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No. of Recommendations: 5
And it’s not necessarily race based. When the nazi party was being organized in the 1930’s, they studied the American treatment of blacks to understand how they could apply this system to Jews and “others”. At first, they were appalled by our system and thought it went too far. Well, we all know how that turned out.


I highly recommend reading Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste." She makes the same point, but in a very different way.

SLL
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No. of Recommendations: 8
If the elite lifestyle is everything trump and the base despise, why is there an unbreakable a bond between them even as he brags about his privilege at a rally for his far less wealthy working class base. Why didn't they hate his golden penthouse, his college education, his pampered kids and his cold, Vogue model wife?

Because the 'elite' they hate isn't based on wealth. That's how left-leaning populists define the elite. For right-leaning populists, the elite is based on status, cultural and political power, connection to global systems of influence and control, and a cultured taste that disdains the preferences of the 'common People'. That populism posits the righteous common person standing in opposition to the corrupt elite - but their elite holds the reins of cultural, literary, educational, or political power, not wealth. Elizabeth Warren is an elite - she's taught at Harvard, gets invited to Ted talks, is feted by Hollywood liberals. Donald Trump is not - the 'in crowd' hates him, the really wealthy and powerful in New York have always shunned him for his low-rent tastes and gross coarseness.

If you've ever seen the movie Caddyshack, the core conflict is the slobs vs. the snobs. But the "slobs" includes Rodney Dangerfield's character, a rough and tumble self-made millionaire. He stands in stark contrast to Ted Knight's judge character - who has high status, educational credentials, personal connections, and a snobbish obsession with his place in the community but who is specifically depicted as not being anywhere near as wealthy as Dangerfield. The judge is part of the 'snobs,' while the real estate developer is grouped with the 'slobs.'

Albaby
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Albaby- perceptive.
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Good post, laKitKat! I subscribe to the NY Times online, and just FYI, they now provide a service whereby I can "unlock" a certain number of articles and share the link anywhere. There's a little icon on the top of the article for doing this.
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I can "unlock" a certain number of articles and share the link anywhere. There's a little icon on the top of the article for doing this.

Thanks! I meant to ask you how to do this.
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No. of Recommendations: 9
disdains the preferences of the 'common People

Good point and is part of the definition of populism. trump has not led the life of his base by any stretch. He has defined himself by his name, his wealth, his power and even his education--all things his base has no part in. These are all the things he believed should admit him to the elites of NYC he desperately hoped to join. He never understood his vulgar displays kept him apart from the society he longed to join.He has all the outward trappings of what the common man would call elite, but not the breeding or the bone. Because he has earned nothing but contempt from NYC society; he shares the same loathing and grievance his base has for the wealthy liberal haves. Recall trump was once upon a time a liberal trying to buy his way into the circle with donations and support. There is no hate stronger than a man/woman scorned.
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No. of Recommendations: 4
He has all the outward trappings of what the common man would call elite, but not the breeding or the bone.

Yep. It's lowbrow versus highbrow. And boy is Trump lowbrow.

More than a few times, I saw Trump described as "a poor person's idea of a rich person." It was usually meant as an insult. But it's actually not. It's the reason why Trump appealed to his base.

Sure, he was rich. But he had the tastes, sensibilities, values, intellectual predilections, and beliefs of a poorer person. He's not using his wealth to have spiritual 'experiences,' attend Davos, give Ted talks, or go on vegan cleanses in international locales. He basically covered all his carp with gold and tried to get laid by as many hot chicks as he could. You know - like a "commoner" would. He acts like an "ordinary" person would, if that "ordinary" person won the MegaMillions.

Which is why they vastly prefer him to those liberal 'elites,' even those who advocate for the economic interests of the poor. Because they see him as a deep believer in the cultural and social interests of the poor in a way that intellectual elites never are. His jingoistic nationalism and disdain for pencil-necked nerdlingers put him squarely on their side against the real 'elites' of the country, who they think would never spend more than ten minutes with them on the factory floor before getting 'triggered' and narcing them out for creating a hostile work environment when they tell that great dirty joke they heard.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 12
Sure, he was rich. But he had the tastes, sensibilities, values, intellectual predilections, and beliefs of a poorer person.

No he didn't. My father was a poor person. He grew up in true poverty. His family didn't have indoor plumbing and that was in the 50s. Trump would have disgusted my father.

Trump had the tastes, sensibilities, values, intellectual predilections, and beliefs of a amoral person.
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No he didn't. My father was a poor person. He grew up in true poverty. His family didn't have indoor plumbing and that was in the 50s. Trump would have disgusted my father.

I think you know what I mean. Trump is coarse, vulgar, and unrefined. Those are traits we usually don't associate with intellectual or cultural elites, and are more likely to be found in the union hall than the Davos/IMF lobby.

That's why his supporters identified with him instead of the 'elite' - because the 'elite' in right-wing populism isn't based on wealth, but on status, social class and refinement. Which Trump utterly lacks.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 25
"More than a few times, I saw Trump described as "a poor person's idea of a rich person."
--------------------------------

Trump University ripped-off/scammed poor people out of tuition money for a worthless degree.

Trump was/is infamous for screwing blue-collar tradesmen ( carpenters, plumbers,...)
by not paying them for services rendered.

Trump screwed over investors when he IPO's his casino's, and lead it into
bankruptcy while looting the treasury of the company at the same time.

Trump has exhibited boorish behavior towards women. His infamous " I grab them by
the p&**$ " quote is just the tip of the ice-berg for how he feels about Christian
values.

Trump called himself the Law and Order President, while siccing his mob onto the
the Capitol on 1-6-21. Policemen were injured and killed.

So Trump has made it his life's work to screw over poor people, tradesmen,
investors, women, and Law Enforcement.. Yet poor people, tradesmen, investors, Evangelical
Christians, Cops and Military make up his base.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to waste anymore time trying
to figure out why Trump's base stands behind him. It's a cult, there is no
reasoning with them. What the rest of us needs to do is figure out how to stop
this cult from taking over the country.
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No. of Recommendations: 5
"I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to waste anymore time trying
to figure out why Trump's base stands behind him. It's a cult, there is no
reasoning with them. What the rest of us needs to do is figure out how to stop
this cult from taking over the country."


I agree 100%.
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No. of Recommendations: 14
I've asked a few Trump supporters why. One of the more surprising answers is some version of 'he's a fighter' or that he 'fights back'. While I can understand someone having tenacity while defending a defensible position, 'fighting back' all by itself is just being loud or aggressive.

If you fight just to get what you want, you're just a bully.

Trump has illustrated his own lack of decency, morals, and ethics for decades. And yet people who claim that those things are important to them rally behind him for his perceived 'toughness'. I don't find him to be 'tough' act all, just obnoxious and loud. I find him among the worst examples of humanity I have ever seen. He squandered an inherited fortune in pursuit of his own glory, and lied and cheated all along the way. There is nothing admirable about the man, and I don't say that easily about any human being.

The religious folks that believe Trump is chosen by god are just too far gone to have any sense whatsoever. It is a literal rejection of what they say they believe. If ANY group should have stood up against the sleazy cloud of immorality that wafts from Trump - and the stench is truly great - it should have been them. No wonder church membership is in such decline.

At the end of the day, I can find no rational explanation. Frankly, I've stopped looking for one, and will simply continue to fight against stupidity and bigotry however I can.
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I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to waste anymore time trying to figure out why Trump's base stands behind him. It's a cult, there is no reasoning with them. What the rest of us needs to do is figure out how to stop this cult from taking over the country.

There's a contradiction between the first and last sentences.

Right wing populism isn't just limited to the U.S. We're actually late to the party. It's been resurgent throughout Europe for years now.

You can't figure out how to stop it from taking over the country unless you spend some time figuring out why it appeals to so many voters.

Political appeals to populism are grounded in a theory of conflict between a virtuous People against a wicked and corrupt Elite. In right-wing populism, the wicked and corrupt Elite aren't rich people. Their theory of Elitism is grounded in social class and cultural values - that the elite are the intellectual and cultural grandees that are out of touch with what "ordinary" Americans believe in.

So thinkpieces like the NYT article in the OP that profess not to understand how Trump's base could possibly think he's not "elite" when he's so greedy and rich aren't especially helpful. Fighting against the spread of right-wing populism requires that we not be blind to what right-wing populism actually involves. And it involves a non-wealth based theory of elitism.

Albaby
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I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to waste anymore time trying
to figure out why Trump's base stands behind him. It's a cult, there is no
reasoning with them. What the rest of us needs to do is figure out how to stop
this cult from taking over the country.


Exactly. And if Democrats do not figure out how to come together enough to put a stop to the McConnell minority rule going on in Washington . . . if they cannot agree on enough to pass some legislation that actually addresses at least some of the most critical problems facing this nation . . . then they are going to lose big in 2022 and maybe even make it possible for Trump to win again in 2024.

Democrats are showing absolutely no signs of figuring this out. When they lose big in 2022, we will hear many Democrats and progressives whining about the stupid cult voting based on lies and conspiracy theories. We will hear how the stupid cult is voting against their own best interests. But after winning majorities in Washington in 2020 yet failing to stop Republicans from exerting minority rule, those arguments will not matter. Democrats will deserve the shellacking they will get at the polls in 2022.
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No. of Recommendations: 5
So thinkpieces like the NYT article in the OP that profess not to understand how Trump's base could possibly think he's not "elite" when he's so greedy and rich aren't especially helpful. Fighting against the spread of right-wing populism requires that we not be blind to what right-wing populism actually involves. And it involves a non-wealth based theory of elitism.


It also involves a white-supremacy theory of "real Americans."

SLL
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No. of Recommendations: 10
I'm not one for cheerleading, but your excellent post distills the whole Trump experience masterfully. For me, one need only look at the ten minutes it took the bully to gas "other" protestors and a minister so the bully could pose in front of a church holding a bible upside down. That incident says it all.

I give some supporters the benefit of the doubt. Surely, from their point of view, all the news they hear couldn't be lies, could it? The right wing propaganda machine is the greatest danger this country faces.
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If you've ever seen the movie Caddyshack, the core conflict is the slobs vs. the snobs. But the "slobs" includes Rodney Dangerfield's character, a rough and tumble self-made millionaire. He stands in stark contrast to Ted Knight's judge character - who has high status, educational credentials, personal connections, and a snobbish obsession with his place in the community but who is specifically depicted as not being anywhere near as wealthy as Dangerfield. The judge is part of the 'snobs,' while the real estate developer is grouped with the 'slobs.'

Sorry, I think you’re being far to kind to Trump supporters.

While not universal to Trump supporters, I believe most of his support is based on not being on the bottom rung of the ladder.

How many poor southerners died for the cause of slavery despite the fact they never could afford to own slaves nor receive any economic benefit from slavery?

Not being on the bottom rung of the ladder makes you better off. Apparently, worth dying for.

Poor non-college educated whites have been abused economically, especially the last 50 years. Along comes a demagogue insulting black and brown people and all of a sudden if you’re poor and white, you’re still better off then those “others”. Funny how it was just black voting districts that “cheated” and stole the election from Trump.

And it’s not necessarily race based. When the nazi party was being organized in the 1930’s, they studied the American treatment of blacks to understand how they could apply this system to Jews and “others”. At first, they were appalled by our system and thought it went too far. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Just my take.

AW
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No. of Recommendations: 5
You can't figure out how to stop it from taking over the country unless you spend some time figuring out why it appeals to so many voters.

Nonsense. I don't have to understand the internal combustion engine or how anti-lock breaking systems work to stop my car. And I don't have to understand why someone would become a mindless Trump cult member in order to defeat the cult. In the case of the car, I do have to know about the existence of the brake pedal and that it engages the brake system. And in the case of the cult, I do have to know what mechanisms feed the lies and energize the cult. I have to know how the cult has defeated me in the past. (Creation of a multi-billion dollar propaganda organization that repeats lies and misinformation to the cult on a regular basis, voter suppression laws that target logical voters who did not join the cult, providing the cult with greater power and representation in Washington than their minority numbers would provide in a purely Democratic government, providing the cult with a filibuster, . . .). But that is very different than understanding the illogical and misinformed "thinking" process going on in the minds of all those old, under-educated, white cult members.

...Fighting against the spread of right-wing populism requires that we not be blind to what right-wing populism actually involves. And it involves a non-wealth based theory of elitism.

I don't see how that helps. So what if Trump's cult believes "elitism" does not apply to Trump's brand of vulgar, racist, sexist, anti-working class, anti-police politics? How does that suggest better action to take politically? I ask that question seriously. You might have some answers to that, but they are not obvious to me. How do you think that helps address the cult problem?

That non-wealth based theory of elitism is cultivated by the 24/7 right wing echo chamber. It is not a real threat to the cult as far as I can tell. In fact, I would suggest that if the cult really believes that this definition of elitism is central to their joining the cult, then they actually have it exactly backwards from what is real. The liberal elites are far more likely to favor legislation that supports the working class than the vulgar elites like Trump. I could be wrong about that. I have no data to back it up, but based on my experience, that seems more accurate. So I still don't see how this "knowledge" helps me defeat the cult. If you want to defeat the cult, you still have to address the issues that can be addressed politically and legally - voter suppression laws, dramatically uneven representation loop holes in our Senate election process, non-Democratic loop holes in Senate rules (ie. filibuster), political propaganda disguised as news networks, etc. etc.
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How does that suggest better action to take politically? I ask that question seriously.

When you identify the problem, it helps you narrow down the solution.

To take an obvious example - attacking Trump, the Koch's, or other wealthy reactionaries as wealthy will not provide much political benefit. To left-wing populists, being immensely wealthy makes you an elite; but to right-wing populists, "elitism" is determined by cultural and social signifiers, not by wealth.

To put that more broadly, the "1%" for left-wing populists are (roughly) the 1% richest people in the country. For right-wing populists, the "1%" is filled more with intellectuals and cultural figures who they believe are out of touch with what the 99% of Americans believe.

Messaging around fighting Wall Street, the evils of big corporate money, and the like isn't likely to be all that effective in pushing back against right-wing populism.

The liberal elites are far more likely to favor legislation that supports the working class than the vulgar elites like Trump.

If you're talking about economic provisions, then sure. The economic interests of working class voters are likely to be more in line with liberals than conservative politicians (though Trump was far less a believer in austerity spending than the average conservative).

But right-wing politics is grounded on arguing that economics isn't the important cleavage in our society. That's not where the rift between the Good People and the Corrupt Elite lies. To them, it rests in cultural and social values. So the vulgar elites like Trump aren't passing economic legislation that "supports" working class voters economically, but they are passing (or trying to pass) legislation on other matters that "supports" what his base wants to see - increased protection for established religion, harsher treatment of immigrants, backing away from global and international commitments on things like climate change, etc.

It's nativist and retrograde and often cruel to people who don't fit in with what the right-wingers believe the Common Volk actually look like. This is not a defense of right-wing populism. Right-wing populism is execrable. But it's not just limited to the U.S. and Trump - it's taken hold in plenty of places that don't have a new political right-wing propaganda outlet disguised as a news network.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 5
And it’s not necessarily race based. When the nazi party was being organized in the 1930’s, they studied the American treatment of blacks to understand how they could apply this system to Jews and “others”. At first, they were appalled by our system and thought it went too far. Well, we all know how that turned out.


I highly recommend reading Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste." She makes the same point, but in a very different way.

SLL
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You can't figure out how to stop it from taking over the country unless you spend some time figuring out why it appeals to so many voters.

Key point.
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Trump is coarse, vulgar, and unrefined. Those are traits we usually don't associate with intellectual or cultural elites...

Oh yeah, Trump's nothing like "cultural elites" like Jeffrey Epstein.

Those are traits we usually don't associate with intellectual or cultural elites, and are more likely to be found in the union hall than the Davos/IMF lobby.

ahhhh....no, plenty of lower-middle class workers can still see right through a bragging, womanizing, racist. There are plenty of hourly wage earners that don't cheat on their wives, don't call immigrants rapists, don't agree with a tax-cut for the .1%.

Trump support began with a simple mantra. When Trump, in the summer of 2016, started totted building a wall and telling his crowds that Mexico sends its worst people, that they are rapists, criminals, and drug lords, his polls went from 2% to 20% in weeks.

The Trump base is White, Racists, Evangelical Christian for the most part. It is nativism pure and simple.
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Oh yeah, Trump's nothing like "cultural elites" like Jeffrey Epstein.

I'm not referring to morals. There are plenty of evil rich people.

I'm referring to class signifiers. Not economic class signifiers, but cultural class signifiers. The things that separate the highbrow from the lowbrow - including the lowbrow nouveau riche that might have more money but less "taste" than the upper crust.

That's a big part of why he (and other right-wing populists) are somewhat immune from attacks that they're not part of the People, but instead part of the Elite, because of their wealth. Their supporters don't divide the People from the Elite based on wealth (unlike left-wing populists). They do it based on cultural and social position.

Trump's a tasteless, boorish, coarse vulgarian - and has long been excluded from the more refined sections of New York's moneyed elite because of it. So even though he's rich, he's not "elite" to his supporters. One reason why he's still their guy.

It is nativism pure and simple.

Of course. Nativism is a hallmark of right-wing populism. The "People" are the native people of the country, and the "Elites" are marked by supporting the rights and economic status of immigrants. But both wealthy people and the hoi polloi can be nativist, so you can't attack Trump as an "Elite" just by pointing to his wealth and expect that to stick.

Albaby
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good discussion --thanks!

Understanding trump and going through his psyche over and over is probably not helpful. What is important is understanding how an ex-president continues to exert such a powerful hold on 40% of America. It is going to destroy us. The next GOP president will be far worse IMHO. I cringe when I think about 2022 and don't hold much hope for keeping the House and Senate and when there is GOP control of all 3 branches in 2025, we may lose the Republic. I do think it's that dire.

The key takeaway from the NYT piece is that a president can be as ugly stupid and nasty as trump and yet have enormous popular appeal and control. I feel this has completely baffled Democrats. Why don't the lies, racism and heinous behavior, the looting and the corruption sink this guy?

The glue that binds trump and the base together in an insoluble knot is white majority. That's a problem and an obstacle the Democrats cannot buy their way out of. A huge Covid bill that takes care of both the right and left will not buy the goodwill of the right. There will be no appreciation for what Biden has accomplished. Work goes on state by state to make sure when 2022 comes, the vote will be safely tucked away for the GOP this time.

There are 250 voting rights bills in 43 states and they are not minority friendly. This is about keeping white Republicans in power and use that power to marginalize minority votes. They have been working at it for decades through gerrymandering, redistricting, gaining control of state legislators, & controlling SCOTUS. Democrats have been busy with other things and now find themselves far behind.

Understanding it's about keeping the right white at the top is interesting but unfortunately I found no discussion of how to counter it. The one best way out is for demographics to catch up with the GOP and eventually drown them out. I'm dead sure it will, but not soon enough.
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so you can't attack Trump as an "Elite" just by pointing to his wealth and expect that to stick.

True.
North America’s Building Trades Unions were evenly split Trump vs Biden in votes, so you are correct that they don't see him as part of the rich, CEOs, or management. It's not about his money or his "silver spoon." It's about the same nativism that also occurs throughout US History. In the 1920s nativists and labor unions campaigned for immigration restriction following the waves of workers and families from southern and eastern Europe. If you were Italian or Polish, you were not going to get union jobs.

It is nativism pure and simple.
This accounts for most of the Trump Vote, as it accounts for most of US History. Even Alexander Hamilton, despite his own status as an immigrant, was a xenophobe to some extent.
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---It's about the same nativism that also occurs throughout US History. In the 1920s nativists and labor unions campaigned for immigration restriction

It's definitely nothing new. trump managed to find a way to make it an unstoppable electoral bloc that could be counted on to back him consistently and with cash. Doesn't hurt that they also have s truly smart/evil Senator and often times majority leader in McConnell. He has added unlimited dark money to the mix and masterminded the takeover of the courts.

Most likely not every GOP politician is on board with heavy-handed racism, but as the electorate stands now, none of them dares cross these voters fearing primaries and loss of seats. They are too big a bloc and hold too much power to ignore and defy.
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When you identify the problem, it helps you narrow down the solution.

This certainly is not always true.

First, you do not have to understand every problem fundamentally to solve them. Most people who use computers, electronics, their cars, or even their household appliances will click or select menu items, fidget with knobs and buttons, etc. without a clue of what is happening behind their selections. If they don't get the response they wanted, they will simply try a different selection. They will fiddle with a toilet flush arm with no idea what that is doing to the chain and flapper. So this step might be helpful in some situations, but it certainly is not a requirement. Exploiting technology does not require one to understand fundamental physics. And exploiting legal action or passing legislation does not require one to understand the opposition . . . only to overwhelm it with the vote.

Second . . . does understanding your computer's operating system help you narrow the solution to your hung computer? It can, but it doesn't always. Sometimes you are staring at a blue screen that makes no sense and you cannot find an action other than complete power down to fix it. Does knowing what's in the toilet tank make your handle jiggle any more effective if you know about the chain and the flapper? Not really.

So while gaining detailed understanding might help in some cases, it often does not.

Third . . . this is the issue I continue to see as the problem for progressives . . . No logical analysis or factual data will ever impact the cult's view because that's not how cults work. There is no logical analysis or set of facts that the Trump cult uses. They are a cult. They hold views that they want to believe based on faith that they are the correct views. They shun any analysis or facts that do not support their faith. You can analyze all you want. You can struggle with definitions of "elite" or "racist" or "liberal" as much as you want. You can even string together logical arguments about how modified definitions change the way people view things. But that really has nothing to do with the Trump cult. They are not hung up on a distinct definition of "elite". They hold a faith-based belief that Trump is a messiah.

...attacking Trump, the Koch's, or other wealthy reactionaries as wealthy . . .

. . . Messaging around fighting Wall Street, the evils of big corporate money, and the like isn't likely to be all that effective in pushing back against right-wing populism.


Right. That's what we have all been talking about. Nothing seems to be all that effective in pushing back against the cult. But I do not believe for one second that the lack of effectiveness in pushing back is simply because liberals hold a distinct definition of "wealthy elites" from the cult's preferred definition. In the past 5 years I would guess that I have read literally hundreds of articles and columns pushing back in many dozens of different ways. None of them have been effective. I don't think that's because of the lack of a shared definition for "elite". I think that's because we're dealing with an irrational cult. Nothing works to change the cult's view because that's how cult's work. They start with faith in their beliefs and shun any information that might call that faith into question. And no amount of logical analysis or review of the facts will explain the cult's persistence because cults do not operate in an environment where facts and logical analysis are accepted.
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Nativism is a hallmark of right-wing populism. The "People" are the native people of the country,

Which, of course, is utterly ridiculous in this particular setting. (As is a lot of right-wing populism.) The native people of this country were killed off - some deliberately, some via disease - over the course of a few hundred years. The survivors were rounded up and stuck onto mostly undesirable land. All so that immigrants could take over.

And now the descendants of those immigrants want to keep other immigrants out, thinking that they - also immigrants - are the native people.

Yes, I know. From their (generally fact-free) point of view, they ARE the native people. And immigration from wherever they came from (generally Europe) is not really immigration. They were hard working people looking for a better life in a new country. These new folks are ... how did he put it? ... oh yeah ... "drug dealers, criminals, and rapists."

Nice folks, these nativists.

--Peter
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Nothing seems to be all that effective in pushing back against the cult.

I think what you are wrestling with is the basic problem of asymmetric warfare. The two warring sides have very different approaches to their war. One might have a large, well-equipped fighting force (Let's call them the USA) and the other might have fewer people and less equipment, but employ unconventional tactics and strategies (let's call them Vietnam or Afghanistan).

The small, poorly equipped group can defeat (or outlast) the larger, better equipped group by approaching the fighting in ways that the larger group can't counter very well. For example, all of that fancy equipment has to move, so the other side sets up land mines or other home-made explosive devices along routes of travel. Or the opponent sets up shop in a thick jungle or in mountain caves where the equipment isn't able to help as effectively.

I think a similar thing is happening in US politics. One side is embracing tools that the other simply won't use. Republicans have embraced nativism and racism and fear tactics. Democrats won't use those tools as they are anathema to them. Instead, Democrats have been trying reason and logic - heavy tools that don't work against the Republican cult-like approach. Republicans have been picking away at small bits - gerrymandering, court packing, the filibuster, smaller bits of legislation, for example. These individually don't seem like they're all that important. But when combined together, they can pack quite a punch. In the mean time, Democrats are trying to use big, complex tools. Sweeping legislative changes. Get out vote campaigns. They're trying to win in a single, big way. They're trying to drop an atomic bomb when the enemy is scattered around in small enclaves everywhere.

THAT is what I think albaby is trying to get at. To defeat an enemy, you need to understand the enemy. We didn't win in Vietnam because we failed to understand the Vietnamese. We tried to impose our values and culture and point of view on them. The same thing happened in Afghanistan. They don't want what we're trying to impose on them.

And that's what's happening in partisan politics. Democrats - with bigger numbers and heavy equipment - are trying to fight against a small and highly motivated group of Republicans. They are not going to win that fight with the tools they are using. They need to use different tools.

How do you beat a cult? I think there are only two ways. One is basically to kill them off - or get them to kill themselves off. And yes, I'm talking actual killing, not metaphorical. Jonestown. Waco. Of course, that approach is not one Democrats are willing to employ, nor should anyone be willing to employ.

The other way is hard and it takes time. You deal with them one person at a time. You find people who are the least attached to the cult, and work with them individually to get them out. Friends, neighbors, relatives, whomever they will listen to. That is who needs to do this hard, slow work. And you have to find ways to intercept those who might be on the verge of joining the cult and stop them. You have to slow the flow of new members into the cult, and you have to pick away at the weak spots in their current membership to get people out of the cult.

None of this is easy. And it takes time to be successful. As someone else up-thread has noted, do we have enough time left to be successful with a long and slow approach? I don't know. But it may be the only acceptable approach.

--Peter
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I think what you are wrestling with is the basic problem of asymmetric warfare.

Nope. I am not wrestling with that at all. I completely understand that while Democrats are fighting a war of ideas and fundamental principles that the GQP is fighting a purely procedural battle. I have posted quite a bit about that, in fact. Democrats want to pass legislation making it easier for everyone to vote while Republicans are looking at voting laws and saying if we had a law that let us purge voter rolls, we would keep thousands of people from voting before they got around to re-registering. And in the meantime, we win. While Democrats are saying that the electoral college is no longer accomplishing what it was designed to accomplish and should be purged to make our Presidential elections more Democratic, Republicans are fighting to maintain majorities in all the tiny rural states so that they can win with minority support. That lack of balance is there because Democrats have failed to fight the procedural battles, thinking that their principles and ideas will eventually win the day.

To defeat an enemy, you need to understand the enemy.

And this is simply false. It always has been false. Most defeated enemies are never understood. They are simply crushed with superior power. Sometimes massive superior power fails to crush an enemy. But those are the exceptions in history, not the rule. This is what you are wrestling with because you want to believe that the Trump cult is susceptible to the same kind of facts and reason that you require. Not only do I not believe that you need to understand an enemy to defeat him/her, but in the case of an illogical, fact-challenged cult, I believe you are naïve and destined to failure if you think you will ever understand them. There is no understanding to be gained. They are not reasonable, nor tied to the truth. They believe what they want to believe based on faith. That's kind of part of the definition of a cult. That's as deep an understanding as you will actually ever get.

I find the idea that the only thing that liberals need to do to defeat the cult is to understand that the cult's definition of "elites" is different than the definition liberals use is absurd. Those white racist yahoos invading our capital waving Trump banners and beating cops are not debating the meaning of "elite". Many of them couldn't even spell it, never mind discuss it. Wrestle with that.
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I understand the cult. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma they are not. There is no reasoning with them. Best thing to do is just move forward and if they don't want to get on the train of freedom, then they can be crushed by it.
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I understand the cult. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma they are not. There is no reasoning with them. Best thing to do is just move forward and if they don't want to get on the train of freedom, then they can be crushed by it.

If you had posted that yesterday, you would have saved me (and anyone who has bothered to follow this thread) many paragraphs of posting and discussion. :-)
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Possibly, but I'm a misanthrope who likes to see others suffer.
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The Trump base is White, Racists, Evangelical Christian for the most part. It is nativism pure and simple.

Not too keen on people who are educated and liberal (educated and conservative is fine, tho'), LGBTQ, or people who think ill of them for their bigotry, either.

The only "civil rights" they favor are freedom of *their* religion, freedom to be armed to the teeth--including with military-grade weapons--and threaten others with them, freedom to discriminate against protected groups, freedom to prevent Democrats from voting--or to discard their votes and overturn elections whose results they dislike, freedom to run down protestors with their cars or gas/shoot at them at will, freedom to loathe women who are not dependent on men (unless they're conservative), freedom to steal justice appointments from Democratic presidents...

Have I forgotten anything?
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Have I forgotten anything?

Freedom to exercise power over others -- which is the foundation of all those other "freedoms" they so cherish.

This is all about their utterly twisted notions of what is and what is not "moral," "decent," a "right," "American." It's all about their passionate belief in the right of their tribe to rule (not "govern") and the willingness to do anything to protect the self-image of superior rights that form the basis of their entire world view.

They are slavish worshippers of themselves.

SLL
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