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The puzzle in the U.S. Democratic Party is complicated

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Although polls in the United States show Joe Biden outnumbering other Democratic candidates, Biden is still concerned about the likelihood of rising US senator Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden knows very well that if Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, another Democrat candidate, ally and unite, Biden’s chances of winning will be reduced.

If Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth can win Biden in Iowa and New Hampshire, then there is essentially no chance for Biden to win the next presidential election.

Some US analysts believe Trump is more afraid of Sanders (than Biden), and will surely attract more independent supporters if Sanders reaches the final stage of next year’s presidential race.

Bernie Sanders, the old American senator, and one of Democratic nominees for the 2016 presidential election continues to oppose US President Donald Trump. This confrontation started at the time Trump entered the White House (by early 2017). Sanders, in one of his most recent positions against the White House, called for an end to Washington’s support for Riyadh in the Yemeni war. Sanders also condemned Trump’s stance on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. At any rate, Sanders’s recent position against Trump has led to the US President’s concerns.

Polls recently conducted in the United States indicate Sanders’ proper position among Democratic voters. Accordingly, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have both a good position among Democrat supporters and they both have a good chance to reach the final round of the 2020 presidential elections.

It should be remembered, however, that even if Sanders is defeated in the presidential election in 2020, he will remain one of Donald Trump’s main opponents in Congress.

Bernie Sanders is now trying to forget the bitter memories of the last presidential election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate who was supported by her husband, Bill Clinton, and many influential figures in the party, managed to defeat Sanders with her secret lobbies and went to fight Trump as Democrats’ final candidate.

Anyhow, if Sanders were to reach the final round of the 2016 presidential competitions, he could have defeated Trump and enter the White House. Sanders, however, was the victim of Democrat leaders and Hillary Clinton’s secret lobbies. It was not without a reason that many Sanders advocates voted for Hillary Clinton’s rival, Donald Trump!Here is some news and analysis on Sanders and the Democratic Party’s latest political situation:

It’s now Biden, Warren, Sanders — and everyone else

As Politico reported, The bottom is falling out of the Democratic presidential primary. And the top-tier — no longer five candidates, but three — is becoming more insurmountable.

For more than a year, Democrats had approached their nominating contest with a widely-shared belief that — like Republicans in the earliest stages of their primary four years ago — they, too, might take turns rising and falling in an expansive field. That expectation sustained the campaigns of more than two dozen contenders this year.

But in recent weeks, the leading band of candidates has contracted unexpectedly early. Heading into the fall, only three contenders are polling above single digits: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.

Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg remain at the periphery, while lower-polling candidates have largely failed to muster sustained, upward movement in fundraising or polling.

According to interviews with about two dozen Democratic operatives and consultants, there is little reason to expect any of them will.

“It was legitimate to say ‘Top 5’ for a long time, but with the exception of Kamala Harris being at the outer perimeter of the top three … you’d have to have a strange confluence of events for someone outside those four to win,” said Philippe Reines, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidant. “It would require all four failing. Like, you would need all four of them to be in a plane crash or something.”

For every other candidate, Reines said, “It’s too late in the game to keep saying it’s too early.”

By this point in the Republican primary in 2016, Jeb Bush was already cratering. Scott Walker had risen and fallen. Donald Trump was in first, still to fend off a surge from Ben Carson before running away from the field.The 2020 Democratic primary, by contrast, has been defined by its relative stability, with two full fundraising periods and two sets of debates now done.

Anna Greenberg, a pollster who advised former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s since-aborted presidential bid, said there was no boom-and-bust for Democrats because the primary “started so early, before voters really started paying attention,” and because of “the sheer volume of candidates.”

“It’s a little bit surprising because compared to ‘16 on the Republican side, where it seemed like a number of people had their moment in the sun … there hasn’t really been anybody who’s taken a meteoric rise,” said Scott Brennan, an Iowa Democratic National Committee member, and former state party chairman. Brennan said he’s spoken with several campaigns recently whose advisers “feel like they’re poised and ready, they’re poised and they’re waiting for their moment.”

But “for whatever reason,” he said, “they haven’t had that.”

In a spate of campaigning over the holiday weekend, Amy Klobuchar released a plan to address climate change, Sanders previewed his plan to cancel Americans’ medical debt and Beto O’Rourke reiterated his call for stricter gun laws, telling CNN of the nation’s recent mass shootings, “Yes, this is f—– up.”

On Labor Day, the candidates fanned out across the country, with Biden heading to Iowa, Warren to New Hampshire, Cory Booker to Nevada and Harris to California. The activity came on the heels of several candidates dropping out after failing to get traction — and speculation about more to follow — reinforcing the advantage held by the frontrunners.

Last week, Kirsten Gillibrand became the latest campaign casualty, a week after Jay Inslee abandoned his effort. With five months before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, six candidates have already dropped out.

Democratic strategist Matthew Litman, a former speechwriter for Biden who now backs Harris, described the field as “mostly settled” among five candidates, including Harris and Buttigieg in that group. Unlike in 2016, when many Republicans were wary of, if not opposed to, Trump, Democrats are “mostly satisfied” with the range of ideologies and experiences represented by the top tier, he said.“The other candidates are SOL, and it has been that way for a couple of months,” Litman said.

For Biden, Sanders, and Warren, the advancing calendar appears likely to compound their advantage, as early fundraising success and staff hiring allows them to begin advertising and to intensify voter outreach.

The debates have contributed to the early winnowing of candidates. Lower-tier candidates can barely focus on anything else besides meeting the Democratic National Committee’s increasingly arduous fundraising and polling benchmarks for debates.

“In a weird way because of the format of these debates and what it took to deal with the debates,” said Paul Maslin, a top Democratic pollster, “only recently has anyone started spending any significant money in the early states. So, there wasn’t any reason why there would be significant [poll] movement] … until now. And now, we’ll see.”

He said, “Really, the 1 percenters and below, they were the ones who really suffered. No one really told them, ‘Hey, you’re in a race where it’s impossible for you to grow at all. There is no room.”

After failing to make the next debate, in Houston, Tim Ryan and John Delaney were compelled to release statements confirming they were still running. Michael Bennet shredded the Democratic National Committee on stage at its summer meeting, while Steve Bullock defiantly released a new round of staff hires. Campaign aides for both said they’d redouble their efforts in Iowa.

“The rules became a proxy for success at a moment when campaigns were just getting started,” Bennet said in an interview with POLITICO. “The DNC is only interested in well-known candidates running.”

Even for candidates who have made the debates, their turns on the national stage haven’t sparked enduring swings in the campaign. As a result, they’ve spent recent weeks spinning their position in the polls.

“Which is more unlikely – 1) going from being a complete unknown to 6th in the polls or 2) going from 6th in the polls to winning the whole thing?” tweeted Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who’s enjoyed improbable success but is still running at 2 percent in the latest Morning Consult poll.

Hickenlooper, Inslee, and Gillibrand all participated in previous debates, before dropping out. Juli?n Castro sparked interest with his chiding of fellow Texan O’Rourke in the first set of debates, in June. And Harris surged in public opinion polls when she criticized Biden for his past opposition to busing and former associations with segregationist senators.

But for both candidates, the effect was short-lived. Harris is now back at 8 percent, according to the latest Morning Consult survey. Castro is stuck at 1 percent.

“It’s just that they happened so quickly,” said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist. “Trump has changed the timeline. Scandal doesn’t last. Problems don’t last. Success doesn’t last. Everything’s a little more vaporized in this timeframe.”

The progressive wing of the party already has two viable candidates in Sanders and Warren. For more moderate Democrats, only a Biden implosion is likely to create room for advancement.

“Somebody like Buttigieg or Harris, at this moment, they can only succeed with a Biden collapse,” Herman said. “They have an if-then strategy. They are not in control of their destiny.”

More movement will also require candidates to adopt a change in tone, said Tom McMahon, a former DNC executive director.

“Everyone — both in the top-tier and among the also-rans — have to start developing when and how they’re going to go negative,” he said. “Otherwise, this race is going to continue to remain status quo.”

It is possible the dynamic will shift. Former Iowa Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack, who briefly ran for president in 2008, said that even in Iowa, “most people, other than those who are ultra-interested, and ultra-focused, most people are not paying attention to this at all.”
“It’s still an open game here,” he said.

He added, “Having said that, the folks who are at the bottom end of the spectrum here have got to have their moment relatively soon, and here’s why: Because Warren, Sanders and Biden and Mayor Pete have a foundation of fundraising that’s going to continue to pump money into their campaigns.”

Of other candidates, Vilsack said, “They’ve got to move now, but there’s still time for them to move.”

Why black voters are backing two old white guys

Also, Politico reported that A divide among African Americans between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders has major implications for the race heading into the fall.

 A generational divide among black voters is persisting in the Democratic primary — between the two old white men.

Joe Biden has amassed a staggering lead among older African Americans, commanding nearly two-thirds support of black voters 65 and older in the most recent Morning Consult poll. Bernie Sanders is the favorite of black millennials, though his margin with that group is much smaller. Among all black voters, Biden is leading Sanders, 41 percent to 20 percent.

Biden and Sanders have maintained their edges even as other candidates — including two African American senators, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, have courted black voters more aggressively in recent months. Though opinions could change in the runup to voting, the preferences of African Americans this deep into the campaign has major implications for the election: As black voters go, so goes the mantle of Democratic front-runner — and likely the presidential nominee.

The irony of two white septuagenarians commanding majority support among African Americans — despite running in a historically diverse Democratic field — isn’t lost on black elected officials, operatives and voters. Several of them interviewed for this story said it speaks to the belief among many black voters that Biden is both best positioned to beat Donald Trump in a general election and to the loyalty he earned after eight years as Barack Obama’s No. 2.

“You go with what you know. A lot of black voters know Joe Biden,” said Michael Nutter, a former Philadelphia mayor and a current Democratic National Committee member who’s endorsed Biden. “There’s power in that and there’s loyalty in that.”

Sanders won a following among younger black voters during his 2016 run, when his progressive activism and criminal justice record fired up millennials of all races.

At least in the primary, Biden’s lead among older black Democrats is more consequential than Sanders’ edge among younger ones, because older voters typically vote in much greater numbers. That’s especially true in South Carolina, the first-in-the-South primary state where about 60 percent of the Democratic electorate is black. Polls show Biden is doing even better with African American voters there than he is nationally, giving him a potential crucial edge that he hopes to parlay into a string of victories throughout the Southeast and in big cities, where sizable chunks of the Democratic electorate are black.

Similar generational and ideological splits exist among white voters. But African American voters have coalesced to a greater degree behind Biden and Sanders — a dynamic that stands out because of their influence in the early stages of the primary and because they’re not behind Harris or Booker.

Without more black support, the path to the nomination becomes exceedingly tenuous for the African American senators, who are polling in the single digits overall. Nationally, Harris is the third choice of young black voters, behind Sanders and Biden. Among young black voters in South Carolina, Elizabeth Warren is polling ahead of Sanders. Both of the female candidates have made considerable efforts to court African Americans, especially black women, who are likely to turn out at higher rates than other demographics.

Harris is writing a monthly column for Essence magazine, which caters to black women and has more than 5 million monthly readers, dubbed Kamala’s Corner. To drive engagement and donor support within the black community, she’s also made sure voters know she’s an alumna of Howard University, a historically black institution, and a member of a black sorority.

Warren has also written for Essence and held events with black activists as she touts plans to close the racial wealth gap.

Booker’s polling among black voters is at under 6 percent despite his efforts to promote his work on bipartisan criminal justice reform as well as his two terms as mayor of predominantly African American Newark, N.J.

Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, cautioned that there’s still lots of time for other candidates to make inroads with black voters.

“When you think about Cory Booker, when you think about Kamala Harris, when you think about Elizabeth Warren and others,” he said, “one thing I’ve learned is that when you count people out, they usually teach you that you don’t know how to count.”

Seawright said one explanation for Sanders’ African American support is, “one could argue, he has never stopped running for president.” But while Sanders “enjoyed tremendous millennial support last election cycle,” he added, “that didn’t translate to necessarily showing up at the polls. So support is one thing. Voting for a candidate is another.”

Both Biden and Sanders have held rallies at historically black Clinton College in Rock Hill, S.C. But few students attended Biden’s town hall there Thursday; instead, it was mostly older people who showed up. Sanders’ event in June drew a younger crowd.

“Younger voters like what Sanders is saying about free college and legalizing marijuana,” said Jatoya White, a 19-year-old biology student who attended Biden’s rally but prefers Sanders. “With the older voters and Biden, it’s Obama.”

Biden on Thursday finished a two-day tour of South Carolina as part of a renewed emphasis on black voters. It included a sit-down with African American journalists in South Carolina and, before that, in Washington, where he said racism is a “white man’s problem.”

Sanders, meanwhile, is betting on his favorability with young black Democrats to narrow Biden’s lead. His failure to capture the black vote in 2016 crippled his chances of winning the nomination and showed, as other Democratic hopefuls have learned before, that relying too heavily on white liberal voters is not a winning strategy for any candidate.

Phillip Agnew, an activist, and surrogate with the Sanders campaign cited a recent encounter between Sanders and students at the University of South Carolina as emblematic of the way some young black voters feel about him. In the middle of move-in day at the university, when a group of black students heard the senator was inside a nearby Starbucks, they rushed over to thank him for his push to erase college debt.

“These are people who are about to go to college, who have the wherewithal to see Bernie as somebody whose platform, should he be elected, is going to make their lives and that dark cloud of [student loan] debt hanging over them not be there,” Agnew said.

Cathy Cohen, a founder of GenForward, whose research focuses on millennial voting behavior by race, emphasized that it’s still early days in the primary. South Carolina, the fourth state to vote in the Democratic race, doesn’t hold its primary until Feb. 29.

“I would argue that it’s anyone’s game,” Cohen said.

But Biden’s team points out his numbers haven’t budged much in the four months since he entered the race. In the Morning Consult poll, black voters 65 and older back Biden over Sanders by 56 percentage points, 63 percent to 7 percent. Sanders, meanwhile, is beating Biden by 12 points among African Americans younger than 30.

Black voters who’ve already made their choice told POLITICO that getting behind a white male candidate over a black woman or man is nothing personal. This time around, black Democrats feel the stakes are too high to be concerned about optics. They are focused on supporting the candidate they feel will champion the policies they care most about — and make Trump a one-term president.

“We want to win. We just want to win,” Nutter, the former Philadelphia mayor, said. “Because Donald Trump is so damaging and so frightening to many people in this country … the primary theme is, ‘I just want to be with someone who I believe can actually win.’ And that’s what people care about.”

From our partner Tehran Times

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Geopolitical Competition Logic as Seen From U.S.-Soviet Union Differences

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Under the backdrop of rising anti-globalization sentiments, the Covid-19 pandemic further deteriorates the international geopolitical environment. A prominent example of this is the U.S.- China relations that are in the danger escalating into a full-blown conflict. Ever since President Donald Trump took office, trade deficit and tariff-related issues were often cited as the reason behind China and the U.S.’ increasing frictions. In truth, what is happening is U.S. has redefined China’s strategic position. As the “National Defense Strategy Report” puts it, China is U.S.’ primary long-term strategic competitor. This is a significant change never seen before since the end of the Cold War.

How would things pan out in the future? To answer that question, we must first look back on history. If a similar historical event were to be found, it is important that we pay extra attention to it, as it allows us to better understand the logic of U.S.’ geopolitical competition.

Many people know that George Kennan was the brains behind the “Cold War” and “Containment” strategy, though in truth, there were other geo-strategists involved throughout the 45-year history Cold War too, including Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski was a well-known Polish-Jewish American geostrategic theorist whose political career was at its pinnacle when he served as President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor and was also considered the de facto manipulator of the U.S. foreign policy in the late 1970s. In 1986, he published the book “Game Plan”, which contrary to popular beliefs, did not discuss the pros and cons of the ideology or national system in U.S. and the Soviet Union, but served as a guide for the actions in geopolitical competition. It provided the U.S. with a “geostrategic framework for the conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Union contest” through a composed yet convincing rationale.

Brzezinski stated that conflicts between maritime and continental powers were often protracted, and that the U.S.- Soviet Union conflict was historical in nature. People became increasingly aware that the conflict stemmed from multiple reasons and difficult to resolve fully and quickly. For decades to come, the struggle had to be handled with the utmost patience and perseverance by both countries. Brzezinski even argued that geopolitical factors alone could push the two major post-war powers into conflict. The differences both the U.S. and Soviet Union had was greater than any pair of adversaries the history had ever seen, and it could be summed up in ten aspects:

1. The differences in their geopolitical imperatives: The relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union was not just a classic historical conflict between two major powers, it was a struggle of two imperial systems too. It marked the first time ever in history that two countries competed for global dominance.

2. The unique historical experiences that formed both countries’ political subconsciousness: The U.S. was an open and free society composed of voluntary immigrants. Despite their varying pasts, these immigrants yearned for a common future. Meanwhile, the Soviet society fell under the state institutions and thus, was relegated to their control. The Soviet Union achieved its expansion through the conquest of organized force and punitive immigration guided by the central government.

3. Differing philosophies: Such philosophies either form the concept of nationality or are formally established through an ideology. America’s emphasis on the individual is enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The Soviet Union institutionalized the concept and practice of the individual subservient to the state.

4.Differences in political institutions and traditions determines how decisions are discussed and made: The U.S. has an open political competition system that is strengthened by the free public opinion and formalized by secret ballots, free elections, and a conscious separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The Soviet Union however, concentrated these powers in a monopolistic manner, in the hands of a closed and disciplined leadership that was both self-elected and self-perpetuating.

5. Differences in the relationship between faiths and politics that define the society’s mind: The U.S. prioritizes one’s freedom to choose their religion freely and minimizes and consciously separates church and state. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union subordinated the church to the state. This was done not to inculcate orthodox religious values, but rather to promote state-sponsored atheism while limiting the scope of religious activities.

6. Different economic systems: Though far from perfect, America’s economic system provides people with opportunities and encourages individual initiative, private ownership, risk-taking, and to pursue profit. It provides a high standard of living for most people. In the Soviet Union, the political leadership directed all economic activities, the main means of production were centralized through state ownership, and free initiative and private ownership were deliberately limited against the background of persistent economic poverty and relative backwardness.

7. Different ways in pursuing self-satisfaction: The U.S. is a volatile, consumer-oriented and highly mobile society. Its mass culture, crude in certain ways, is prone to changing fashion trends and frequent artistic experiments. Social emotions there too, are prone to sudden changes. Perhaps it is due to the lack of a sense of civic duty in the U.S. that the state is unable to make formal demands on individuals. On the other hand, the Soviet Union promoted a more modest and restrictive way of survival within its culture and it allowed citizens to seek solace from deeper, perhaps closer family relationships and collective friendships than Americans could ever have. That said, most Soviet people were to obey to the massive demands of a Socialist patriotism.

8. Both systems appeal to different ideologies: The U.S. society influences the world through communication and mass media via “Americanizing” youths and creating an exaggerated image of the country, contrary to the Soviet Union who cultivated the image of a “fair society” that appeals to the poor countries of the world. It presented itself as the vanguard in world revolution, though the tactic lost its credibility when people realized the stagnation of the Soviet society, its low efficiency in economy and its political bureaucratization.

9. The two great powers had historically different cycles of in ascending and declining in power and robustness as well as prospering: The U.S. is still clearly at its peak. Its heyday may be over, but it remains a global superpower at forefront nonetheless. As long as history can remember, the Soviet Union has aspired to be the Third Rome for a long time, hence its pursuit of hegemony and its willingness to make more necessary sacrifices compared to its rival.

10. Both sides defined their historical victories differently, and that indirectly affected the setting of their respective short-term goals: The U.S. has a dim desire to pursue “world peace” and global democracy, as well as cultivate a sense of a patriotism that undoubtedly benefits itself. It wishes to lead the world by relating to the prospects of the world. The Soviet Union ’s aspirations however, were focused around “surpassing the U.S.” to become the core of a world composed of increasing Socialist countries who shared its school of thought, as well as becoming the center of Eurasia in an attempt to exclude its opponent.

Final analysis conclusion

Looking back at Brzezinski ’s analysis 34 years ago in year 2020, we can certainly infer the logic behind the U.S.’ geopolitical competition during the Cold War. Compared to the past, the U.S. has undergone great changes. It still adheres to some its past principles, though most have been done away. Some principles are just the same, though its message has changed. With that in mind, the international geopolitical competition participated by a reinvented United States could very well produce different results than those during the Cold War. Of course, any major country that “competes” with the U.S. needs to learn the lessons from the Soviet Union’s past development too, so that they don’t repeat their mistakes.

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Beware, the Blame-Game Will Backfire

Sabah Aslam

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The blames that certain American politicians have been trying to shift to China have all backfired on themselves, and the hardest-working blame-game player Mike Pompeo is considered by many American media and netizens as “one of the worst Secretaries of State in history.”

Shifting the blame to others has eventually boomeranged against themselves. What exactly have they done to shift the blame then?

At first, the American politicians played “face change” repeatedly. They praised China’s anti-virus efforts when COVID-19 first broke out in the country. Then all of a sudden, they changed their tune and began to criticize China. The U-turn in their attitude came at a subtle timing when the outbreak quickly escalated in the US. With a mentality of speculation and adventurism, the anxious and upset US politicians felt no qualms about going back on their own words. What an eye-opening farce for the world!

Later, they joined efforts to stigmatize China. As the pandemic spread ever more quickly across the US to the brink of going completely out of control, some politicians couldn’t wait to stand up and collectively slam and smear China, using very tough and strong words even though they knew the accusations carried no weight. Being incompetent in controlling the pandemic at home, they have been adamant about scapegoating China and put forth all sorts of China-bashing fallacies.

But the truth always beats lies in the end. The false accusations made by those politicians were not bought even by their own people, not to mention the rest of the world. When asked if they had any evidence to prove that the virus came from China, the politicians just beat around the bush, unable to give a direct answer. Their bluffing trick, after playing for a long time, was seen through. The continuously worsening pandemic situation in the US has infuriated its media and people so much that criticisms of the government and its officials for their slow and bungled response have never stopped. Facts have proven that these politicians, failing to shift the blame, have finally shot themselves in the foot.

Now that the blame-game doesn’t work, the true situation about America’s pandemic prevention and control can no longer be covered up. It is exactly because of those American politicians who, instead of concentrating on bringing the outbreak under control, are only focused on smearing other countries and shifting the blame to others that the US has left the world far behind in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Closer scrutiny would show that their blame-game just revealed their incorrigible “sinophobia paranoia.”

Some American politicians have been trumpeting the “end of history” theory. They don’t want to see a fast-developing and strong China, much less a successful socialist country. Still, history rolls forward irrespective of personal wishes, and no force can stop China’s progress. Thanks to the tremendous efforts made since the outbreak, China has achieved remarkable success in containing the virus, and resumed business operation and production across the country.

In contrast, the US has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, with the virus spreading further, and the number of infections and deaths still on the rise. Such a comparison is the last thing that those infected with “sinophobia paranoia” want to see. So, they played the blame-game to pass the buck for their poor epidemic response, and defame and throw obstacles at China’s development. How insidious!

Justice lies in people’s hearts. The people of the world have seen clearly that the fancy slogans like “America first” and “making America great again” should be based on “bearing responsibilities” rather than shirking them. The irresponsible and unconscionable move of shifting blame will in no way help with the anti-epidemic efforts; rather, it will only lead to an irremediable situation where the US has no choice but to eat the bitter fruit of its own making.

There is an old Chinese saying that goes “lift a rock only to drop it on one’s own feet,” which is similar to “shift the blame only to have it backfire.” We advise those American politicians, who confuse right with wrong, cling to the past, maintain biased viewpoints and randomly shift blame, to stop making anti-China noises and face up to justice, reason, and public opinion. After all, blaming China won’t cure your “disease” or make your wish to curb China’s development come true. That the US insists on going its own way stubbornly and recklessly will only make itself a laughing stock and the target of disdain.

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Donald Trump, “The Crowd” And A Nation’s Bitter Despair

Prof. Louis René Beres

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 “The crowd is untruth.”-Soren Kierkegaaard

The “crowd,” cautioned Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, is  “untruth.” Nowhere is the concise wisdom of this 19th century warning more plainly apparent than in Donald Trump’s despairing United States.  Even  today, even after so much rancorous presidential dissemblance and chicanery, this fragmenting and unhappy nation too often accepts incoherent political dogma as proper authority and  conspicuously vile political gibberish as truth.

 Even now, even when a derelict president elevates his own contrived and illiterate judgments concerning epidemiology above the authoritative opinion of America’s distinguished scientists and physicians, millions of his supporters still offer a visceral “amen.” In essence, these “obedient” citizens stand in stubbornly open support of untruth or anti-Reason. Why?

How can this unchanging self-destructiveness be suitably explained?

It gets even worse. In certain refractory instances, this irrational hierarchy of US citizen preference has led hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Americans to consume potentially lethal medications against Covid-19. What are these “obedient” people “thinking”? This is a president, let us not forget, who thinks human bodies can somehow undergo beneficial anti-viral “cleanings” with commercially-available disinfectants. If it can “kill” virus on tabletops, reasons Trump openly, why not take the remediating substance internally?

Credo quia absurdum, affirmed the ancient philosophers. “I believe because it is absurd.” Still, this is a president of the United States in the year 2020. How can such preposterous “reasoning” be accepted by literally millions of Americans?

There is more. How shall such normally incomprehensible behaviors be explained more gainfully? At one level, at least, the answer is obvious. America is no longer a society that sincerely values knowledge, education or learning. Led by a retrograde man of commerce who never reads books – indeed, who proudly reads nothing at all – this has become a “know nothing” country, a nation that wittingly and shamelessly spurns both intellect and truth.[1] For whatever deeply underlying reasons, docile Trump minions seek to keep themselves “anesthetized.”

In this active form of complicity with self-destruction, these Americans are not passive victims. Rather, they insistently hold themselves captive by a lengthening string of embarrassingly false presidential reassurances and by clinging to endlessly mindless Trump simplifications of complex problems.[2]

In her magisterial two-volume work, The Life of the Mind (1971), political philosopher Hannah Arendt makes much of the “manifest shallowness” of historical evil-doers, hypothesizing that the critically underlying causes of harm are not specifically evil motives or common stupidity per se. Rather, she concludes controversially but convincingly, the root problem is thoughtlessness, a more-or-less verifiable human condition that makes a susceptible  individual readily subject to the presumed “wisdom” of clichés, stock phrases and narrowly visceral codes of expression.

There are always a great many who will be “susceptible.” This does not mean only those who lack a decent formal education. Significantly, in Donald Trump’s fragmenting America, just as earlier in the Third Reich,  well-educated and affluent persons have joined forces with gun worshippers and street fighters to meet certain presumptively overlapping objectives. In the end, we may learn from  both history and logic, each faction will suffer grievously alongside the general citizenry.

 Both sides will “lose.”[3]

For philosopher Hannah Arendt, the core problem is this: a literal absence of thinking. In her learned and lucid assessment, evil is not calculable according to any specific purpose or ideology. Rather, it is deceptively commonplace and altogether predictable. Evil, we may learn from the philosopher, is “banal.”

There is more. Fundamentally, the “mass  man”  or “mass woman” (a Jungian term[4] that closely resembles Arendt’s evildoer) who cheers wildly in rancorous presidential crowds, and whatever the articulated gibberish of the moment, favors a constant flow of empty witticisms over any meaningful insights of reasoning or science. Living in a commerce-driven society that has been drifting ever further from any still-residual “life of the mind,” this susceptible American is a perfect “recruit” for Trumpian conversion.

This “obedient” citizen, after all, has absolutely no use for study, evidence or critical thinking of any kind. Why should he? Der Fuhrer will do his “thinking” for him.[5]

Could anything be more “convenient?”

With Arendt and Jung, the anti-Reason “culprit” is unmasked. It is the once-individual human being who has wittingly ceased to be an individual, who has effectively become the unapologetic enemy of intellect and a reliable ally of thoughtlessness. Using the succinct but incomparably expressive words of Spanish philosopher Jose Oretga y’Gassett, he or she thinks only “in his own flesh.”[6] Following any such antecedent triumphs of anti-Reason in the United States, it becomes more easy to understand the hideous rise and political survival of  dissembling American President Donald J. Trump.

America’s most insidious enemy in this suffocating Trump Era should now be easier to recognize. It is an unphilosophical national spirit that knows nothing and wants to know nothing of truth.[7]  Now facing unprecedented and overlapping crises of health, economics and law,[8] sizable elements of “We the People” feel at their best when they can chant anesthetizing gibberish in mesmerizing chorus.  “We’re number one; we’re number one,“these Americans still shout reflexively, even as their country’s capacity to project global power withers minute by minute, and even as the already ominous separations of rich and poor have come to mimic (and sometimes exceed) what is discoverable in the most downtrodden nations on earth.

Most alarmingly, among these manifold catastrophic American declensions, the badly-wounded American nation is still being led by an utterly ignorant pied piper, by a would-be emperor who was stunningly “naked” from the start and who has now managed to bring the United States to once unimaginable levels of suffering. In this connection, the Corona Virus pandemic was not of his own personal making, of course, but this relentless plague has become infinitely more injurious under Trump’s unsteady dictatorial hand.

Nonetheless, the champions of anti-Reason in America will still generally rise to defend their Fuhrer. He did  not create this growing plague, we are reminded. He is, therefore, just another victim of a plausibly unavoidable national circumstance. Why keep picking on this innocent and brilliant man?  Instead, let us stand loyally by his inconspicuously sagacious counsel.

 Sound familiar?

Recalling philosopher Hannah Arendt, such determinedly twisted loyalties stem originally from massive citizen thoughtlessness. Though Donald Trump is not in any way responsible for the actual biological menace of our current plague, he has still willingly weakened the American nation’s most indispensable medical and scientific defenses.[9] It is well worth mentioning too, on this particular count, that meaningful national defense always entails more than just large-scale weapons systems and infrastructures.[10] Looking ahead, moreover, this country has far more to gain from a coherent and science-based antivirus policy than from a patently preposterous Trumpian “Space Force.”[11]

 Thomas Jefferson, Chief architect of the Declaration of Independence, earlier observed the imperative congruence of viable national democracy with wisdom and learning. Today, however, many still accept a president whose proud refrain  during the 2016 election process was “I love the poorly educated.” Among other humiliating derelictions, this refrain represented a palpable echo of Third Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels Nuremberg rally comment: “Intellect rots the brain.”

 Americans are polarized not only by race, ethnicity and class, but also by inclination or disinclination to serious thought. For most of this dreary and unhappy country, any inclination toward a “life of the mind” is anathema. In irrefutable evidence, trivial or debasing entertainments remain the only expected compensation for a shallow national life of tedious obligation, financial exhaustion and premature  death. This sizable portion of the populace, now kept distant from authentic personal growth by every imaginable social and economic obstacle, desperately seeks residual compensations, whether in silly slogans, status-bearing affiliations or the manifestly deranging promises of Trump Era politics. 

Even at this eleventh hour, Americans must learn understand that no nation can be “first”[12] that does not hold the individual “soul”[13] sacred. At one time in our collective history, after American Transcendental philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, a spirit of personal accomplishment did actually earn high marks. Then, young people especially, strove to rise interestingly, not as the embarrassingly obedient servants of destructive power and raw commerce, but as plausibly proud owners of a unique and personal Self.

 Alas, today this Self  “lives” together with increasingly unbearable material and  biologically uncertain ties.  Whether Americans would prefer to become more secular or more reverent, to grant government more authority over their lives, or less, a willing submission to multitudes has become the nation’s most unifying national “religion.” Regarding the pied piper in the White House, many Americans accept even the most patently preposterous Trump claims of enhanced national security. Credo quia absurdum.

 Upon returning to Washington DC  after the Singapore Summit, President Trump made the following statement: “Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”[14]

It’s not just America. Crowd-like sentiments like these have a long and diversified planetary history. We are, to be fair, hardly the first people to surrender to crowds. The contemporary crowd-man or woman is, in fact, a primitive and universal being, one who has uniformly “slipped back,” in the words of Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y’ Gasset, “through the wings, on to the age-old stage of civilization.”

This grotesque stage is not bare. It is littered with the corpses of dead civilizations.[15] Indiscriminately, the crowd defiles all that is most gracious and still-promising in society. Charles Dickens, during his first visit to America, already observed back in 1842:  “I do fear that the heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty will be dealt by this country in the failure of its example to the earth.”

 To this point, at least, Americans have successfully maintained their political freedom from traditional political tyranny and oppression, but – plainly – this could now change at almost any moment. Already, we have come to accept in once unimaginable terms the kind of presidential manipulation and bullying that can shred and pull apart well-established constitutions. As corollary, Americans have also cravenly surrendered their liberty to become authentic persons. Openly deploring a life of meaning and sincerity, a nation stubbornly confuses wealth with success, blurting out rhythmic chants of patriotic celebration even as their cheerless democracy vanishes into meaninglessness, pandemic disease and a plausibly irremediable despair.   

Whatever its origin, there is an identifiable “reason” lying behind this synchronized delirium. In part, at least, such orchestrated babble seeks to protect Americans  from a potentially terrifying and unbearable loneliness. In the end, however, it is a contrived and inevitably lethal remedy . In the end, it offers just another Final Solution.

Still, there remain individual American citizens of integrity and courage. The fearlessly resolute individual who actively seeks an escape from the steadily-poisoning “crowd,” the One who opts heroically for disciplined individual thought over effortless conformance, must feel quite deeply alone. “The most radical division,” asserted José Ortega y Gasset in 1930, “is that which splits humanity…. those who make great demands on themselves…and those who demand nothing special of themselves…” In 1965, the Jewish philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, offered an almost identical argument. Lamenting, “The emancipated man is yet to emerge,” Heschel then asked each One to inquire: “What is expected of me? What is demanded of me?”

Why are these same questions so casually pushed aside by current American supporters of a rancorous president who opposes “emancipation” in any conceivable form?

 There is more. It is time for camouflage and concealment in our pitiful American crowd to yield to what Abraham Joshua Heschel called “being-challenged-in-the-world.” Individuals who would dare to read books for more than transient entertainment, and who are willing to risk social and material disapproval in exchange for exiting the crowd (“emancipation”), offer America its only real and lasting hope. To be sure, these rare souls can seldom be found in politics, in universities, in corporate boardrooms or almost anywhere (there are some exceptions still) on radio, television or in the movies. Always, their critical inner strength lies not in pompous oratory, catchy crowd phrases, or observably ostentatious accumulations of personal wealth (“Trump. Trump, Trump“),  but in the considerably more ample powers of genuineness, thought and Reason.

There is much yet to learn. Currently, not even the flimsiest ghost of intellectual originality haunts America’s public discussions of politics and economics, even those organized by intelligent and well-meaning Trump opponents. Now that America’s largely self-deceiving citizenry has lost all residual sense of awe in the world, this national public not only avoids authenticity, it positively loathes it. Indeed, in a nation that has lost all recognizable regard for the Western literary canon, our American crowdsgenerally seek aid, comfort and fraternity in a conveniently shared public illiteracy.

 Inter alia, the classical division of American society into Few and Mass represents a useful separation of those who are imitators from those who could initiate real understanding. “The mass,” said Jose Ortega y Gasset, “crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select.”  Today, in foolish and prospectively fatal deference to this Mass, the intellectually un-ambitious American not only wallows lazily in nonsensical political and cultural phrases of a naked emperor, he or she also applauds a manifestly shallow national ethos of personal surrender.  

“America First,” yes, but only in Covid-19 mortality.

By definition, the Mass, or Crowd, can never become Few. Yet, someindividual members of the Mass can make the very difficult transformation. Those who are already part of the Few must announce and maintain their determined stance. “One must become accustomed to living on mountains,” says Nietzsche, “to seeing the wretched ephemeral chatter of politics and national egotism beneath one.” It was Nietzsche, too, in Zarathustra, who warned presciently: “Never seek the Higher Man at the marketplace.”

Aware that they may still comprise a core barrier to America’s spiritual, cultural, intellectual and political disintegration, the Few,  resolute opponents of the Crowd,  knowingly refuse to chant in chorus. Ultimately, they should remind us of something very important: It is that both individually and collectively, doggedly staying the course of self-actualization and self-renewal – a lonely course of lucid consciousness rather than self-inflicted delusion – is the only honest and purposeful option for an imperiled nation.  

  Today, unhindered in their endlessly misguided work, Trump Era cheerleaders in all walks of life draw feverishly upon the sovereignty of an unqualified Crowd. This Mass depends for its very breath of life on the relentless withering of personal dignity, and also on the continued servitude of  all independent citizen consciousness. Oddly, “We the people,” frightfully unaware of this dangerous parasitism, are being passively converted into the fuel for the omnivorous machine of Trumpian “democracy.” This is a pathologic system of governance in which the American citizenry is still permitted to speak and interact freely, but which is also an anti-intellectual plutocracy.

In the early 1950s, Karl Jaspers, well familiar with the seminal earlier writings of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, sought to explain what a dissembling “Crowd” had  brought to his native Germany and Germany’s captive nations. Publishing Reason and Anti-Reason in Our Time  in 1952, the distinguished German philosopher explained the formidable difficulties of sustaining Reason among many who would prefer “the fog of the irrational.”  Now, Jaspers’ earlier observations about Nazi Germany may apply equally well to Donald Trump’s dissembling America:

Reason is confronted again and again with the fact of a mass of believers who have lost all ability to listen, who can absorb no argument and who hold unshakably fast to the Absurd as an unassailable presupposition….

Here, in essence, Jaspers here underscores the “fraudulent freedom of obedience” in any society that might seemingly will itself to be a democracy, but is actually just an oblique celebration of tyranny, moreover, the singularly arch-tyranny of anti-Reason. In earlier times, such perverse celebrations were unexceptional or even de rigeur, but they also “set the stage” for what Americans are experiencing so painfully at the present moment. To some extent, at least, for America to be freed from the false freedom of obedience will demand the whole society be placed in status nascens, as if newly born.

, When, in 1633, Galileo Galilei kneeled before the Inquisitorial Tribunal of Rome and was forced to renounce the compelling science of Copernicus, he revealed the vulnerability of  Reason to the mortal seductions of anti-Reason. In this case, history deserves notable pride of place. When Americans watch the evening news depicting US President Donald Trump railing thoughtlessly against well-established theories of biology and medical science, they should finally begin to appreciate something utterly primal. Such flagrant seductions of anti-Reason are not only sinister, but also lethal.

 “The crowd is untruth.”


[1] In this regard, consider the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s succinct warning in Zarathusrtra: “Never seek the higher man at the marketplace.”

[2] One may be usefully reminded of Bertrand Russell’s trenchant observation in Principles of Social Reconstruction (1916): “Men fear thought more than they fear anything else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death.”

[3] Said Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in 1934: “”Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state.” Later, in 2019, Donald Trump echoed this dreadful sentiment: “I have the support of the street, of the police, of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough – until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.” In a similar vein, during a 2016 rally in Las Vegas, Trump told a wildly cheering crowd that he’d “like to punch the protestors in the face.” “I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they’re in a place like this, they’d be carried out on a stretcher,” Then, identifying a specific target person in the audience, Trump added: I’d like to punch him in the face.”

[4] See the pertinent writings of Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung, especially The Undiscovered Self (1957).

[5] A current example is flag-waving Trump supporters who hold signs blaming distinguished epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci for “tyrannical” closure policies, and simultaneously urging greater medical authority for President Donald J Trump.

[6] “The mass-man,” we were warned earlier by Ortega in The Revolt of the Masses (1930)  “has no attention to spare for reasoning; he learns only in his own flesh.” Nothing could be more conspicuously clarifying than this graphic metaphor.

[7]  Apropos of truth in Plato’s The Republic: “To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.”

[8] See, by this author, Louis René Beres: https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/04/the-trump-presidency-a-breathtaking-assault-on-law-justice-and-security/

[9] “This virus is going to disappear,” said Trump, on February 27th, 2020.

[10] On this matter, of course, one ought also note this president’s withdrawal from treaties with Russia and from the United Nations World Health Organization. Credo quia absurdum.

[11] The United States Space Force was created by US President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019, under terms of the National Defense Authorization Act. Although it is intended to bolster this country’s overall military power in any expanding strategic competition with Russia, its most likely effects will  be contractive, corrosive and destabilizing. The critical underlying US policy error being committed in this creation is conceptual and historic. In essence, it consists of failing to recognize that millennia of belligerent geopolitical competitions have resulted not in peace, but in assorted forms of  international war. At a unique time when the United States faces a new and unpredictable set of dangers from worldwide disease pandemic, shifting large sums of money needed for public health to a space-centered arena of future international conflict represents mistaken national priorities. Of course, from what we ought already have learned about Reason and Anti-Reason, before this miscalculation can be changed, America’s leaders will have  to appreciate the fundamentally intellectual antecedents of US foreign policy decision-making  at every level.

[12] This president’s self-serving  refrain of “America First” ignores an absolutely overarching empirical truth: America is “first” in Covid-19 deaths, but not in any other tangibly enviable standard of civilizational quality or improvement. Always, we have the biggest bombs and missiles, but little else to show for even the most basic expectations of human empathy and compassion. For this president and his retrograde followers, caring about others is a sign of weakness. Nothing else. To wit, in the president’s currently most evident example, wearing a mask against Covid-19 infection is described as little more than “political correctness.”

[13] Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung thought of “soul” (in German, Seele) as the very essence of a human being. Neither Freud nor Jung ever provides a precise definition of the term, but it was not intended by either in any ordinary religious sense. For both psychologists, it was a still-recognizable and critical seat of both mind and passions in this life. Interesting, too, in the present context, is that Freud explained his already-predicted decline of America by various express references to “soul.” Freud was disgusted by any civilization so apparently unmoved by considerations of true “consciousness” (e.g., awareness of intellect and literature), and even thought that the anti-intellectual American commitment to perpetually shallow optimism and to crudely material accomplishment would occasion sweeping psychological misery.

[14] The worst expression of such incoherent presidential  reassurance would likely be a nuclear war.  For authoritative early accounts by this author of nuclear war effects, see: Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1986). Most recently, by Professor Beres, see: Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd ed. 2018).

[15] Dostoyevsky reminds us soberly: “And what is it in us that is mellowed by civilization? All it does, I’d say, is to develop in man a capacity to feel a greater variety of sensations. And nothing, absolutely nothing else. And through this development, man will yet learn how to enjoy bloodshed. Why, it has already happened….Civilization has made man, if not always more bloodthirsty, at least more viciously, more horribly bloodthirsty.” (See Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes From Underground, 108 (Andrew R. Mac Andrew, tr., New American Library, 1961 (1862).

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