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Why Are So Many Americans Willing to Support Hate and Division?

Is this the kind of country the majority of U.S. voters actually want to live in?

Trump supporters hold flags in front of Kenosha Courthouse on September 01, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. - US President Donald Trump is headed September 1, 2020 to Kenosha, the Wisconsin city at the center of a raging national debate over racism and public safety, despite pleas from local leaders to stay away and accusations that he is fanning tensions to boost his re-election. (Photo: Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images)

Trump supporters hold flags in front of Kenosha Courthouse on September 01, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. - US President Donald Trump is headed September 1, 2020 to Kenosha, the Wisconsin city at the center of a raging national debate over racism and public safety, despite pleas from local leaders to stay away and accusations that he is fanning tensions to boost his re-election. (Photo: Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump has falslely told us that only 9,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, that shooting an unarmed man in the back seven times is like a bad putt at golf, that protests are being led by an airplane full of black-jacketed "thugs," and refused to condemn a vicious murderer who killed two people and blew the arm off a third. Now, he is threatening the Mayor of Portland with federal troops again.

Which raises the question, is this the America the majority of voters want to live in?

A country where the police act as an occupying force and are immune to oversight or discipline? A president who pits people against each other based on their religion or the color of their skin? An administration that lies about science as over 200,000 people die? Corrupt former lobbyists in charge of virtually every federal agency? Cutting the Social Security tax so the entire program collapses by 2023?

If the polls are any indication, almost half of America is right there with him.

Why is this?

Is it that racism is so deeply ingrained in the white community that white people will regularly turn out to vote for politicians who use racial dog whistles? It certainly has worked for the majority of Republican candidates since the Democratic Party embraced the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act back in the 1960s.

The main subtext of Donald Trump's sales pitch, and of the Republican convention, was, "Black people are coming to move into your suburban neighborhood, and only Republicans can stop that." And there has been no meaningful pushback against that in the GOP.

Or is it that, as the nations sinks into deeper poverty and the American dream becomes more and more distant, that people are longing for job safety and economic security and are those more vulnerable to an authoritarian message?

Numerous studies show that conservative voters have more authoritarian tendencies, and that Trump followers are at the top of that list. For example, in a recent poll they overwhelmingly supported the military running the United States, which is about as police-state-authoritarian as you can get and completely inconsistent with America's founding principles.

Or could it be that it's both? That right wing media like Fox News and right-wing hate radio have succeeded in selling racial fear so effectively that white people with even modest racist inclinations are willing to embrace violence and authoritarianism?

Right now, nobody knows the answer. But the fate and future of both the United States and democracy around the world hang on our understanding it.

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