Those People are all just alike: In our view, the current field of Democratic candidates is extremely weak.
Consider the current top five. Two are so old that, by any traditional norm, they shouldn't be in the mix for so demanding a (four-year) job. A third is way too young.
Of the two top contenders who remain, one inaccurately "list[ed] herself on various forms as Native American over two decades as a law professor"—and this is a point which Donald J. Trump says he would revisit, early and often, during a White House campaign.
(We're quoting from today's Washington Post. The New York Times seems to avoid producing such specific accounts of this hopeful's peculiar past claims.)
We're so underwhelmed by the fifth top contender that, at this point, we'll move on. But below the top five, a person could claim that matters get even worse. One candidate, a senator, recently made this ridiculous claim:
“We have Democratic candidates running for president right now who do not believe necessarily that it’s a good idea that women work outside the home. No joke.”
This candidate seems to have based that ludicrous claim upon an antique op-ed column written by one of the aged contenders—a decades-old column she had rather plainly misconstrued.
So it goes as the more liberal party tries to unseat Mister Trump. Then too, we have Beto O'Rourke, who strikes us as under-qualified, but who recently made a good statement.
O'Rourke guested with Lawrence on Thursday night's The Last Word. He was speaking from Jackson, Mississippi, where he'd gone in the aftermath of the arrests of unauthorized residents in several meat-packing plants, with their children left in tears.
Lawrence slimed the bad people found Over There, the very bad Trump voters. O'Rourke responded as shown:
O'ROURKE (8/15/19): You know what, I was just talking to somebody here in Jackson, and they were telling me about going to church in a conservative community, yes, that most of the congregation are Republicans, and the pastor there pointed out what you just did, and said, "This is not right, this cannot be us, this is not America. And instead of hating on these people or judging those parents or leaving these kids to their own devices, defenseless in the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet, what if we came together and provided for these kids?"So said Candidate O'Rourke. To watch the exchange, click here.
And this person told me, almost to a person, that congregation erupted in applause and then gave of themselves and of their wealth to make sure that those kids and those families are OK.
I believe in America. I believe in Republicans and Democrats and independents alike. Yes, there are some hateful people in this country, and yes, we've seen a rise in white supremacy, in white nationalism and white nationalist terrorism brought home to El Paso, Texas, on August 3rd.
But I'm confident that, if we tell that full story of that child and their parents, we're going to call on the hearts of our fellow Americans, we're going to galvanize the conscience of a country that needs to act.
And if we don't, we're going to see more attacks like those in El Paso, more raids like we saw just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. We will lose the genius of America, this foundational idea that we are all created equal and that the people of the planet can find a home here in the United States of America and make us better and make us great for the fact that they chose us and are here.
I said today in this speech, if we do not wake up to this challenge, to this threat, then we as Americans, as this idea of America, will die in our sleep. And we cannot allow that to happen.
"I believe in America," the candidate said, repeating the opening words of The Godfather. But then, he made a very unusual statement:
"I believe in Republicans and Democrats and independents alike." So said this relatively under-qualified candidate, making the type of statement you won't often hear these days.
We live in highly partisan times—and, in highly partisan or tribal times, we humans are hard-wired to loathe The Others en masse.
We're hard-wired to loathe such bad people tens of millions at a time. We're wired to lump them all together as we offer the least attractive possible account of their action, beliefs and motives.
We're hard-wired to believe that They're All Just Alike! Our species is wired to see things that way, or so say the top leading experts.
O'Rourke took a different approach. Some of the others are "hateful," he said. But he almost seemed to be saying that some of the others are not!
According to major professional experts, our species ain't wired to see things that way. We're hard-wired to think, and say, that Those People are all just alike.
Some will say such things about members of "racial" or ethnic groups. Some, like the Washington Post's Colbert King, will aggressively make such claims about large political groups.
In this morning's Post, King denounces Those People, The Others. He does so in the sweeping, time-honored way.
King lists an array of bad acts by Trump, then wonders why his supporters refuse to disown him. As he tries to puzzle this out, he moves directly from an imperial wizard of the Klan to Trump's "loyal base of supporters."
This is the way it's always been done. It's always been done this way:
KING (8/17/19): What about those acts, you might ask? Shouldn’t they prompt folks in Trump’s camp to start striking their tents?Don't waste your time speaking with Others. Those People are all just alike!
The answer might be found in an interview that NBC affiliate WWBT in Richmond conducted during the 2016 presidential campaign with a man identified only as the “Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Declaring his support for Republican candidate Trump, the imperial wizard said: “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”
What he believes in, they believe in. Trump’s loyal base of supporters rejects or ignores any charge of bias. They stay locked in, because they see things his way; he is speaking for them.
So, don’t waste time trying to convince them that Trump has a dark side.
They have heard what you heard; have seen what you’ve seen. The difference: They delight in the Trump thoughts, words and deeds that you denounce.
Those 63 million are all just alike—and they're like that Imperial Wizard! All around the world, since the dawn of time, our wars have been scripted this way.
The more hopeful O'Rourke seems to reject this ugly, hard-wired approach. So did "that good woman, the Widow Steavens," a memorable character from Willa Cather's My Antonia, an homage to immigrant families in the Nebraska of the 1880s.
"That good woman, the Widow Steavens" buys the farm of the narrator's grandparents when they decide that advancing age means they should start living in town. The narrator, who's 13 at this time, seems to have heard the description he quotes within his grandparents' home.
This purchase means that the Widow Steavens is now the nearest neighbor to the Shimerdas, a Bohemian immigrant family. Because she doesn't reflexively hate, she comes to admire the moral goodness of the book's title character.
Within the town, many native-born Nebraskans look down on the immigrant families. Out in the country, the Widow Steavens achieves a more nuanced outlook.
When Antonia Shimerda, then perhaps 24, returns to her family's farm after going away to be married, the Widow Steavens goes to ask her why she has returned. It turns out that she has been abandoned by the man who promised to marry her. She's returned home unmarried and pregnant.
Some time later, the Widow Steavens tells this story to the narrator, who's now 21. She describes the way she reacted when she heard Antonia's story. As she does, we see why she was called "that good woman" earlier in the book:
‘I asked her, of course, why she didn’t insist on a civil marriage at once—that would have given her some hold on him. She leaned her head on her hands, poor child, and said, “I just don’t know, Mrs. Steavens. I guess my patience was wore out, waiting so long. I thought if he saw how well I could do for him, he’d want to stay with me.”"I was poor comfort to her," this good woman says. "I marveled at her calm." (We'll pause while the tragically woke explain that Antonia shouldn't have felt disgraced.)
‘Jimmy, I sat right down on that bank beside her and made lament. I cried like a young thing. I couldn’t help it. I was just about heart-broke. It was one of them lovely warm May days, and the wind was blowing and the colts jumping around in the pastures; but I felt bowed with despair. My Antonia, that had so much good in her, had come home disgraced...
In this passage, we see that a range of reactions obtained among the book's native-born Nebraskans. Some simply couldn't see the virtues of the immigrant families. Others very much could.
The Widow Steavens wasn't alone in this capacity. During Antonia's first year in this new, very difficult country, her despairing father takes his own life.
At the modest funeral, Mrs. Shimerda conveys, through a fellow Bohemian, that she would like a prayer to be spoken in English so the native-born could understand. The narrator's grandfather accedes to this request:
Grandmother looked anxiously at grandfather. He took off his hat, and the other men did likewise. I thought his prayer remarkable. I still remember it. He began, ‘Oh, great and just God, no man among us knows what the sleeper knows, nor is it for us to judge what lies between him and Thee.’ He prayed that if any man there had been remiss toward the stranger come to a far country, God would forgive him and soften his heart.Top philosophers tell us that we're all "strangers come to a far country" in the most elementary sense. Beyond that, they say that we have all been remiss toward others at some point in time.
Within that context, like Lincoln before him, the narrator's grandfather urged his neighbors not to be quick to judge.
In his remarks to Lawrence, O'Rourke urged cable viewers to seek a constructive way forward. He said he's confident that people of all persuasions will be able to see the moral beauty of that crying child, and of that crying child's parents, if we tell their story in an appropriate way.
This morning, King takes a different approach. Briefly being remiss, he helps us learn to loathe en masse. This raises a basic question:
When we liberals loathe The Others en masse, does our tribe's high-minded loathing differ from the types of loathing we like to say we hate?
We're hard-wired to believe such tales, several top experts have said.