In the heat of this year's Republican primary contest, I was asked by one of my followers, Robert, "How did we get here?" While it would be impossible to detail all the complex reasons in one short blog, here is my overview:
I believe it started when Jesus Joined the GOP, the title of a soon-to-be-published book by Terry Heaton, the former executive producer of The 700 Club with Pat Roberston. In his book, Heaton says that when Robertson spawned the Christian Coalition and The 700 Club's journalistic approach of "journalism with a different spirit," that model of a biased newscast morphed into Fox News that touts its reporting as "fair and balanced." Beyond Fox, journalism itself has been lowered to shallow showmanship, catering to the lowest common denominator for ratings with little interest, time or money for investigative, thoughtful, or even ethical accountability.
With subjectivity masquerading as news, politicizing religion, and forging an us-against-them approach, it is easy to see how people can be maneuvered, manipulated and mislead by suggesting that their fundamental beliefs are under attack, that their constitutional rights are about to be swept away, and that our country is going to hell in a hand-basket. While none of that is true, as we've seen with Donald Trump, demonizing a group, an ideology, a type or a race of people for perceived attacks makes those anxieties tangible and personal. It also helps with easy answers: get rid of the immigrants, the Muslims, the weak, the disabled, and any who oppose us, and our problems are solved.
The bluster of George W. Bush and his $3 trillion dollar preemptive wars, the brain-washing mantra of weapons of mass destruction hidden under the bed of every perceived enemy, the greed for oil, the arrogance of power that feeds on arousing fear and prejudice, juxtaposed later with the racial overtones opposing Obama's legacy at all costs has led us to a dangerous political arena of self-righteous, vulgar, narcissistic, racist, fear mongering. (Is it any wonder Trump did not clearly disavow the support of the KKK!) Angry masses who feel powerless and who are emotionally hammered have historically followed demigods even if it means blindly throwing themselves off the proverbial cliff to be saved.
Study the decay of great civilizations, the dictators who promise everything but deliver only chaos and upheaval and misery to a population that is marginalized, divided and angry and you can see how it can happen anywhere. Even in the good old USA.