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US election solidified dangerous division between Democrats, Trumpite Republicans

Nov 18,2020 - Last updated at Nov 18,2020

The 2020 US election has solidified the dangerous, debilitating division between Democrats and Trumpite Republicans. This politico-socio-cultural division has over many years driven the US population into two irreconcilable camps.

Donald Trump's refusal to admit that he lost the presidency to Democrat rival Joe Biden has energised rather than calmed Trump supporters, who believe false claims that the election was "stolen" and fraudulent. The thousands who gathered in Washington last Saturday vowed to continue the battle against Biden while nearly all Republican legislators remained silent and kept a low profile. By refusing to openly recognise the reality of Biden's victory, they empowered Trump to carry on with his campaign to discredit the election, thereby undermining the country's already flawed and diminished democracy.

Trumpites are a modern version of the 19th century Native American Party or the American Party. Its members were descendants of the White European colonists or settlers rather than the persecuted and ethnically cleansed indigenous tribespeople.  When this semi-secret organisation ordered its members to reply, "I know nothing," when asked about the party's activities, it became known as thr "Know Nothings.". It was a "nativist", nation-wide, populist party which was xenophobic, anti-immigration and anti-Catholic.  The focus was primarily on incoming Catholics because of fears that a surge of Irish and German Catholic immigrants would lead to domination by their candidates in elections.

The original "Know Nothings" were not, however, totally negative, as are today's "Know Nothings." The party promoted labour rights, opposed slavery, and called for government spending, regulation of industry, and rights for women. The party's rise was brief — from 1844-1860 — and after its demise, members often joined the anti-slavery Republican party of Abraham Lincoln at a time the Democrats backed slavery.

Like the "Know Nothings" of old, the Trumpites are a "nativist" country-wide, populist movement which is xenophobic and anti-immigration. Instead of being anti-Catholic, it is anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic, and anti-Black.  Its adherents believe that Browns and Blacks will one day outnumber Whites and seek to preserve the White majority and White supremacy. They do not share the positive attributes of the original "Know Nothings" and for the time being dominate the Republican Party. Lincoln would have been appalled.

Contemporary "Know Nothings", live in a fantasy universe and like Trump himself refuse to accept reality, particularly the hard fact that he lost the presidential election. They are "Know Nothings" because they refuse to listen to scientists about how to manage and contain COVID-19 and argue, along with Trump, that the economy, business and schools should open when lockdown would prevent the spread of the deadly disease. They agree with Trump's view that states run by the Democratic Party should be excluded from federal funding for dealing with the pandemic although this leads to the infection and deaths of fellow citizens and its spread to Republican led states. They refuse to accept the rulings of US state authorities about the conduct and result of the presidential election. They vehemently oppose controls on the ownership and sale of guns, especially weapons of war which have been used in multiple shootings across the US, including in schools. They attend pub-lic protests with their guns and threaten counter-demonstrators.  They deny climate change and do not understand the benefits of globalisation. They rely on Facebook and other social media and Fox News and outlets which promulgate misinformation, regard quality and mainstream media as biased and consider honest reportage to be "fake news".  From the time he was inaugurated, they have taken on board Trump's lies and misrepresentations which now number more than 22,000.

The devotion of the new "Know Nothings" to Trump seems incomprehensible to anyone living in the "real world" where COVID-19 is infecting and killing millions of people.  This virus is not a "hoax" but a brutal pandemic, Trump has won an election he lost, unregulated guns kill innocent people, and climate change is ravaging the globe.

Why do the new "Know Nothings" stubbornly refuse to accept facts as facts?  Resentment is a major contributor to their world view: resentment of the better educated, resentment of the influential elits, resentment of people who are better off.  Many come from the working and lower middle class and live in the southern and central hinterlands: the "red states" that voted for Trump. Many are evangelical Christians who are told how to think by preachers with right-wing missions. Some men see Trump as a "macho" model; others admire him as a "successful" businessman although his career in real estate and casinos has been plagued with bankruptcies and heavy indebtedness. Women are less impressed by his "macho" assertiveness and alleged business acumen.

Unfortunately, "Know Nothings" of one type or another have been a presence on the US scene since the continent was colonised. They are an integral part of the pioneering "American myth". The "Know Nothing" mind- set cannot easily be changed with education and the acquisition of knowledge because they refuse to be enlightened.  They do not want to "know" the facts; they cling desperately to false beliefs which provide uncertain individuals with an identity, psychological security, and a place on the planet. "Know Nothings" exist outside the US as well, among Muslim takfiris, Hindu and Buddhist "nationalists", British Brexiteers, and Turkish "Ottoman" expansionists, European neo-Nazis, among peoples who need myths to feel they exist. But "Know Nothings" in the US, the global hyper-power, pose a serious danger not only to their own country but to the rest of the world. Four years of Donald Trump has revealed how this mind-set has become a global threat.

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