“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts…perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”- John Steinbeck
I learned a long time ago that if you try to take something away from a person, something they truly value, you better be prepared to give them something as good or better in return. Otherwise, be prepared to face negative consequences.
If you really want to understand what’s going on in our country right now, you must realize that millions of Americans truly believe they are losing “their country”. In no way is this justification for the right-wing mob attack on Congress. But it is something that we must admit to and understand if we are ever going to find our way back to being “united”.
A considerable amount of legislative effort has been put forth to level the playing field for Americans who in the past were not allowed to fully share in the American Dream. And that would be pretty much everyone who was not white, male and straight. I mean let’s face it. For most of this nation’s history white people have had a huge advantage, men even more so than women. Thus, women have had to fight for equality including the right to vote. People of color have faced even more discrimination and things much worse. The LGBT community has suffered far too much for way too long. And one can list all sorts of disadvantages and biases that many people face for reasons that are far beyond their control. All of these factors intersect to create a multitude of identity groups who may legitimately claim to be “oppressed” or “marginalized”. And, these days just about anyone who is not a member of the “privileged class” can claim membership in some victim group.
So why are the people who have enjoyed advantage and privilege so angry? What do they have to bitch about? Are they just racists? Homophobes? Religious fanatics? Fortunate sons who are just unwilling to share the bounty of this good land? What’s wrong with these people? Admittedly, some are indeed racists. And there are homophobes and religious fanatics among them as well. Might as well add in a few tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists. And there are the 2nd amendment zealots who resist any limits to the firepower they might rightfully possess. All in perhaps there are a several million on the far right who are prepared to storm the castle walls. But not nearly enough to elect Donald Trump as President four years ago… and then almost elect him again.
How does one account for the majority of these angry people? It’s actually pretty simple. They are just fed-up… and they are afraid. Angry about what they have lost and fearful about what is left to lose. And I’m not talking about the recent election. It goes deeper and much farther back. The truth of the matter is that millions of Americans believe that they have been asked to give up too much, for too long in order to appease those who are forever demanding fairness, equity and inclusion. Decades ago, many who may have actually supported the Civil Rights Movement went on to suffer the consequences of forced busing, white-flight and the subsequent decline and decay of their neighborhoods and cities. They have witnessed the failure of the Welfare State’s War on Poverty…not just in black communities, not just in urban areas; but across all races and regions.
Many have experienced job loss as a result of their work being shipped off to lower cost operations elsewhere in the world. They see their public schools failing to educate their children. Increasingly they see government as the problem, not the solution. Professional politicians on both sides of the aisle catering to special interests groups while ignoring the needs of “average” Americans.
More than a few have experienced or witnessed the consequences of an out-of-control “woke” movement that can cost people jobs and ruin careers. They connect the rising costs of health insurance to the Affordable Care Act, as once again they end up paying the price for a government program that hurts them more than it helps. They see a mainstream media that bashes bad behavior or even alleged bad behavior on The Right, while downplaying or ignoring the same or worse on The Left. They are tired of being force-fed progressive ideas in movies, television and music. And even more so, they are tired of being told they are deplorable human beings because they refuse to go along with the narrative.
You want to know how angry they are? 74 million of them voted for Donald Trump, even after watching him flail around for four years. And were it not for Covid-19, my guess is that Trump would have actually won another term in office. Let that soak in. People are so angry that they were willing to once again hand the keys to an unqualified, real estate investor/celebrity with all sorts of personal baggage and craziness….simply because they believed that he was on their side.
In 2021 we have the opportunity to hit the reset button and pull this country together. But if we continue to ignore. cancel or demonize half of the population, this nation is headed for disaster.