Americans from all walks of life waxed eloquently about what they had to be thankful for during the recent Thanksgiving Holiday. Sure enough cable news TV stations, national newspapers, the institutional clergy and faith community, and just about everyone else got to say "Happy Thanksgiving" before rushing off to Macys and Target for the latest Black Friday deals. Trotting out the "Pilgrim Story" now romanticized, rechristened, Christianized and sanctified with age, the story now resembles something akin to the fabled tales of the Old West and its virtuous pioneers.
And in this zany United States Presidential election cycle all manner of quackery and bombast were thrown around during a period when Thanksgiving coincided with the vicious acts of terror in Paris, and the plight of thousands of immigrants fleeing persecution, war and terror in their own countries. With such a contentious and toxic brew there for the exploiting, it was not long before the Republican presidential candidates led by, Donald Trump, bloviator-in-chief, sunk to new and dizzying depths of political degeneracy.
Never from the American body politic, xenophobia, that unfounded fear of foreigners, those "others," who should not be in America, political hypocrisy about America being "a Christian country," especially salient during Thanksgiving Holidays, and just plain bad taste bubbled to the top. In the political melee the race was on for who could spew the vilest, most unreasoned statements at immigrants both here in "the land of the free and home of the brave," and those running from ISIS butchers and murderers in Syria and Iraq.
But terrorism brings politicians together in sickening ways. It's a godsend gift used to attack groups of defenseless people who can't fight back. It's a coward's tool wielded by loud-mouthed blow-hards who think people are stupid. So in a way the Paris bombings and killing of innocent soccer fans, party goers and passerbys was and is collateral political damage used to juxtapose the anti-immigrant, anti-people sentiments leveled at people now not deserving of Christian mercy and compassion.
What unadulterated hypocrisy!
And the party of Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, as all and every GOP presidential hopeful likes to remind America and the world, is all about defending "our way of life" that terrorism and terrorist hate. Hear them: We share our Christian values with the world and America is an example of the best of human endeavor. If only Ole Honest Abe agreed with that. Here's how he put it in describing the behavior of a political party, ironically called "the Know Nothings," that behaved in his day EXACTLY as the GOP is behaving today:
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty--to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
"Our progress into degeneracy appears to be pretty rapid -- in 2015." Donald Trump throwing red meat to the hordes of unwashed ignorant lapping up his every word as the Gospel According to The Donald," filled with outright lies, historical inaccuracies and sheer xenophobia. His now debunked statement about "Muslims dancing on roof tops in New Jersey after 9/11," his barely concealed attack on a female Fox 5 debate moderator about her menstrual period, and a thousand other statements that have all conspired to recognize and qualify him undoubtedly as a pompous, arrogant jackass.
So how come we speak about giving thanks and at the same time cannot recognize that were it not for the Native American Indians the first arrivals from England, the so-called Pilgrims, would have all died from starvation and cold. How come in our unbridled hypocrisy we forget to mention that the same "Christian Pilgrims," were part of the pogrom that assisted in almost wiping out the Native Americans then called "heathen savages?" And what about the arrogance of a tiny white group of Pilgrims who chose to ignore the fact that there were many other larger immigrant groups in America with a rich diversity of religious beliefs?
What would have happened if the hospitable Indians had treated these early immigrant settlers to their country the way that Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts what to treat Syrian refugees? Now I get it. There was a time when white Americans railed and discriminated against the Irish who could not "be trusted." There was time when ALL Black people were considered "lazy and sex crazed;" and there was a time when immigrant Chinese were "the Yellow Peril" and the "sick men of Asia." Remember now corralling and locking up people on suspicion en masse is not new to this country"Japanese-Americans during World War II and the turning away of Jews fleeing Adolph Hitler's reign of terror by boat.
Back home in America, Donald Trump and Company seem unstoppable and his political support is growing and getting stronger. That is sad and sickening. How could this be you ask? How could America's poor with all of their challenges support this man?
In difficult socio-economic times the poor and the most marginalized in the country do not converge around a commonality of shared interests. This is true of most countries. Their reaction to the established political status quo is anger, distrust, contempt and, yes, hatred. They believe with good reason that the established and institutionalized Political Class has failed them. In this emotionally charged climate this exploited and marginalized class(s), the bottom 90 percent of American society, become divided within itself and look to salvation from within the VERY CLASS THAT EXPLOITS IT.
Enter Donald Trump, loud, bombastic, rich and demagogic -- exactly the kind of "deliverer" that the exploited see. He says the kinds of things that find fertile soul in downtrodden and marginalized. He rails against the status quo and the "professional politicians, promising to be unbought and unbossed as president. That's music to the ears of a group with nothing to lose but its chains.
Remember Adolph Hitler? And there is no better example about how this now confused, divided, angry, distrustful and disillusioned mass can vote AGAINST ITS VERY CLASS INTERESTS as the recent Kentucky governor's race. Here is one of the top 10 poorest states in America where the median income is below $30,000 a year for a family of four, that led the nation in covering the uninsured and poor as part of the Affordable Care Act, voting and electing a Republican governor committed to killing the very insurance program that brought healthcare relief to their families.
Donald Trump 2016? Stranger things have happened.