I can remember as a kid how much I loved to get complimented. I loved hearing that I had done a good job. Today, I still love hearing that I did a good job, whether it is from a boss, from a customer, or even from my parents. This desire to feel good about oneself is the key to how various leaders have gotten a devoted fan following.
At his political rallies, Adolf Hitler always had lots of enemies to pick on including other nations, various races, and certain religions. This was essential to how he built up and maintained his devoted following. Every time he picked on Jewish people, most of his audience felt better about themselves because they were not Jewish. Every time he picked on Black people, most of his mostly White audience felt better about themselves because they were not Black. Hitler eventually got so good at making people feel good about themselves by putting down others that he could eventually whip his audiences up into a frenzy.
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh did the same thing with his radio audiences. He picked on Black people, feminists, and liberals. He called President Barack Obama the “Magic Negro”, and he called feminists “Femi Nazis”. Since Limbaugh died on February 17th, I have seen some people write about how Rush Limbaugh was “funny”, a “comedian”, or a “humorist”. Yet, Rush Limbaugh was the master of only one form of humor: the put down. He had no idea how to be funny without putting down some other group of people, including traditionally oppressed groups such as women or black people.
Limbaugh never practiced self deprecating humor, and there was a reason for that. If a White Conservative like Limbaugh were to insult himself, he would see it as giving permission to other White Conservatives to put themselves down, and that was the complete opposite of his purpose. Limbaugh’s biggest fan base was White, Protestant, Conservative men. Limbaugh knew who his audience was, so his favorite target were people who were not White, not men, and not Conservative.
Fox News followed in Trump’s footsteps, and they got popular the same way. The fox news producers called it “feeding the crazies”. They would produce story after story of some supposedly terrible thing that Democrats had supposedly done–death boards, illegal detention camps, or whatever. Then the Fox News hosts would talk about how awful Democrats were hour after hour. As they did this, their Conservative Republican audience felt better about themselves, and they kept coming back for more.
Donald Trump was a fan of both Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, and his rallies were of the same style as Limbaugh’s radio programs and Fox’s talking head shows. At his political rallies, Trump picked on Democrats; he picked on women; he picked on Muslims and Brown people. What should be of no surprise is that Trump got the same kind of devoted following that Hitler, Limbaugh and Fox News got. Trump was using the exact same techniques. He was lifting people up by putting others down.
If Democrats really want to cut the legs out from under the Limbaugh’s and Trump’s of the world, perhaps we should spend a little more time teaching people how they can feel better about themselves without putting down other people. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke feel better about themselves by helping others, like they have been doing for the citizens of Texas this past week.
So, perhaps we could say this:
Republicans have learned to feel better about themselves by putting down others.
Democrats have learned to feel better about themselves by helping others.
Perhaps this is why Joe Biden, a man who had spent his life in service to others and caring about other people, was the Democratic nominee. Maybe this is why Joe Biden won the U.S. Presidential election, because most Americans would rather act like Joe Biden than Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, or Adolf Hitler. Perhaps most Americans would rather help other Americans than put them down. Perhaps helping others is really what Democrats are all about.
So, Republicans, What Would Jesus Do?
I know what I would do. 🙂