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“Donald Trump fans chant ‘send her back’ as he rages over US congresswoman Ilhan Omar — then claims she may have married her brother,” TheSun.co.uk, photo from Reuters

Why so mean, MAGAs?

You’re running America — what more do you want?

Jeffrey Denny

After yet another mass shooting, I posted a piece on Medium titled, “Yes, gun militants, there IS such a thing as an ‘assault weapon’.”

Subtitle: “Time to end the silly semantics game.”

I quoted a federal court decision upholding the Maryland ban on assault weapons and its definition of the military-grade rifles, as the 1994–2004 federal assault weapons ban also did.

Recently, I got a response from a “Brandon Comer.”

“No, there is not” any so-called assault weapons, he said. “Stop being a dumbass.”

I’m not offended to be called a “dumbass.”

My friends and family would gladly concur as I also consider the source.

What bugs me is that instead of rational debate, discussion or discourse, exploring the issue, explaining point of view, and attempting to persuade or find common ground, folks quickly devolve to insult, invective and snarky meme.

And not to be a partisan dumbass, but the nasty online put-downs seem especially prevalent from the Trump base. Compare the comments on Breitbart to those on The New York Times and most “liberal” mainstream — i.e., professional and reliable — media sites.

This is unsurprising, since Trump is the first American president to be so gleefully, gratuitously and vindictively vicious to anyone who dares to question him. As President, Trump has insulted more than 600 people, places and things, on Twitter alone, in less than 1,000 days in office.

His attack on the National Weather Service for correcting his warning that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama was just another episode in his constant childishly thin-skinned, strange, unhinged and disturbing amygdala-hijack blurts.

And attacking Debra Messing? Not just Grace from Will & Grace but — c’mon, people — Beth Lookner from “Seinfeld”?

Why does this president stoop so low to conquer so little?

This is a man — the so-called Leader of the Free World no less — who can’t take criticism in stride or admit he’s wrong like the best humans do.

Instead he needs to lash back at every slight — real or imagined — like the worst husbands do.

Insecurity is the most dangerous force on the planet, a friend once said and Trump illustrates.

To most Americans, Trump’s virtually daily nastiness is unnecessary, unseemly, ungentlemanly, undignified, uncalled for, un-presidential and un-American. He is far from the best a man can get.

But Trump’s blurts are cheered by MAGAs — he “speaks like me” — and oddly excused and defended by reasonable, responsible Republicans who once cared about American decency and values.

Leaders — from high school quarterbacks to CEOs — are expected to set the “tone from the top” in their organizations. That’s especially true for U.S. presidents, who we want to be leaders of the free world. They know representing America’s best goes with the job. We want our kids, the nation, society and the world to honor, respect and emulate our leader.

(That’s why Republicans were so “shocked, shocked” by Bill Clinton’s private misdeeds. His intern actions were so morally heinous, so high crimes and misdemeanor-y, that no righteous Republican would even think of such a sexual misdeed, let alone dissemble about it. So they impeached him without thinking twice.)

I get how Trump’s base believes — and loves — how he’s shaking things up unlike normal presidents and politicians.

I don’t get why they accept — and love — how Trump is setting the tone from the bottom, hearkening the worst angels of our nature, starting with spite.

Is Trump inspiring or pandering to his base, or both? Are they mutually validating, a feedback loop?

Is Trump really a lovely gentleman but taking a page from Gandhi, saying, “There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader”? Even if his people lead him to be nasty?

“What about the liberals, dumbass?” Trump’s base might clap back.

“The liberals are meaner. They call everyone racist and sexist and ignorant if they love Trump. What about Antifa? What about The Squad? What about the Trump-deranged leftist socialist Hollywood media that we binge on but hates on our greatest president?”

Five thoughts:

1. Democratic leaders, starting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, don’t Twitter-attack their daily and often harsh critics in an icky, insulting personal and bullying schoolyard way. They tend to act their age, like decent adult Americans, and have thick skin knowing criticism comes with democratically elected public office. They act with decorum respecting their offices.

Obama was attacked every day but took it in graceful stride, including when a member of the House Republican leadership shouted “You lie!” while the president was addressing a joint session of Congress. (The Republican who shouted this at Obama, Joe Wilson, is now challenging Trump as not fit for office, saying, “I’m running because Donald Trump is not who we are. He’s the worst of who we are.” The irony is complicated and delicious.)

2. Democratic leaders and presidential candidates don’t hold rallies and invite/incite mob fans to scream ignorant, angry invective such as, “Lock ‘er up!” “Send her back!” and “Enemy of the state!” while shaking fists at the media that Trump invited to cover the rally and be attacked by ignoramuses.

3. Democrats don’t take criticism of our leaders personally, and lash back like a grizzly momma protecting her cubs or helicopter parents with 20-somethings still living at home when Pelosi, Schumer, Biden or even Bernie or Warren are questioned. We’re not cultist sheep blindly following our heroic leader. And investment accounts.

4. We don’t lump and smear everyone who loves or enables Trump as a “fascist,” just as we don’t appreciate being branded “socialist” for having a problem with Trump’s nasty mayhem.

5. When “the liberals” are “mean,” it’s typically to challenge meanness, especially against people who’ve faced a lot of meanness such as nonwhite Americans and immigrant tired poor yearning huddled masses. We feel human suffering whether or not people have the right privileges or papers.

Fascist hate and hating fascism are not morally equivalent, with bad people on both sides balancing each other off.

Snarking “what about Antifa?” is equalizing and tacitly defending far-right Proud Boys and Unite the Right and their racist, white supremacist neo-Nazi anti-Semitic, anti-American bile and violence.

Trump’s base sneers even when you express reasonable views held by most Americans.

· On guns: A clear majority of Americans — left, right and independent — wants tougher gun laws, from national background checks to red-flag laws to bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

· On healthcare: A majority of Americans (53%) and likely voters (54%) approves of Obamacare. A majority also supports most healthcare reforms discussed by Democratic candidates, from expanding Medicare coverage to single-payer and national health plans.

Indeed, 70% of Americans support “Medicare for all.” As one pollster put it, “This specter of government takeover of health care, I don’t even hear it in focus groups with white, working-class Trump voters. They’ll say things like ‘I really like Medicare, why can’t we all have something like that?’”

· On the media: A clear majority (67%) supports a free, independent news media as an “important part of democracy,” warts and all, like our Founders protected, versus a Trump minority that parrots his declaration that the free, independent news media is the “enemy of the people.”

Even with America’s historic — and healthy — skepticism about the free press, turbocharged by Trump’s self-serving bashing of the media as it challenges him as our Founders intended, a majority of Americans still trusts the national TV networks for morning nightly news.

Nearly half of Americans also trusts The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other national mainstream newspapers (49%) and CNN (48%) over Fox (43%).

What news sources do Americans trust the most, nearly as much as topmost local TV, radio and newspapers? The so-called “liberal” public television (59%) and National Public Radio (55%).

· On Trump, an historic and steady majority of Americans continues to disapprove of him, rising to 56 percent at this writing as 60 percent believes a Trump recession is imminent. Many feel the household impact from his inexplicable China trade war, and most recognize his failure to deliver on any of his exaggerated promises and his disgrace of the White House.

· On “socialism,” the scare tactic Trump 2020 and the GOP are running on — it’s “Trump or Socialism” — only “2% of Democrats chose socialist as their top label, and 4% [chose] Democratic socialist,” Forbes reported. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including Democrats and independents, doesn’t appreciate being dubbed “socialists” just because they think Trump is bad for America.

Itrust MAGAs to attack any reliable facts, stats and polls that challenge their preternaturally smart and sensible American views.

After all, “the liberals” were wrong in 2016, right?

MAGAs will cite their own truthier internet sources that succor their opinions for money. I get it.

What I don’t get is why MAGAs need to be so mean to the majority of their fellow Americans who merely disagree with them.

Is it feeling powerless against the liberal hegemony? If so, how so, when Trumpsters, Republicans and conservatives in fact enjoy the hegemony?

Trump and ilk now control the White House; the U.S. Senate and 85 percent of the House; the U.S. Supreme Court and a growing number of lower courts; the most-watched news source, Fox; and many internet sources of “news” and “information.”

Essentially, MAGAs are running America. They’re leveraging our system to empower their minority status. Props!

Yet MAGAs still play victim. And attack other minorities that speak up and speak out.

What more do MAGAs want? Complete evisceration of any opposition? Drag American down to … what? Any better plan? If so, what specifically? Trump’s doesn’t seem to be working except to sucker his shrinking base.

In the meantime, I look forward to Mr. Comer’s better explanation of how an assault weapon is not an assault weapon.

I hope for his sake it’s less dumbass than calling me a dumbass.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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