Why does bigotry work so well?

It often is claimed, people vote with their wallets.

In 1992, James Carville, President Clinton’s strategist, famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and those words have come down through the years as the mantra for successful politics.

The idea is if you promise people jobs, money, and success –“a chicken in every pot” (1920’s Republican slogan) — you will win.

Ambition, greed, and compassion are strong motivators, appealing motivators, motivators that often work.

But I suggest there is an even stronger motivator, and that is bigotry. The most powerful human emotions are anger and fear — the ultimate survival emotions — and bigotry appeals to both.

Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “date which will live in infamy” speech was based on bigotry — anger at, and fear of “The Japanese Empire.” It was meant to stir up hatred of Japan and the Japanese people, and it succeeded so well that subsequently, Roosevelt was able to round up and sequester thousands of American citizens whose only crime was to be of Japanese descent.

Hitler, of course, used bigotry to justify the most terrible and gruesome acts. Hatred is not bounded by reason or compassion. The German people were able to sleep at night.

And Donald Trump has used the Hitler playbook to gather otherwise good, religious people, specifically white evangelicals, into his web.

Bigotry often masquerades as economics and safety. “The Mexicans will take your job.” “The Jews own everything.” “When the blacks move in, they will destroy your house values.”

Most people deny being bigots, so if you ask someone why they hate, they will give you a reason, not the real reason, but a reason.

When Trump talks to white, suburban housewifes, he makes a blatant overture to bigotry:

How Trump Is Using Westchester to Stir Up Suburban Fears
In an appeal to racism among white voters, the president says that Democrats tried to ruin Westchester County, N.Y., through fair housing policies.

“Westchester was ground zero, OK, for what they were trying to do,” Trump said on Monday, in an interview on Fox News with Laura Ingraham, referring to Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats. “They were trying to destroy the suburban, beautiful place. The American dream, really. They want low-income housing, and with that comes a lot of other problems, including crime.”

It’s all a lie, of course. Democrats Obama, Clinton, Johnson et al didn’t “destroy the suburban, beautiful places.” In fact, suburbs have prospered over the years.

But like Hitler and other bigots, Trump tries to paint a vivid picture: Hoards of wild, untamed blacks and Mexicans, pillaging and raping and turning your neighborhood into a slum. And if you have a tendency to bigotry, this provides a perfect excuse for your beliefs.

Trump cannot cause you to become a bigot. He only can appeal to you if you already are a bigot. No one is born a bigot. Bigotry is a learned disease.

Here are excerpts from an article in “The American Conservative.”

After Trump Loss, ‘Deplorables’ Will Be The Democrats’ First Target
Blame the president for leaving his core supporters at the mercy of the opposition’s cultural and economic revolution
Robert M. Merry, September 7, 2020.

If President Trump loses his reelection bid in November, as appears likely, the greatest victims of his presidency will have been his own constituency—the Americans who have given him his consistent but sub-par approval rating of between 39 percent and 43 percent throughout his tenure.

And when the new Democratic regime takes over, those people will become its target of choice.

We know who they are: largely white, more male than female, generally older than 45, largely blue collar, educated through high school but not much beyond, agitated particularly by U.S. immigration policies of the past few decades, with widespread feelings that their financial standing in the country has been increasingly constricted.

Note the fear-loaded, anger-inducing words: “First target,” “cultural and economic revolution,” “victims,” “target of choice.” These are not words of logic. They are not thoughtful words. They are words to incite the torch-carrying, pitchfork-carrying mob gone mad.

And remember, the words are directed at Joe Biden, a man who has spent many years in public office, 36 as a U.S. Senator and 4 as the Vice-President of the United States. There is nothing in his history to indicate he seeks a “cultural and economic revolution” (whatever that means). But to bigots, facts mean nothing.

Resentful people, who believe their poor circumstances have been caused by “THEM,” need someone to blame — the rich, the criminal, the blacks, Mexicans, Democrats, unpatriotic, gays, and anyone of a different religion or no religion at all. In short, everyone but US.

So, illogically, they vote for a man who expresses hatred for “THEM,” despite the man being one of THEM: A rich, criminal, former Democrat, irreligious, draft-dodging, multiple adulterer. So long as he expresses fear and hatred for “THEM,” that is sufficient.

They are nationalist in outlook, not globalist, with strong feelings of traditional patriotism of the kind that guided their parents and grandparents.

Yes, they will overlook his draft-dodging, his tax-cheating, his four-star-general-insulting, his comments about those who die for their country as being “losers” and “suckers,” so long as he keeps expressing hatred for the people the bigots hate and fear.

Many of them don’t much care for Trump as a person. A Pew Research Center study during the 2016 primaries revealed that fewer than half of Trump supporters ascribed any favorable traits to him. Many didn’t consider him well informed, admirable, or even honest.

But, based on their consistent support for the president over the past four years, it seems that they view him as standing between them and an emerging Democratic coalition, whose policy prescriptions pose an economic threat to them and would otherwise marginalize them in American society.

And those are the key words — “marginalize them in American society.” Trump’s supporters are made to believe the GOP, the party of the rich, together with the rich man who passed a tax cut for the rich, and who has appointed rich incompetents who only try to line their own pockets — that man somehow will lift them from marginalization, while the Democrats, the party of the poor, will marginalize them.

Yes, there is no logic in bigotry, and it is so sad to see people who would benefit most from the implementation of the Ten Steps to Prosperity (below) — a liberal initiative — vote against their own best interests, to further be enslaved by a GOP, a Trump, and Trump’s rich, pack of convicted crooks.

They see the Democratic Party lurching to the left and know that, should the Dems take complete power over the federal government in January, it will go even worse for them than it has over the past quarter century.

U.S. borders will become more porous, largely through executive action. Asylum policies will be loosened up. Pro-immigrant legislation, such as free medical care for illegals, will serve as an enticement for greater illegal entry. A path to legal status, or even citizenship, will be pushed through.

All this will devastate wage rates, thus harming the economic wellbeing of the Trump constituency. It also will serve over time to generate millions of new Democratic voters who will overwhelm the beleaguered white middle-class.

Keep in mind that the immigrants are consumers, whose buying provides more jobs, not fewer, and better jobs because immigrants are less educated than “the beleaguered, white, middle-class.” Immigrants take the lowest, meanest, least remunerative jobs, not the jobs the white, middle-class wants.

And free medical care for the illegals also is free medical care for “the beleaguered white, middle-class” — a benefit the GOP consistently has fought. Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, poverty aids — those dreaded liberal initiatives — would be much more beneficial to the white middle-class if the Democrats were not hobbled by Mitch McConnell and his GOP Senate.

Even today, the Democrats wish to pump $3 trillion more into the economy, the vast majority of which would benefit Trump’s followers. The GOP says, “No.”

The Democratic elite will resuscitate the free-trade policies of recent decades, thus reviving the deterioration of industrial America that Trump sought to reverse.

Trump’s efforts largely consisted of ending existing trade agreements and replacing them with almost identical trade agreements, destroying any hope of international trust and cooperation, and importantly, levying tariffs on imports — tariffs that are paid by “the beleaguered, white, middle-class.”

As the world’s former moral, political, and economic leader, America under Trump has become just like Trump: A selfish, dishonest nation whose word means nothing on the international stage, and whose “America first, America only” policy prevented us from even being able to condemn Iran for breaking a treaty we alread had broken.

The further evaporation of working-class industrial jobs will deliver another financial blow to his constituency. A likely return to humanitarian interventionism, meanwhile, will lead to new foreign wars, sap the nation’s resources, stir internal frictions, and pull the sons and daughters of Middle America into the maw of conflict.

To “sap the nation’s resources” Trump has begun a war — a trade war — paid for by his followers, as is the Wall which was not paid for by Mexico.

The evaporation of industrial jobs was caused not by immigrants, but by computer automation, and was inevitable. Rather than curse the darkness, America’s leaders should have provided the finances and education necessary to help “the beleaguered, white, middle-class” benefit from this new reality. Trump could have done that, but he didn’t.

Machines now do the mind-numbing, repetitive, brainless industrial jobs Trump’s followers are told to desire. Is that what they really want for their children and grandchildren? Helping people to again become coal miners does them no favors. It merely destroys hope. It is Trump’s dystopian vision.

Trump supporters can see the shape of things to come when they witness Black Lives Matter protesters accosting people in restaurants and bars, yelling “silence is violence” into their faces and demanding gestures of support.

They can’t miss the implications of protests turning into violent riots, with property destroyed, businesses obliterated, downtowns turned into war zones, even violence perpetrated on innocent people with the wrong views—all while police forces in cities throughout America, hobbled by anti-police zealotry (or intimidation) on the part of liberal local officials, stand by and watch.

Portland is not everywhere, but it is far more interesting to the television networks than pictures of the many thousands of people all over America, quietly protesting against racial bigotry.

Rather than demonize the comparatively few violent protesters (many of whom are white supremacists, and Russian-backed thugs fomenting violence), Trump should use his power of office to eliminate the fundamental reason for the crime, the violence, and the protests: Poverty.

Instead, he blames the victims and adds fuel to the class-warfare fire. Given two ways to deal with unfairness in American society — penalize the rich or lift up the poor — Trump has chosen a third way: Beat down the poorest.

What went wrong? Trump went wrong.

He built his constituency by exposing to America the fundamental political reality of 2016—namely, the widening chasm between Middle America and its bicoastal elites of big media, government officials, think tanks, big tech, burgeoning financial institutions, the federal deep state, and mavens of popular culture.

He pulled his voters together into a tight knot of political support born of fear and intimidation and self-interest.

But then he couldn’t build on it. He could never take his 43 percent support and find a way to add another 10 percent by devising policies designed to operate on the political margin.

Trump identified a real problem — the Gap between the rich and the rest — and because he is a psychopath, he has not led us away from the Gap but right into it. His real policy has not been “America first” or even “America only.” His real policy has been “Trump only.”

That as many as 43 percent fell for it, is a credit to his personal charisma, a common feature of psychopaths.

(In the Robert Hare Checklist of Psychopathy Symptoms, #1 is: GLIB AND SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything.)

A well-crafted grand strategy on immigration probably could have served the purpose, had there been sufficient compromise involved.

A success on the health care issue would have helped.

A big factor could have been a foreign policy success fulfilling the president’s promise of reducing America’s military footprint overseas.

A use of language and a comportment signifying a sense of national unity, at least to the point of creating a majority coalition, could have helped tremendously—and would have been easy to do.

But Trump couldn’t do any of it. The result was that he couldn’t get beyond his core constituency and hence probably can’t be reelected. That likely will leave that core constituency in the lurch as the nation continues the politics of rancor, recrimination, and abuse under a new Democratic regime.

He couldn’t do any of it because he is a psychopath. He had no grand strategy on immigration or anything else. (Hare Checklist item #13 LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS — an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals.)

He had no success with health care because it didn’t affect him personally. He simply has no compassion for the sick. (Hare Checklist item #8 CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY — a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.)

He had no foreign policy success because no one can trust him to live up to a commitment. (Hare Checklist item 15. IRRESPONSIBILITY — repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.)

He caused national disunity because he has Hare Checklist item 10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS —  expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

If Trump loses, his core constituency will not be left in the lurch. In fact, a Democratic White House and Senate would be the best thing that ever happened to “the beleaguered, white, middle-class.”

They will have free, comprehensive health care, jobs well above the ditch-digging, brainless jobs Trump wants them to have, education for their children, and better Social Security benefits.

And the violent protests, which really are protests against Trump’s violent police state, would end. Trump preaches violence, and his violence always begets more violence. Then he blames the protesters for what he has wrought.

The beleaguered, white, middle-class need only to ignore the siren song of a man and a party — Trump and the GOP –that uses them and takes from them, but cares nothing for them.

Bigotry works because it appeals to our fundamental emotions of fear and hatred, but bigotry is self-consuming, and those who follow Trump are being led into the darkness.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


4 thoughts on “Why does bigotry work so well?

  1. Downloaded yesterday, I’m 75% through Cohen’s book. For me it strongly reinforces my opinion that #45 is totally without any moral base whatsoever. He is totally focused on self with no real capacity for going beyond himself. He is an evil person. This is based upon the definition of evil provided by Scott Peck in his book “The People of the Lie.” (A recommended read.) Thanks for your thorough, thoughtful commentary.


  2. Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “date which will live in infamy” speech was based on the fact that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor!

    This is a description of Obummer: GLIB AND SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything.) Obama will say one thing to your face, then do another. This has been well-documented by those who were in the Secret Service during his term.

    Venezuelans all now use only dollars, not their own bolivars, since their own money is useless and not worth the paper it’s printed on. Doctors and nurses make $3/month. If you are one of the few persons lucky enough to have any money and need an operation, you must pay for the doctor’s taxi to the hospital and for their surgical tools and medicine. Their inflation is at ONE MILLION PERCENT. Their hydroelectric dam fails so at night there is no electricity. But socialism is the way forward according to the Commiecrats! They had their turn — and ran the U.S. down. Trump is the one who brought back the economy.

    The commiecrats have NO RIGHT to use the govt as a GUN or CLUB to STEAL OUR dollars out of OUR pockets!


    1. I have received a half dozen comments from Guest4579, and each of them was filled with hatred. The poor man (woman?) must be boiling over with bitterness. Being consumed that way, leaves little room for joy. I feel sorrow for his pain.


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