Learn Something


Just back from the demonstration / counter-demonstration in Northbrook Friday night. Did you make it? Good on you. If not, see you next time.

There was a good turnout on both sides of the street but the crowds were very different from one another.

I was good to my word in promising to do my part to engage in civil discussion and avoid name calling. It proved to be quite a challenge and that’s the learning, even as it may come to no surprise to you.

One female Trump supporter crossed the street and was near me, so I approached her, asking if she would talk with me. She agreed, so I asked her about her support for Trump and did she have concerns because of Trump’s behavior toward women? Her answer stunned me.

She said she is from Montenegro, part of the former Yugoslavia. It’s a totalitarian state, she said, which is why she came here.

“Okay, but you’re a woman and Trump has a very bad reputation with women.”

“Well, Kennedy did bad things  .  .  .” I stopped her and reminded her that Kennedy is not on the ballot in November. She went on with other politicians’ names, claiming they all do it. Then she attacked Jill Biden and her morality. I pointed out that she, too, is not on the ballot, which she dismissed, indicating that I just don’t get it.

“All powerful men do those things,” she told me.

Things went on a while longer, but everything she said was some form of whataboutism. She’s a Trump supporter and justifies her support with the rationalization that “They all do it.” She made it clear that she is stuck where she is. And she likes it there. She seemed for all the world an angry woman who simply wanted to lash out at something. Anything.

A fellow across the street was wearing an olive t-shirt, camo pants and a ball cap turned backward. He had a loud electronic megaphone and talked incessantly. What he said was inflammatory toward Biden, liberals (“go take your meds”), anyone standing across the street and more. That paired nicely with the flyer for the Trump demonstration naming the opposition “socialist morons.”

There was anger and hatred coming from Mr. Camo nonstop, so I approached him and, like the Montenegran woman, I asked him if we could talk and could I ask him a question?

I told him my name is Jack – what’s yours? “George,” he said. “George McGovern.” He and his friend shared a snarky smile.

“As you know, you’re saying things that are inflammatory to the people across the street. My question is why are you doing that?”

“Because I can.”

“Yes, of course, but  .  .  .”

“First amendment. Because I can.”

“Right, but you can say anything. Why are you saying these things?”

He went off on what sounded like a cocaine-fueled rant, becoming indignant, defensive, threatening, demeaning and more, so I walked away. He continued spouting accusations, schoolyard bully name-calling and more (“China, China is for Biden”) until I left the scene an hour later with his continuing rant fading away over my left shoulder. He wasn’t alone among the Trump supporters in behaving that way.

And the point – the learning – is about the power trip these Trump supporters are on. It’s about dominance, venting their rage, demeaning others, taunting, braying their real or imagined grievances and their victimhood and deliberately ignoring reality.

It’s the aphrodisiac of feeling powerful.

These are the people who are supporting Donald Trump. These are the people who want him to get away with subverting our election – anything for him to stay in power. They wave their flags even as they support Trump’s destruction of our democracy. That their bullying works against their own interests doesn’t seem to enter into their thinking.

We love to claim American exceptionalism. We love to proudly announce that we are the greatest nation in the world. If all that is true, then why do we need all the hatred?

I was interviewed by a couple of news agencies at the demonstration and was asked why we were there. Here’s what I told them.

This is a fight for the life of our democracy and it falls to us, we the people, to win this fight. It always falls to us. It’s just that we’re so perilously close to rule by thug now.

Better vote early.

And read Dana Millbank’s essay here. Many thanks to JB for pointing me to it.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

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9 Responses to Learn Something
  1. Anna B Reply

    Hey Jack, I heard the counter-protest went really well, everybody from sixth grade girls to senior citizens. I also heard that there were high school kids on the Trump side who represented the typical ignorant, intolerant, arrogant essence of Trump’s minions. Let’s face it protesting a sign that marks the mostly unnecessary deaths of over 200,000 people as “un-American” shows the kind of America they are fighting for — white supremacist, xenophobic, patriarchal (Amy Coney Barrett!) and genocidal (“Let the old people, the immigrants, the Muslims, African-Americans etc etc die. They are just a drain and a stain on society.”)

    It’s really important to stand up to those people and not give them a clear field to dominate. We cannot count on the elections to stop these fascists. Trump has already said he won’t concede so we need to build up our non-violent, but determined side. We need voting AND protest in the street — they work together.

    I think you know that Refuse Fascism is starting daily protests on Saturday (Oct 3) and Sunday (Oct 4) at the Federal Building at 2 pm Here is the link to the Refuse Fascism Facebook page. It would be great if you could come, and also if you could let other people know. https://bit.ly/2Sb7fXk

    Thanks again for stepping up to call this counter-protest. We need a lot more of that. Angie said the Trump/Pence Out Now! stickers were really popular and they ran out. A lot of people appreciated that they were there.

  2. Pascal Reply

    Amazing that this person believes Montenegro is a totalitarian regime.
    And may be nostalgic of a previous era

    According to Wikipedia
    The Constitution of Montenegro describes the state as a “civic, democratic, ecological state of social justice, based on the reign of Law.”
    Montenegro is an independent and sovereign republic that proclaimed its new constitution on 22 October 2007.

  3. JOAN E LINDGREN Reply

    With regards to the woman……women have been taken advantage by men for a long time and, apparently, it’s a part of their “being”. “Boys will be boys”, pathetic as it is, they’re willing to take more of it for the rest of their lives.

    So, what is it that separates us from the women who can’t rebel and want better for themselves and their daughters??? I think it has to do with “just giving in” and not feeling the need to speak out. You and I see how awful women have been treated and we want to make it better, through legislation .

    With regards to the men on the other side of the street, I’d like to know what they are so angry about?? We’re angry too! We’re angry that a pitiful man is about to take everyone’s rights away! But the difference is, we channel our anger into doing something about it. Still the guy didn’t tell you what he’s angry about, did he? I have never read why Republican men are so angry. Is he angry because he sees you and the others in your group as a threat to what he is angry about? Is he just a tough guy who wants to exert his will to argue with you about him being a Trumper and you voting for Biden?? THESE PEOPLE NEVER TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE ANGRY ABOUT…..LIKE, THEY’VE GOT A CORNER ON ANGER.

  4. John Calia Reply

    Sounds as though you think Trump supporters are the only people who behave that way.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Not the only ones, to be sure. But they were 95% of the rage displayed that night. No logic. No reasoning. Just wailing of grievances and anger, demonizing and rage.

    • JOAN E LINDGREN Reply

      John….if you have used FB, you will see the MEN making rude, cruel and a lot of name calling to anyone who disagrees with them! I’ve even posted, “why are men so angry because women respond on FB, but not like the men do”. Their language is foul and over the top in their rage!!

  5. Anastasia Gonzalez Reply

    You are right I am not surprised at the women’s response to your question. My curiosity has been satisfied to some degree by your asking a T supporter (female) their thoughts on that subject. It scares and angers me. How old was this woman? Unbelievable!!!!!
    I had a conversation recently with a Trump supporter and it was much the same. The whataboutisum syndrome . It’s catchy. My gosh WAKE up people!!!! So how in the world do you change this way of thinking!!!!!!

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Her age was roughly 35-45. The guy with the megaphone and big mouth was about the same age. The majority of the demonstrators were younger.

    • JOAN E LINDGREN Reply

      Anastasia Gonzalez……Just like there are the beliefs the Republicans want and there’s the beliefs of what the Democrats want. I also think these Republicans are angry because they really don’t know political history or even the rise of Fascism or Dictators. They weren’t interested in knowing or they slept through history class. But, here’s my main point….I will bet a lot of Republicans just don’t connect the dots as to what’s the problem. If they’re angry with Democrats, then they probably don’t think about what it is about Democrats that they’re angry about….is it that the progressive democrats what a healthcare system for everyone, not just for those who can afford costly medical/medications bills, they want a healthy, livable environment , the Democrats want a government that cares about all people, not just white ones, they want everyone to have an equal shot at getting ahead and to be able to rise above their economic conditions with low rates on their loans OR free tuition for those who want a college education or a training skills program to be trained for a specific job…..in other words, the Democrats want our government to stop giving our tax money to the rich and CEOs…..they want a WE Society instead of the Me, Me, Me Society in which we live. The Democrats can’t understand what is wrong with wanting to make our country more fair for everyone…..what is the matter with Republicans that they can’t understand that? Then we can also talk about the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats when we talk about Trump! On this topic, we have no clue as to why anyone would vote for him when Trump has exhibited a dictator wannabe……the clues have all been there since he campaigned 4 years ago. I really don’t think Republicans can get past Trump’s bluster to realize the dangerous path he’s taking us down…..and apparently, the Republicans are okay living in a country under a dictator who is inch by inch taking everyone’s rights away and leading us down the same path as Putin has done to his people. So…we have the angry people that Jack encountered who can’t articulate why they hate everyone….they just rant, call everyone foul names, blame everyone else for their ills, and just be clones of Trump……at the expense of our country going down in the eyes of the rest of the world.