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How the other half thinks should worry us
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How the other half thinks should worry us

Although Joe Biden could easily lose in November, let’s avoid pretending we’re already home free. We’re not!

Having recently spoken to erstwhile academic colleagues, aka members of the “other America,” I was struck by how little our perceptions of current events even touch. Even more significantly, the views of what for me represent the other side are by no means confined to a small group of weirdos embedded in isolated echo chambers. Their interpretation of political and social reality may be the one held by as much as half of this country. Similar views can also be found among foreign inhabitants of what we euphemistically call the “liberal democracies.” Biden leads Trump outside the United States as a leader enjoying “global confidence,” according to the polls I’ve seen, by 15 points.

From the perspective of these observers, many of whom underwent “higher education,” Joe Biden and his advisers are protecting “our democracy” against Donald Trump, who is now a “convicted felon.” Moreover, it seems that Trump and his MAGA terrorist followers have been planning a “revenge tour” ever since the FBI, Department of Justice, and most recently New York state officials revealed his trail of criminal activities.

Much of the American public may believe what they tell us they believe, and they do vote.

When I asked those in the other world about the felony committed by Trump, I was referred to a detailed commentary in the Washington Post by Ruth Marcus, underscoring Judge Juan Merchan’s “evenhandedness and restraint.” It was strongly suggested that I lack the objectivity of those who express such measured opinions.

Please note that in national polling (Rasmussen may be the outlier here), Trump is now either tied with Biden or slightly behind. Although Biden’s decision to remove our borders has filled the country with violent, murderous interlopers, Trump leads Biden by only nine points in most recent polling on the border question.

Biden is still leading Trump on “protecting democracy,” although I would be hard pressed to think of anything our bumbling chief executive has done to defend our constitutional freedoms. Indeed, his handlers have done everything possible to treat their political opposition as scum, jailing anti-abortion protesters, encouraging dangerous demonstrations before the homes of Supreme Court Justices who don’t vote the way Biden’s leftist constituents want, waging relentless lawfare against Biden’s chief political opponents, and allowing January 6 protesters to rot in jail, while leftist hell-raisers go unpunished. It seems to me that one would have to look back to Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia to find democracy being protected in quite the same way.

But none of this has been registering with a large percentage of the U.S. population. According to an Emerson poll from June 6, 40% of those polled nationwide believe not only that Trump was rightly found guilty of a felony in New York City, thanks to D.A. Alvin Bragg, but also deserves jail time for what he supposedly did. Presumably, the same segment of the voting population is not much concerned about our border problem, the surging crime in our cities, or the rising cost of food, real estate, and energy. But they are enraged by how Trump is trying to overturn the democracy that Joe Biden is vigorously protecting. Moreover, many of those polled think women’s “reproductive rights” will be endangered if Trump is elected.

These respondents are also unlikely to be phased by the vandalism of pro-Hamas demonstrators or by what happened during the “summer of love” in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. But my leftist acquaintances do remind me of the vast anti-Semitic threat represented by the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville. Somehow, Trump was responsible for that, just as he caused the “insurrection” on January 6.

My reaction to these militant Trump-haters is the same as how I reacted to my fellow graduate students many decades ago who insisted that Joseph Stalin never murdered anyone but fascists. What I’m hearing from the other side strikes me as sheer madness. But whether their views are true or not, may not matter. Much of the American public may believe what they tell us they believe, and they do vote.

These partisans have an abundance of media sources that amply confirm what they want to believe. For the legacy media and the national press, Biden is still out there fighting for “our democracy” against the MAGA terrorists and their sinister leader. Although Joe may be lapsing into dementia, he is still apparently defending the “undocumented” and women’s “health needs.” He and his administration are also on guard against “white supremacists” and those “Christian nationalists” who use the Bible to dehumanize the LGBT community. Joe has also been conducting a foreign policy that advances “human rights,” but here he’s been supposedly opposed by Republican isolationists and by Trump’s continued support for his fellow-strongman Putin.

Let me repeat my warning to those who view the world as I do: Don’t overestimate the rationality of your fellow citizens and least of all the mental lucidity of our intelligentsia! Any political strategy you devise should take account of the unavoidable fact that you and they are seeing very different realities. Although Joe could easily lose in November, let’s avoid pretending we’re already home free. We’re not!

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Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.