Why Trump Supporters Need to Demonize Democrats — and How Our Silence Helps Them Do This
Before I move into the theme that drives this article, a theme that came to me quite suddenly, I should give the definition of “demonize.” Here are three:
Cambridge English dictionary: to try to make someone or a group of people seem completely evil.
Merriam-Webster: to portray (someone or something) as evil.
Oxford Learner’s Dictionary: to describe someone or something in a way that is intended to make other people think of them or it as evil.
I think it is safe to say that when people demonize others or objects, they want us to see those same people and objects as EVIL. By inference, those same people see themselves as being NOT evil. So they set up a world that is extremely clear in its form. It is not just a mindset of “them” and “us.” It is a mindset that opens the door to the eradication of “them.” They believe they are better than “them.”
Of course, that is a dangerous road to take in any society and culture and country, but especially in the United States of America, a democracy founded to incorporate and sustain freedom, liberty, and justice for all the people. Its premise lies in the freedom to voice dissent, and the right of every person to live without fear.
Demonizing anything is intended to create and promote fear.
Why? Why does anyone want to do that? That is the question that brings me to write here, to sort out what I see happening, and to understand, if I can. I was reflecting on why Trump supporters are so eager to demonize Democrats, their own fellow citizens, who are part and parcel of the same country.
Some of the responses I’ve gotten to two articles I wrote earlier about Trump, which I describe below, helped me see what drives those who believe Democrats must be announced — and condemned — as evil, and how those responders feel compelled to say so in public and private forums with strident certainty, with an absolutism that brooks no disagreement.
Absolutism is a state of mind that prevents a true democracy from thriving. It requires the abdication of interdependency, cooperation, trust, and change.
Ultimately, the desire to create such fear is the immense need to exclude others. It is a protective stance, one designed to keep the demonizer safe. For this is the paradox: No one tries to instill fear in others by demonizing a person or group or object unless they themselves are filled with fear. Of what? Of change, most of all, of having to deal with any challenge to their embedded mindset. But it is also fear of being unable to know where they are, and who they are, if that change occurs. Beliefs they hold will crumble faced with the truth of liberty and happiness for all. That is the mindset.
It makes no sense to me, and it has not always been the way in Washington. But bipartisan legislation began to break down in the 1980s, though its beginnings probably began earlier. It was then the seeds of this visceral hatred of Democrats began. It reminded me that almost all conflicts have existed between those who know each other, who share the same land, and who somehow become polar opposites on the political spectrum.
We have many examples of how quickly some people respond to a leader’s agenda to exclude some part of a culture or society from being accepted and integrated. Those excluded are civilians in the very same country, often people who have been in that society as long or longer than the leader and his supporters — yet they are chosen for vilification. And too often it has worked, because our human self can too easily let go of our spiritual self if it means attaining more, more of anything, but especially more of belonging to a favored group.
Examples abound — we know Hitler’s whole premise was to unite the German people under the banner of white Aryan supremacy. We have Lon Nol in Cambodia in the Killing Fields, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Hirohito in Japan, Francisco Franco in Spain, Ian Smith in Rhodesia, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominincan Republic, Yahya Khan of Pakistan, Theodore Sindikubwabo in Rwanda, Than Shwe in Myanmar, Yahya Jammeh in Gambia, not to mention the dictators before and now in North Korea and Russia…the list goes on, and on…
Representative government like that of the United States of America is a luxury, one that people have rarely experienced in human history. The desire of those demonizing the Democrats shares an outlook that takes away from that ideal and which is more than suggestive of the outlook of the dictators and one-party leaders named above.
It is an outlook that opposes our country’s bedrock foundation. We let it flourish if we stay silent. Our outcome may not reach the levels of violence and the loss of individual and social rights in dictatorships — yet — but if we stay silent and allow the demonization to continue, we encourage more of it to appear.
For two articles I have written, “The Immorality of Trump’s Followers” and “The Women Who Laughed When Trump Mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford,” I have received many positive messages. But I have also received hate mail in which the responder declared the evil of Democrats and described the benefits of having a world without them — effectively a one-party system. Our Founding Fathers deliberately chose a two-party system to avert the authoritarianism of the monarchy they had just left, to create a new ideal, a world of equality and freedom of thought. The responders who wrote to me would erase freedom of thought from the script utterly. Think their way — or essentially be condemned to the devil, figuratively speaking (and in some cases, in the mind of the responder, at least, literally speaking).
I realized it had to be something far deeper than disagreement that was going on. For whatever reasons, the country had become increasingly divided, and one part of it began to feel entitled, and express the desire to see the other party eradicated. Dissent was the equivalent of apostacy.
That outcome would, of course, change the trajectory of the US, as does every political decision that chooses entitlement of the self over others, the others the government was created to provide for, in essence, All The People.
It was then I understood what had evaded me before. The issue is not a problem that can be solved n the usual ways, through the usual mechanics of Congress and the Executive and Judicial branches — for those are now being either symbolically dismantled or merged, in defiance of The Constitution. Yet the outcry against this is minimal from the general population. Why?
I would ask now why we so easily resist conversation about politics in everyday life. Our silence, to my mind, lends us to a kind of complicity by lack of action with those who are doing the demonizing, which is bringing us as a country to the brink of the unknown.
I don’t mean we must resort to argument that incenses whoever we are talking with. I mean we need to listen to their anger, their fierce denial of change, their fear. It is not easy. Feelings well up in us of our own deep-seated resistance. We’d much rather keep it all on an even keel. We don’t want to ruffle the waters, or perhaps we simply don’t care (that one is hard to imagine, though we do have evidence of this in the fact that almost half the population failed to vote in the last election). This is how silence allows the demonization of anyone to continue.
We can stay silent. We can choose not to take action. And we can let this country implode into something our Founding Fathers never imagined.
But that isn’t what needs to happen. We can, if we choose, reach beyond our own inner resistance toward change and discussion.
We can give voice to our inner spiritual recognition that we are on this Earth together as the image that opens this article tells us in no uncertain terms. And it is no accident, no random set of events. We are here in co-creation with the Universe , and in everything going on now, it could be said a new way is trying to come through.
The Universe is trying to change the planet through each of us by bringing us a higher consciousness to acknowledge and live within.
That consciousness does not demonize, nor does it stay silent. It thrives in acceptance of the life force, and our own right to be here, that belongs to all of us.