Altemeyer on Trump’s Supporters

Posted in: Politics

When writing my book Conservatives Without Conscience (Penguin, 2007) about the authoritarianism that was gaining influence in the Republican Party in the early 2000s, I read most everything that social scientists had to say about folks with such dispositions. Particularly helpful was psychology professor Bob Altemeyer’s book for Harvard University Press, The Authoritarian Specter (1996). No one has done more ground-breaking work in testing the nature of these people than this professor, who was then at the University of Manitoba in Canada. A native of St. Louis who had done his graduate work at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Bob is also a keen student of American politics. Indeed, his son is in the business in Canada, and a member of the Manitoba Legislature.

I thought it would be helpful to many Americans to be exposed to Bob’s scholarly studies, and convinced him to write them up in a book for the general reader. He did, and placed it online for anyone to read for free. See The Authoritarians. (Last time I checked, over 670,000 people had visited the book, and hopefully read it!)

Bob Altemeyer saw Donald Trump coming. More accurately, he saw the kinds of men and women who would vote for a Donald Trump-type candidate for high office. These are people he described in earlier works as Right Wing Authoritarians, and Enemies of Freedom. Without going too deep into the weeds, let me note a few of these people score high on testing that shows they not only can be devoted followers of authoritarian leaders, the so-called social dominators like Trump who want to be in charge, but they also test high as social dominators themselves. These seemingly incongruous testing results—testing high as both followers and leaders—have been explained as the social dominators envisioning the type of follower they want as leaders, or their willingness to be good followers until they get their chance to become leaders. I labeled these “double high” people as conservatives without conscience, because it is a perfect description of those who top both scales in this testing.

When I started writing about these authoritarian personalities in 2005, I was looking for an explanation of the people who had taken charge of the Republican Party. That’s when I found Altemeyer’s work, which was (and still is) widely accepted. In fact, he was awarded the prestigious prize for behavioral science research in 1986, when the American Association for the Advancement of Science recognized his work. Working in 2005, I asked him what percentage of the American population might he estimate (or intelligently guess) were authoritarian followers, and he thought maybe 30 percent. Working on my book it seemed inconceivable that so few could ever elect a president. When Trump emerged in 2015 as a GOP contender, while I thought he could win the nomination, I was certain that was the end of the road: “Of only one thing am I absolutely certain: Donald Trump will never be President of the United States, so rest easy. Authoritarians remain a minority in America, thankfully,” I declared on July 24, 2015.

Authoritarians do remain a minority, but with non-voters and anti-Hillary Clinton voters, Trump pulled off a historic upset. It appears his core supporters remain faithful—regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. So, I asked Bob Altemeyer, what if anything would get through to the Trump supporters, given the fact Trump has shown himself, so far, totally incompetent as President of the United States. Set forth below in italics is material from Bob, who is now enjoying his retirement.

It took many months for Americans to stop supporting President Nixon during Watergate, and even at the end he could count on a hard knot of supporters who would believe him, as he said to [his chief of staff] H. R. Haldeman, because they wanted to. (NYT, 11/22/1974, p. 20). A few days before he resigned, 24% of a Gallup sample approved of the way Nixon was doing his job, including 38% of the Republicans polled.

Most of Donald Trump’s supporters are probably people whom social psychologists call authoritarian followers, because they are so supportive of the authorities they consider legitimate. These are the people Trump was talking about when he famously bragged that he could shoot somebody in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and it would make no difference to his backers. They are the people who so willingly took the “loyalty pledge” at Trump rallies in the early primaries—even calling on Trump to “do the swearing” when he had skipped it.

We know enough about authoritarian supporters from research, and history, to know it will be very hard to change their minds about the leader they adore.

  • They are extremely ethnocentric, dividing the world sharply into people in their in-group, and automatically disliking all others. They feel politicians who promote minority rights and immigration discriminate against them. Donald Trump tells them they are right. He is their champion.
  • They are highly dogmatic. They get their ideas from others in the in-group, especially from their leader, not from evidence and logic. They say there is no evidence that will make them change their minds. They’re quite comfortable believing “alternate facts.”
  • They get great satisfaction from being part of a large movement. Being in a cohesive crowd at rallies thrills them because they silently tell one another, just by being there, that they are powerful and right. They create an echo chamber that reinforces the belief that all the good people think like they do.
  • They severely limit their sources of information. They get the news that they want to get. This also produces an echo chamber when the news sources they trust are copying each other and relaying Trump’s message.
  • They have highly compartmentalized minds. When an unpleasant truth forces its way into their awareness, they do not try to integrate the other things they believe with it. Instead they put it in a box and isolate it from the rest of their thinking, which proceeds as if the truth never existed.

Put all this together and you get an idea how hard it will be to change their minds about Donald Trump.

One can expect some of Trump’s followers to waver if the months ahead are thick with damaging revelations like those that brought down the Nixon White House. But a repeat of “Watergate-type scandals” may not damage Trump as much as they did Nixon.

Nixon had little means of communicating directly with his supporters. Trump’s followers eagerly await his tweets to tell them the truth they will believe and repeat to one another. And so far, they have apparently believed everything he’s said.

Second, the major news outlets in the 1970s were the three TV networks. There was no Fox News. And while there were some newspaper columnists and radio personalities who supported Nixon, today there are dozens of Trump-endorsing blogs that are on tens of millions of “Favorites” lists in American homes.

Third, Trump’s party controls all three branches of the federal government.

Given this gloomy assessment of how likely Trump’s support is going to weaken, it seems clear that the more effective strategy now is to activate the Americans who oppose him, who happily amount to a solid majority of the public.

Questions [people ask):

How do people get this way? Answer: There is evidence that authoritarian followers are more afraid than most people. And also, that they were trained in self-righteousness, and ethnocentric thinking in early age.

Will Trump supporters never change? Answer: Some will, if their personal experience shows them Trump has misled them or caused them grief, such as a loss of medical coverage. And if you anticipate a close election in 2020, these people are worth pursuing. But Trump will blame others, and his supporters will give him the benefit of the doubt more than most people will.

Isn’t all this true of Obama/Clinton supporters too? Answer: Yes, to a certain extent, but the studies show it’s much more prevalent “on the right.” If you want a generalization about generalizations, these things are about 2-3x as true among right-wingers as among left-wingers. Research has shown that “progressives” are much less ethnocentric, much less prejudiced, much more likely to be guided by logic and evidence, much more likely to have consistent ideas, much less likely to conform, much less likely to trust someone just because he says he agrees with them, have much more self-insight, and so on.

With that information in mind, from someone who may understand Trump supporters better than Trump does, it is clear that to prevail in 2018 and 2020, Democrats must focus on getting sympathetic non-voters to the polls, and bring back into the fold the anti-Hillary folks, who suffered from Clinton exhaustion—voters who are clearly not right-wing authoritarians.

69 responses to “Altemeyer on Trump’s Supporters”

  1. Edward Tomchin says:

    But Mr. Dean, you’ve missed talking about the gerrymander shenanigans that also allowed Trump to win just the right parts of those critical sates that gave him the electoral vote by such a wide margin when the popular vote threw him under the bus by nearly 3 million voters. Would also appreciate some enlightening on how more rational minded folks would go about wooing those Trump supporters who are beginning to wonder about his sanity, his patriotism and his concern for the vast American majority.

    • trotts1 says:

      Gerrymandering has no effect on “at large” elections, like for President or Senator; only on House elections that cover only a specific area.

      • shanen says:

        Probably another troll, but just to get you to confirm yourself, let me note the OBVIOUS effect of depressed turnout due to gerrymandering. The act of voting may be binary, but the decision to vote is NOT.

    • ElmoGlick says:

      You’re arrogant and an elitist. “Wooing those Trump supporters…” Like we’re a bunch of fools and idiots. I know exactly what I would have been getting had I voted for Trump, as I wanted to, but for the then unresolved questions about Steve Bannon and anti-semitism (now satisfactorily resolved). He’s doing a great job on most of the issues I care most about: national defense, relations with the international rogues (China, Russia, North Korea and Iran) and putting some brakes on out-of-control growth of an increasingly unaccountable bureaucracy.

      Like I’m an idiot for not wanting to vote for a criminal like Hillary Clinton–I’ve known about this woman since the early ’90’s. I had the unfortunate experience to work at one time for one of her longtime, very close friends. Trump is like Jesus compared to her. She should be locked up and the Clinton Foundation disgorged of all its ill-gotten gains.

      • Raven says:

        “Trump is like Jesus….” — Just to compare Trump’s minority-hating agenda to the Sermon on the Mount, or even only the passage in Matthew 25:31-46… ‘whatever you did [or not] for one of the least of these my brethren, you did [or not] for me’… is enough to falsify that.

        And “… compared to [Hillary Clinton]”, who as an example of her concern pushed universal health care, and at least accomplished programs like CHIP (children’s health insurance)?

        As for the Clinton Foundation’s “ill-gotten gains”, already debunked last year:

        In March, 2015, the charity watchdog group Charity Navigator added the Clinton Foundation to a watch list (a designation meant to warn donors that questions have been raised about an entity’s practices), after several news organizations raised questions over donations from corporations and foreign governments. It removed the foundation from its watch list in late December of that year. In September 2016, it gave it its highest possible rating, four out of four stars, after its customary review of the Foundation’s financial records and tax statements.

      • Raven says:

        As for your first sentence… Isaac Asimov wrote in 1980:

        We have a new buzzword, too, for anyone who admires competence, knowledge, learning and skill, and who wishes to spread it around. People like that are called “elitists”. That’s the funniest buzzword ever invented because people who are not members of the intellectual elite don’t know what an “elitist” is, or how to pronounce the word. As soon as someone shouts “elitist” it becomes clear that he or she is a closet elitist who is feeling guilty about having gone to school.


    • Ron Genise says:

      Gerrymandering only affects house races at the federal level and assembly races at the state level.

    • JPRVS says:

      Most states award all of their electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote in the state. e.g. only Nebraska and Maine award electoral votes to popular vote winners in Congressional districts, so gerrymandering applies more to apportionment of seats in the House than it does to the presidential selection process.

      Trump won, because his campaign targeted a few key swing states and had a clear set of policy ideas — equal parts racist and economically populist (he was honest about the ethno-nationalism, but not about his economic commitments). e.g. he hit Clinton on trade policy, which had strong resonance in the industrial midwest, which has been hit hard by globalization. Clinton had no real rebuttal on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). She shifted her position on the issue in the Fall of 2015 after years of supporting the trade policy; her VP selection changed his position on the issue the day he was selected as her VP candidate. Those shifts weren’t seen as credible, and likely hurt her in in the midwest (Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin). If Clinton had selected a VP with more credible opposition to the TPP, it probbaly would have helped — especially if the member had ties to the region (e.g. Sherrod Brown). The Clinton team also didn’t prioritize ground organization sufficiently in key states; it didn’t put enough value in persuasion, and it placed a bad strategic bet on its ability to offset losses with working class Dems, by making in-roads with upper-income suburban Republican leaning voters.

      Nationally, Clinton outperformed Obama’s 2012 numbers in only a handful of upper-income suburban districts. But those gains were offset by the fact that she did significantly worse pretty much everywhere else. A portion of the white working class vote that Obama received in 2008 and 2012 shifted to Trump (estimated to be about 2 to 3 million votes). In the states that swung the election, there was also a decline in participation of over 1 million votes (some likely caused by restrictive voter ID laws, but also due to a lack of enthusiasm on the part of some voters, and a lack of commitment of resources by the Clinton campaign to its ground organization).

      Trump’s hardcore support base, will probably be with him until the bitter end.

      The biggest growth opportunity for Democrats will come from engaging and mobilizing the nearly half of the electorate that decided to sit out the election (including lower income voters and young voters — young voters also fall into the lower income category). The party as a whole would benefit as well from decentralizing its spending, and building local and state party organizations, rather than burning billions of dollars with DC-based consultancies tied to various Democratic party power-players operatives. Unfortunately, that’s not really happening right now, although there are efforts to rebuild local and state parties (without much assistance or direction from the national party).

      • Raven says:

        > “… the nearly half of the electorate that decided to sit out the election (including lower income voters…)…” — Out of a comment I otherwise found agreeable, this was the reason I could not upvote, since the GOP relied heavily on a strategy of suppressing Democratic votes, notably by lower-income voters.

  2. shanen says:

    Thank you for proving John Dean’s points so clearly. Or is it just a clever parody? If a parody, I congratulate you, if not, I can only weep for the increasingly probably death of America and the good things the nation once stood for.

  3. TruthSeeker says:

    So people that believe in the Jeffersonian principle of “government governs best that governs the least”, equal protection under the law and the capitalist principle of creating one’s own destiny are authoritarians? Many Trump supporters were Democrats. Will they still be authoritarians if they return to Democrat ranks?

  4. robertgalli says:

    Pretty much all you’ve said is wrong. For one, look what President Obama started with. And how about the over 3000 Americans who died on our own soil because then-president Bush didn’t heed intelligence warnings provided before 11 September 2001? And how about the several American soldiers who recently died in a skirmish in the Middle East under the current president’s regime. I guess al lthat was fake news, huh?

  5. Frank Willa says:

    Mr Dean, thank you for this insightful article. It lays out the dynamics of the authoritarian personality and the extreme difficulty in overcoming what in my view is a highly destructive personality, and the political realities that it- they- have created. My opinion is that they feel justified in destroying anyone that does not conform to their views; they see others as not only disposable, but that they should be “honored” for ridding the society of the dead-weight. My take is that as they go about implementing this agenda, they think others should see the error of their existence and admit that their life thus far is a mistake and correct it by adopting the thoughts and agenda that they propound. They do not respect others, nor recognize a difference of opinion. They fear anyone or anything that does not agree with them. I think that fear, overwhelming fear, is the underlying personality dynamic that causes someone to grow through childhood and become an authoritarian. The response to that is an overcompensation, thus the aggression, the bluster, and the bravado. To me it seems very immature; they just never made it to the adult stage. They therefore miss out on so much of what the rest of us enjoy, an appreciation of the marvelous diversity of life, the self confidence not to be threatened by others who are different, the ability to be flexible and to live and work without the needless destruction.

  6. Frank Willa says:

    Thank you for proving Mr. Dean’s point.

  7. Patrick Eastin says:

    Your metrics are bullshit to begin with. You completely neglect to mention the recession of 2009, completely. Your assessment of unemployment is completely erroneous and fabricated to fit your anti Obama agenda. This racial divide your describe is perverse and fabricated by people like you who unquestionably could not deal with an African American President. Your biases are blatantly obvious and you are exactly what part of this article describes, a trump authoritarian follower. You don’t even have a thought of your own as your drivel comes directly from every other trump authoritarian follower who got the propaganda from the authoritarian leader in the first place, your narcissistic pathological liar of a leader, trump.

  8. Itsmommy says:

    As Professor Altemeyer said, these particular Conservatives have trouble accepting logic and facts.

  9. Hu Flung Poo says:

    John W. Dean, a Justia columnist, is a former counsel to the president, and a convicted felon.

  10. DeeAnnRowley says:

    Thank you for a clear example of what this article was about. Each of your points can be easily debunked with evidence and logic, yet there at those who still cling to the Right Wing talking points from the past 8 years. I hope you it won’t take something major like the loss of your health insurance for you to re-evaluate your sources of information.

  11. Fel Jones says:

    Thanks, Brett. Excellent summary of the Fox News “fair and balanced” highlights during the Obama years. All in one place and succinct. Well done.

  12. Jose Torres says:

    @brett – Who are you trying to convince?

    You quote, “The racial divide widened”. Sadly, I must agree. It would be good to have you persuade me why that might be attributable to Obama. And since I’m a moderate and not a liberal, then if you used facts well, it is possible to convince me.

    Sincerely, I’m listening.

  13. spike91nz says:

    The real issue is whether or not America can expect to have any fair elections in the future. It is clear that the right is willing to compromise democratic principles when the demographics indicate that the minorities threaten to become the majority.

  14. Michael says:

    Example “A”

  15. DownriverDem says:

    You are ignoring all that the repubs have done since the 1970s that has hurt we the people big time. It is not as simple as you make it seem.

  16. guest says:

    John Cassidy
    Obama’s Economic Record: An Assessment: Obama’s policies helped lift the economy out of a frightening slump and set it on a path to steady, if unspectacular, growth. In fact, I’d call
    this his biggest achievement. The New Yorker. January edition.

    “the racial divide widened;”
    There has always been a racial divide non-minorities refuse to recognize it because it doesn’t affect them. The racial divide kicked in at wrap speed with Ronald Regan and republican, racists, bigots, white supremacist, Nazi’s and rural American all embraced it as gospel. Do you remember his welfare queen campaign speeches? Research them. The Willie Horton maneuver? All racial code aimed at Black People.

    ISIS was founded in 1999. In its current incarnation the entire upper echelon was made up of ex Iraqi military officers after Bush disbanded the army and sent them home with no paychecks and their careers ruined… and did so against the pleadings of our allies like the British who begged him to put them on the borders (away from the interior) and keep their paychecks coming. They then recruited their then disbanded army. These guys were trained soldiers with no other skills and the dimwit sent them home with no money and nothing to do. By 2006, ISIS was over 10 times the size it was in 2003. ISIS or a similar group was the absolutely inevitable result of Bush’s decision. They are just ANOTHER in a long string of disasters that seems to ALWAYS be the result of a Republican administration, all left for a Democrat to clean up. ISIS was formed years before President Obama took the oath of office. Of course none of the howling right wing base has read enough to be aware of any of that, but the rest of us have and it made Trump look like babbling halfwit every time he mentioned it.

    “health insurance premiums and deductibles skyrocketed”
    Health insurance premiums go up every year regardless. People who have always had health insurance know this. ACA care isn’t perfect and could be better but blame you republicans co-horts who are the slaves of corporate American for it not being better. Republican constitutes across the country are demanding that they leave Obamacare alone. Insurance, even with high delectable is better than no insurance. Why do you want to deny people health insurance? Children especially. What kind of monster are you?

    “four Americans were killed at Benghazi”
    Any death is tragic but people in this profession know the risk and accepts them as part of their job. Let’s talk about accountability and the double standard. This is what history shows:

    305 deaths on Ronnie Reagan watch. 241 deaths was attributed to lack of security. Regan was never held accountable for this nor was his Secretary of State. Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi: New Yorker Magazine. Type title in search.
    Around dawn on October 23, 1983, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen. The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left a vehicle gate wide open, and ordered the sentries to keep their weapons unloaded. The only real resistance the suicide bomber had encountered was a scrim of concertina wire. Thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

    Six months earlier, militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven C.I.A. officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief. In March of 1984, three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the C.I.A.’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered.

    From the article: “The only real resistance the suicide bomber had encountered was a scrim of concertina wire. ”

    When Bush was president, there were 13 embassy or consulate attacks. 98 people were killed.
    January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Five people are killed. June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. 12 killed. October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Two people are killed. May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 36 killed. July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Two killed. December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Nine killed. March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Four killed including U.S. diplomat David Foy. This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years. September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four killed. January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Two killed. July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Six killed. September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Sixteen killed. This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

    Other administrations:
    Bush Sr: 98 people were killed. Bush Jr. lie about Iraq war-MILLIONS and people are sill dying from the after effects. Convicted as a war criminal by the Hague. Clinton-8. Obama-4.

    Research each event. No one pointed a finger until 4 people died on the watch of a Black president and his female Secretary of State who the republicans hate with a passion.

    If you want to hold people accountable, lets start with Regan. Posthumously lets try him and hold him accountable for the not securing that chain link fence in Beirut that a bombers truck just drove through and blew up a barrack full of sleeping marines on grounds that were not secure.

    • Pat McDowell says:

      Nice summary, Guest! I would like to post it in Daily Ko’s, with your permission?

  17. Patsy Berryman says:

    Brett, you forgot that Republicans were in charge and dragging their feet all the time Obama was in office. They blocked everything the Democrats tried to do, even stealing a Supreme Court Justice.
    Benghazi was a witch hunt according to Cong. McCarthy who blurted out the truth on TV, accidently. Fast and Furious was another Bush debaucle. I could go on, but your post has FOX written all over it.

  18. CultJamPro says:

    Your Gish Gallup/laundry list is unimpressive. For one thing, Obama inherited an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs when he took over. IRS was a phony scandal. You wrote, “law enforcement was denigrated too often” Do you mean Obama criticized the Cambridge cop for luring professor outside to arrest him for bullshit offense? The charges against Black Panthers were dismissed by Bush DOJ. Obama DOJ warned the BP against doing any similar actions in the future. Also, Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi!

  19. Ted says:

    Yup. You’re the guy he’s talking about. Alt facts. I can shed light on every bullet point but you’d still choose to remain in the dark.

  20. Ed Howard says:

    Actually Obama guided us through the worst recession/depression since 1930. The United States was loosing 200,000 jobs a month brought on by the Bush/Cheney Administration.
    It was Obama’s tireless actions that saved a Major US company,General Motors.
    You go through all these things that Hillary was suppose to have done to cause the deaths in Benghazi which is bull..and go on about a weak economy and a lot of other negatives about President Obama.
    Lets face it Brett,these are not the reasons you hate Obama,not for what he did or didn’t do.You dislike Obama for the reason that all other Republican racists do,even, Republicans in Congress.
    You hate Obama because he is Black. You hate the fact that we actually elected the first African American President that will be remembered as one of the Greatest Presidents in our nations history.

  21. Sven Johannson says:

    Spoken like a true Fox News loyalist Fox News where Facts never matter #1 cable news for one reason Ideology Party before facts Party before Country.. U call taking 22 million away from health insurance and giving the top 2% a 800 billion tax relief a Health Bill .. Facts never matter to Republicans

  22. Jack Hughes says:

    Republicans obstructed Obama’s economic program from 2010 onward — and then blame him for lack of progress — and that was on the heels of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

    What you’ve cited here is nothing but a regurgitation of right-wing propaganda, such as your ridiculous Benghazi nonsense which has been repeatedly refuted by numerous Republican-dominated congressional investigations.

    You’ve proved the article’s point brilliantly. Well done.

  23. Observer says:

    Do you have any awareness at all that you “are” what the article was about??

  24. wld85022 wld85022 says:

    Damn, Brett…… You are the person Dean described in his article! What’s it like living in NeverNeverland?

  25. dballance says:

    Well, Brett, you just proved the point of the article. Almost NONE of what you posted is accurate. At least not for the reasons you believe. Yet you believe it uncritically because Fox and Republicans tell you it is so.

    Yes, the growth was slow. You must remember though, the reason the growth boomed after the depression was WWII and post WWII expansion including a HUGE amount of government spending on infrastructure. Like the TVA, the interstate system and other projects. The private sector will never match this – ever. Their for-profit motive drives their behavior. Their need to put profit over the public good means they will never undertake projects of the size and scope the government can and should undertake. This spending came to a crashing end under Reagan and has remained the case because of the supply-side economics the GOP favors. This led to your second point about food stamps and public assistance. It’s called cause and effect. You might want to look up that concept – especially as it pertains to climate change.

    With respect to the stagnant wages (stagnant under Obama, not declining as you assert see: also note, the Republican congress and legislatures that dominate the country are responsible for the economic policy keeping wages low., Again – it’s the supply-side, trickle down theory that isn’t working. People have to have jobs with living wages to have disposable income to spend. That determines growth. Not continually giving tax breaks to the top 1%. They don’t go out and spend the money. They shuffle it around on paper. So there is never an exchange of those dollars through multiple wage-earners’ hands to buy and sell real goods and services to create more demand. Even the senior Bush called the failed trickle-down theory Voodoo Economics and realized it doesn’t work.

    The racial divide widened because of people like Trump calling our first African American President an illegitimate foreigner. And people like Trump and so many elected GOP officials making immigrants, Muslims – anyone other than white people the enemy to blame for any and everything. This has worked well to deflect the actual blame away from their regressive policies. I no longer think it actually widened. I believe now it was always still there but became more visible. And is now even more visible with Trump’s use of blatant racism and bigotry to get elected.

    The class divide has certainly widened and continues to widen. Again, take a look at “cause and effect” and the failed policy of supply-side economics. Didn’t work under any of the Republican Presidents who tried it. Won’t work now. Yes, Republican policies have made economic inequality worse. And make no mistake, the policies responsible for our current state of inequality are Republican supply-side, trickle-down nonsense that has been blinding pursued by the hard-line GOP in the congress. It’s going to get worse by the way. The Trump bump is already starting to subside.

    America’s standing in the world fell due to the Bush-Cheney administration – not due to Obama. The world didn’t want us going into the Middle East and screwing it up but we did anyway. ISIS came to being due to the Bush-Cheney administration totally screwing up the Middle East and leaving it in complete disarray. The world lost respect for the US when we became the nation of torture and secret rendition. The nation that openly ignored the Geneva Convention agreements and flaunted our behavior. Bush is the President who signed the agreement for withdrawal from the middle east with a specified time table. Obama was locked in and given how the Bush-Cheney administration treated the region no one was willing to re-negotiate the time-table.

    Absolutely NO Americans have been targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs. Political organizations were targeted for review based upon the fact they tried to file as non-political, tax-exempt organizations when they were in fact political organizations.

    Health insurance premiums went up because we have a for-profit health care system. Someone wants to make a profit off whether or not you live or die. They think your living or dying is a profit center. That’s just morally unacceptable. Not only that, the for-profit health care system has not led to greater efficiency and better health outcomes. Every, EVERY, country that has a national heath care system has lower costs and better health outcomes than the US.

    Let me put this clearly THERE WAS NO STAND DOWN ORDER FOR BENGHAZI. The the majority report issued by the House Select Committee on Benghazi plainly stated that, minutes after learning about the ongoing attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued “clear orders to deploy military assets” see Or, if you prefer from FOX news: “No stand down order or military missteps in Benghazi attack, GOP-controlled intel panel finds” see link So once and for all – stop saying it. It isn’t true.

    The same goes for the Black Panther allegations. NOT TRUE. See:

    You prove the point of the article. You believe and repeat whatever you are told. And I’m certain you will dismiss everything I’ve written here as some liberal view and opinion. Well, it isn’t my opinion, it isn’t alternative facts (aka LIES), it isn’t fake news. It is what it is. An inconvenient truth for you.

  26. Gradivus says:

    Justia has become a proselytizer, a shill for the Trump-hating “Resist and replace Trump” movement. Anyone who subscribes to their case law summaries has to put up with their partisan anti-Trump reports and articles.

  27. Barbara Prete says:

    You omit the reason for everything you listed which is that the Bush administration destroyed the economy and when President Obama took office we were headed for another depression which he and the Democrats in congress narrowly averted because of sabotage by the gop.
    If you want to talk about history at least try and get the basic facts straight. Pretty much everything you cite are right wing talking points with no relationship to reality. Go worship twitler and leave others alone to try and keep this country afloat.

  28. Mark J Weaver says:

    What are you smoking? The month Obama was sworn in, over 700,000 people lost their jobs. He inherited a disaster from Bush Jr. and made it better month by month. We reached nearly full employment by the time he was done
    . The ACA helped many millions of people get health care or improve it. The middle east is indeed a mess, since Bush Jr. broke it with the stupid and criminal invasion of Iraq. These are facts. Get used to them, if you know how.

  29. Michael Carleton says:

    You prove John Dean’s point with your “facts:”
    Lets dig into the data shall we. I think we can all agree that when evaluating the economic performance of a two term presidency, focusing on the last 6 years is best as to exclude any “holdover” effect from the previous administration policies. Most economists content that the impact of any new economic policy requires at least a 1.5 years to occur after the policy is enacted. So here we go.
    Last 6 years of Obama presidency saw the following:
    Stock market up 140%
    GDP average growth: 1.7% Note this is dead on the average for years in which we have had divided government. So while not record breaking certainly not below average by any estimate. Note GW Bush 2 -term performance by this metric is worse than Obama in large part because he loses the “Clinton” effect of his first term and suffers from the economic collapse at the end of term 2.
    Unemployment rate: dropped 4.2% during the last 6 years of Obama’s term. This number would be greater than 5% if we included first 2 years of presidency.
    Note Obama’s job creation was approx 13 million less than Clinton and about of 8 million less than Reagan, it was markedly better by near 10 million over GW Bush.
    Wages did drop under Obama, in large part due to the economic collapse he inherited. Nevertheless, after bottoming out in 2012 wages increased by about 1.5% be end of 2nd term. So while we can argue about how this might have been made better, such as raise the minimum wage, it was moving in the right direction suggesting Obama policies were having a positive not negative impact in this area.
    GW Bush in his 2 terms saw 13 total attacks on American embassies/consulates with 60 deaths.
    ISIS was born out of a very ill-informed foreign policy that posited the following:
    1: Iraq was responsible in part for 9/11
    2. Allowing the majority Shia to control/rule Iraq displacing the minority Sunni would not result in a shit show of sectarian retribution, the destabilization of the middle east and the empowerment of Iran.
    3. Spreading democracy by force and occupation is a good idea that will not drive the formation of an insurgency. (see 2 term GW Bush). Nevertheless, it is possible that a different policy choice in the middle east might have prevented the rise of ISIS, however to blame Obama for this entirely ignores facts such as the dissolution of the Sunni Iraqi army and the placement of a Shia led government in Iraq, all decisions made by GW. One might also point out that your issues with the Obama economy would be even stronger had the US continued to flush trillions of dollars down the shit show that was Iraq further limiting economic investment in the US.
    Healthcare deductibles and premiums continue to rise and the ACA has not lived up to its promises to moderate these increases. This is due to a variety of issues some of which are not a cause of the ACA. As an example in those states that did not accept the medicaid expansion and worked against developing an ACA market place with multiple insurer options the costs in these states have gone up much faster than in states that have attempted to implement all aspects of the ACA. Second, the ACA did not fundamentally alter how healthcare is delivered in the US which is a ration-base system based upon income and not based upon long term public health and need, not to mention how drug pricing in the US system is a major cost driver, another item not touched by the ACA or current congressional alternatives.
    Iran currently doe not have a nuclear weapon. So fair to say Obama was successful in preventing them from getting one. If they get one now, and Trump has not taken action to reverse what you believe to be bad policy the end result is his to own. While I have not addressed every item in your post, I have attempted to provide you with objective facts (see reference links below.) I am curious however, I hear a lot about over regulation killing job creation. Are you able to provide cited studies that show specific regulations that prevented job creation in numbers that would be significant on the backdrop of in excess of 11 million jobs created under Obama.–6

  30. greenmonk says:

    You are comparing an apple to a big giant rotting orange.
    Obama was left with an economy in ruins, by a Republican president. At least the economy grew, if not as well as hoped, as opposed to degenerating into a depression as happened under Bush. Who himself was left a large surplus to work with. Which he immediately spent by handing over huge uneeded tax breaks to his wealthy friends and family, at the expense of infrastructure, education, and healthcare spending for Americans.

    The DOW Jones doubled, and employment doubled under Obama.

    And please…the racial divide was not Obama’s doing, but the REACTION to him, a black man, simply being President and those that didn’t like that. How did he ever stoke that?

    It wasn’t Obama that denigrated police, it was the police themselves that were engaged in various shootings and killings that were questionable, and thus in the news.

    America’s leadership slipped? Obama was respected far and wide. You really want to go there with how Trump, and because of that all America, is perceived by world leaders now?

    Obama brought health insurance to 22 million more Americans that otherwise would never have been able to afford it. Premiums would have gone up regardless. Now the GOP will take away all those newly insured and dismantle the Affordable Care Act, along with bringing back pre-existing condition clauses, and replace it with nothing or worse than nothing. While other countries enjoy a single payer universal system where everyone is covered from cradle to grave….and it costs half as much, the US is regressing under Republicans to a top down death panels approach by private insurers.

    ISIS? Who was created by a vacuum created by an illegal invasion based on lies by another Republican administration? An administration that enriched themselves with no-bid reconstruction contracts and oil contracts while debilitating future generations with billions in loans from China to pay for that? A withdrawal finalized by Bush? (because of the threat of the new Iraqi admin threatening to try American war criminals).

    The IRS that targeted liberal groups as well as Tea Party groups. If you cared to know that. There was so much dark money from the Koch brothers funding these groups to protest against billionaires losing tax breaks. Its almost laughable to watch poor Tea baggers fighting for the government to take away there social security and medicare and other benefits and hand over those savings to billionaires so they can buy that third yacht.

    And Benghazi? even after over 10 separate investigations, there is no conclusion reached that Hillary could have ever prevented such a thing. She wasn’t even in charge of that. Multiple bipartisan investigations have concluded that no ‘stand down’ order was ever issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli. Even Republicans from the House Armed Services Committee have refuted this claim. Its amazing how well this ‘fake news’ no doubt helped along by Russian trolls, has worked on gullible minds. Not to mention that under Bush there were 10 x more embassy terrorist killings with hardly a peep about it. Or that Republicans consistently refused to give Obama the increased funding for more security of embassies for years leading up to that incident. Part of the obstructionist agenda of Mitch McConnell.

    The amount of corruption, lies, secrecy, attacks on freedom of the press, on intelligence communities, on the rule of law, on international respect, public education, environmental protections for air and water, for the ability for the most corrupt billionaire class that he appointed to his cabinet to rip off average Americans should be absolutely gut wrenching for any decent law abiding American.

    But Hillary used the wrong email server. The rest of her “crimes” were invented and/or blown up by fake Fox news and Russian trolls. And you’all fell for it. Enough at least for Putin’s puppet to get in. Well done.

  31. brettjv says:

    Which RW web-site did you copy your list from? LOL. Nearly all of that is either bulls***, or a gross distortion of reality, Brett.

    “Real Wages” have been declining since the friggin’ 1970’s, other than when briefly buoyed in the 1998-2000 internet boom, and even then it was more ‘mean’ than ‘median’ if you understand the difference.

    And name me ONE THING any Republican legislator in the past 40 years has put forward that had the express purpose of RAISING people’s ‘real wages’? When they try to ‘ease regulations’, it’s ALWAYS with one purpose in mind: RAISE PROFITS for the Rich. Period. They don’t even PRETEND to WANT ‘higher wages’ for the public. Gimme a damn break w/that nonsense.

    “Unemployment was stagnantly high for years at and very near 5 percent (fueled in large part by over-regulation that held the job creators down)” Um … we’ve have RECORD-SETTING sustained gains in private-sector job growth going back to around 2010, once we got out of the BUSH RECESSION. No REPUBLICAN POTUS has presided over lower unemployment numbers than what we had in the 6 years from 2010-1016 since probably Eisenhower.

    Oh, and the ‘pre-announced withdrawal of troops’ … WAS PRE-ANNOUNCED BY THE BUSH ADMIN, who were the ones who negotiated the draw-down with the Iraqi government. Obama followed through with Bush’s agreement. So, nice try, but, ummmm … DERP?!?

    Yes, it’s true, millions more people went on ‘welfare’ and ‘food stamps’ … from 2008-2010. Again thanks to the BUSH RECESSION.

    ALSO, NUMEROUS REPUBLICAN-LED Congressional Committees have studied friggin’ Benghazi, and NOT ONE has come to the conclusion any ‘stand-down order’ was given. Nor did they come to the conclusion ANYBODY purposefully lied about anything. I guess Faux Nooz didn’t cover all that for you guys?

    Not to mention, when something like Benghazi HAPPENS? The US Government is NOT ‘obligated’ to accurately provide the entire American Public every single bit of INTELLIGENCE or KNOWLEDGE that they have in their possession the second that they have it. What you have in that scenario is what’s known as an ‘active investigation’. Heard of one of those, maybe? Ergo, if it’s deemed by our Intel and Military apparatus to be advantageous to withhold info … or, yes, even outright LIE publicly about what’s known/not known … from the Public … because it increases the chances for either public safety or eventual justice? Then absent evidence to the contrary (which there is NOT any in this case), we should respect that decision, as long as we EVENTUALLY find out ‘the truth’ … which again, we did in this case.

    How long did it take us to pry the whole truth out of the Bush Regime over THEIR FAILINGS … on 9/11? Bush Admin had to be SHAMED into creating an independent commission over a YEAR LATER … and then HEAVILY redacted many of it’s findings FFS. We STILL don’t know the truth about the Saudi’s involvement.

    Fast And Furious … STARTED UNDER BUSH. And was NOT I repeat NOT … a ‘Federal Program’, nor is there any evidence Obama even knew about it until he did … and then he immediately took steps to stop it.

    AFA the IRS thing goes, again, investigated thoroughly by REPUBLICANS, who produced ZERO EVIDENCE that Obama had ANYTHING to do with it, nor was their ANY EVIDENCE of criminal wrong-doing. BTW, Liberal Groups were also ‘targeted’. Incompetence and lack of funding and proper guidelines within the IRS itself were the cause, not some grand Dem/Obama conspiracy. The people who failed in their job(s) … were fired.

    Rest assured, I could go through your whole list and easily destroy it’s feeble and deceptive ‘arguments’ … I mean very, very easily. But I haven’t more time to deal with some credulous internet troll copy/pasting utter BULL**** they dug up from the right-wing echo chamber, the place where ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ … go to DIE.

    Not to mention, Many, MANY liberals were disappointed w/regards to MANY things that Obama did or did not do. We called him out for plenty of stuff over the 8 years.

  32. Colette Williams says:

    America’s standing has gone down the toliet since Trump’s victory. Obama and Clinton did nothing wrong in Benghazi. Over a dozen republican led congressional investigations have found no evidence of negligence. Funny how you obsess over Benghazi but don’t care about the dozens of Americans killed in embassy attacks during Dubya’s administration.

    Obama’s ISIS strategy is working. That why ISIS has been losing ground over the last year.

    It always takes longer to recover ftom a financial collaspe than a “regular” recession. Maybe the recovery would’ve been faster had republicans worked with Obama instead of obstructing him at every turn.

    Conservatives were targeted by the IRS? Liberals were targeted by the FBI. What’s your point?

    Fast & Furious was started by the Bush administration.

    Standing outside a voting station is not intimidation unless 1) they have a gun, or 2) you’re afraid of black men.

    The agreement we struck with Iran effectively halted their nuclear program without firing a shot.

    You seem to be the type of person this article is talking about.

  33. Richard Wosylus says:

    You sure you ain’t talking about 43 Bush?? Seems like that what you are spewing is what the supporters of Bush 43 said after he left office..

  34. Hata H. Zappa says:

    That you actually said “It is much more difficult to change the minds of Obama supporters and liberals, despite the facts…” shows just how STUPID you actually are.

  35. Joel Gibbs says:

    Really…this is the list of Fox News talking points, largely BS or taken out of context.

  36. ElmoGlick says:

    This is absolute trash. I’m a former ACLU regional board member, before that a member of what was at one time the Socialist Party of Eugene Victor Debs and Norman Thomas, loyal supporter of free trade unionism and trade union member, staunch anti-communist (when there was something called communism), staunch opponent of any totalitarian and authoritarian movements and militant extremist Islamic jihadism, which is the greatest threat facing democractic societies (and not global warming or climate change or whatever the name du jour is.)

    I recoil at the growing anti-semitism and anti-Israel hate overtaking the Democratic Party so, despite the fact I retain my many decades-long registration as a Democrat, I would have voted for Trump, had I voted. I could never vote for the anti-semite Hillary, and it was only after the election that I felt that the allegations regarding Steve Bannon’s supposed anti-semitism were resolved to my satisfaction.

    Blah, blah, blah….Mr. Dean. I don’t need lectures from you on authoritarianism, and so forth. I’ve never been so weak as to succumb to the most authoritarian and lawless presidential administration in memory. You did. Now, forty years later, you’re trying to make up for it.

    This article is nonsense. Oh, and I forgot to mention my participation in civil rights marches with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Ralph Abernathy period. I wish I could have done more.

  37. Doug Tauber says:

    I don’t know where to start with cleaning up this huge mountain of bullshit that you just piled up here, but correct me if I’m wrong. Didn’t Obama take office after Conservatives imploded our economy? It’s one thing to trash the apartment that you share with a roomate, but it’s another to sit back and criticize someone for the way they are cleaning up the mess that YOU made, while at the same time, you obstruct the cleanup. Also, you cite the unemployment rate at 5% as being high? That’s the lowest its ever been since Bill Clinton left office. Fact: Unemployment rates, along with inflation, poverty, and middle class TAXES under Republican Presidents are higher than Dems, while Jobs created, stock market AND ECONOMIC GROWTH is higher under Dems. Obama’s growth rate may have been 2.0% but it still beats G.W. Bush’s 1.6%. As for the people who are on welfare, Before Obama took office, the beneficiary pool was already increasing under President George W. Bush, whose administration broadened eligibility criteria and tried to get more Americans to apply for SNAP assistance. The order to withdraw troops from Iraq was issued under President George W. Bush which he announced and an Iraqi reporter thew a shoe at him in case you forgot. Americans being targeted by the IRS? More like tax cheats were being targeted by the IRS. Operation Fast and Furious, again, implemented under the Bush administration. If health insurance premiums were “Skyrocketing” under Obamacare, then they were an ICBM before it was implemented. Iran was given a path towards nuclear armament when Reagan illegally sold them missiles and treasonous republicans gave him a free pass for something he should have been impeached for. There was no Stand down order given at Benghazi, that claim has been debunked numerous times, but there was an ignorant refusal to to listen to pre 9/11 intelligence which led to the deaths of not 4 Americans, but 3000 Americans on their own soil. Oh by the way, there was no effort to capture the guy who did it, except when Obama actually killed Bin Laden. And charges were dropped against the New Black Panthers because apparently, being black in a predominantly black neighborhood, standing in front of a voting poll station, opening up doors for people is not voter intimidation, especially when you are a certified poll watcher. I know citing facts to you folks is like putting fire to the Frankenstein monster but that’s fine I’m not here to change your mind, I’m just pointing out your ignorance of facts to everyone else.

  38. what a load of crap. Trump won for one reason. Deporting illegals.

  39. Scott Sanders says:

    I hate to tell you this Brett but you really don’t have a clue as to what went on during the Obama years. First Obama had to fix all of the damaged that Bush had done at the same time the Republican did all they could to block his efforts to undo the damage. ISIS happened because of Bush’s failed war in the ME. Benghazi was a joke 3,000 plus died on 9-11 and 60 plus died in embassies attacks under Bush and yet the GOP said and did nothing. Insurance premiums when up , first they have been going up since the first day that insurance began. 2nd they went up a lot less after the ACA. IN fact I went 4 years with no increase until this year and that is because of Trump BS and I have been buying my own for over 25 year. The rest of your statement is mostly right-wing BS turn off Rush and Fox and learn the meaning of facts and truth.

  40. Ron Genise says:

    Trump Dump in aisle three. The stench is strong with this one.

  41. Gillie Loring says:

    A perfect illustration of the article. You dwell in alternative facts and live in an echo chamber. Real wages have been on the decline since the REAGAN administration, with the only exception during the dot com bubble. The US economy had crashed hard just as Obama took office, none of that was his fault. His 1st few months we were losing jobs of almost 1 million a month. Class and racial divide has a lot to do with the Republicans threatening to constantly shut down the Govt every time there was an attempt to raise taxes on the rich. ISIS was allowed to develop because Bush invaded Iraq in the 1st place, which Obama was against in 2002. Health insurance premiums have been skyrocketing for DECADES. You people act like NOTHING ever happened before Obama. Benghazi was an attack in a remote embassy in a war torn office, things like that happen, but you people go on like it was allowed and its the worst thing ever. Nevermind that whole Iraq War thingy. Fast and Furious was a result of Arizona’s LACK of Gun regulation, something you fools cheer, except when you can make up some fake political scandal.

  42. Island Mountain Farm says:

    Congratulations Brett, you fit the profile the author discussed to a “tee”. If I thought it would make any difference I’d address each of your “alternative facts.” Instead I’ll just point to anyone interested that while you mention the “Great Depression” in your opening statements you conveniently chose to not put your remark into context. While the rest of us “liberals” remember the Great Recession of 2008 which Obama inherited from the Bush Administration, you don’t even mention it. I didn’t like the way Obama threw money at Wall Street and the banks that brought the national and global economy to the brink of destruction but his actions did prevent the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

    Bottom line Brett your post suggests that you are a perfect example of these quotes from the author.

    “They are highly dogmatic. They get their ideas from others in the
    in-group, especially from their leader, not from evidence and logic.
    They say there is no evidence that will make them change their minds.
    They’re quite comfortable believing “alternate facts.” and “They have highly compartmentalized minds. When an unpleasant truth
    forces its way into their awareness, they do not try to integrate the
    other things they believe with it. Instead they put it in a box and
    isolate it from the rest of their thinking, which proceeds as if the
    truth never existed”

    Each time I read a post like yours I am inspired to do my part and encourage others to step up so that what happened this past November NEVER happens again. Thanks for the inspiration Brett.

  43. disqus_that says:

    You’re the subject of this article…

  44. Steven Douglas Maurer says:

    Man what a massive load of bullshit you’ve managed to Gish-gallop into one short paragraph. Let’s go through this and dismantle that steaming pile, bringing a few referenced facts, shall we?

    * “during the Obama administration: real wages declined during the eight years”

    FALSE: Although it is true that they haven’t gone much up.

    * the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace since the Great Depression

    MISATTRIBUTED: The US economy nearly entered a second great depression due to Bush. Offsetting by a year, as a President’s proposed budget usually isn’t even taken up by congress until about 3 months after inaguration (much less pass or have time to take effect), you find that Obama’s economy grew at 2.08% (so far – 2017 isn’t done yet). Compared to 1.76% under Bush, who gets full credit for his recession. Not Obama.

    Need I mention that Trump’s budget hasn’t even been acted on by the GOP congress yet?

    * millions more were on welfare; millions more were on food stamps

    MISATTRIBUTED: Yes. Bush did screw up the economy big time, and left a huge mess, indeed.

    * unemployment was stagnantly high for years at and very near 5 percent

    FALSE: The average unemployment rate under Obama is lower than Reagan. Much lower than under both of the Bushes. Yes, if you compare him to other Democratic Presidents like Clinton or Carter (the latter of which still has the record for greatest percentage of per-year job increases, that hasn’t since been broken), Obama isn’t doing so well. Compare him against any Republican and he’s great.

    * the racial divide widened

    FALSE: Hate crimes decreased significantly.
    Although it is true that racists were upset about there being a black President.

    * the class divide widened

    INCOHERENT: Thanks to authoritarians like you, perhaps. Other than that, there is no indication this is true. Or that the US has much of a perception of “class”.

    * America’s leadership in the world slipped

    FALSE: America’s leadership in the world was extremely high. It has fallen off a cliff with Trump.

    * law enforcement was denigrated too often

    FALSE: Due to video cameras showing what various gangsters-with-badges were actually doing (as opposed to their testimony), law enforcement’s reputation did take a hit. This is more technology’s “credit” than Obama.

    * ISIS was allowed to develop and gain strength after the pre-announced withdrawal of most of American troops from the Middle East

    …(sigh): That agreement was negotiated by Bush. Not that you knew that. Or cared.

    – – – –

    I could go on, but according to the research above, facts don’t work on you.

  45. High Ranking Official says:

    Outstanding article from a man who knows what he’s talking about. Thanks to John Dean, we’ve got the blueprint for what will inevitably be the most consequential lesson in American political history since Watergate. Buckle up, because we are all in for one wild ride in the next few months!

    From Twitter by Mike Jones – Kent State University

    Republicans are to blame for this debacle on every level. They taught these stupid mentally deranged idiots that Clinton is the anti-Christ. We have every lunatic gun hoarding survivalist deplorable ready for a revolution, only they have no real clue even why. They think it’s because of the “Big Bad Government”, the same government that makes sure their food is safe and pays their Social Security. Republicans built Trump, the Frankenstein of stitched-together conspiracies and hysterical nightmare scenarios where there is an enemy all around them. If it’s not government, it’s Islamic terrorists, Mexicans or demons from the underworld. We are talking about a wide-scale mentally deranged mania from a hoard of angry delusional zombies.

  46. AnnaEm says:

    This is a one-sided recitation of criticisms directed at Obama’s presidency – assertions stated as facts without evidence presented – none of it supporting your initial claim that “it is much more difficult to change the minds of Obama supporters and liberals”. The nature of your comment does little more than prove some of the points made in the piece you were “commenting” on.

  47. truth1hurts says:

    Wow, you guys literally will never get it. Literally.

  48. wyjomo says:

    Brett, there is some truth to what you say , about 10%, the rest is right wing propaganda and you are a text book example of an authoritarian. I could take apart everything you said, most of it is easily disproved or based on such a narrow view of recent history as to be useless in relation to anything else, but that would impress you not at all and wouldn’t be worth the time it took to do it. I personally think you can believe whatever you like, even if it’s absolute nonsense. I have to draw the line with policy though. You are a chicken who thinks that Colonel Sanders knows what’s best for you and has your best interests at heart. I don’t know where to go with how stupid Trump supporters are but they really can’t decide policy direction, they’re just too stupid. Sorry.

  49. Susan Dawkins says:

    Your last sentence is about two mentally ill African American men who dressed up and stood outside one polling place. They were arrested but not prosecuted because they were obviously not well. The right-wing media used it for the basis of propaganda. There is no conspiracy of “New Black Panthers” trying to scare you away from your polling place. Please read a newspaper once in awhile. Even the most conservative major paper would be better than the swill you have been swallowing.

  50. Fred Weller says:

    “four Americans were killed at Benghazi because a stand-down order to the U.S. military”

    Just to choose one among the many misleading statements and lies in your comment, this assertion was debunked repeatedly during the NINE separate republican witch hunts they conducted over a four-year period based on the tragedy in Benghazi. No evidence for such an order was presented at any time.

    ALL right-wing talking points on Benghazi were debunked, including the persistent “stand-down order” lie you repeat here. No wrongdoing by Obama or Hillary, the target of the probes, was ever found. The entire effort was a giant waste of time and taxpayer money.

  51. JPRVS says:

    Some of this is just nuts.

    e.g. The “New Black Panthers” issue was basically two guys at a poll in Philly in 2008 that Fox News pumped up for months. What Republicans can’t face are active GOP voter suppression tactics and restrictive voter ID laws that target poor people and minorities, and prevent millions from exercising lawful voting rights. A lot of these tactics that Republicans support are effectively no different than poll taxes of the Jim Crow-era. e.g. even “poll taxes” were a nominal fee, but imposed an especially strong burden on people who weren’t wealthy. Some of the Texas voter ID requirements which force people to travel hours to registration offices taht are only open during weekdays, put a huge burden in front of the working poor. (Part of the reason that those manuevers have run into challenges with the courts).

    As far as the racial divide goes, Obama didn’t cause any of it. His presidency just helped to force a lot of racial resentment that was buried and bring it to the surface.

    As far as Obama’s economic legacy goes, at best it’s mixed. For upper income earners it was a great run — even better than the Bush years (albeit with slightly higher tax rates) — but unlike George W. Bush, he entered office in an economy that had lost $17 trillion in private sector wealth in the 18 months before his election; unlike George W. Bush who inherited a $5 trillion bubble and had budget surpluses to fight the recession, Obama had $1 trillion annual deficits that he inherited his first day in office. George W. Bush inherited an economy that was growing slowly with 60K jobs created in the month of his inauguration. Obama inherited an economy that was in complete meltdown with 800,000 lost in the month of his inauguration. Unlike George W. Bush, who inherited Democratic congresses who were willing to cut deals in some areas (Medicare Part D, tax policy, wars, national security issues, No Child Left Behind), the GOP made explicit even before Obama took office, that the only thing that cared about was making Obama a 1 term president — in the process they were willing to throw millions of people under the bus and to destroy the U.S. economy, if those actions were necessary. They didn’t do anything to support the economic recovery. To the extent that there was an economic recovery, it was a consequence of Democratic action.

    There are plenty of areas where Obama fell short in terms of criminal prosecutions with respect to Wall Street malfeasance. Although the sad reality is that the GOP is just as bad, if not worse, in a lot of these areas. e.g. look at the priority they have placed on gutting even mild Dodd-Frank rules; the degree to which Trump has staffed his administration with Goldman Sachs alum. Even the GOP’s AHCA, where they are looting billions of dollars from the health care system and handing that money to rich donors demonstrated the absolute depravity of today’s GOP. The Democrats aren’t great. But the GOP is the real abomination on almost every policy area.

  52. Raven says:

    Isaac Asimov wrote in a Newsweek essay, back in 1980:

    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”


  53. Ron Genise says:

    Doesn’t explain the Senate at the federal and state level. Also doesn’t explain governorships.

    • shanen says:

      Yet me just note that your so-called reply is obviously insincere. Probably intentional obtuseness or sophistry, though it’s possibly you have some kind of reading disability. Blocking now, though my apologies in the last case, but I plead insufficient time to tutor you.

  54. Raven says:

    Bruce, I think you’re preaching to the choir. Jose invited Brett to persuade him how Obama ought to be blamed for the racial divide (so visibly displayed, as you say, by his opponents, notably the Congressional GOP who declared on literally his first day in office that their unswerving goal was to make him a one-term President); and then politely listened for Brett’s reply; and so far from Brett we have heard… [the sound of crickets chirping]… which makes Jose’s point without further argument.

  55. bruce kay says:

    You say that you doubt Authoritarianism explains Trump and you also say “why bother trying to understand them?”

    There is something very important you need to understand. First is that Authoritarianism, as a personality, does indeed explain Trump. This is no mere idle guess by a random dude at the bar, it is a fact as abundantly and repeatedly measured and demonstrated by scientific process as CO2 is known to be driving climate change. Authoritarianism, as a personality type, was first noted just after the second world war when everyone was wondering how seemingly civilized people could gleefully become Nazi cheerleaders. Since then, much like our understanding of global warming, that understanding has become only better known and accepted to the point that it is entirely uncontroversial, by anyone with any skilled insight anyway. As a matter of interest, authoritarian personalities are nearly always climate change deniers, again measured and demonstrated repeatedly, for the obvious reasons noted regarding their personality characteristics.

    Now – why should we understand them? Because as was noted immediately after the second world war, it is very important, if we wish not to repeat that particular history, to understand how fascism rises to power. A key ingredient is the 20 to 30% of any population worldwide that is the authoritarian personality. From Hitler to Stalin to the Taliban to our present day Trump or Putin, they cannot exist without their loyal foot soldiers, the Authoritarian personality. Another element not noted by Dean here is that this personality is also more inclined (and even entitled as they see it) to enforcing conformity by way of coercive force, thus their general inclination to vigilanteism..

    One final point. Perhaps indicative of Trumps performance so far, Authoritarians are generally inept at cooperative and collaborative efforts, which is critical to manage our most complex problems. This is notable in the historical record ( Mao, Stalin, Hitler, add infinitum) as well as in clinical studies. Just google “Global Change Game” to find out the results, which needless to say has been consistently reproduced internationally.

    Considering how well founded the science is, it is actually a profound tragedy that less than a million people have read Bob Altmeyers, The Authoritarians.

  56. DMikey says:

    Your use of the passive voice gives you away.