Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Angry White Voters" Taking the Country Down?



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One candidate calls for "Revolution!" at campaign events and during debates. The other plays the Beatles, "Revolution" at rallies. One claims America is "in a mess." The other claims America's institutions and political system are "rigged" and "corrupt." Both candidates have targeted certain groups of people to blame all of America's problems on. In the case of one candidate, Muslims and Mexicans. According to the other candidate, "billionaires" and the "top one percent."
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Though the two candidates may come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, they are in many ways, two sides of the same coin: That of "anti-establishment" anger, demonization and blame. And though both candidates may occasionally say things that are true and play into human emotion and fear, such musings come not from a place of earnest desire to painstakingly work for constructive change, but rather a seeming lusting for political power, self importance and marked degrees of division and destruction -- in some cases, the very principles this country stands on.
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But, perhaps the most startling commonality that both candidates share, is their mass appeal to "angry white voters."
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One can speculate about why so much of the white electorate is "angry" and who specifically they blame their troubles on -- whether other races, immigrants, the super rich, government or the establishment.
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But, this tendency to perceive "strength, honesty and authenticity" in what amounts in many instances, to be little more than hate speech and sarcastic barbs is more than troubling.  ("He says what he means!" many people say. "He says what people are feeling." say others.)
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The two candidates I am speaking of are, Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic.
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Personally speaking, I am far more familiar with Sander's supporters than Trump backers because of being a supporter of Hillary Clinton and encountering much hate speech against her online. The amount of Internet vitriol, name-calling and demonization against Secretary Hillary Clinton might be expected from far right wing, Republican extremists. But it has been quite shocking coming from many within her own party -- specifically, the "Feel the Bern" people, virtually all of whom are white and most, relatively young.
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Much has been bantered about regarding Sander's appeals to the young. Certainly, the "free college" promises don't hurt, but it goes far beyond that.
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Young people, particularly elitist whites are generally drawn to lofty causes and anti-establishment, "Revolution" rhetoric. (Part of this is due to rebellion from parents and authority figures.)  If one is old enough to remember the 60's, an entire movement was formed around the theory that one, "should never trust anyone over 30." Indeed, Woodstock, though featuring a number of renowned black artists from Jimi Hendricks to Sly and the Family Stone drew a better than 90% white audience.
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Of course, during the turbulent 60's, it was past time to challenge very real and troubling issues such as the Viet Nam war, racism, segregation, sexism and other forms of injustice and societal abuses.
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But, in other ways, the "Counterculture revolution" of the 60's also lost much of its focus over the years, degenerating into an eventual haze of "Tune in, turn on and drop out" drugs, "free love," hippie communes and even violence.  
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Nevertheless, pressure from the left and the new "social revolution" and "culture wars" caused the democratic party to fracture and eventually pivot to the left during the 1968 and 1972 elections -- both of which were overwhelmingly lost to Republican, Richard Nixon who made his case to the silent majority fed up with protests and "revolution in the streets."
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In many ways, this is what I partially fear happening now. Pressure from left wing, "anti-establishment, revolutionary" forces exemplified by candidate, Bernie Sanders is forcing Hillary Clinton to move farther to the left than what might normally be expected. In some ways, this could be deemed a positive, but in other ways, it could also forecast serious trouble in November. (Already, Donald Trump and other Republican operatives are labeling Hillary Clinton a "socialist" -- just a small predictor of things to come.) 
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But, what is so much more troubling now than either 1968 or 1972 is that Donald Trump is a far less qualified candidate for President than Richard Nixon. More alarmingly, Trump  panders to the worst in human nature in terms of anger, hate, fear, insult and even racism and bigotry.  
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Like many Americans and even political pundits, I did not take Donald Trump's or Bernie Sander's Presidential aims seriously in the beginning of this election cycle.
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Who, after all, is going to take seriously or support a self-admitted Socialist screaming, "Revolution" on the one hand or a rich, egotistical and arrogant, reality show host hurling insults and ad hominons on the other?
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But, I obviously discounted the "passion" and significance of "angry white voters" whether young or old.  
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Unlike the 60's in which more than 50,000 young American men were sent to their deaths in Viet Nam and there was violence in the streets as exemplified by political assassinations,  race riots and social and political unrest, it seemed things were relatively peaceful over the last 8 years under President Obama.
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So, why are so many people -- especially whites -- so angry?
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Putting aside things like social media, cable TV or conservative/liberal talk radio, Americans are among the most fortunate people in the world. And while understandable that there are real frustrations with government bureaucracies, income inequality, a somewhat weak economy, "political correctness" and job losses, it doesn't explain the extremism and "passion" to tear everything down and start anew. It doesn't explain attraction and support to either an arrogant bully and blowhard or an angry socialist clamoring for "revolution."  
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Make no mistake. From all indications, it appears Hillary Clinton will eventually prevail and win the democratic nomination. But Sanders vows to stay in and fight her all the way to the summer convention. At least to this point, he appears to have the money and backing to do so.
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The question to ask is will Hillary be so damaged and compelled to "go left" that such will severely hamper her chances of defeating Trump in the general election? Will Trump be successful in labeling her a "socialist" and persuading so-called, "Reagan democrats" (white, blue collar and centrist democrats) to abandon their party and vote for him? Will he use many of the arguments and attacks against Hillary that Sanders supporters are using now?
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These are daunting questions, not only for democrats, but all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, race, religion or age.
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The one thing that seems clear is that we cannot afford, in misplaced "passion" to elect (or allow to be elected) a seeming demagogue, hell bent on power and ego-gratification at the expense of the country, its people and national security and welfare.
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Reality is, that Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.
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The forever optimistic and humble, Ronald Reagan never would have uttered the arrogant, narcissistic words, "I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and my people would still support me."  Nor would Reagan have struggled to denounce white supremacists, David Duke or the KKK as Trump recently did.
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It's important that voters get behind Hillary Clinton as the one and only chance we seem to have now to defeat Donald Trump before it is too late.
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"Angry" voters of any kind do not usually make for wise, but rather regrettable, election decisions later.
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The demon (who even condescends to his own supporters) is at the door.  -- PCA
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