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‘Need for chaos’ theory focuses on a subset of Trump supporters

If you are ready to go to a very weird place in your effort to understand the coalition that supports Trumpism, check out the latest column by the great Thomas Edsall of the New York Times, headlined “The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything Else.”

It troubles me, even scares me, to consider deeply abnormal psychology in trying to explain support for a sitting president. But I do struggle to understand the hold that President Donald Trump seems to have over his followers. Edsall often relies heavily on scholars in his efforts to understand the hard to understand, and this column draws on the work of three scholars, two from Denmark and one from The U.S., who use theories of psychology to probe political behavior, and are working on a phenomenon that they call “a need for chaos” that motivates some people to use strange means in pursuit of strange goals as they engage in politics.


Edsall passes along a research paper by the trio, which just won an award in the “political psychology” division of the American Political Science Association for their work.

Edsall reports that the trio “argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to ‘chaos incitement’ and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media. … the authors’ analysis helps explain the intensity of anti-establishment voting that drove Trump’s successful takeover of the Republican Party in the 2016 primaries.”

In their paper, as reported by Esdall: “The three scholars “describe ‘chaos incitement’ as a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers” willing to adopt disruptive tactics.

“Trump, in turn, has consistently sought to strengthen the perception that America is in chaos, a perception that has enhanced his support while seeming to reinforce his claim that his predecessors, especially President Barack Obama, were failures.”

The scholars are not necessarily describing typical Trump supporters, but a strange group of activists who have a “need for chaos” and “express that need by willingly spreading disinformation” through social media activities “not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites” and to “mobilize others against politicians in general.” These disrupters do not “share rumors because they believe them to be true. For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.”

Before the advent of social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, these “chaos-seekers were on outer edges of politics, unable to exercise influence,” Edsall explains, relying on the analysis of the scholars. But those and other contemporary social media platforms have “empowered this constituency, providing a bullhorn to disseminate false news, conspiracy theories and allegations of scandal to a broad audience. Examples include the lunacy of the Comet Pizza story (a.k.a. Pizzagate), the various anti-Obama birther conspiracies and Alex Jones’s claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead was a ‘complete fake’ staged by the government to promote gun control.”

The three political scientists — Michael Bang Petersen, Mathias Osmundsen and Kevin Arceneaux — sought to measure this “need for chaos”” by conducting surveys in the United States and Denmark that attempted to identify those who are “drawn to chaos” through their affirmative responses to statements like:

  • ‘I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.’
  • ‘I think society should be burned to the ground;’ and
  • ‘Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.’


In a very creepy ending to a very creepy column, Edsall asks:

“How worried should we be about a fundamental threat to democracy from the apparently large numbers of Americans who embrace chaos as a way of expressing their discontent? Might Trump and his loyal supporters seek to bring down the system if he is defeated in 2020? What about later, if the damage he has inflicted on our customs and norms festers, eroding the invisible structures that underpin everything that actually makes America great?”

This is all way above my pay grade. I can’t assess this theory, although I’m a big Edsall fan, and he respects it enough to write a column about it. Here’s another link to the full Edsall column in the Times.

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Comments (98)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/05/2019 - 11:40 am.

    “How worried should we be about a fundamental threat to democracy from the apparently large numbers of Americans who embrace chaos as a way of expressing their discontent?”

    Did you watch the 7 hours of the climate scare and chaos proposals as a threat to our “democracy” on CNN last night?

  2. Submitted by Misty Martin on 09/05/2019 - 12:07 pm.

    Eric:

    I comment quite often on your articles as will show if one goes back to check. You can tell that I am NO supporter of President Trump – never was and probably never will be, barring President Trump having an actual and genuine “Damascus Road” experience, which I have outlined over and over in past comments that I have made.

    But as a follower of Christ, I am endeavoring to pray and trust the Lord for His sovereign guidance and deliverance. He will take care of His own, I feel most confident, just as He delivered Israel throughout the centuries. I suppose I just don’t want to waste any more of my time worrying about this President or the next election. I’m going to really endeavor to leave it to the Lord, and then vote my convictions. I believe in the end, the truth will come out, no matter who tries to hide or shade it to his or her own advantage, and then hopefully, eventually . . . justice will prevail.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/06/2019 - 03:38 pm.

      It is important to remember that the only thing necessary for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing.

      Christians are supposed to be in the ring. (See King, Dr. Martin Luther.)

  3. Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 09/05/2019 - 12:40 pm.

    I wonder what George Lakoff has to say about Edsall’s piece.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/05/2019 - 01:30 pm.

    “Examples include the lunacy of the Comet Pizza story (a.k.a. Pizzagate), the various anti-Obama birther conspiracies and Alex Jones’s claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead was a ‘complete fake’ staged by the government to promote gun control.”

    As an aficionado of all things right wing, less than 1% of Trump supporters fall into that group. The three scholars wasted their time.

    Michael Moore spoke at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Ohio in late October of 2016. In what he intended to be a warning to all the good democrats sitting in that audience turned out to be, I believe, the most effective pro-Trump internet ad ever produced. It captured the true sentiments that most political observers have missed, including these “political psychologists.”

    Moore: “They see that the elites, who’ve ruined their lives, hate Trump. Corporate America hates Trump. Wall Street hates Trump. The career politicians hate Trump. The media hates Trump (after they loved him and created him and now hate him). Thank you media. The enemy of my enemy is who I’m voting for on November 8th. Yes, on November 8th, you, Joe Blow, Steve Blow, Bob Blow, Billy Blow, Billy Bob Blow, all the Blows! Get to go and blow up the whole god-damn system BECAUSE? It’s your right. Trump’s election is going to be the biggest F-You ever recorded in human history. And it will feel …. good.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLfvXjKMwtI

    What’s really instructive is to read the comments from the viewers of that YouTube video, some as recently as a week ago, to see that the feelings are still there.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/05/2019 - 02:01 pm.

      “The three scholars wasted their time.”

      They have actual data to bolster their conclusions. And by “actual data,” I mean statistical evidence collected in a systemic manner.

      They did a little more than read the comments on some carefully selected You Tube videos.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/05/2019 - 03:53 pm.

        Tortured long enough, data will confess to anything.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/05/2019 - 04:30 pm.

          Right.
          Your own unsupported biases are much more reliable.
          Professionals can spot most twisted conclusions pretty easily.
          Biased sampling is the first thing to look for.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/05/2019 - 04:39 pm.

          No need to torture, if you’re quick with a Sharpie.

          Have you read the study Edsall referred to? I’ve only skimmed it, but it points out some interesting facts.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/05/2019 - 01:31 pm.

    I’m not so sure we’re talking about just a few “marginalized status-seekers.” I think the fans of chaos constitute a substantial share of Trump supporters, and are probably a majority of his most hard-core supporters. Those of his supporters who would take violent action, or resort to physical disruption (i.e. more than a few angry chants at a Parteitag) are in a minority, but their sentiments-if not their actions-are shared by many, many more.

    Consider Trump himself: does he have any coherent, consistent ideas other than he is always right? In 2016, he said that he believed in raising taxes on the wealthy, “including myself.” Anyone can see how that one worked out. The only consistent thread in his policy-making has been to undo everything the Obama administration did. It doesn’t matter what it was, or why it was done, it has to go.

    The followers of Trump do not appear to have any ideology of their own, beyond continued fealty to Trump. They are unwavering of their support of him even in the face of his continual lies, his tendency towards corruption, and the rank hypocrisy it takes for the exponents of “family values” to continue their devotion. There are no overarching institutions for them to preserve or support. Really all that matters is getting a rise out of the liberals as revenge for . . . something.

    The great worry I have is that Trumpism has done lasting damage to the fabric of the Republic. He will leave power, peacefully, I believe (in the end, he’s a coward). I doubt there will be armed rebellion, save for the odd extreme case here or there. The idea of destruction for the sake of destruction, however, may not be so easy to stop.

    • Submitted by Jim Marshal on 09/06/2019 - 01:29 pm.

      Trump supporters are actually not voting against their interests, but rather their interests are different from what the critics think they are.
      The Trump supporter lives in a psychospiritual, social field in which he is under-recognized as a human being. He is not embraced and loved and supported by the world of others that surround him. Instead he has learned to cover up his longing for such a world, by erecting a “tough” outer self that assures he will not be humiliated by the other’s rejection of any vulnerability he might reveal, and fight it out in the alienation of the competitive marketplace. To compensate for not feeling seen, for not feeling embraced and loved as a whole human being, he has come to take pride in his tough outer self, and has compensated for his experience of lack of true, embracing community by coming to believe in an imaginary community: his family, the nation, God.

      When Donald Trump says he’s going to make America great again, he is saying to this farmer: “Don’t feel isolated and humiliated as you struggle to survive physically, to feed your family, and to seek the social recognition that would make you feel like you’re worth something. I am here to respond to that sense of isolation and worthlessness, providing you with participation in an imaginary community that will make you feel great again.”

      That is why the farmer’s loyalty to Trump “till the end” is actually in his interests rather than against his interests. The farmer may lose his farm because of this or that Trumpian economic policy, or even because of the end of the world due to a Trump-initiated nuclear war or a climatic catastrophe for which Trump is partly responsible. But he would rather have his physical world collapse than exist with the feeling that he is worthless, unseen, unloved in his essential Being, in his essence. Pledging his support “till the end” in a way reveals that very determination not to be humiliated, isolated, demeaned, no matter what. He wants to be part of that America, where is recognized as great again, as was his birthright, and he’s ready to die for it if necessary. – Peter Gabel

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2019 - 08:32 am.

        Jim,

        I appreciate your thoughts here, but while you explain Trump’s appeal among Farmers, you are not describing a process wherein they’re voting in their best interests. You’re actually describing voter who cannot recognize their best interests. Everyone has reasons for voting the way they do, but that doesn’t mean those reasons are equally rational. If we elect people who harm us, that’s a failed attempt at voting in our own best interests.

        • Submitted by Jim Marshal on 09/11/2019 - 05:08 pm.

          I completely agree with you that these Trump fans are not acting rationally or in their self-interests but they erroneously believe that they are and in 2016 they won an election. that’s frightening to me. Rather than just labeling them stupid and marginalizing them further; I’d like to know how they came to internalize these bizarre beliefs and who or what is responsible for that sort of mass radicalization.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/05/2019 - 02:15 pm.

    The desire for chaos is why people choose to view markets as a panacea for all problems. Markets are chaotic and for them chaos is the solution.

    –Hiram

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/05/2019 - 03:15 pm.

      Let’s be clear: Markets are neurotic but they’re not chaotic. They reflect what capitalists worry about, and it’s not hard to follow at all!

      What these political scientists ponder, on the other hand, is closer to the Silicon Valley mantra, of “disruption is good.” Those who rile people up in chaos are not destroyers, directly; they are confusers, agents of breakage of norms and standards and rules. The article Edsall discusses goes into that process of disruption of truth, of normal processes, of expectations, and shared values that too many Trump supporters–who are willing to undermine truth and science and factual reality in their search for greater [perceived] personal status–are gleeful about.

      They don’t care, really, what the fallout is. They, as seers, get enhanced status.

      One of the disturbing things about the article that Eric doesn’t mention, is that it also ties this motivation and activity to a broad set of Bernie Sanders supporters. The “populist” that both Trump and Sanders purport to be includes reams of desires to disrupt all those nefarious forces that are “against us.” Which leads, of course, to “all is rigged.” Chaos.

      As Eric says, this theory not only holds a lot of water (it’s tough going to understand, but give it a shot if you want to understand what makes not only Trump and Sanders supporters, but a lot of Twitter and Facebook trolls, tick). it’s probably the most persuasive, so far, in explaining the dark side of far too many Trump fanatics. They are desperate souls.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2019 - 12:46 pm.

        Sanders’s supporters didn’t bring Trump into the fold. Progressives like Sanders are an antidote to Trump and Fascism, not a reflection of it.

        It was “centrist”/moderates who made Trump possible with decades of accommodation and affiliation with with neoliberal and conservative agendas that alienated American voters and delivered one failed bipartisan policy after another.

        Clinton supporters were obviously content to simply watch Clinton be Clinton in the White House but American voters clearly needed something other than banal support for the status quo and elite celebration. For millions of voters giving Clinton her turn in the White House wasn’t a compelling priority.

        By the way, where are all those Clinton supporters who accused Sanders supporters of being sexist now that Biden is the “front runner”?

        • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/06/2019 - 06:09 pm.

          But we’re talking about chaos here, not the 2016 election or the nefarious activities of all politicians, Paul.

          It’s on the axis of the desired chaos that Trump and Sanders co-exist. One does not follow or cause the existence of the other. They’re out there, living together in the same time frame, saying many of the same things, as erstwhile “populists.” That’s why this scholarly team brought Sanders into their analysis of the current Trumpian political goal of creating chaos (disruption, with accusations against the whole “system” for cheating us).

          P)ease read Eric’s piece, and then read the article he bases his piece on. Sorry that he brings your hero into it.

          But, let’s be honest: Aren’t we all tired of constantly bringing Hillary Clinton into the discussion every time Bernie Sanders’s purity is challenged?

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/07/2019 - 09:38 am.

            Neither Sanders, his supporters, or Progressive promote chaos. A Nationwide comprehensive, irrevocable health care system is the exact opposite of chaos, it brings order, affordability, and stability to the market and the health care system. Likewise regarding every other progressive proposal from the New Green Deal to affordable or free Sate college tuition’s. There’s absolutely nothing chaotic about the Sanders or Warren agenda, campaigns, or any of their proposals.

            This attempt at a comparison is a typical Clinton support dead ending. If there is any counterpart to Trump supporters, it’s Clinton supporters. They continue to deny any of Clinton’s multitude of obvious flaws while finding blame with all others and finding excuses no matter how facile, to continue attacking Sanders and his supporters. To be honest, talking to these Clinton dead enders is very much the same experience as talking to a Trump supporter.

            It is well documented and long been observed that HRC is a divisive character, she even admits it herself in the her own book about the 2016 election. It was her inherent divisiveness, her supporters hostility, and ongoing “centrists” and elite attempts to control the Party that have promoted chaos in the Party.

            Progressives don’t bring chaos, they bring excitement, enthusiasm, and vitality that the Party and the Nation desperately need. Sure, it’s pushing some complacent centrists out of their comfort zones, but THAT’S not “chaos”, it’s salvation.

            • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/07/2019 - 03:05 pm.

              Again: Let’s please not turn always to talk about Hillary Clinton! She lost the election in 2015 and is gone from the political scene.

              Let’s talk about what underlies the populist messagel of Bernie Sanders, who–in many aspects of his positioning–is appealing to chaos. And, of course, his supporters’ higher status because they “get” it.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/08/2019 - 09:22 am.

                No one, not even Clinton supporters, are entitled to make false claims and comparisons without provoking responses or challenges. If you go out of your way to contrive connections and similarities between Trump and Sanders you will have to defend that detour. When you contrive excuses to bring Sanders into a discussion about sociopathic Trump supporters YOU open the door to an examination of the ongoing animosity and hostility Clinton supporters keep launching at Sanders and his supporters. You don’t get to launch that conversation and then declare it to be out of bounds. If you don’t want to there… then don’t there.

                While the progressive agenda certainly challenges the status quo and the elitism that has controlled the Democratic Party for decades, it is in no way an agenda that promotes chaos. Again, there’s nothing chaotic about MFA, or the Green New Deal, or affordable college tuition’s, etc. etc. The fact that “centrist” want to dismiss progressive proposals doesn’t make progressives agents of chaos.

                Progressives love to discuss their agendas and policy proposals, we stand ready to do so whenever you’d like.

                People can try to classify agendas and candidates they don’t like as agents of chaos if they want, but progressives will not recognize a privilege to do so.

              • Submitted by Tom Crain on 09/09/2019 - 12:27 pm.

                Perhaps some actual examples of your claim that “aspects of [Sanders’] positioning” are chaos would be helpful to bolster your unsupported claim.

  7. Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 09/05/2019 - 06:42 pm.

    There was a BBC program last night about the science or psychology of
    internet click-bait and fake news. Almost a college discipline by now. It seems to have originated in Veles, Macedonia. Students made pretty healthy money by luring people to view stories that seemed attractive to them. More and more fictional.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csz5dw

  8. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/05/2019 - 07:05 pm.

    I’d be more impressed if the comments came from Psychologists, rather than Political Scientists (a bit of an oxymoron), who are a bit out of their field when they are talking about individual needs.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/06/2019 - 09:45 am.

      I’m not clear on your objection. All three authors have a background in researching the behavioral aspect of politics. The profile of the lead author, Michael Bang Petersen, says that he “investigates how the adaptive challenges of human evolutionary history shape the way modern citizens think about mass politics. He directs The Politics and Evolution Lab (PoNE Lab).”

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2019 - 12:08 pm.

        These guys are pretending to have “discovered” and described something that has been documented and studied in the field of psychology (and sociology) for decades. There are thousands of published studies on anti-social personality disorder, narcissistic personalities, psychopathic and sociopathic disorders and behavior. Any psychologist worth their salt could tell you that these people exist and yearn for societal discord and collapse because for them it would be liberating. Anyone familiar with the subject matter would predict that you’d find find these people well represented among Trump supporters.

        I can’t speak for Mr. Brandon but the issue isn’t so much the scientific validity of the “trio” but the claim to have made a novel observation.

        You can be trained in scientific methods but there’s still a body of knowledge within every discipline.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/06/2019 - 12:26 pm.

        There is a field of Evolutionary Psychology. Its proponents are Psychologists who look at the effects of evolution/natural selection as an independent variable on behavior, about which they have formal training.
        Political Scientists are trained in the analysis of the behavior of groups of people, not individuals. In that sense, it’s a branch of Sociology.
        I’d have to read the article(s) to get any sort of idea about whether their views of behavior agree with those of psychology.
        When people try to reinvent the wheel, it usually comes out square.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/06/2019 - 01:08 pm.

          “Political Scientists are trained in the analysis of the behavior of groups of people, not individuals.”

          So it’s basically the psychology of groups.

          The limitation may be my own. For the most part, I wasn’t educated according to formal academic disciplines, so I don’t understand why political scientists who focus on political behavior should have less credibility than a psychologist attempting to analyze political behavior.

          “When people try to reinvent the wheel, it usually comes out square.”

          When you put a bicycle wheel on a wheelbarrow, you’re not inventing, you’re adapting. You’re also killing the analogy.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/06/2019 - 03:12 pm.

            Something called ’emergent processes’.
            The behavior of an aggregate group of people is not simply that sum of all the individuals in that group, any more than the behavior of an individual can be described in terms of their component molecules. Each level of complexity has its own laws.
            As to professional competence, to earn my degree in (experimental) psychology required about seven years of study, involving many courses involving related but different subject matter, as well as research methods and design and supervised research.
            I’m not convinced that Political Scientists bring the same tools to the study of human behavior at the individual level.
            If I were really dedicated “I might be able to look up the authors’ vita; I’m not quite that involved in the question.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/06/2019 - 04:17 pm.

              There are disciplines in the social sciences that cross lines, and many of those call themselves “psychological,” without necessarily involving the kind of psychology you learned in your professional education (e.g. psychological economics, which may more accurately be called behavioral economics). Tat may be a misuse or oversimplification of the term.

        • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/06/2019 - 06:18 pm.

          To both Pauls: Please, please, read the original article!

          Neither of you seems to have any grasp of what this team of scholars has presented, which is new. Controversial, in in its attempt to explain the political behavior (via their motivation) of groups of solitary individuals who formerly were on the very fringes of society and political activism. They found the internet and social media, and off they went. To create chaos, so that they–loners and outsiders–could feel that their social status had improved. Because they messed up everybody else’s political, even existential, assumptions.

          It’s not just psychology, it’s not just political science, etc. It’s a new angle, which can be seen only if you read them! . Give them the respect their work deserves.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/07/2019 - 10:10 am.

            I think we’ve all read the article, it is NOT presenting anything “new”. You may not be familiar the material they’re presenting, but that doesn’t make it new. I’ve seen this material before. Trump isn’t the first megalomaniac to show up with a bunch of supporters, there have been dozens of studies, hundreds of papers published, and tens of thousands of recorded observations.

            Now, having said that, I’m not saying this article is garbage. I think it provides a useful narrative, and to the extent that a reader is not familiar with these observations it’s informative. I just think it’s intellectually (and academically) dishonest to claim to be making novel observations. Typically one of the first steps in a project like this a lit review, if the authors did this, they would have discovered volumes of published articles and observations.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/07/2019 - 01:42 pm.

            I have read the article cited — please reread my comments.
            A circular explanation is no explanation.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/06/2019 - 05:54 am.

    Markets are neurotic but they’re not chaotic. They reflect what capitalists worry about, and it’s not hard to follow at all!

    What capitalists worry about is often pretty remote from what moves markets.

    There are all sorts of ways of looking at what’s happening. Instead of an urge to chaos, what’s happening could from a different perspective, be seen as a Freudian death wish. How else can we explain Europe’s apparent retreat from unity to return to a nationalist system that facilitated two thousand years of war?

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2019 - 08:45 am.

    I fear Edsall has stumbled across a mundane observation pretending to be a scientific insight. I note that the “trio” responsible for this observation are political scientists, not psychologists so perhaps they and other can be forgiven for their erroneous assumptions.

    While it may be eloquent, the “Chaos Theory” is simply a recognition that we have sociopaths among us, something psychologist and even sociologists have long observed. The fact that so many of these reactionary Republicans and Trump supporters are seriously damaged goods is an old and well documented observation.

    Sociopaths obviously yearn for societal collapse and disruption because society and it’s laws, conventions, and expectations, restrict and punish sociopathic impulses and behavior. Sociopaths, like everyone else, just want to free. We don’t need a trio of political scientist to point this out… just watch an episode of “The Waling Dead”.

    Elsewhere I’ve campaigned against “centrism” and bi-partisanship based the assertion that “centrism” is a failed model emerging from a bubble of privilege and complacency. If you’re just now discovering the existence of sociopaths… you might be a “centrist”. Be that as it may, I hope people are beginning to realize why so many of us see Democratic candidates (and others) who think they can or even SHOULD share power with sociopaths are just as if not more dangerous than the sociopaths themselves.

    Some of us have been warning about these guys for decades and guys like Edsall have ignored those warnings under the pretense of “normal” politics and swinging “pendulums”. “We can work with these guys”, they win elections, we win elections… s’all good. Sound familiar? Sociopaths gotta be Sociopaths but they don’t end up in power unless someone gives them power… who’s idea was that?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/06/2019 - 03:15 pm.

      There is a field called Chaos Theory
      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiFxeClgb3kAhVOOq0KHcSgDYIQFjAAegQIAhAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FChaos_theory&usg=AOvVaw0tCOpaez_5TqutDY4q89W8
      It is not what these authors are referring to.

      • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/06/2019 - 06:21 pm.

        Of course it’s not.

        Read their work.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/07/2019 - 01:44 pm.

          Again, I have.
          When they use an existing term for a different body of literature, they are either ignorant of it, or of how it differs from their argument.

          • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/07/2019 - 03:10 pm.

            The word and concept of “chaos” pre-existed “chaos theory” as theory.

            So, where were we, again?

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/07/2019 - 07:38 pm.

              But if you talk to a physicist or mathematician about ‘Chaos Theory’ they will have a particular system in mind; defined mathematically (nonlinear dynamics: a determined system that has more than one possible outcome).

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/08/2019 - 11:25 am.

              Actually, Chaos existed as a word and a concept, but not a “Theory” prior to the notion of “Chaos Theory”. Chaos Theory is a model, not simply a additional definition of the word. The authors in this article aren’t referencing Chaos Theory in any event, nor are they using the concept of chaos in a novel way that would constitute a new or different model or theory.

              At any rate, from a poly-sci perspective Trump and others like him historically use chaos as a strategy or tactic to capture power. However once in power they impose complete dictatorial control, not chaos. The suggestion that chaos is actually the objective rather than means to an ends is rather spurious anyways.

              And again, if you actually understand and review the literature on psycopathic/sociopathic personalities you would know that neither they nor their lives are chaotic… in fact they tend to create and prefer rather regimented lives and surrounding. They’ll take advantage of chaos, but it’s not a political or personal objective. Look at how much difficulty Trump has in unfamiliar places and surroundings for instance. His need to stay in his own resorts most of the time isn’t just about promoting his business, THAT’S where he’s comfortable. That’s not a tendency towards chaos, on the contrary.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2019 - 10:08 am.

    Elsewhere we’ve been talking about whether or not Trump is a Fascists, as if that’s a serious question.

    One of Trump’s classic Fascist characteristics is his disregard and disdain for the rule of law, or any thing, person, or institution that restricts his behavior or impulses. He’s spent his entire presidency butting heads with the US Constitution and legal requirements and rulings. And he’s attacked anything and anyone who’s supported or issued those restrictions. And like Fascists before him he comes surrounded by criminals and friends and acquaintances connected to organized crime.

    Trump’s appeal to sociopaths requires no explanation, they know brethren when they one, it’s really THAT simple. Ultimately the promise of Trump, and all Fascists, is that they will empower sociopaths. The previously marginalized become untouchable enforcers under Fascist regimes. The most obvious example at present would be ICE. If you’ve been paying attention you don’t any scientists to point this out, although clearly some people have clung to their denial. Don’t get me wrong, I’m big on science… but I’m also big on simply paying attention to the world around us.

    Here’s the really important fact that hasn’t been widely discussed in a coherent context: You don’t have to be a sociopath to share sociopathic impulses and attitudes. While the actual numbers of diagnosable sociopaths may be relatively small, it’s the wider appeal of sociopathic principles that converts personal pathology’s into political and social crises and reality.

    Take Ayn Rand and her Libertarian followers for instance. The most catastrophic aspect of Rand’s pseudo-philosophy is the fact that Rand didn’t have an original bone in her body. Virtually all of her “insights” were really bad ideas stolen from sociopaths that preceded her. Her “morality” of selfishness for instance is simply an expression of the Social Darwinism that informs Fascism, racism, and sexism, and otherwise justifies inequality and oppression. Hence Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights act.

    Obviously you don’t need to be a sociopath to be a Libertarian. Those who subscribe to the notion of individualism and competition that leaves the “weak” behind sometimes call it “meritocracy”. Nevertheless, when tilted playing fields that preserve privilege and inequality are presented as examples of competitive success they are manifestations of sociopathic delusion.

    The problem is that implicit principles of things like Social Darwinism also inform neoliberalism and “free” market capitalism. This explains the cross-over appeal that Libertarianism sometimes enjoys among “moderate” Democrats and “liberals”.

    The conversion of school vouchers and private schools from a weapon to fight desegregation into a Charter School movement that is re-segregating the schools is an example. The idea that market competition rather than organized policy can resolve everything from the affordable housing crises to excessive carbon emissions and flailing education systems isn’t a limited mentality. This explains how and why someone like Trump can emerge as legitimate political figure.

    One has to remember that “liberals” and conservative celebrated and admired Trump for decades before he got into politics. The idea of running the government like a private company was just as popular among New Democrats as it had been among Republicans. Al Gore presided over the most extensive privatization of federal government agencies and functions in US history… remember? They called it: “Reinventing Government”. The idea was that greed (in the form of profit motive) produces better results than rational planning or public policy. Just turn the “innovators” lose and go home.

    So at the end of the day it’s not the sociopaths who will be the Storm Troopers, but rather the ordinary people who subscribe to sociopathic mentalities that bring a guy like Trump into the White House. I hate to say it but… we knew that.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 09/06/2019 - 10:27 am.

    An unscientific observation:
    We had a trade deal with China, now we have chaos, we had a trade deal with Mexico, now we have Chaos, we had a trade deal with Canada, now we have chaos, we had a nuclear deal with Iran, now we have chaos, we had an arms deal with Russia, now we have Chaos, We had a way of appointing cabinet members, now we have chaos, We had guidelines around emoluments now we have chaos. We had laws and guidelines around immigrants, now we have chaos. We had to reasonable direction to protect our environment, now we have chaos. We had a reasonable agreement to climate control, now we have chaos. We had reasonable fuel economy standards, now we have chaos. We had a solid NATO agreement, now we have chaos. We had a successful Fed that helped us out of the great recession, now we have chaos. We used to have NOAA give us accurate information on storms, now we have chaos, etc. etc. etc. Anyone notice a common connection to the chaos?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2019 - 11:02 am.

      Dude, any corporate consultant worth their salt will tell you that Trump is a “disruptor” … THAT’S his genius! Haven’t you heard? Disruption the new paradigm.

      The bipartisan/moderate assumption that tens of millions of marginalized and suffering American’s were or would be just as invested in the status quo as are elite and privileged; continues to threaten our democracy. Any fool can tell you that people pushed beyond beyond hope and desperation are willing to gamble on a little chaos. As Sean Connery said: “Sometimes a little revolution is a good thing Ryan”. That’s actually a rather powerful narrative.

  13. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/06/2019 - 10:45 am.

    I’m skeptical. I’d be less so if the article were written by psychologists rather than political scientists, but even if that were the case, Paul Udstrand makes a good point in his 2nd paragraph that – for me, at least – lessens the “dark and mysterious” implications of their conclusions. There are likely quite a few people – sociopaths of various strains – who at least THINK they want chaos, but they’re invariably people who’ve never actually experienced such a social state, and in fact, don’t want to experience it. If anything, they want your life and mine to be disrupted, but not their own. My own take on Trump supporters – there’s more to it than this, but I don’t have time to write pages about it – is that they like Trump primarily because he shares, at least to some degree, the same prejudices they have, even though he’s a one-percenter and they may well be from the fringes of society, economically and otherwise. Trump exempts himself from chaos and its consequences, and for what little it’s worth, I think many of his diehard supporters do much the same thing.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 09/09/2019 - 04:47 pm.

      As usual, Ray provides one of the most concisely appropriate response.

      As for me, I honestly don’t give a FF about the credentials of who wrote the article or whether they’re co-opting an existing field of science. What matters is that they’ve gotten people talking about the abnormal psychology of a group of people screwing up EVERYTHING for
      everyone else right now in support of the most deranged president we’ve ever had (believe it or not, the bar was higher than you think).

      The fact is, there are people who will follow Trump straight into Hell because they hate that other people got so successful and they didn’t. The entitlement to success is so ingrained in them, and they are so mad at being treated as insignificant (in no small part because they didn’t bother to adapt), that they will willingly sacrifice their own well-being in order to get revenge.

  14. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 09/06/2019 - 11:20 am.

    Anarchy is what some of Trump’s supporters thrive on. The more chaos they can create the better they feel. Some supporters find it entertaining to watch an ill man create his own self inflicted wounds. Some are just against voting for a Democrat no matter what, even to the point of their own detriment. It is the never Democratic voters that will elect Democrat’s in 2020. They have had their fill of Trump, can’t vote for a Democrat, so they will stay home and not vote. It is the same thing the Democrats experienced with Hillary. The defections of Republican politicians is starting to escalate now and the escalation will continue. Maybe if they had not been so cowardly and used the power the Constitution gives them they wouldn’t have to defect. Now they have the stink of Trump all over them because they have blindly supported him and they are left with the only option left, defection.

  15. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 09/06/2019 - 10:28 pm.

    Chaos is certainly a thing. A crisis is another. The Democrat talking points seem to always be a crisis. Global warming, affordable housing, gun control, opiod drug use, health care, abortion, etc. Working up the electorate about every “crisis” is a must for any Presidential candidate, and every other Democrat seeking office.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/07/2019 - 10:23 am.

      Dude, Republican’s are a party of perpetual crises. You may have heard of the boarder “crises” for instance? You think FOX news and Rush Limbaugh spend all their time calming people down and celebrating stability? These guys sit around crying and whining about all the crises 24-7.

      The difference liberals are trying to confront real crises while Trump and Republicans manufacture artificial crises, like voter fraud, and culture wars.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/07/2019 - 06:45 am.

    Trump is a symptom but he is not the disease. The problem isn’t with Trump but with a nation that, if it didn’t actually elect him, took Trump seriously.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/07/2019 - 12:31 pm.

    Just finish a couple thoughts:

    The reason I’m reacting to academic aspect of this (the authors being poly-sci instead of psyc) is that I think we really really really need to sharpen our critical analysis and demands for intellectual honesty and rigor. One problem that we’ve been having over the last decade or so is a flood of people pouring into in disciplines they’re not trained in and pretending to make “discoveries”.

    For instance Economists have decided that their “expertise” is universal and they’re bringing their alleged math and statistical magic to a plethora of disciplines. Personally I think they’re just bored with their own field of study and are looking for something else to do, but be that as it may, it’s NOT as helpful as they claim, and they’re duplicating a lot work rather than producing original results. Worse, they often bring the same level of incompetence to everyone else’s endeavors that they practiced in their own field. (Remember, these were most often the last guys to realize that the recession they spent decades assuring us could never happen was well under way, and then they spent the next three years promising us the housing market would return to normal in the next 6 months.) So when I see bunch of Poly Sci guys stepping outside their own discipline and pretending to analyze the psychology of Trump supporters; as if nobody’s ever seen a megalomaniac before… I have to say something.

    Second, I’ll make a psychological observation of my own. You can see that any emerging narrative has more or less appeal to certain groups or personalities. Obviously this “chaos” narrative, as mundane as it may be resonates more with some than others.

    It looks to me like this chaos narrative resonates with “centrist” and moderates more so than others. Obviously it resonates with Eric and Edsall, and Ms. Sullivan for instance. If that’s true, why might that be?

    I suspect that the appeal of the chaos narrative is associated with the moderate aversion to disruption. Almost nothing provokes as much anxiety among moderates as a challenge to their comfort zones. As the years of the Trump regime have gone by I’ve noticed that the primary complaint among moderates seems to be that the nations political landscape is drifting away from their comfort zones, whether their complaining about the “Squad” or Trump, or Sanders, or Omar; the complaint always revolves around their comfort zones and challenges thereof.

    It’s not so much any direct effect that Trump’s policies are having (effects they’ve been mostly insulated from thus far) but the atmosphere and potential instability that seems to bother them. We face multiple crises that preceded Trump’s election (And will continue long after Trump is gone) yet the emphasis among moderates is a return to “normal”, i.e. the previous comfort zone of the status quo. Hence the support for someone like Biden who promises such a return and reassures us that this will all be over if we just defeat Trump in the next election.

    Personalities like this can react to someone like Sanders, or Omar, or Warren with almost the same level of aversion as they do Trump. The similarity among Trump and Sanders has nothing to do with policy, or style, or agendas, but rather the challenge to comfort zones and familiarity. This might explain the occasional attempt to classify progressives as the “leftist” equivalent of Trumpists despite the absolute absence of any legitimate similarities.

    Of course one also has to point out the fact that the core of moderate/centrist/bi-partisan aversion to “disruption” of any kind is also about basic power relations. it’s not a coincidence that the “moderates” under discussion have also been the privileged elite who have controlled the Democratic Party for last three decades. Power gotta be power and “disruption” threatens that control. Biden doesn’t just promise to restore bi-partisan “normalcy… he also promises to restore and preserve moderate/”centrist” control of the Party.

    In many ways the Democratic elite, as represented by Biden moderates, is the mirror image of Trump Republican’s. These Democrats fear a progressive disruption to “their” Party as much if not more than Trump. In that regard they refuse to put the best interest of the Nation ahead of their Party much the same way Republicans like McConnell does. Democrats need our votes and support, to the extent that “centrist”/moderates seek to marginalize and reject progressives they risk bringing the Nation down along with their own Party.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/08/2019 - 07:41 am.

    Everyone has their perspective. Just as to a hammer, all the world is a nail, so to economists all issues are economic. The issue discussed here can be seen from a variety of perspectives, each opposing it’s own methodologies. A mathematicians chaos is Freud’s death wish. Physics see the same issues in terms of thermodynamics.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/08/2019 - 10:20 am.

    Sorry,

    Just to add one more detail to my observations; let’s take a quick look at this mainstream/corporate/bi-partisan rhetoric of: “populism”.

    One of the constants that has endured during this era of crises is a basic fidelity that the economic and political elite have historically enjoyed from major media outlets and those who subscribe to their mentalities and practice. Behind every narrative, is a meta-narrative, a larger narrative that can be beyond reproach. You can criticize corporations that do bad things for instance, but you can’t attack the very idea of corporations and expect to be taken seriously.

    Likewise, while many in media will criticize Trump rather harshly, and some will argue about certain policies and agendas, the over-all mission of “mainstream” media is to marginalize ideas and perspectives that challenge meta-narrative of neoliberal capitalism. This is why no one around here except guys like me ever talk about Noam Chomsky for instance.

    Getting back to populism you can see that this is a rhetorical gambit to marginalize popular ideas and those who promote them. On one level it’s an admission that the our political system is failing and has become unpopular. One cannot after all attack the popular without championing the unpopular. This was the essence of the 2016 election wherein both parties ended up fielding the most unpopular candidates in US history. no matter who won that election, the most unpopular candidate in history would have take the oath of office.

    Of course the perspective that popular ideas and popular candidates are “bad” things is inherently elitist. That perspective can only be rational among the unpopular who control the existing political system (and those in the media who service that elite). The idea that popularity is a bad thing or a toxic influence in a democratic society is a weird assumption. That assumption is however a necessary perspective for the unpopular elite, they must turn democracy on it’s head and promote the idea that popular ideas and candidates are dangerous threats to the existing order.

    The truth is that the problem with Trump isn’t his popularity or his populism, in fact he’s an historically unpopular politician promoting unpopular policies. The problem with Trump (and his counterparts in Europe) is that they’re Fascists or Right Wing reactionaries. If that’s the case, why do we have this narrative of “populism”. Why does the establishment media keep referring to an historically unpopular President as a: “populist”?

    The rhetoric of “populism” serves the meta-narrative. This rhetoric seeks to demonize and marginalize popular ideas and candidates in order preserve the unpopular political regime that serves the elite. In THAT regard progressives like Sanders and Warren are as great a threat as Trump. The rhetoric of populism seeks a narrative that marginalizes ANYONE that falls outside of the status-quo – bi-partisan system that serves the elite. This is why an historically unpopular president is characterized a “populist”… it’s about creating a narrative that preserves the existing power structure. Trump won’t be president forever but the elite plan to stay in power indefinitely. The Rhetoric of populism works as a narrative that can be used to marginalize ANYONE that challenges the existing order.

    In this regard you see can see that the narrative of “chaos” serves the same function, anyone who challenges the existing order can be marginalized as an agent of chaos.

    Of course the ironic problem is that rhetoric needs enjoy a certain level of popularity in order to be effective. This is essentially why Trump managed to win the election despite the rhetoric of populism. It’s why progressive candidates and agendas continue to grow in popularity and support despite the rhetoric of populism. And it may be why the media that keeps promoting that narrative continues to have credibility problems.

  20. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/09/2019 - 08:43 am.

    Here’s what I find disturbing:

    Liberal writers ascribing motivations to their opposition that are clearly being acted on by their allies and peers.

    It’s not something we need psychologists to explain, we can see it clearly by simply watching a Tea Party protest on the steps of the capital and comparing it to the destruction following an Antifa direct action.

    Who are you kidding?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/09/2019 - 09:06 am.

      If you think the tea party and antifa are comparable, you’re kidding yourself.

      Is there a self-described “antifa caucus” in Congress?

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/09/2019 - 12:02 pm.

      I can’t think of a single instance in which someone associated with Antifa has killed someone.

      On the other hand, many thousands die in the US, utterly preventably, because they don’t have access to affordable health care. What is the GOP doing about this? Nothing. And if anything, they’re unconscionably trying to strip health care access away from people by attacking the ACA while offering no alternative.

      If we had the least bit of honesty in assessing how dangerous a group was by referencing the actual harm they do to people’s lives, it’s not even a contest. The GOP is far more dangerous to the American public than Antifa.

      It’s no mystery to anyone that public policy can either save or take lives. Decrease air pollution enough and you’ll save a measurable number of people from death due to cardiovascular disease. Weaken air pollution rules, like the Trump administration is hoping to do, and you predictably increase the rate of death. Have incredibly weak workplace safety laws, the product of Republican policy in Texas, and you have a higher rate of workplace deaths.

      Do you want to see people die prematurely or acquire diseases they wouldn’t have had otherwise? Do you want to objectively harm society, but then distract people? Blame Antifa and then support “small government” and deregulation.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2019 - 09:01 am.

      “Liberal writers ascribing motivations to their opposition that are clearly being acted on by their allies and peers.”

      Well, I won’t speak for anyone else but the motivations I ascribe to Trump and his followers are all based on the actions and statements of Trump and his followers. When Trump claims that Alabama is in the path of a Hurricane that went nowhere hear Alabama, and this his Commerce Secretary threatens and intimidates NOAA officials into trying support that garbage claim… I’m not getting that from Rachael Maddow, I’m getting that from Bush and his Commerce Secretary. My observations are based on Trump’s tweets, the guy isn’t subtle.

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/09/2019 - 12:13 pm.

    Liberal writers ascribing motivations to their opposition that are clearly being acted on by their allies and peers.

    That’s called projection, of course, and it’s something to watch out for. For myself, and I have thought about this a lot, I am pretty comfortable with a moderate degree of chaos. Things change, I believe we have to be flexible in order to find ways to respond to those changes. Some would regard that attitude as chaotic, and while I don’t think they are completely right, I don’t think they are totally wrong.

  22. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 09/09/2019 - 02:43 pm.

    Liberals and Dems pointing their finger at the chaos associated with Trumpism, while in their vast blind spot lay the wastelands of Obama – Syria, Libya, Honduras (also pointing out the economic conditions resulting from Obama throwing the American people to bank, corporate and billionaire wolves led directly to the opium epidemic and the rise of Trumpism.)

    America, descending into bipartisan blind spot chaos….

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/09/2019 - 04:40 pm.

      “America, descending into bipartisan blind spot chaos….”

      I’m not buying that. Certianly Trump is monkey wrenching the status quo, but that’s what he was elected to do. He’s forcing change, yes, but honestly it looks to me that only the left is in chaos in response.

      Our NATO allies have grown fat and lazy under our protection; it’s high time they start footing the bill.

      China has been stealing our technology for 50 years; they must be brought to heel. It’s not just financial.

      Obama signed a deal that gave Iran approval to build a nuclear bomb after 10 years, then he returned billions (in cash) for them to do it with. If there was ever a deal that needed a monkey wrench tossed in, that was it.

      Mexico has always implicitly encouraged and abetted illegal migration; now for the first time, they are parternering with us to secure the border.

      Much needed change? Yup. Chaos? Only for the defenders of the status quo.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 09/10/2019 - 10:08 am.

        CK, you forgot what a great job “Trump” has done with the farmers, nothing like turning profitable”free market” enterprises into $28B welfare recipients, Great NATO comment, you know “Trump” was th ewe need to rebuild our military guy,why didn’t he just not ask for more military spending especially for NATO? Evidently you want the governemnt involved in all business transactions, China did not force companies to sign those contracts, don’t like the terms, don’t sign the contract, hard to call that theft when you willing engage in a business transaction, appears Trump and supporters want government run business’s and economy. Iran got its own cash back, looks like Trump and supporters like Cuba would prefer the enemies for ever strategy, they dictate all resolutions to their personal gain, nothign that is fair and or reasonable to both sides, seems all of Europe was OK with the deal? Guess other folks don’t count. Perhaps you can show some support for how Mexico is supporting illegal immigration? That is like saying Trumps administration supports and encourages illegal drug use here, look at the the ever increasing demand! So all these monkey wrenches and what has come out the other side? Answer: nothing, the great deal maker has 1 deal $1.5T giveaway to the richest of the rich, all on the credit card.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2019 - 09:34 am.

        “Our NATO allies have grown fat and lazy under our protection; it’s high time they start footing the bill.”

        It seems appropriate today to remember Article 5 of the treaty that created NATO (the Washington Treaty, if you wanted to know). Article 5 says that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members, obliging them to come to the defense of the nation that was attacked.

        Can you tell us when Article 5 has been invoked? Who was attacked?

        Any soldiers from trivial countries like Montenegro die in that response?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 09/09/2019 - 07:46 pm.

      WHD, could you please explain the “blind spot”? as the meme goes you eat and elephant one bite at a time. Please also explain the “billionaire wolves” did they materialize between in 2008 and 2016?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/10/2019 - 09:59 am.

      False equivalence.
      Obama never gave our enemies the identity of our intelligence agents, to name just the most recent obscenity.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 09/10/2019 - 05:39 pm.

        or tried to have a secret meeting with the Taliban prior to the anniversary of 9/11. It’s been asked a million times, but I’ll ask again. What if it was Obama that had attempted this?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2019 - 09:37 am.

          Any conservative worth his salt will tell you that the liberal media would lie about it, and cover it up. When it did come out, all you liberals would think it was a wonderful thing, because Obama did it.

          I think that about covers it.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2019 - 08:46 am.

      “while in their vast blind spot lay the wastelands of Obama – Syria, Libya, Honduras ”

      Dude, Bush’s invasion of Iraq triggered all the chaos in this region, Obama inherited the task of dealing with that chaos.

      “(also pointing out the economic conditions resulting from Obama throwing the American people to bank, corporate and billionaire wolves led directly to the opium epidemic and the rise of Trumpism.)

      The process of throwing us to the financial wolves began under Ronald Reagan, and the Great Recession landed in the middle of Bush’s presidency. You’re trying to blame Obama? Are you even paying attention? The big giant bank bail out was a Republican idea, By the time Obama got into office the quantitative easing and the Troubled Asset Relief Program- i.e. the bank bailout… had already been enacted.

  23. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/10/2019 - 05:36 am.

    I don’t think America’s decline started with Trump, it’s been in the works for a long time and there is a lot of blame to go around. But in Donald Trump, we knowingly put in the White House someone who is and who we knew to be not fit to be president. I don’t think we ever did that before. An effort to to put Obama or even Bush, hardly my own favorite president is an extraordinary act of wishful projection.

  24. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/11/2019 - 06:32 am.

    The liberal blind spot argument is a form of both siderism, perhaps a lack of projection. The claim is that while focusing on Trump’s issues, we ignore issues, very often the very same issue, on our own side. Trump has a crooked foundation? What about Clinton? Trump claims Obama was born in Kenya? Didn’t Hillary make the same claim first? Trump is an x? No, you re the x. Like all effective arguments these claims do have a grain of truth to them, but I would note, to the extent they are effective, we aren’t blind to them.

    We do have flaws. Our leaders often fail to live up to the standards we and they would apply to others. Al Gore takes too many private jets, and Bill and Hillary like money and and way to often, the thoroughly despicable who the people who have it. I personally don’t always recycle. But these are ad hominem arguments and attitudes designed to bog debate down and to avoid substantive issues. They pose the question, “Why should future generations suffer because Al Gore thinks he invented the internet?”

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2019 - 08:12 am.

    “… yes, I think Antifa has a congressional caucus.”

    I’m not trying to insult anyone or get personal or anything but if you have a problem with Anti-Fascism… you’re probably a Fascist.

    The US Constitution is an Anti-Fascist document, and every branch of our government is supposed to be inherently Anti-Fascist. The question isn’t whether or not Antifa has a Congressional Caucus… the entire body is SUPPOSED to be inherently Anti-Fascist. The question is whether or not Fascist have a Congressional Caucus. The FACT is we HAVE a Fascist POTUS.

    You may recall we fought a big giant war against Fascist a few decades ago?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2019 - 09:39 am.

      There were some prominent antifa types back then, but they were opposed by another crowd. If I’m not mistaken, that crowd’s slogan was “America First.”

      After the war, many of the anti-antifa types couldn’t accept that they were wrong. They started persecuting those they called “premature antifascists.”

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/11/2019 - 09:01 pm.

      I guess if it comes down to the choice between real fascism and anarchy, judging between the experiences our cities have had with “anti-fascist” roiters and, say, Portugal’s history under fascism, I’ll go with the fascists.

      Under those circumstances, I’d happily be named fascist.

      Of course we are no where near a fascist regime, but leftist chaos is much in evidence.

      Pity the people calling themselves “anti-fascist” are not willing to similarly admit they are nothing more than anarchists looking for the next opportunity to burn and destroy our Democratic society.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/12/2019 - 09:33 am.

        “I guess if it comes down to the choice between real fascism and anarchy, judging between the experiences our cities have had with “anti-fascist” roiters and, say, Portugal’s history under fascism, I’ll go with the fascists.”

        The Portuguese government under the Salazar regime was a brutal, authoritarian state. The regime relied on terror – extrajudicial killings, torture – to quash dissent and stay in power. The regime also perpetuated long, bloody, and ultimately pointless colonial wars in Africa (that is, those parts of its African colonies that weren’t being used as concentration camps for opponents of the regime). In terms conservatives can appreciate, the economy of the Estado Novo provided the Portuguese with the lowest standard of living in Western Europe.

        Antifa has smashed some windows, and beat up some people in MAGA hats.

        Yes, the choice is clear.

        • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/12/2019 - 03:43 pm.

          Salazar’s regime was pretty brutal; for Communists.

          I’m betting the regular folks in Portugal were pretty content when they read about what was happening in the Soviet Union.

          It’s instructive to understand that Salazar was ousted via a military coup after he suffered a stroke; not as the result of a popular uprising.

          In any case, I’m using Salazar favorably to compare stability to anarchist chaos; not as a model for America.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/12/2019 - 03:57 pm.

            And Mussolini made the trains run on time.

            Honestly, what were people complaining about?

            • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/12/2019 - 04:46 pm.

              Stalin’s gulag trains were always on time, too.

              Comparatively, Italians indeed had little to complain about…but then so did the people in the gulag compared to the people in Lubyanka who would have gladly boarded a train to the gulag.

              Again; context makes all the difference.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/12/2019 - 05:17 pm.

                There is no context in which fascism is acceptable.

                I never thought I would have to say that in a forum in the United States, but it’s 2019 and look where we are.

                • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/13/2019 - 11:02 am.

                  I’m sure that’s true for someone who views history through a lefty approved peephole. Others, having the advantage of a wider and better informed perspective will disagree.

                  I never thought I’d witness a Socialist named a front runner for President of the US, but here we are.

                  It’s OK, though. We will survive.

      • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 09/12/2019 - 10:56 am.

        That you can conceive that you’d be happy to be fascist tells me all I need to know about you, especially when a group of little real power (antifa) is what drives you to it.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2019 - 02:19 pm.

        Connor,

        I’m afraid you know less about Anarchism than you do Antifascists. Yes, you’re obviously more sympathetic to Fascism, and it’s still a free country, you can have those sympathies if you want. Just don’t expect to convert those sympathies into Fascist State without considerable resistance.

        • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 09/12/2019 - 03:34 pm.

          Lol. We are light years from fascism. But the real danger is that liberals have so distorted the meaning of the word, many wouldn’t recognize a fascist government if one suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

          • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 09/12/2019 - 03:59 pm.

            “But the real danger is that liberals have so distorted the meaning of the word, many wouldn’t recognize a fascist government if one suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”

            That’s good news for your side Conner. Locking up us libs will be easy peasy.

  26. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2019 - 11:42 am.

    Speaking of liberal blind spots, I’d have to say that to the extent there have been blind spots they’ve the failure to recognize the toxic nature of Republicans going all the way back to Reagan. Another blind spot has been the failure to recognize the myth of “free” markets and the ongoing suffering of millions of Americans. While I’m at it, I suppose the failure to recognize the catastrophic rise of wealth disparity was another liberal blind spot. Hell, we can catalog liberal blinds spots all day… remember when they “trusted” Bush and Cheney’s promise to find WMD’s? We can talk about liberal blind spots if you want, but they have nothing to do with Obama’s alleged evils.

  27. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/12/2019 - 05:55 am.

    A lot of Republicans are pretty toxic. I have often been struck by what I perceive at least as the meanness of them. Look at the Republican Supreme Court with their policy of denying Bahamians entry into the United State.

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