THE TRUMP PHENOMENOM
is not his alone, nor did it begin with him. Nationalism was used by Nazi Germany as a springboard to power, as did nations before this. After its defeat, the word became enmity to European nations, replaced by democracy and capitalism. Only those seeking quick political death dared to whisper the word in public. With the lingering threat of Russia, along with the lure of economic improvements, it wasn’t difficult to hold this new movement together. But the question was, is, did the Europeans fully move away from nationalism and fully embrace the new model? I think not. And perhaps the formation of the European Union, along with its common currency, seeded a fertile field for rebellion. So with the end of the Cold War, the arrival of imported terrorism, and a cycle of economic issues, came BREXIT, the rise of populism, a less threatening word for nationalism, to show the first signs of the coming harvest as Europeans began to openly ask, “Is anti-nationalism too steep a price?”
The story in America, while differing in history, has many similarities. Nationalism is loosely as “a strong belief that the interests of a particular nation-state are of primary importance, and that a people who share a common language, history, and culture should constitute an independent nation, free of foreign domination.” Nationalism was the most successful political force of the early 19th century. It brought the nation together through the exaltation of feeling and identity. America began to have its own identity in the world now that it has been a nation for over a century. Its own economy took off when the market revolution began. Already, the United States had already won several wars. At this point, the nations people were proud to live in the U.S. and thus nationalism began to grow further. Nationalism helped many industries grow such as railroads and roads to connect and unify our country. Now that Americans were connected better by these systems they began to view themselves as a whole who had one thing in common, they lived in America.
Wars, immigration, economic vagaries muted this nationalistic emotion over the next centuries, but like out European neighbors the feeling was only dormant, waiting for the call to awake. In 2016 the Huffington Post issued an article: The American Nationalism Problem
The highest rate of “American” identity is among young rural whites with limited education. Recent surveys find that whites with an “unhyphenated” identity are increasingly voting very conservative and perceive a cultural threat from foreign influences. They also call themselves ethnic “Americans” for patriotic reasons. They favor a stronger national defense. And, they are more likely to think that an individual’s life chances are tied to their racial identity (what Michael Dawson called “linked fate“).
Historic data from the General Social Survey shows that Unhyphenated Americans are no more racially conservative than other Americans. The exception is that they are consistently less likely to vote for a hypothetical black candidate for president, or, since 2008, an actual one. They are also increasingly less likely to vote for Democrats in general.
Then there are the Christian Nationalists. The most visible religious tension in American politics is between the Establishment Clause and the long tradition of Protestant ownership of the moral nation. Christian Nationalists have the highest agreement with four statements about America: that is “holds a special place in God’s plan;” that “God has chosen [America] to lead the world;” that the United States “was founded as a Christian nation;” and “it is important to preserve the nation’s religious heritage.” According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in June of this year, 62% of Americans either completely agree or mostly agree that “God has granted America a special role in human history.” 52% said “believing in God” and 33% percent said “being a Christian” was very important for “being truly American.” Similar distributions have been found in other surveys of the public since 2010. They are also heavily invested in Biblical literalism. Agreement with these statements is strongly correlated with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment among white Americans. Politics and the course of America are therefore a question of the degree and intensity of Christianization. Christian Nationalists are often found among Unhyphenated Americans (or vice-versa).
Finally there are the New Nationalists. New Nationalism was coined in the 1990s by journalist Michael Lind, who describes it as an elite white regime. Under New Nationalism, the white elite (or “overclass”) withdraws into a private realm — private neighborhoods, private schools, private health care and private security. Working class whites are abandoned to a broad, publicly dependent underclass along with most people of color. The New Nationalism is deeply invested in a “bootstrap ideology” of America, built on private property rights and individual responsibility. The New Nationalists overlap with Christian Nationalists on some beliefs, but have little in common with Unhyphenated Americans. Communities broadly exhibiting these inequalities are most common in the Corridor from New York to northern Virginia , though they occur as suburban counties of nearly every major metropolitan area in the U.S.
What it Means for Others. These three concepts of American nationalism share several features. They introduce an identity component — wealth, or ethnicity or religious identity. They overlap with each other, largely through Protestant evangelical identity. And, they contrast against “out groups” that are growing in the U.S. — the secularists, immigrants, non-Caucasian ethnics and Muslims. Conflict in the GOP arises from the growing voices of white identity and Christian identity, versus efforts by the economic conservatives who populate the New Nationalism who seek to co-opt elites from non-white ethnic and racial groups.
The major victim of this new politics of competing forms of American nationalism a national consensus most recently observed by social scientist Alan Wolfe. At the end of the Clinton Administration, when political polarization had exploded into full flower, Wolfe wrote in his book One Nation After All that there was a broad-based consensus of tolerant belief across seemingly different American communities. This consensus has not survived the downward mobility of the white working class. The white working class is heavily populated with Christian Nationalists and Unhyphenated Americans. Its members are upset at the loss of an American Dream that was taken for granted by their grandparents and are threatened by future in which they will be an ethnic minority.”
And this led to Trump.
Even when he leaves, whether forcefully or otherwise, we will still have a dysfunctional government and the debate over our values. The issue here, like in Europe, is not about democracy. It is far more important. We have to decide on what form of nationalism we will embrace. The EU is valiantly fighting to hold off this debate but they will fail for the same reason America’s debate will eventually fail. The average citizen feels betrayed by government. I see no other end. Draining the swamp is doomed to failure because the major culprits always find safety.
NEXT SUBMITTAL----WHAT’S THE ANSWER
Writing has made my life more than just interesting; it has introduced me to people who have led remarkable lives. When I wrote about Julie Holland and Maxine Raines, I had no idea that I was in the presence of greatness. But I was. They are two treasures in East Tennessee that go unnoticed by far too many. They are SAINTS, whom I came to love. Then, I met Jerry Allen LeQuire, a man who spent most of his life in prison, and died in prison, a man who did, and was accused of, acts most of don’t understand. But you know what, I liked him. So, what does that make me?
Understand, I spent four years talking with him, about everything from drugs to God. And I came to see him for not only what he had done, but for what he could become. As I found myself changing my opinion about him, I thought that it might be time to end my research. After all, he was far removed from anyone I had associated with. That I decided to continue was my good fortune. His questions about God were genuine, thought provoking, and showed what so many like him wonder. How could God forgive? My answer was simple: Since God is perfect, can He possibly have degrees of imperfection? I think not. But man does. If someone kills, he himself might be killed for society has decreed. But if a man constantly abuses a child, he will be sent to prison but his life will be spared. Which is the worse crime? Ironically, the prisoners will tell you the abuser is far worse, so where does that leave us who judge? Think about it.
My point is, I decided to treat Jerry like I thought Jesus would, not with judgment but with spirituality. Yes, I understand there are those who Jerry scarred who find it impossible to forget, and forgive---I really do understand. I came to him with none of this baggage.
I titled the book A SPECIES OF INSANITY not because he or those around him were insane, but because we as a species act in such insane ways that are not in accordance with what God intended---and I’m not just talking about crime but the way we deal with life. Yes, we are insane, don’t you agree? Look at our political situation where compassion is just a word. If Jesus were here, he’d probably go to Washington and drive Congress out with a whip. But enough of that!
I have interfaced with many others in my writing research, and each one had their own story. In that, as a writer I had the advantage of looking at the people through a wide-angle lens.
So, I will continue to write, to attempt to see the full picture, and hopefully this path will be equally satisfying and rewarding.
With all the disasters in recent months, and all the people in need, why are we as Americans wanting to pull in and think only of ourselves. Yes, we all have differing thoughts on immigration,security and a host of issues, but now is not the time to be self centered. There will be time later to discuss a wall or increasing the military budget, lowering taxes, etc. Right now, the world has NEEDS and we need to help. So, why not do this: Postpone budget increases for military,and tax cuts; then add a small TEMPORARY tax to be paid for disaster relief to these nations who have no money, and show that we are truly great. As for the insurance MESS, why not stabilize the market by increasing the reinsurance funding so carriers won't continue to lose money in certain areas. Do this until a permanent solution is found.
The military has a saying, “No one left behind.” This has served our nation well. However, there is a large governing body in our country that only selectively applies this in civilian life, for the most part hiding behind the words, “for the greater good.” When Reagan took office he abandoned the “War on Poverty,” saying that poverty had won. One of the few programs that survived was the Appalachian Regional Committee (ARC). Among its achievements was the construction of a parkway from the interstate to deep into the mountains of eastern Kentucky, opening up possibilities for the impoverished. Now, under the new proposed budget, ARC will be demolished. It didn’t meet the test. I’m just glad it wasn’t a soldier.
This is from my collection called: TOTALLY IRRELEVANT REFLECTIONS
Days poured into words, a time to satisfy thoughts consumed, but a waste to many who will not read—or worse who don’t want to be reminded of mortality.
For words are, if anything, mortal, unable to stand the passage of time; in this world of nanoseconds and instant gratification, how can the written become anything more than an archived record? The printed page replaced by headlines on a screen, stories scanned and then forgotten. Is Gutenberg rolling in his grave, kicked in the side by technology? So, is my time wasted? Would I be better served by working in a food kitchen?
I approach 80; how, I ask, when only yesterday my brother called to wish a happy 40th. Where are you, my friend, how did this happen to us, two young boys listening to the Emerson sinisterly whispering “The Shadow Knows.” Evenings played out with games until we were bathed in sweat, coming home and listening to crickets sing through our open window. It was a world excited through hope and dreams, but we were too busy having fun. Where have you gone, my brother.
It is a question often asked but only answered through dreams. Both raised in the church, ignoring most teachings when teenaged, but always feeling guilty and saying we would change. We fell in love with many things but words gnawed at me for decades before finally submitting. Lady Chatterley’s lover found hidden under my bed and consigned to the trash. Not literature, it was said. No, but it was fun. I learned to love oysters, how I’m not sure, but different was exciting. A bus ride to Chicago, money pinned inside my trousers, watching hoboes fall off the train, my imagination soaring with words.
Now, the cold hardens my bones, the chill stealing my will. Winds blow time down steep hills. Marriages, deaths, they run together. What day is it? Does it matter? Yet, the words call out, pieces of a giant puzzle looking for reason. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—does this imply my happiness? Separation of church and state perhaps being eliminated with the stroke of a pen. But what of separation of state and capitalism---will it be further breached. Will the right to a fair wage as determined by the state destroy a man’s right to own a business? Hard questions. The cold presses against the window. Will we become a society where we ignore a man’s right to exist for his own sake? Or will we say man has a higher duty to the state? Questions escalate in my mind. Will we become a society eager to allow others to think while we silently observe. The cold is seeping under the door and bushing against my ankles. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear the enemy.
As a liberal have I fallen into the trap of ignoring myself for the sake of others? Is that elitism? I will give this thought. But of this I am reasonably certain; I have no opposition to society—indeed I want society to thrive but I would like to see reason applied, where reason is taking facts and applying, perhaps integrating a better word, our experiences, emotions, intelligence to grow our understanding. Reason is not to be used as a club, no more than is the Bible.
People whom I respect say I sometimes talk too much, though the written word comes far easier. In that regard, a strange matter is occurring—age pushes out more words. While I might easily forget which direction to turn, words pile up in my thoughts like cars on a Friday afternoon interstate. Fonts, Times Roman, pixels on a screen, line up as friends. I must be losing m
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WHAT WOULD JESUS DO
Years ago, rubber bands with the letters, WWJD, adorned the wrists of tens of thousands, so I wonder if Jesus was here today, what would he do politically. Would he tend to be more pro war, pro free market, pro harsh sentencing and anti healthcare for all? Or would he do just the opposite. Ever since Nixon was successful in getting southern evangelicals to vote as a block, they have supported Republican candidates. Not all evangelicals, of course, but the vast majority. So, is this just following or is it free, intelligent thought? It’s a question southern Christians need to ask themselves. Is it okay to forgive one candidate for transgression while wanting to lock up the other? Now, I’m certain I’ll be despised, called names, for my thoughts but that’s fine; it doesn’t make them any less pertinent. Why do we not hold the people who represent us to the same standards we would hold one who speaks to us about spiritual matters? Do we really think that Jesus would not show compassion to immigrants, to gays, to blacks, to anyone who society wishes to group one way or the other? Jesus would be neither red or blue, He would surround himself with latinos, blacks, gays, people of all races, and if He thought they were wrong He would tell them, but the self-righteous, oh the self-righteous, He would take a whip and run them out of the Temple. Look around at the people you know, how many are just like you and how many are different. Then ask yourself, WWJD? Would He entertain rabble or force them to leave? Would he mildly call it locker room talk when it offended millions? Would He want to lock her up for intercepted emails? Or would He look past and say, go and sin no more. So, ask yourself, who would He have supported? Then ask yourself, would He be pleased with my thoughts, or would He look for the whip.
I consider myself a free thinker so I’ll admit there are things about the Trump movement I like. Even considering that he’s made statements that expose him as both ignorant of public policy and contemptuous of liberal-democratic norms, or his inane proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. What I like is his willingness to call out the Washington establishment for what is: a do nothing, care nothing, blindness to the plight of the average person. Be it democrat or republican, that’s just the way it is.
As far as I’m concerned they could remove everyone in Washington and I wouldn’t care. Only a handful care about us. Trump vows to represent the average Joe and to rise up against the establishment elite. And I applaud that!
There was an obscure website called “The Journal of American Greatness,” where Trump was lauded. This site, no longer in existence, called for the political system to be overthrown by a man like Trump who represents the people’s will. (No coincidence that Trump is yelling about a fixed election). One of the writers suggests that Trump would effectively quieten the influence of Washington, while taking on power much like Caesar. And he would reinstall the people’s right to govern themselves. While such a task has some merit---in my opinion Congress is a failed institution that doesn’t come close to representing anyone but the elite---Trump doesn’t seem the one for the job. He is far too egotistical to effectively carry such power and he brings too much baggage to unite the people behind his revolution. I wrote months ago that if I were president I would isolate those in Congress who have no concern except for their own little causes, who have no desire to govern, so diminishing congressional influence is a good thing. I mean where were these leaders when we went to needless wars, during the financial crisis, and on and on? Someone needs to shut them up!! And unless things change, it will happen. But not with Trump. He is going to lose. If another person, say a Colin Powell, had come forth with the same passion and desire to destroy the establishment, things would be different. But the seeds of dissent have been sown and my hope is that someone with greatness will step forth to see them to fruition.
My name is Richard Biggs and I'm a writer. My latest book is about Jerry Allen LeQuire, a convicted drug kingpin, who rejected two offers from the CIA to work for them, and has been in a federal prison for over 30 years.