By Jean-Claude van Itallie

Mass media political commentary assumes voters rationally follow leaders with ideas they like.

Yet that assumption is false.

We are not mostly rational. We are dreamers in the dark. Our unconscious rules much of our lives and our political views. Witness Alice: "I give myself some very good advice but I very seldom follow it," she croons in the movie Alice in Wonderland.

We don't simply follow leaders who convince us by their rational arguments. If that were true we would be ruled by philosophers.

We dream up our leaders. We project our conscious and unconscious desires, hopes, and fears on the national political screen where they take the shape of, say, Clinton and Trump.

A 2011 study in the journal Current Biology actually found differences in brain structures between politically liberal and political conservative young adults. Our minds manifest on a spectrum from fully awakened Buddha at one end to blind fundamentalism at the other.

Why do Donald Republicans see Hillary as the negative cartoon figure Untrustworthy Whore ("Lock her up, lock her up.")? The problem lies not in the well-meaning, intelligent, knowledgeable candidate herself but in the psyche of those who view her as an archetype.

For millennia unconsciously women have been held in contempt as Whore or feared and hated as Bad Mother. Any woman who asks to lead her country or its armies – the traditional role of a male – is loathed. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. On the other hand, once long in power, like Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II, a queen becomes Our Beloved Grandmother. The collective unconscious has its ways.

Trump's devotees worship Donald, an ugly and dangerous demagogue, as Our Strong Father. If you have suffered a loveless or abusive childhood and are living an economically and educationally deprived life, you might indeed blindly seek the familiar pseudo-safety of an Abusive Leader loudly promising to take command.

Unconscious attraction to familiar evil explains, as nothing rational can, why so many people repeatedly vote for leaders who abuse them economically, or why George Bush II was able to win enough votes to steal two national elections, or why Clinton is not light years ahead of Trump in the polls.

Professor Lloyd de Mause of Columbia University in his Journal of Psychohistory suggests that the French Revolution, which initiated the change from all-powerful monarchs to more democratic regimes, happened only after a few 18th Century upper class women in France began breast-feeding their babies instead of casually farming them out to wet nurses. Loving your children can topple autocracy while loveless childhoods breed hatred and violence.

So how to win the election in the face of unconscious hatred? The Donald third of the electorate won't listen. But we can start with ourselves and friends, question our inner demons, even our milder prejudices, and out them. Once an unconscious negative projection is acknowledged, its power weakens.

Though winning this election won't be the culmination of a Bernie Sanders political revolution, it is imperative to persuade recalcitrant Hillary voters to get to the ballot box.

Talk to independents and even progressives who see Donald for who he is but think, like Chris Hedges on Democracy Now on August 4th, that "Hillary is not much better" because of her corporate ties.

Yes, we must change the whole damn system, get corporations out of government, but after Hillary is elected and appoints more fair-minded Supreme Court justices.

For now, ask any Hillary doubter, "Is Clinton more tied to corporations than any other major political candidate you can recall?" She is not.

To believe Hillary "bad" is a dark delusion that could propel us into a tailspin of fascism.

August 8, 2016

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