-were-too-focused-on-muslims-while-ignoring-domestic-militia-threat/

Treason: Leaked Wiretaps Reveals Netanyahu Bribed Republicans To Sabotage Obama’s Iran Peace Deal

Source:Occupy Democrats

Author: Colin Taylor

Emphasis Mine

You may remember the ridiculous doomsday prophecies and outrageous fear-mongering that defined the Republican campaign against President Obama’s nuclear peace deal with Iran. The motivation behind their unwise and ultimately ineffective resistance to the President’s diplomatic agenda has finally come to light. A new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that NSA wiretaps found that the the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials of the Israeli governments attempted to, and most likely succeeded, to bribe American legislators in exchange for their support against the deal.

“A U.S. intelligence official familiar with the intercepts said Israel’s pitch to undecided lawmakers often included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take? Mr. Netanyahu and some of his allies voiced confidence they could win enough votes.” The answers to Israeli proposals have yet to be fully revealed, but it is clear that favors were offered – bribes were proposed – and from the subsequent behavior of Republican lawmakers, we can only infer that our legislators accepted those bribes, from a foreign government in exchange for opposing the diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration. At the very least, the very discussion itself indicates that they conspired with a foreign government to undermine the foreign policy agenda of their elected Commander-in-Chief, which certainly amounts to treason.

Given the fact that Republican politicians are notorious for the amount of money they accept from special interests within the United States, what makes anyone think they wouldn’t accept them from a foreign government? The fact that forty-seven Republican Senators sent a letter to the Iranian government without consulting the administration in a direct attempt to undermine the President’s policies is only further evidence of their treachery, putting their ill-gotten rewards above the effectiveness of our foreign policy and consequently the good of our nation and the security of the voters they claim to represent.

It’s painfully ironic that the Republican Party is a major supporter of the NSA’s rampant spying on American citizens without warrants, but as soon as the tables are turned, they are suddenly die-hard supporters of privacy and free speech – which only further implicates them for treasonous activities, strongly implying that they have something to hide. While the Israeli government shrugged off the revelations that they had been spied upon (“Everyone listens to everyone else all the time”), the Republicans in Congress and the right-wing echo machine is working overtime to paint President Obama as the bad guy and accusing him of committing some kind of enormous diplomatic sin, while having laughed off the complaints of our allies when our intelligence organizations targeted Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Republican Party’s seditious letter to Iran has completely backfired and exploded in their faces. Sure, Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell and their band of traitors in the Senate may have expected to be touted as heroes for defying the evil Obama administration and ensuring we risk starting a war with Iran and once again destabilizing the entire Middle East. Instead, the 47 Senators have widely received nothing but mockeryfrom Fox News, from President Obama, and even from Iranian government officials.

Now, the New York Times Editorial Board has joined in the universal mockery and condemnation of these 47 traitors in a scathing editorial posted on Wednesday. “After helping to ignite a firestorm over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, is now sort of acknowledging his error. ‘Maybe that wasn’t exactly the best way to do that,’ he said on Fox News on Tuesday,” the Times began.

Indeed, McCain is scrambling to backpedal on his decision to sign the letter. Politico reported that McCain’s excuse…is a snowstorm:

“Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Republicans — many of whom blessed the missive during a brisk signing session at a Senate lunch a week ago, as senators prepared to flee a Washington snowstorm — should have given it closer consideration.

“‘It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm,’ McCain said. ‘I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.’”

“The letter was an attempt to scare the Iranians from making a deal that would limit their nuclear program for at least a decade by issuing a warning that the next president could simply reverse any agreement,” the Editorial Board noted. “It was a blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue by communicating directly with a foreign government.”

“Instead of trying to be leaders and statesmen,” the Board continued, “the Republicans in Congress seem to think their role is outside the American government, divorced from constitutional principles, tradition and the security interests of the American people.”

The editorial noted that, out of spite for President Obama, Republicans are not only willing to sabotage any deal with Iran but “to diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments and adhering to them.”

The Editorial Board expressed concerns that this inappropriate and illegal attempt to interfere with negotiations could “embolden hard-liners in Iran who, like the Republicans and some of the Democrats in Congress, oppose any nuclear agreement between Iran, the United States and its major allies.”

So far, Iranian leaders have treated the letter as though it was a poorly-executed joke, mocking the signatories’ lack of knowledge of international law and of the U.S. Constitution. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, replied to the letter, pointing out that “the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” Zarif added. “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

For now, the letter has had no visible impact on negotiations — but it has told our allies, enemies, and future allies that the United States does not honor its commitments. And, of course, if the negotiations fall through, the Republicans’ stunt will place millions of lives at risk.

“The best and only practical way to restrain Iran from developing a bomb is through negotiating a strict agreement with tough monitoring,” the Board concluded. “In rejecting diplomacy, the Republicans make an Iranian bomb and military conflict more likely.”

These 47 Senators broke the law in contacting the Iranian government outside official channels in an attempt to sabotage ongoing talks — specifically, the Logan Act, which  prohibits unauthorized citizens from directly or indirectly corresponding with foreign government officials  “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

A petition asking that all 47 Senators be charged under the Logan Act has accumulated more than 230,000 signatures — well above the threshold required to receive a response from the White House.

See:http://www.occupydemocrats.com/treason-leaked-wiretaps-reveals-netanyahu-bribed-republicans-to-sabotage-obamas-iran-peace-deal-2/

A Psychologist Puts Trump and the GOP on the Couch

What’s going on in the Republican mind?

Source:AlterNet

Author:Michael Bader

Emphasis Mine

Rather than simply reacting with self-righteous contempt for the current crop of GOP presidential candidates, liberals like myself should try to also understand their appeal, however much we might believe it’s not strong enough to put any of them in the White House. The pre-scripted kabuki dances on display in their debates have made them easy targets for disdain, so easy that it’s a bit like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey with your eyes open. Trump is an obviously racist bloviator, the creepiest and most blatantly disturbed of the bunch, for sure, but the lot of them come across as empty suits projecting poll-driven personas that their handlers believe will resonate with their base of angry and/or older white men. Moments of “authenticity” (e.g., they love their parents, spouses and children—imagine that!) are, themselves, always wooden, overly-crafted and ginned up with phony emotion and reported breathlessly by a media itself unable to stand on its own two feet and tell truth from fiction when it comes from these conservative wind-up dolls.

The Democrats will stage manage their personalities and manipulate their messages, too. Sanders is by far the most authentic, but he had to pivot in order to re-emphasize his record on race and women’s rights. Hillary will try to “present” herself as a human being (she’s a grandmother, after all), and the other guys—whoever they are—will do something similar when they can.

All of this is politics as usual, dutifully but cynically covered by a press corps that has surrendered even the pretense of critical thinking, instead sucking up to what they see as the basest cravings of their readers and viewers for the political version of reality television.

But while all politicians pander and throw authenticity under the bus of political expediency, the current plague of high-visibility GOP candidates project two especially pathological themes that they’ve decided will resonate with the feelings of millions of voters: paranoia and grandiosity.

As a liberal and a psychologist, I think it’s important to understand the nature and meaning of this resonance. The fears and insecurities that paranoia and grandiosity seek to diminish are feelings that a liberal agenda should be better able to address. Undecided voters can be drawn to the left or the right, and the more we understand the appeal of the American Right, the better able we might be to counter it with a more progressive and healthy message and platform. But we will never know if that’s possible or how to do it if we don’t understand the psychological dynamics behind the appeal of right-wing paranoia and grandiosity.

Let’s start with grandiosity, a term familiar to psychologists in our work with patients who need to inflate their self-esteem and self-assessments in order to ward off feelings of inferiority or helplessness. But just as individuals identify with, say, a sports team, so too do individuals identify with their nation—e.g., Team America. In our case, the political or collective version of personal grandiosity is what is known as “American Exceptionalism,” namely the tapestry of stories about the specialness of the United States when it comes to personal freedom, economic opportunity and growth, and military superiority. These stories have gained mythic proportions. They’re all captured by one unquestioned assumption: We are the greatest country in the history of the world. Period. This is a core part of the relentless drumbeat we hear from the conservative echo chamber.

But this braggadocio—what former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright called “The Arrogance of Power”—requires that the ideal of American “greatness” be cleansed of any blemishes, just as a grandiose or narcissistic patient has to deny his or her human frailty and fallibility. This is where paranoia comes in handy. It’s easier to believe you are exceptional if you are comparing yourself with others and if you are proving your remarkable strength against naysayers or challengers. It helps, in other words, to have an enemy who is threatening your greatness.

Thus, the rhetoric of the current crop of Republican politicians, including, especially, the GOP clowns running for president, combines grandiosity and paranoia. Our nation’s greatness isn’t threatened by simple human fallibility but by Obama, Muslims, immigrants, Democrats, Planned Parenthood and Big Government. The second Republican presidential debate was laced with echoes of these beliefs, sometimes baldly stated, other times expressed as Obama-bashing. According to Carly Fiorina, “The United States of America is back in the leadership business.” Trump coughed up this hairball:  “We’ll make our country rich again, and we’ll have a great life all together.”

In other words, we’re in danger of losing our place in the front of the line, and only a Republican president has enough sinew and muscular confidence in American greatness to make sure that doesn’t happen. Grandiosity and paranoia—we’re the greatest, but we have to vigilantly remind ourselves and everyone else of that fact because we’re also threatened. A great “us” has to be continually reinforced by invoking threats from a demeaned “them.”

The current frontrunners for a “them” that threatens our perfect national collective are immigrants and radical Islamic extremists. Like the Red scares of the 1950s, our current xenophobia is based on the same paranoid view of ourselves and the world. The first thing Ted Cruz would apparently do as president is to “shred Obama’s catastrophic Iran deal.” Trump is the poster child for paranoia with his dumb “we’ll build a wall but put in a beautiful gate” through which we’ll ostensibly let in only beautiful people, and keep out the “bad dudes.” And, of course, his racist demagoguery reached a peak recently when he appeared to welcome a statement from a man in the audience who asserted: “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know, our President is one. You know he’s not even an American.”

What does psychology tell us about the origins of paranoia and grandiosity? It tells us that pathological attitudes and states of mind are best understood as attempts, however irrational they may seem, to feel safe and secure.

All of us seek safety and security.

Paranoia, for example, simply reflects an attempt to locate a frightening or painful thought outside the self, to get rid of threatening feelings, project them onto others, and then turn an internal struggle with bad feelings into an external struggle with bad people. For example, if I’m suffering from feelings of weakness or worthlessness, the belief, however false, that someone else is causing me to feel this way can temporarily help restore my sense of innocence and self-respect. There’s nothing wrong with me that getting rid of you won’t cure. In fact, in this paranoid version of reality, I’m a good or even great guy defending himself against an external danger. What emerges in the therapist’s consulting room is that paranoia solves an internal problem by making it an external one, even at the price of denying reality.

For example, Donald Trump is actually a balding misogynist, but he doesn’t have to feel like one if he wears a toupee (allegedly made from the hair of the critically-endangered Brown Spider Monkey) and tells himself and others that Megyn Kelly was menstruating and had it out for him.

In this sense, Trump shows us what happens when the personal becomes political. Like the United States itself, he is great and good, not declining and mean. Paranoia works pretty well when you’re feeling off your game.

Grandiosity works similarly as a defense against painful internal states. Thus, the grandiosity inherent in the axiomatic assertion that “we are the greatest nation in the history of the world” uses stories and images of American perfection, greatness and omnipotence to counteract narratives that we might be a nation in decline, or reeking on the inside from toxic inequality and a callous indifference to the welfare of the unfortunate. Combine grandiosity and paranoia and you have the current Republican talking points.

When individual psychopathology becomes a collective filter for understanding the political world, we see—as we do in the rhetoric and vision of today’s GOP—a pathological set of values guaranteed to lead to pathological policies. If I were to try to list the essential psychological dynamics underlying grandiosity and paranoia in the patients I see, and you were to simply replace the personal pronoun “I” with “America” or “the American people” and “you” and “them” with one of the scapegoats demonized by the GOP (e.g., people with darker skins, the wrong religion or different sexual orientation), the symmetry between crazy individuals and crazy politics becomes clearer. Again, to oversimplify:

“I’m not small; I’m big.” (American is not small; it’s/we’re big, etc.)

“I’m not bad; I’m the essence of goodness.”

“I’m not hurting others; I’m always helping them.”

“I’m not failing or losing; I’m a successful winner.”

“The problem isn’t in me; it’s in you.”

“If I could get rid of you; I’d be great and perfect and happy again.”

You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to see that the adolescent tough-guy primping we see on the GOP presidential debate stages is the political manifestation of commonplace psychological mechanisms regularly seen in individuals, namely, desperate attempts to defend against dangerous and painful feelings and fears. And just as in therapy, the important challenge is to understand those feelings and fears, because when a Donald Trump wants to build a wall to protect America, he is subliminally playing to a wish in his supporters to protect themselves. But, again, the question is: protect themselves from what? What is being denied or defended against?

The answer is that the threats that grandiose and paranoid attitudes defend against involve feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness and self-hatred—all of which are arguably greater now than ever in our culture. American exceptionalism and xenophobia offer symbolic antidotes in the political world to the more personal distress of millions of Americans today. Trump and the other airheads on the GOP stage today offer a distorted vision of the world that, like the Donald’s orange wig, helps to cover up genuine feelings of vulnerability and impotence.

For many people, the Great Recession of 2008 dashed the American Dream to which they had come to aspire or which they believed they were actually living. Millions of people lost their homes, their IRAs and other savings that were allocated for retirement and for their children’s education. These losses—the result of financial shenanigans far, far away—were accompanied by great feelings of helplessness that caused stress levels to go through the ceiling. Mortgages went underwater and people took on second or third jobs, reinforcing a sense of insecurity along with feelings of helplessness and depression. And while being overwhelmed and powerless to stop the feeling of losing ground, people saw hedge fund managers and bankers getting bailed out. Because we think we live in a meritocracy in which rewards are distributed according to ability, people blamed themselves for not being able to make ends meet, or hold on to their jobs, or for losing money in the stock market, or for having tapped into their home equity too much. I heard these self-criticisms and doubts in my consulting room every day—feelings of helplessness, pessimism, isolation and self-blame.

In 1990, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that 50% of Americans thought their children would be better off in 20 years. In 2015, a full 76% of Americans expressed skepticism that their children’s lives would be better off than their own. Even though millions of Americans were in the same boat, feelings of isolation and self-blame became more prevalent and debilitating. The ethic of individualism in our culture invariably leads people to blame themselves for their “lot” in life, even if that lot was caused by forces beyond their control. So, as the quality of life has deteriorated, the amount of depression and self-blaming has increased.

Further, as researchers such as John Cacioppo and Robert Putnam have documented, the breakdown of community organizations and bonds has resulted in increased social isolation, especially among the elderly (an important part of the Republican base, of course). In 2009, a study by Kodak revealed that most Americans felt that “we have fewer meaningful relationships than we had five years ago.” This trend has only worsened.

So we have a social landscape in which people feel increasingly pessimistic, helpless, isolated and self-blaming—feelings perfectly addressed by GOP platitudes intended to reassure us that we’re really great, all-powerful, and that it’s someone else’s fault if we’re not.

Ultimately, the appeal to an imaginary but reassuring sense of community undergirds all of these platitudes about American greatness, strength and antipathy toward the “other.” The latent message is: there is an “us” here, a great “us” full of power and noble intentions, an “us” to which everyone can belong as long as we keep “them” away or subjugated in ways that render them non-threatening (bombing them, building walls, deportation, etc.). Who doesn’t want to belong? To be part of an “us?”

The myths of American greatness serve this purpose perfectly. What is a better tonic to the pain of isolation and helplessness brought on by our market-driven and pathological ethos of individualism than to belong to Dream Team America, the greatest and most powerful nation that ever existed in the history of the world?

That the GOP has been instrumental in creating the conditions that it then seeks to heal with its so-called “muscular” foreign and military policy and jingoistic attacks on immigrants is an inconvenient truth that isn’t mentioned, but has been thoroughly described and discussed by progressive political analysts and sociologists. The Right helped create the problems that their racist warmongering and so-called patriotism aim to remedy. Psychology can’t fix these problems, but it can hopefully help us understand the mindset behind a system in which victims support their victimizers.

Michael Bader is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in San Francisco who has written extensively on issues found at the intersection of psychology, culture, and progressive politics. His recent book, More Than Bread and Butter: A Psychologist Speaks to Progressives About What People Really Need in Order to Win an Change the World is available on Amazon.com and on his websitewww.michaelbader.com

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/psychologist-puts-trump-and-gop-couch?akid=13536.123424.-bDFYQ&rd=1&src=newsletter1043311&t=2