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Day before yesterday I penned a diary titled Birther Zeitgeist and Inner Selves Revealed which argued that the so-called Birther Movement was more a collective expression of well understood trauma sytmpoms than it was a genuine political movement.

Today I'd like to sharpen this thesis and better explain how the so-called Birther Movement is in fact low-level long-term trauma packaged up by cynical right wing political operatives to look like an actual political phenomenon.

Spending time in the proximity of Birthers / Teabaggers is an interesting and revealing experience.  As a political activist and organizer, especially with Billionaires for Bush, I've had the opportunity to get in close proximity to those of the very angry right.  And though most fall well short of Kurtz's dark heart and raving self-awareness, there exists a powerful sense of personal horror and self loathing in their tortured existence.  In my experience they are more angry, depressed, guilt ridden, humorless, righteous, confused, incoherent, seething with rage, and ultimately helpless than they are driven by a political agenda.

Simply put, the overwhelming majority are damaged, weak, hurt, pathetic, and lost.

When I'm in their midst as a Billionaire, ostensibly aligned with their grievences for the few moments before they realize my game, I get no sense of a bond or connection around an idea or movement - from all appearances they seem to be strangely disconnected from each other.  It's not at all like a lefty demo where people are joined in mutual purpose and share a common bond.  They seem full of a wariness boardering on paranoia.  Operating on a default mode ... DO NOT TRUST THIS PERSON.  He is different, he is the other, he is not a true American, he has an ulterior motive.

And of course that last part is true.  I do attend these events to satarize, to poke fun, to contextualize, to minimize their so-called movement and ideology ... I have my own reasons and issues too.

But back to the birthers and the point of my diary ...

Kendall Johnson, therapist and author of After The Storm, speaks to the experience of cumulative stress and angst ...

... the dread and anguish we feel when we realize that things around use are spinning out of control, but we must act anyway.  Sociologists used the term to describe how ordinary citizens felt as they watched their old ways of life destroyed by powerful forces of impersonal industrialization.  Now we feel a similar sense of loss, disconnection, and vulnerability.  Political, economic, and technological forces beyond our influence increasingly shape our world.  We feel powerless to protect our families - and ourselves - in any meanginful way.  This is then the context then in which unfolding events mix with past experiences, contemporary angst, and everyday crises to produce the blend of symptoms we struggle to understand.  It is our job to survive ...

So this then is the psychological landscape of people who are one step away from socio-cultural oblivion, but with a mythology that runs counter to their own sense of dread.

They are mixed up and looking for something or someone to blame.  Along comes Barack Obama, a walking and talking checklist of the things they hate and fear most ...









Barack concentrates the entiretly of their confused notions and disclocations of the world as it is (in direct opposition to their mythology) and becomes the proverbial straw which snaps their back and drops them to the floor in a fit of rather unseemly decompensation.

As a mental health issue the psychology of the Birthers is a public policy challenge.  As a rump political movement within the Republican Party it makes winning elections at the national level impossible.  As a challenge to getting progressive government and legislation it ranks well below the problem of corporate dems and their lobbyist constituencies.

Originally posted to hegemony57 on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 10:19 AM PDT.


The Birther Movement is Driven By

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Comment Preferences

  •  They are aided and abetted by Fox (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Notice this nonstory by Fox on Jeanane Garofalo when teabaggers were supposed to protest her appearance in the Home of Liberty.
    (The funny thing is Fox editing as you notice their intrepid reporter doesn't show up in any frame with Garofalo and the ardent crowds of Protesting Baggers are also not in any shots of Garofalo.
    Even more important, all frames containing Garofalo does not show the Fox reporter or protesting hordes even in the background

  •  I think that there is something to (4+ / 0-)

    the PTSD idea--all of the most extreme wingnuts I have knows endured unbelievably abusive childhoods.  What seperates them from other people I know who survived such upbringings is that they have never acknowledged what happened to them--thus they have never received any kind of treatment.  

    But they also remind me of people -- like Scientologists--who get sucked into cults who routinely lie to them about everything.  If you have ever had a conversation with someone like this (xenu--the 40 billion yr old alien monster who infected the planet with parasitic thetans which can only be gotten rid of by saunas and lie detector machines) you quickly realize that they have an amazing ability to block out any new information which does not align with the view of reality which has been laid out for them.

    Just like many traumatized children or women who are victims of domestic abuse who defend and love their abusers.

    •  I would hope that an enterprising social psycholo (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, timewarp, kafkananda

      gist would do a study of birthers/teabaggers and childhood trauma ... I agree that there may be a link.

      Good point too about the Scientologists.

      No quarter. No surrender.

      by hegemony57 on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 10:45:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The other thing in common between birthers (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eloise, hegemony57, kafkananda

        and Scientolgists is that they are both being fleeced for lots of money by their "leaders.'  Michael Medved made that point on the NPR radio show the other day and when I went and looked at all the sites such as Alan Keyes and WNN, they are all begging for donations.  These people also get rich selling books.  Of course, Scientology is famous for really being about getting as much money as possible from its adherents.  Another commonality is the way they turn on their own (Coulter, former Scientologists) when they renounce the fiction.  Cynical con artists at the top and traumatized people being fleeced of both their money and ability to think critically at the bottom.  

  •  In truth BIRTHERS are victims of modernity. The (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, kafkananda, mayim

    progress we continue to make in the area of civil rights (and other areas of society) is seen as a zero sum game for Birthers and their ilk.  That idea is of course completely in the eye of the beholder ... to give someone rights does not imply the taking of some other persons rights.  This then is one of the lies we need to debunk.

    No quarter. No surrender.

    by hegemony57 on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 10:42:41 AM PDT

  •  I think it's obvious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that some people are not dealing with the idea of BHO as President. I am not certain they are all responding in the same way for the same, or similar, reasons.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference.

    by blue aardvark on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 10:43:32 AM PDT

  •  What do you suggest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hegemony57, kafkananda, smileycreek

    Terrific diary, hegemony57.

    What I'd like to know more about is how you talk with people who fit the description that you've presented here. Obviously, you--like just about every here on dKos--disagrees with what they believe. How does one speak honestly with these hurt, damaged, angry and frightened individuals that will steer them toward healing rather than exacerbate their anger and fear?

    •  Yes, this is key. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hegemony57, timewarp, smileycreek

      Granted they are all of that, but in the moment before the polarizing recognition hits, how do we pierce that veil of separation?  This is not unlike the work of the Dog Whisperer.  He is working in a situation frequently that is driven 'from above' by the 'owners' not fully understanding the natural relationship and the dog just reacting in a negative way to a lack of appropriate leadership. Calming that fearful, reactive, manipulated person is difficult to do directly by discussion. The inner dynamics of freedom and being a 'pack leader' don't get the investigation they deserve.

      Is being the ultimate 'pack leader' Obama's inner game?

      Many people have conversations with their dogs, trying to reason with them. Then they get frustrated and angry when their dogs don't "listen." What we forget is that we are communicating with our dogs all the time, even if it's not with words. Even when we are asleep, dogs are in tune with our rhythms; they know whether we are having a bad dream, a good dream, or an anxious dream. The communication we need to pay attention to is not the verbal part; it's the energy behind it and the outcome of it.


      As long as you are alive, you are talking with your dogs. They don't know what you're saying or what language you are speaking, but they absolutely know the energy you are projecting. That's why it's much more important to be aware of your energy with your dog, not what words you are saying.

      Link to entry in Dog Whisperer Blog.

      Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

      by kafkananda on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 11:57:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very interesting point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hegemony57, kafkananda, smileycreek

        Comparing Bush to Obama.  I always sensed that behind Bush's jocular belligerent persona lay panic (you could see it in his eyes at times--like the famous deer in the headlights look during the Florida recount) and that his panic infected the masses.  Obama seems to be consciously and deliberately trying to display an attitude of calm confidence and rational common sense.  This recession has not been a time of panic they way in which the aftermath of 9-11, even though a great deal many more people are personally affected by it.  

        •  Notice that the media TRY to get people (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          panicked about just about everything. That is their part in 'divide and conquer'. Fear blocks the compassion and wisdom of the heart that the unity of the people brings. But it hasn't been an easy sell for the fear preachers to many of their old customers of late. The body politic has grown in capacity to absorb smears and spin the last few years. Having Obama model sanity is priceless.

          Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

          by kafkananda on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 04:55:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I've tried to be open and honest about the (0+ / 0-)

      differences we have.  Here is one example where it sorta kinda worked.

      To be honest I'm not sure if I have the patience any longer.

      No quarter. No surrender.

      by hegemony57 on Wed Jul 29, 2009 at 12:37:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the "angry right" is angry because (0+ / 0-)

    they realize deep down that they are screwed by the system but they can't admit it to themselves

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