America is in a street fight with a bully. America is losing.
Defeating Donald Trump demands new ways to counter punch. We’ll need reporters to dig into facts and push back hard against Trumpsters who lie on the air. Fact-checkers and opinion writers must unmask “alternative facts.” It’s key for women’s groups, political action groups, and civil rights groups to rally members to oppose Trump and his GOP enablers. Our courts must block assaults on persons and institutions. All of these people are essential. But, they aren’t the only ones we need.
We need people who bring a unique, personal perspective to the fight. People like me.
As a child and a young adult, I was trapped in a radical right-wing family. I know, from my personal experience, how extremism terrorizes kids and breaks families. I know how extremists instill fear and paranoia in their children. I know how hate, anger, and fear fuel the radical right. I’m in a unique position to help Americans understand where today’s radicals came from and what they want. I can help connect the dots from the old radical right to today’s Donald Trump and his extremist Republican party.
I learned about the radical right from my radical father, a charter member and a national leader of the John Birch Society, one of the most extreme right-wing organizations in this country’s history. The Birch Society preached that government is essentially evil. In their view, almost everything the government does should be undone or turned over to private enterprise. That means the end of all safety net programs, all civil rights protections, all regulations on business.
For right-wing radicals, the free market is God. Anything that interferes with a free market is evil. Rich people are good. Poor people, not so much.
I witnessed, first hand, the John Birch Society plans and schemes. I learned their worldview. I knew, by heart, all the conspiracies believed by the Birchers. I knew that taxes were stealing and that poor people were kept poor by the government. I was taught about Martin Luther King, the communist, and his plan to use the civil rights movement to start a civil war in the US. For years, I believed that evil men deep within the government would take over the country, kill my parents, destroy all religion, and turn the United States into a socialist hell. I survived in this environment for decades.
When the John Birch Society was pushed out of the conservative movement, Americans assumed that they were dead and done. They would never have any impact on the country. period. Anyone who said otherwise was considered as nutty as the Birchers themselves.
Most Americans have no clue that right-wing radicals including the John Birch Society and scores of organizations with deep connections to them have been plotting to take over our government for more than 60 years. They’ve spun webs of influence to promote their goals. Some of these people are now in Trump’s administration. Others, like the Koch Brothers are the brains and the wallet behind the movement to tear government out by the root. These right-wingers have embraced religious zealots, racists, bigots, and haters of every stripe. Sprinkle in a disdain for the environment, a disregard for the rights of women and minorities, and a total blindness for those in need . . . add a fast-talking, big shot from reality TV and ,PRESTO! You’ve got what we’re living through right now.
If we’re going to stop the radical juggernaut and save our democracy, it will take all of us.