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May 13, 2016
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Overcoming the Political Rage

May 13, 2016 10:53 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

The 2016 political season has been, notably, one of extreme discord with the threat of violence right below the surface. 

Not since the Democratic convention of 1968 has there been such a display of radical differences of political opinion. The 1968 convention followed the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. The U.S. military was still stuck in Viet Nam and many were calling for major social changes. We elected Richard Nixon as President.

The 2016 election appears to have more to do with differences of opinion on the quality of life in the United States in the last fifty years. The two candidates who seem most likely to receive their party’s nomination, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have the followers who are the most polarized. 75% of Trump supporters believe that quality of life has deteriorated in the last 50 years in the United States compared to 66% of Clinton devotees who who believe life is better and express more contentment with their lot.  

At times when perceptions of “enough to go around” are profoundly different it is not surprising to see the willingness of those with radically opposing ideas to express these views volubly and emphatically.           

While xenophobia (the fear and hatred of strangers and foreigners) resides beneath the surface at all times, it is now in the spotlight. The result is that we have those who believe that the inclusion of immigrants in the culture is a threat and those who feel enriched by the resulting diversity.           

It is within human nature, when threatened, to be wary of those with differing opinions.  The more intimidated individuals feel, the more likely they are to isolate and restrict the way they look at the world.  This poses the question:  “At what point do homogeneous groups turn on their own?”           

On one side of the equation are those who admire “strength” above all else.  They believe themselves to be the last “true” Americans and the last “genuine” patriots...The first amendment guarantees their right to speak their own truth.           

On the other side are those who appear to seek what might be called universal solutions that include larger groups. Neither side possesses the silver bullet that will lead to the truth. When, however, does the line between loyalty to one group become bigotry aimed at the destruction of another?           

Historically, when a group adopts a “mob” mentality, they are inclined to blame those whom they believe they can dominate.  Very often the group that is earmarked are those of the Jewish faith.             

Louis  Faarikhan, a prominent religious and social leader, has noted that Mr. Trump is the only candidate who will not take money from Jews. Now that uber wealthy Sheldon Adelson, a devout Jew and ally of Israel, has endorsed Trump, it would appear that Mr. Faarikhan might wish to reassess his commitment.

David Duke, former KKK leader ,has, as recently as May of 2016, praised Trump for defeating those he (Duke) described as Jewish bigots who control the United States.           

In the 21st century questions have, increasingly, arisen regarding the veracity of the press.  During this election cycle, it has been observed, that Jewish journalists have been specifically targeted.           

Julia Ioffe, a reporter who wrote a profile of Melania Trump for Gentleman’s Quarterly, has faced death threats from conservative voters who were displeased with the article.  Ms. Ioffe, a Jewish emigre from Russia, has noted that she has not experienced this kind of attack since she arrived in the United States.  She has been sent images of her own face superimposed on the bodies of prisoners in Auschwitz.  Ms. Ioffe has also received telephone calls with recordings of Hitler’s speeches.           

Many Twitterers (those who write on Twitter) with semitic-sounding names have received anti-Semitic rants and report having been “doxed”.  To be “doxed” is to have personal information published on the internet with malicious intent.  Radio host, Erik Erikson no longer allows his children to pick up the mail due to the violent and frightening attacks that have arrived by post.  Ben Shapiro, former Breitbart employee, now sleeps with a gun because a note with his home address and his father’s name was published online along with the information that they are Orthodox Jews.           

There appears to be a shortage of respected figures of authority such as Ronald Reagan, who, publicly rejected an endorsement from the KKK; or Bernie Sanders, who expressed his disgust at potential followers who voiced sexist sentiments; or John McCain who reminded an angry crowd that Barack Obama was a decent person and not someone to be feared as president. Where are today’s Portraits in Courage?           

These events may serve as a reminder of ethnic “cleansings” such as the Turkish massacre of Armenians in World War I, the mass killings in Rwanda in the 1990’s and, the Babylonians, Roman and Greeks in ancient times.           

In 1856 the country engaged in a Civil War over differing opinions of ethical, moral, practical, and economic standards.

In 2016 a reasonable and peaceful resolution would appear to be in everyone’s best interest.  If the goal is for all to have an increased sense of well-being, it makes sense to concentrate on the tools that promote cooperation rather than division. 


1968 Democratic Convention. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2016, from

Berman, R. (2016, March 8). What's the Answer to Political Polizaration? Retrieved May 18, 2016, from       

Barro, J. (2016, May 3). The Crisis in the Republican Party is Even Worse Than it Looks. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from

Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and how Life Has Changed in the U.S. (2016, March 31). Retrieved May 18, 2016, from

Gambino, L. (2016, April 28). Journalist Who Profiled Melania Trump Hit With Barrage of Antisemitic Abuse. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from the guardian. staff. (2009). Ethnic Cleansing. Retrieved May 18, 2016, from

Mandel, B. (2016, March 16). My Trump Tweets Earned Me So Many Anti-Semitic Haters That I Bought a Gun. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from forward.

Obeidallah, D. (2016, May 5). Why Won't Trump Denounce His Anti-Semitic Supporters. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

A practical approach to problems encountered in daily life. A confidential and comfortable atmosphere in which we will use humor to help you gain perspective on current concerns. Enhance your skills for creative problem solving.

Ruth Gordon has a clinical practice in Naples, FL

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