Unfortunately part of the reason these militia members were out there marching through the streets of Charlottesville in the United States of America (and part of the reason they were radicalized in the first place) is that they have experienced some of the same conditions that Germans in the 1930’s experienced that made them more likely to turn to fascism. This does not excuse their fascism and hate. Not in any way whatsoever. But understanding what breeds fascism does help focus us on reducing the chances that more people in the U.S. will become radicalized. It’s great to hate and denounce fire. But it’s even better to also take the additional step of eliminating policies that make fires more likely. This is especially true when they’re your own policies.
What have those armed militia members above experienced?
They and/or many of their older brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles were shipped to Iraq by Republican and Democratic politicians with the support of Republican and Democratic voters. Some of those family members were injured or died.
That was a trillion dollar war where over 5,000 American soldiers and were killed and tens of thousands were wounded and/or disabled. 500,000 Iraqis were killed in the war too (including 165,000 civilians). This radicalized countless people in the Middle East and directly led to the rise of ISIS (which makes Al Qaeda look like a church group). WE BRED TERRORISM OVERSEAS.
War isn’t some tactical affair that you chat about in committee meetings and during donor parties at seaside estates. For the people actually sent there to fight and the families they leave behind, it’s a living hell.
Our U.S. soldiers came back to inadequate veterans care and a country that could have made much better use of that trillion dollars here at home. It also didn’t help that it turned out that the entire war was fought for nothing. We were lied to by politicians on both sides of the aisle who supported the war (including BOTH of the most recent Republican & Democratic nominees for president).
Since that destructive war, our veterans of the war in Iraq, veterans of other regime change wars and other young men and women in small towns across America have watched their Republican & Democratic leaders carefully. They hear what they say, but they also see what they do. Republicans and Democratic politicians behave different on many issues but have united in their support for one very distructive policy called neoliberalism. That policy has created the conditions that historically have led to the rise of fascism (think economic suffering in 1930’s Germany that was exploited by a strong man. . .).
Neoliberal policies (which align with corporate interests and the interest of the super wealthy) created the conditions for the 2008 financial crisis wherein some of these men and their family members lost their HOMES and their JOBS.
Due to neoliberal policies (which are pushed by both Republicans and Democrats at the request of their wealthy and corporate donors) the playing field has been tilted such that most of the marbles roll into the pockets of a few at the expense of the many. A tiny minority keeps winning because they’ve rigged the game. Huge corporations and the wealthy are able to avoid paying most or all taxes. Tax breaks for the rich are paid for by gutting programs to help the needy.
Democrats and Republicans joined together in supporting NAFTA which shipped millions of good paying jobs overseas. (They’re corporate benefactors loved NAFTA).
As a result of all this, wealth is concentrating incredibly fast. Now 20 individuals have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 150 million citizens (half the country). A whopping 91% of all income in recent years has gone to the 1%. 50% of the children in the U.S. now live near the poverty line. For 1% of the country, everything is going great. The other 99% of us are playing poker at a rigged table. And our centrist political leaders (both Republican and Democratic) keep telling us to stay at the table. “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. I know those few guys keep winning, but it’ll trickle down eventually. Hey, did you know that your home has value? You could refinance it. Take out a second mortgage. Then you’d have some more cash to play longer.” And so it goes, as the great Kurt Vonnegut would say.
Our veterans and young men and women across small town America have watched our Republican & Democratic leaders promote regime change war over and over again. And it’s not the Senators sons and daughters that get sent. It’s the working people.
Notice a theme here. A certain group of people keep getting the shaft. While political leaders and their corporate and wealthy donors seem to be laughing it up and getting richer and richer.
Yep. Neoliberalism has a way have burning bridges and creating economic suffering that has historically bred nazism and fascism. That doesn’t mean the right wing extremists aren’t bad. They’re horrible and dangerous. But what it does mean is that, as is true with ISIS, it’s our policies that radicalized them. WE BRED TERRORISM HERE IN THE U.S.
Until we Republicans and Democrats get that through our thick neoliberal skulls, the dysfunction will continue and we’ll keep being surprised by it even though it’s pretty predictable.
We will also be strangely surprised that a politician like Trump to gain support by acknowledge that these same people have been forgotten. How can we possibly claim with a straight face that we’re shocked that people would be attracted to that message of “You won’t be forgotten any more!” (despite the insincerity and dangerousness of the leader speaking it). Are we Democrats that brainless and so enamored with anointing the next group of corporate candidates in the Hamptons that we can’t even see that, in many ways, we’ve been just as bad as the republicans in our pursuit of neoliberal policies?
Do we not recognize that we Democrats put Trump in office by alienating our longtime base of blue collar voters with 20 years of neoliberal policies (sending their jobs overseas with NAFTA, eliminating the Glass Steagall Act (which leading economist agree set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis — when countless blue collar workers lost their jobs and homes, the War in Iraq which democrats helped champion (but it wasn’t the rich kids that died., etc.).
Losing your son, daughter or mother or father in a useless war, losing your home, losing your job,. . . none of these things are stats on some spreadsheet that you use to triangulate your voting patters or laugh about with your corporate donors. These are real human beings experiencing real pain. And it’s not the rich people that bore these burdens of neoliberal policy practiced by Democratic and Republican politicians. It’s the poor and middle class, people in small towns and flyover country. The people that our own inept Democratic nominee in 2016 had the nerve to call “Deplorables”. How terribly arrogant of us. Who the hell do we think we are?
Do we really care about winning in 2018 and 2020? If so, we better stop lying to ourselves and the rest of the country. We have played a big role in creating the conditions that now exist. We need to own that before we can move on.
More on how Republicans & Democrats are actually partly to blame for what happened in Charlottesville here:
and more on WHAT NEOLIBERALISM IS here (the most dangerous policy you’ve never heard of — It’s been practiced by both Republicans and Democrats for 20 years. And we see where that has landed us. Check out this link: