I’ve already written that I feel that the myth of rugged individualism has poisoned the mind of conservatives and this country since its founding into believing they are totally and completely free from community responsibility.  This has led them to place their own personal individual rights over and above the rights of others, and their responsibility to respect and protect those rights.

They are supremely entitled, so much so that they think that taking a vaccine to protect their fellow man is a “personal decision” not a matter of public health, that they think that literally only they are “real and true Americans,” that they felt justified in ignoring millions of votes from their fellow Americans and attempted a fucking Insurrection to retain presidential power.  If I had to describe a conservative, for years now I would say they are a person suffering from terminal empathy deficit disorder.  They can’t see past the end of their own nose, they have no real concern for anything else — not the planet, not the environment, not the economy, not the deficit, not their community, and barely their family — beyond themselves and their enormous seemingly endless litany of “rights” and “grievances.”

They just frankly don’t give a fuck about anything except their own ass.  They don’t care about unborn life or else they’d also care about lives of actually born children just as deeply, they just want to control women’s sex-life and reproduction. They don’t care about Jesus Christ or else they’d care about one damn thing he taught; patience, forgiveness, charity, humility, acceptance, tolerance. Anything.  They don’t care about “backing the blue” or else they wouldn’t be calling the police officers who testified this week “Liars”, “Crisis Actors” and “F*ggot.”

They are a problem, a big one. They are a growing threat to the continuing safety of the nation and the functioning of our democracy.

But the even bigger problem is this: What can we do about it?

Sure, we can rage and scream at how ridiculously deluded they are. We can laugh at them, we can ridicule them — all of which feels good, it motivates our own choir, it’s a good chuckle, it’s a good time [I’m looking at you ShowerCap] — but does it make a difference?  Does it move the needle?  Does it make any of them less dangerous? Less deluded?  Less delusional?

They don’t trust science, they don’t trust “experts” who know stuff, they don’t trust the media, they don’t trust the government, they don’t trust fact, they don’t trust reality.  They don’t trust you and they don’t trust me.

It’s an impasse. It’s a dilemma.

Because of this i’ve been considering a recent diary about a WaPo column by an Anti-Trump Conservative who was pleading with us to “Stop Insulting Trump Voters.”

When supporters of former president Donald Trump hear media pundits analyze them with the usual collection of belittling observations, they must be tempted to respond, “Hey, we’re right here! We can hear you!”

Yes, they are indeed here, and living among us. And they have every right to be insulted by being accused of believing a “big lie,” and by the implication that they are violent, or traitors, or mindless sheep — racist sheep, of course. They’re fed up not just with the overt insults, but also with more subtle digs, such as former defense secretary Leon Panetta saying last week that he worries that Trump “will continue to try to somehow sway his followers” to attempt another Jan. 6-style uprising. Followers? No one refers to President Biden’s “followers.” It’s a word generally reserved for adherents of cult figures.

I live in Trump Country. I was a Trump supporter, until he lost me with his actions after the 2020 election. But most Trump voters have stuck with him. With Trump’s encouragement, they sincerely believe the election was stolen. They’re not racists. They’re not traitors. Some of them think anyone who accepts Biden’s win is a traitor. Some of them think I’m traitorous — or at the very least I’ve succumbed to the evil influences of the mainstream media — for accepting Trump’s defeat.

One, of course, is tempted to laugh because Trump supporters resemble nothing so much as a fucking cult.  He does have followers. They have behaved as mindless sheep.  They have been violent. some of them are clearly traitors.  Some of them are racists. Saying so isn’t an “insult” – it’s a matter of fact.

It’s self-evident.

Frankly, I’d be happy to drop all insults as soon as their party admits what they truly are, that they long ago abandoned the principles of Lincoln — after the southern racists left the Democratic party to become Dixiecrats led by former KKK member Strom Thurmond — replaced them with Civil Rights Act opposition of Goldwater, the “Negrophobe Southern Strategy” of Nixon, the race-baiting “welfare queens” of Reagan and the out-and-out not quite dog-whistle racism of Trump’s “Mexican Rapists” and change their name to who they really are: the Confederates.

On the other hand, trying to talk seriously with someone when the first thing you say is an insult tends to put a damper on the conversation.  It’s a buzzkill.

Just for the record, it’s not like his side of the argument hasn’t spent a lot of time name-calling and insulting us.  You can’t drop a hat without a Democrat being called “Socialist” or “Marxist” or “Communist” or “Stalinist” or “Nazi.”

And there is no evidence for any of these accusations, naturally.

There is an American Socialist Party and we’re not in it. There are Marxists, but none of them are currently elected members of the Democratic party.  Not AOC. Not Bernie. Not Ilhan Omar.  None of them. Bernie’s policy ideas come from Denmark and Norway, not Venezuela.  How exactly is BLM “Marxist?” As a movement, they want to prevent police from killing unarmed black men so often, what part of that changes the status of the proletariat?  Even people who support “Defund the Police” are grossly mischaracterized, that effort is really about refunding the community by transferring funds for more unarmed public services like mental health first responders so that homeless, ODing or emotionally distressed people don’t end up shot by the cops so often either. When your opening move is “Socialist”, “Communist”, “Baby Killer”, “Illegal” or to be more blunt “Fag*ot” and “Ni*ger” it’s not going to be well received.

Exactly when, frankly ever since Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh slithered their way to power, has the right-wing treated us with kindly dainty benefit of the doubt? When was that the 70’s? The 1950s?

I mean, remember Sanda Fluke?

I’ve met Sandra Fluke. She’s an amazingly smart and gifted woman. Fucking stunning, brilliant. Seriously. She’s mostly known for speaking to Congress on the subject of contraception, but thanks to Rush Limbaugh she’s better known as the “Slut who demanded unlimited amounts of birth control because she wanted so much sex.”

It doesn’t matter that the case she was making wasn’t for herself, it doesn’t matter that she was speaking on behalf of a Georgetown classmate who was suffering from Ovarian cyst syndrome and needed access to birth control to maintain control of that condition. It doesn’t matter that without it her ovary swelled from a cyst to the size of a softball and had to be removed, leaving her sterile.  Also, she was gay so this had nothing to do with her sex drive.  None of that mattered. She was labeled. Branded.

So I admit I have to take this one conservatives plea to “not insult” them with some large piles of salt.  But I’m going to try and keep an open mind. — I said “Try” —  as I review his “advice.”

Next, abandon the narrative that Trump supporters are insurrectionists, and stop elevating groups such as QAnon and the Proud Boys beyond the fringe elements they are.

Well, uh, agan for the record.

Some 56% of Republicans believe that QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, is mostly or partly true, according to a new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll released Wednesday, a remarkably high number considering many of the outlandish assertions espoused by QAnon supporters.

  • One in three Republicans (33%) say they believe the QAnon theory about a conspiracy among deep-state elites is “mostly true,” and another 23% say “some parts” are true.
  • Only 4% of Democrats think the theory is even partly true, according to the Daily Kos/Civiqs poll, with 72% of Dems responding that the QAnon conspiracy is “not true at all.”
  • QAnon supporters claim President Trump is defending the planet from a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles (consisting mostly of Hollywood celebrities, liberal politicians and “deep-state” government officials) who are running a secret child sex-trafficking ring.

That’s not “fringe.”

And it’s not just the Proud Boys, who were at the forefront of the assault on the Capitol. It’s also the Oath Keepers, III Percenters, plus there is also Patriot Front, Identity Evropa, League of the South, the KKK, Skinheads and more.  The fact is that all of these guys – are on the red team.  Each and every one of them. It’s worth mentioning.

As shameful as the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was, only about 800 people were involved — hardly representative of millions of Trump supporters. Despite their suspicions, the vast majority of Trump voters are not interested in invading federal buildings or overthrowing the government. They’re interested in going to work and church and soccer games, taking care of their families and voting in the next election.

Ok, so let’s hear the millions of Conservatives who disagree with the attack on the Capitol. Hmmm?  How many — besides Cheney and Kinzinger — argue that the attack was wrong, that it wasn’t justified, that the election wasn’t stolen?

Are those crickets?

Let’s check.

May opinion poll finds that 53% of Republicans believe Trump is the ‘true president’ compared with 3% of Democrats.

A majority of Republicans still believe Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election and blame his loss to Joe Biden on baseless claims of illegal voting, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The 17-19 May national poll found that 53% of Republicans believe Trump, their party’s nominee, is the “true president” now, compared with 3% of Democrats and 25% of all Americans.

About one-quarter of adults falsely believe the 3 November election was tainted by illegal voting, including 56% of Republicans, according to the poll. The figures were roughly the same in a poll that ran from 13-17 November which found that 28% of all Americans and 59% of Republicans felt that way.

There were more than 800 people out there outside and inside the Capitol. There were tens of thousands of people.  I’m having a hard time seeing those that were against it all.  This again is self-evident, but let me just provide one specific example.

Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) joined a other members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus in demanding the expulsion of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference.

The pair each voted to impeach Donald Trump for a second time, and they are the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection, which Boebert has been accused of aiding by leading Capitol tours ahead of the riot and tweeting the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the siege.

“These members should not be allowed in our closed door private meetings or even the Republican cloakroom,” Boebert said. “We had important meetings yesterday in the cloakroom. I saw Kinzinger in there. Why is he able to be part of those conversations while he goes back and confers with the opposition. Both of these politicians, Kinzinger and Cheney, have worked more with Pelosi than they have with myself, my colleagues or even [minority] leader McCarthy.”

How dare they actually work with Democrats?  The Fucking Nerve!

Oh, and about that being “called Racist” thing.

Democrats, predictably, are to the left of the national average on these questions. But in today’s most pressing racial matters, independents tend to side with Democrats, leaving Republicans in the minority. Americans as a whole agree, by a ratio of 2-to-1, that Black people and white people don’t “receive equal treatment from the police.” But Republicans, by almost the same ratio, disagree. Most Americans say that the deaths of Black Americans in recent well-publicized police encounters represent a broader problem, but more than 70 percent of Republicans insist that these are just “isolated incidents.” Most Americans agree that the rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 would have been treated more harshly if they had been Black, but few Republicans agree. In fact, Republicans are just as likely to claim that the police would have treated Black rioters less harshly.

In one recent survey, 40 percent of Americans said “racism in our society” was a big problem. Only 14 percent of Republicans endorsed that view. In another poll, 30 percent of Republicans said “racial inequality” was “not a problem at all.” Only 14 percent of Americans took that position. Two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. is doing only a fair or poor job of “providing equality and justice for all groups,” but most Republicans say the U.S. is doing an excellent or good job. Republicans are far more likely to say that conservatives face a great deal of discrimination than to say that Black people do. On all of these questions, Republicans are wildly out of step not just with Democrats, but with political independents and with white Americans as a whole.

In much of white America, Floyd’s death provoked reflection about racial inequality. But those discussions don’t seem to have permeated the GOP. In a Politico/Morning Consult survey taken a month ago, most voters said “Black Lives Matter protests over the last year” had “brought about meaningful conversations” about race relations. Only 25 percent of Republicans agreed. And there’s a sharp discrepancy between the experiences of people of color—as reported in polls by those people—and Republican perceptions of those experiences. In this week’s Economist survey, 82 percent of Blacks and 70 percent of Hispanics said relations between minorities and police were bad. But 63 percent of Republicans said relations between minorities and police were good.

When you walk like a duck, and you quack like a duck – you just might be a racist duck. 63% of Republicans say “race relations are good” even after the Floyd tape?   You’d have to be fucking stupid or a God-Damn Racist to think things are “good” after seeing that tape. Probably both. It’s not just that Derek Chauvin was a “bad apple,” it’s that four other cops helped and watched him murder a handcuffed man in cold blood, even an off-duty EMT on the scene thought they were off their freaking rocker and murdering a man in broad daylight, then they falsified their police report claiming that Floyd had “medical distress”, not mentioning that they’d pinned to the ground for 9 mins and suffocated him to death, and then the local DA declined to prosecute.  If not for the video and the State Attorney General taking over the case Chauvin would be a totally free man right now and Republicans would have been just fine with it. Not understanding how black people are going to naturally react to a video like that is all wrong sauce.  Everything about that video was a big bowl of “not being good.” 

The picture this WaPo columnist paints of the Republican party is just as much of a fantasy as those of Qanon.  This is not who they are.  They aren’t reasonable, they aren’t rational.  They aren’t living in the same reality as the rest of us.

There used to be reasonable Republicans, but the problem —  the core problem — is that most of them are now no longer Republicans. You can just flip on MSNBC to see former Republican Joe Scarborough, former Republican Steve Schmidt, former Republican Nicolle Wallace, and former Republican Michael Steele.

Shift to CNN and you get former Republican S.E. Cupp, former Republican Bill Krystal, former Republican Ana Navarro, and [mark my words] soon to be former Republicans John Kasich, Scott Jennings and Alice Stewart.   Not to mention former Republican Charlie Christ.  John and Cindy McCain. Also Jeff Flake. The GOP highway is littered with ex-Republican roadkill. You get the idea.  Mitt Romney and John McCain used to be the leaders of the party. Not anymore.

You look at what happened to all these people and the fearful terrified groveling pathetic boot-licking behavior to stay in sync with Trump and the GOPO from Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio — after the [truthful] shit they all said about him during the primaries —  and it starts to make sense.  Almost.

The reasonable people, the rational people — like Cheney and Kinzinger — have been or are being drummed out of the party.  They’ve been expelled.  Excommunicated. We can talk to these people, we do talk to them.

But they’re aren’t the problem.

Gosar is the problem.  Also Cawthorn. Brooks. Clyde. Jordan. Gohmert. Gaetz. Greene. Johnson. Boebert and McCarthy.

And also all the people who absolutely love their antics amd cheer them on maniaclly. The thousands of people who were out there cheering on Don Jr. and Giuliani with “Let’s have trial by combat.”

So is it hopeless?  Is it pointless?  My rational mind tells me, “probably.”  But for some dumb damn reason, I still hope not.

There’s no big mystery to effectively communicating with Trump supporters — or for Trump supporters to communicate with everyone else. Treat each other with politeness and courtesy. Respect other opinions even if you disagree. Acknowledge each other’s patriotism and love of country. Don’t assume you understand each other because you’ve read some think-tank analysis. Reach out, be curious and start a dialogue.

Could that work?  Could it really?  Could I reach out and shake the hand of a guy that would punch a cancer patient in her surgery scar while protesting against masks?  Could I break bread with the guy who left a vicious homophobic racist message on Officer Michael Fanone’s answering machine while he was still testifying?  Could I sit calmly in a room with the pack of assholes who said to Officer Harry Dunn “This Fucking N*gger Voted for Biden!” to his face?

[Deep breath] Whew.

That’s asking a lot.  A whole lot. A fucking whole lot.

Man oh, man.

But we gotta find a way.  The Senate seems to be finding a way. There has to be a way.

We have to slowly, painfully, start stitching this country back together.  Maybe, it never was together before.  Not totally. Maybe we’ve always been divided, first in North and South, then East and West, now Red and Blue.  Maybe it’s time to finally start changing that because we can’t break apart much more without collapsing completely.  Just imagine if that Insurrection had succeeded, just imagine if they had killed Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi and the certification of the election was effectively postponed for the duration? 

[Trump wouldn’t remain White House resident for long, his term would have ended on Jan 20th – the President would then have become Senate Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy until a new certification could be scheduled. Still, It would have been nuts.]

If we can find places to put down our guard, to hold off on knee-jerk [and true] insults and start having some actual serious conversations with exactly the people we really don’t want to fucking talk to then we have to do it. We have to.

Somehow.

Perhaps with professional help, perhaps with aid of cult-deprogrammers. [Yes, I’m fucking serious.]

Cult deprogrammers are flush with work as the family members of Trump-conspiracy believers and QAnon supporters seek professional help for their loved ones.

According to an NPR report, professional counselors specializing in cult deprogramming are facing a mountain of requests from people hoping to break their loved ones free of Trump-related conspiracy theories.

Diane Benscoter, an exit counselor who was involved in the Unification Church cult for years before breaking free, said he has “probably got almost a hundred requests in my inbox,” she claimed.

According to the cult experts, social media plays a significant role in exposing vulnerable people to conspiracy theories.

Joan Donovan, a leading research of online disinformation at the Shorenstein Centre on Media, Politics and Public Policy called today’s social media environment a “free for all” inundated with “unfathomable” amounts of disinformation.

Is it possible to find a non-Qanon, non-election-truther, non-racist, non-critical-race-theory addled not Trump infected Republican that you can have a rational conversation with?  Sure, but finding one of those these days is about as likely as finding a pink polka-dot silver-maned Unicorn with butterfly wings taking a shower in your upstairs bathroom — when you only live on one floor. People like that pretty much aren’t Republicans anymore, they’ve become Independents. Most of the rest of them are on the other side of that fence.

I don’t believe you can force someone to accept a truth they don’t want to consider purely with the force of will.  I don’t believe you can change someone’s mind if they aren’t willing to be changed.  They have to be open to it.

If there are conservatives who are open and willing to meet us halfway and willing to honestly discuss different ideas — assuming we’re willing to not to blow things up by immediately disputing and rejecting all of their ideas out of hand — then there might be a chance.  There might be the possibility that we can resolve some of these issues. Maybe.

It may be possible that the cold hard reality of getting sick and potentially dying from the Delta Variant of Covid-19 also just might wake some of them up.  They might realize that this pandemic isn’t a hoax, they might realize that the mainstream media hasn’t been lying this entire time – they might discover that Facebook, Parler, Fox News, OAN, Brietbart and Newsmax are the real liars.

And if they lied about this, they probably lied about other things.  A lot of other things.  I would prefer if thousands of more people didn’t have to suffer and die to wake these people up – but there may be no other way.

I just don’t know if it’s already gone too far or it’s already become too late.

I hope not.

If you like, join my new Activist Facebook Group Army for Truth where we collect the best available version of the truth — inside the belly of the beast —  in order to confront and challenge the Right-Wing with it.

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