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One More Try
I am now willing to admit that my quest to find an explanation for the MAGA phenomenon may never find fulfillment. I have even come to accept the possibility that “understanding,” in the strictly rational sense, may be unattainable.

But there may be another path. It was suggested to me recently that the forces driving the MAGAs could best be viewed as “feelings.” That insight has given me pause, perhaps because it is so obviously true. But this realization still leaves me with a knotty conundrum: what feelings could generate this kind of seeming madness? Finding my explanation in the universe of feelings could be even more challenging than my vain attempts to find any kind of logic or reason in that strange netherworld.

Still, I feel the need to try. Let’s start by removing intelligence from our consideration. Smarts have nothing to do with feelings. Skeptical thinking is also out of the picture, along with common sense, good judgment, education, expertise, and real life experience. And talking about facts would be irrelevant.

We do, however, have to look at evidence. Not evidence for or against some proposition or idea or assertion, but of feelings. If we want to know what feelings are in play here, we have to look at all the available data. Sadly, there’s not a lot to go on when trying to figure out what other people are feeling.

What people say about how they feel should be considered, but such declarations are notoriously unreliable. It is much better to examine how people act if we want to get an accurate take on their emotional state.

Let’s start with facial expressions. When I see our current president speak at a rally, I examine the faces of the supporters sitting right behind him, looking for clues. It’s not a pretty picture. There is laughter, but it is almost exclusively in response to put-downs. Indeed, many of the insults from their hero are founded on cruelty. I also see hatred. And petty grievance, and revenge.

I suppose we are all susceptible to such feelings. Like the MAGAs, we are human. But I would be more comfortable with these people if I could detect some compassion or gentleness or hope in their faces. Or something like love or genuine curiosity. This is not to say that these people don’t possess these feelings. But if they do, they are not bringing them to political events.

We can also look for evidence of feelings in the conduct we see from MAGAs. In that respect (though Matthew McConaughey will no doubt disagree with me), The Right seems much more at ease with physical violence than The Left. You know, killing people and stuff. Or maybe they just give in to their violent impulses more easily. Let’s agree, in any case, that both sides smash windows. Okay, Matthew?

I have not observed that MAGAs necessarily harbor feelings of racism. They do, however, hang out with a lot of people who do. In fact, they readily admit racists and white supremecists and nazis into their gatherings. Those are the deplorables you've heard about. That could simply mean, I suppose, that MAGAs tend to be forgiving and non-judgmental.

Unlike me. Oh, I can forgive, I guess, but I can’t help being judgmental. When I see people enjoying cruelty, when they seem drawn to meanness strictly for its own sake, when I see them reveling in hatred, I wonder whether such people are morally and ethically weak. Bad, in other words.

Let me assure you, Matthew, that when you say there are good people on both sides, I do not immediately think: yes, but there just happen to be a lot more of them on The Left. I do however, feel as if that’s true.
Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz