Lloyd Holmberg: Electorate must be informed, vigilant

Lloyd Holmberg: Electorate must be informed, vigilant

  • 4

Significant transitions within nations can he subtle and often unnoticed, especially by a distracted citizenry. Also, as decent individuals can behave poorly, in a hostile crowd, many of good moral persuasion may act similarly in a nation that influences them with pernicious schemes and policies.

Ancient Rome, deliberately distracted its citizens from their dystopian lives with huge stadiums, seating as many as 250,000 and providing 159 holidays for entertainment. Violence in the stadiums was customary and the young were nurtured in this context. Of course, millions of Americans hardly need the packed stadiums or numbered holidays. They can receive the same distracting optics in their homes, year long, via TV, or anywhere, with cyber devices.

In the 1930s, Germany was coping with the Depression and its people were experiencing hardship and discontent. A convincing speaker, absent other creditable attributes, was able, nonetheless, to eventually transform Germany’s democracy into a fascist state. He accomplished this by improving the economy through a military build-up, aided by industrialists and a sociopathic cadre. This was done by March 1933, despite his party receiving only 37% support in 1932.

Lloyd Holmberg mug

Lloyd Holmberg

Using legislative emergency powers, similar to our president’s executive orders, he was able to retain that power permanently through the Enabling Act (1933).

He alone could now alter their constitution and enact any law he wished, which would take effect the following day.

Germany had become an autocratic, one-party, militaristic government that glorified war and displayed a belligerent nationalism. Most citizens were passive acolytes, but aggressively intolerant toward the weak, “unworthy” and dissenters.

It was an atmosphere in which strength, force and violence was inculcated into a whole generation of young Germans, from 1933, onward. Despite their war conquests, including torture of millions, the Germans began to suffer and, in the end, experienced a miserable fate themselves.

Torture is a new consideration for Americans. That decision was made for us and evidence exists it was carried out in at least 20 “Black Sites,” all out of country, for almost a decade until prohibited by an executive order in April 2009. Torture conducted so secretly and for that length of time should be disconcerting.

During World War II, our nation engaged in war to defend our allies from Germany and ourselves, after an attack from Japan. After the war, we improved our infrastructure and began correcting social needs with good leaders, who also provided international care to war-torn countries, including Germany and ]apan.. Much has changed, however, with powerful financial motivations for all sorts of military action that President Eisenhower warned us about, now including growing military security services businesses.

Powerful methods of indoctrination also seem to be more operative, including words and terms to unleash them, similar to those used in Germany in the 1930s.

  • The hailed cheers of “Shock and Awe” from the White House promoters for the assault on Iraq, loses its glory in the context it occurred. Now, deemed unwarranted, this pre-emptive attack, the first in our 214-year history, violated international law and fell outside the values of our nation.
  • The word soldier is no longer adequate, apparently being replaced by the argot ‘warrior, ostensibly having more pictorial value. The achievements of the soldiers identified in the Charles Province poem, “lt is The Soldier,” were accomplished by bravery, not nomenclature.
  • A portrayal of a compassionate or kind act, has for years, been summed up in a power context by a TV newscaster as “America strong,” presumably to render it more valuable. Recently, a newscast replacement described it as “kindness matters.” Hopefully, she replaces him more often.

These miasmic steps will remain viable with so many who are distracted or abetting the process. A superlative study [John Jost, 2003) involving 23,000 people from 12 countries, employing psychological tests, found some very inclined toward authoritarianism, a form of fascism. A study in London using MRIs (2010) had results supporting Jost’s conclusions.

Anyone who casts a wise vote is part of a pillar of democracy. Always, the discerning voter is essential for the survival of democracy.

This seems especially true today with so many citizens distracted (only about 57% vote in presidential elections) and an unknown number receptive to authoritarianism who will be lured by think tanks against their own best interest.

A final caveat seems timely: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” (Voltaire 1765)

Lloyd Holmberg resides in Onalaska.


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

My son, who is nearly 17 years old and Black, is afraid to go outside. "Mom, I am a Black guy wearing a mask in Oakland," he told me. "I am going to be killed." Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, my 19-year-old daughter was afraid to ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. "Mom," she explained, "they kill Black girls on BART." She was referring to the July 2018 murder of Nia Wilson, an ...

"Religious discrimination." It's an accusation we hear with increasing frequency. Indeed, discrimination on the basis of religion is one of the few common concerns our divided society has left. But even here, political polarization has left its mark. As conservatives use it, "religious discrimination" carries a meaning that is largely lost on the broader public. Now, with three new decisions ...

Wear your damn masks, because my child needs to go to school this fall. It's been approximately 3,839 days of quarantine, and I'm in a pretty good routine. I broke down and bought a proper desk; unlike the table I had been using, it doesn't have a support beam underneath that barks my shin a dozen times a day. I set an alarm every morning. I figured out how to schedule calls and interviews ...

President Donald Trump's proposal for a "National Garden of American Heroes," is a ludicrous, transparently political stunt. It's also his latest, ill-considered salvo against modern art and architecture. Back when the 45th president was a real estate developer, he dressed his skyscrapers in glitzy glass and metal. But ever since he moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he's gone retro, as he ...

Keep your hands visible. Don't be disrespectful. Say "yes sir, no sir." No sudden movements. These are the instructions inherited by Black children for generations. The directions are given, to sons in particular, with the hope they will get home alive should they come in contact with the police. Passed down like grandma's recipe for banana pudding, the fear cuts across class and income. ...

Long before current market volatility, state and local pension debt posed a risk somewhere between a ticking time bomb and a crate of nitroglycerin. An explosion is coming eventually, and any major shock, whether related to COVID-19 or the next recession down the road, could set it off. As USA Today reported recently: "Before (the coronavirus) crisis even began, state pension plans across the ...

The recent spike in U.S. COVID-19 infections has mercifully been accompanied by a declining death count. There were days in the spring when the country had half the number cases but twice as many deaths. Now, at least, the U.S. is testing more widely. And even though death is a lagging indicator, and the numbers are likely to catch up to some degree, there is reason to hope that the lag could ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News