I did not watch the Republican convention, but did read about it. The so-called Trump phenomenon has been coming for a long time and I would like to share my personal experience about its development. What I saw began in the mid-70’s. It alarmed me then and unfortunately has grown significantly with each subsequent year. Let me set the stage.
Between 1975 and 1978, I was a social worker in a community mental health center in the inner city of Kansas City, Missouri. The clients we served were white, black, Hispanic, and mostly poor. At that time, I was also a lover of baseball and went to many KC Royals baseball games. The Royals were owned by Ewing Kauffman, the owner of a large pharmaceutical company called Marion Labs. He was a very popular public figure in Kansas City for bringing a major league franchise to the town and few people questioned his policies or practices. There was no internet then so there was no way to know what was going on behind the scenes.
I had a close relationship with two staff members both of whom were black and worked at night at Marion Labs in the cleaning crew. Both had families and were working two jobs to make ends meet. They were also the best counselors I knew at that time. They knew I was a baseball fan but one day pulled me aside and told me that there was a lot I didn’t know about Ewing Kauffman and his staff within the Royals organization. They told me that racism and political extremism was rampant in the organization, which no one had heard of at that time. I believed them, of course, but had no evidence to know what was really going on.
About 5 years later, I had left that agency and was going through huge changes in my life. This is when charges of racism in the Royals organization began to be publicized. Some members of the roster were part of right-wing organizations and tension between players was reported. But, naturally, these reports never got past the rumor stage and nothing more was heard of it. In the late 80’s however, anger between a few black players against other white players boiled over and it became very public. Charges of racism and prejudice now became talked about more openly and the team’s performance suffered. Yet, nothing more came of it though suspicions were still high. It wasn’t until 1993 that I began to understand what the rumors were all about.
This was when I decided to listen to the Rush Limbaugh radio show. I had heard about him but had never actually listened to his programs. I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t believe the content but also his anger was so strange to me. What kind of person was this? I began to do some research on this angry man and here’s what I found out. Between 1979 and 1984, Limbaugh was the Director of Promotions for the Kansas City Royals baseball team and became great friends with its All-Star George Brett, a noted ultra-conservative from Orange County California. It was George Brett who was at the center of the racism controversy that I discovered many years earlier. I also want to mention that since I arrived in L.A. in 2000, I have met people who have known Limbaugh personally and who experienced his racism, sexism and other prejudicial viewpoints.
I am writing about this personal story because of the degree to which the Conservative movement, now represented by Donald Trump, denies its racism, sexism and nativism. But this is the philosophical core of it and it has been for four decades or more. It was also the reason for the Republican southern strategy developed by Karl Rove who made a conscious decision to turn the South from Democratic to Republican by catering to fundamental Christians and fearful white people.
Rush Limbaugh was the driver of this movement. He and others prepared the way for Fox news and what I feel that it does is this – it caters to fear of others who are different from white people and it allows a person who holds deep prejudices to feel justified. I have listened to Trump supporters answer questions from reporters asking them what would Trump have to do for them to stop supporting him. And, he has an almost blank-check support from those who love him. Why do his sexism, racism, nativism, unbelievable narcissism and thin-skinned, childish nature not bother his supporters at all? It is because his supporters see themselves in him and feel comforted. And why are they not afraid of his authoritarianism? It is because they want a father-figure to fix things for them. Why do they like the fact that he does not read or learn more about the complex issues in the world around him? It is because they too do not expand their understanding of the world and of other people. And how about the use of code words and images to seemingly hide what the speaker is saying while everyone knows the truth of the not so hidden racism and sexism?
Have any of my readers seen the irony of Fox news defense of Christmas and its fear that the nation is taking it away from righteous Christians when the way we celebrate Christmas is originated from an entirely pagan tradition? I’ve been to Israel and I guarantee you that there are no Christmas trees there.
This article may seem to be very anti-Republican. Of course, not all Republicans or conservatives are racist, sexist and nativistic. In fact, when I was younger I liked many moderate Republicans. I liked Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He governed as a moderate in a liberal state and was popular for it. But when he ran for President all of that changed as he moved hard to the right.
Catering to Fear
Not all Republicans cater to fear. Not all conservatives are fundamental, anti-science Christians or climate change deniers. This is a recent phenomenon and I am sharing my personal story to my readers to show that the present day incarnation is a relatively new paradigm that is a response to the Uranus/Pluto conjunction that occurred in the 60’s. It not only is a fear response to the new paradigm born in the 60’s, but the new Conservative movement actually justifies and encourages a fear/anger response to life’s changes. It is reactionary and idealizes a past that has never actually existed.
And most importantly, it automatically resists finding real solutions to the three biggest issues this nation and the entire world faces in the near future. It does this at a time when the people of this planet need open minds and loving hearts more than ever. To me it is scary to see that when the World needs new ways of thinking that the forces of negation and fear are so incredibly strong.
The three issues I am referring to are these:
- The impact of globalization and the population explosion.
- The exponential growth of technology and its economic effects it is having on those who are not trained to be able to get employment in this new work force.
- Climate change and importance of beginning to deal with it as soon as possible.
I will write more about my thoughts about possible solutions in my next article. What I want to express now is that there are solutions to these problems. And, they may not be that hard for us. But in today’s anti-intellectual, anti-government climate, nothing can be done because the majority of the U.S. population either denies the problems exist or they blame others (they are usually called ‘liberals’) for why they exist.