ARTHUR LERMAN: THOUGHTS ON JANUARY 6TH

Professor Arthur Lerman, a contributor to this blog, offers some thoughts written to colleague and associates, shortly after the ominous events of January 6, 2021 in Washington DC.

It’s hard to know where to begin, but I thought I’d share some things I already sent to some of you on my email list. 

Shaking from yesterday’s (January 6th) events. Yes.  

One headline I saw was “America’s Darkest Day.” 

a.      This will go down as one of the worst days in American democratic history–in world democratic history. Or maybe a close “save.”   

Anti-democrats could be proud that they brought the U.S. so close to their goal. And they’ll keep using Trump’s playbook to continue undermining democracy–in the U.S. and in other countries.  (See below podcast on “strongmen” and article on white supremacists.) 

b.      But maybe it’ll be a wake-up call to those who value democracy—to work to make sure conditions that created this crisis are remedied.  

Some, on NPR, speculated that House and Senate Republicans, objecting to the certification of the electoral votes as the Trump protesters broke into their chamber, will now realize how vulnerable they are to being burned by playing so cavalierly with the Trump fire. (Late comment: only some did.) 

Thing is that they may have been risking it because they fear their Trump voters–if they don’t keep stoking the Trump fire.  

As leaders with Trump followers, they should be aware that a real leader does not simply follow the prejudices of their followers. A real leader will tell followers when they are wrong—that they must reverse course.  

c.       For those of us who were anti-Trump all along, we have to figure out how to reach out to the Trumpers—somehow get a dialogue going on how to ameliorate that which has turned them so anti-democracy.  

There have been dialogue groups–bringing together individuals on the two sides of the divide. Hope these continue and grow. (Mercy College was thinking about such a program.) 

It is argued that Biden’s (and Hillary’s) policies better spoke to their needs than Republican policies, but that they were convinced by clever propaganda that this was not so, or simply to not listen. (I recognize the criticism that Biden and Hillary are too close to Wall Street, but even so, their policies are much better than Republican ones.) 

(Poly Sci textbooks state that most people pay little attention to politics. And those who pay more attention are the ones who already have strong opinions—not open to persuasion.)  

Also, if the issue is more about psychological identity (I’m part of a great white America) but Democrats are saying that America is now multicolored, how can I feel proud to be part of an America of “those people”?  

d.      An important part of this is to bring everyone to a common understanding of reality—in the immediate case, the integrity of the fall elections.  

The media talk about tribal groups, each in its own information silo. If we can’t agree on what is happening/already happened in the world, how can we move forward. But how can such agreement be attained? 

Hmm. I just wrote a lot. Probably nothing new to you.  

Here are some links for back-up ideas. (Again, you probably know it all anyway.)  

The first is my own rough essay on the danger of leaving any group behind. Most others are recent podcasts from WBUR that impressed me. 

Thoughts?  

https://progressivefutureusa.com/2016/11/15/2016-presidential-campaign-lessons-neglect-even-benign-no-longer-an-option-a-lerman-a-now-relevant-re-blog/

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/11/12/what-the-strongmen-of-history-reveal-about-modern-politics

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/12/18/president-elect-biden-says-america-first-is-history-is-that-true

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/12/04/what-we-know-about-bidens-economic-team

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/11/23/matthew-sheffield-built-a-career-in-conservative-media-now-he-wants-to-free-people-from-it

Some ideas about Congress and campaign finance: 

I begin by recommending the above listed WBUR podcast on Biden’s economic team–especially its analysis of the members of Congress–so wealthy and untouched by economic hardship. 

Congresspersons’ main concern is for those that give them their campaign contributions

It’s really hard to control political money. Even when Congress tried, the Supreme Court has backed up the monied interests. 

(Most congresspersons wish they didn’t have to spend hours every day soliciting funds for the next election.) 

Political money is like spilled oil. No matter how many cracks and crevices you seal, it’ll find others to seep into. 

Maybe the only way is the Bernie Sanders strategy–lots of small contributions to match the big ones. 

Hopeful Note: The “Biden’s economic team” podcast does say, approvingly, that Janet Yellen is “the real deal.”

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