An article in The Guardian caught my attention this morning. The title of the article was, “‘Anger and radicalization’: rising number of Americans say political violence is justified.”
What particularly struck me was poll results which said that “12% of Americans believe the government is run by Satan-worshipping pedophiles.” That’s about 30 million people, out of a US population of around 330 million.
This is the primary constituency for the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers and the tens of thousands of others who tried to overthrow US democracy on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol. Fortunately, between the actions of Capitol Police and DC police and the relative disorganization of the ultra-rightist insurrectionists, they were defeated, and many are now in jail or on their way there.
Donald Trump is using his campaign for President to try to raise back up this 12% of the population, as well as others, and it is clear that he is having an impact, while turning off many more, including some Republicans.
Other polls indicate that Trump right now has the support of about 1/3 of the US population, roughly 35%, so this far-right lunatic fringe makes up about 1/3 of Trump’s support base.
My first appreciation of how many hard-core rightists there were in the US population came during the time in 1973 and 1974 when I was a national coordinator of the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon. Toward the end of the two year process leading to his resignation after the Watergate burglars were caught in the act, Nixon’s poll numbers dropped precipitously, from 67% positive to about 25% just before he resigned.
The Republican Party then was not the Republican Party of today. Many Republicans in Congress supported Nixon resigning, letting him know that if he didn’t do so he would be impeached by the House and possibly convicted with their votes in the Senate. That led to Nixon resigning on August 9, 1974.
Today’s Republican Party is dominated by that 12% who believe the US government is “run by Satan-worshipping pedophiles.” Trump plays to and uses them in his continuing quest to become the USA’s first dictator.
Some progressives are depressed by the fact that this wacko 12% exists. For myself, not so much. Indeed, given the racist/patriarchal/heterosexist/corporatist/militarist history of the USA, the current domination of the US economy and government by a tiny, obscenely rich and powerful ruling group, and the relative weakness (though this is changing) of the progressive movement, it’s not a surprising thing.
There is another side, of course, to US history, the peoples’ history, the many and continuing struggles for justice, peace, democratic rights, a healthy environment and power to the people. Mass movements in these various areas have sometimes won after difficult but inspiring, year-after-year battles. The 50s and 60s Black Freedom movement is one of the best examples.
We must continue building our respective organizations and movements, always interacting with each other in as honest and respectful a way as possible, building toward the powerful movement of movements that can finally bring about the system change so urgently needed. As we contend with the far-right lunatic fringe elements and the more conventional regressive corporatists while we are doing that work, we can’t ever forget that they are not the future, not if we do our work well and with love at the core.
In the amended words of a popular slogan, “there ain’t no power like the power of a loving people, and the power of the people don’t stop.”
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He is the author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at https://tedglick.com.
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