Large percentage of insurrectionists had "financial troubles"


But efforts to make this a cause & effect are flawed:

Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

The group’s bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was nearly twice as high as that of the American public, The Post found. A quarter of them had been sued for money owed to a creditor. And 1 in 5 of them faced losing their home at one point, according to court filings.

At the risk of coming off as "elitist," and with an acknowledgment that economic hardship is a reality that many Americans face each day, I categorically reject the "this is why they did it" explanation for attacking Congress:

The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the president’s rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims.

While no single factor explains why someone decided to join in, experts say, Donald Trump and his brand of grievance politics tapped into something that resonated with the hundreds of people who descended on the Capitol in a historic burst of violence.

“I think what you’re finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post’s findings. “And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.”

Sorry, it was not cause & effect. Those factors (financial troubles and violent assault) are both symptoms of the same problem: extremely poor judgment tethered to an unrealistic view of the world around them. They weren't just angry and lashing out, most of them actually believed they could reverse the results of the election and keep Trump in office. Several of them were recorded rifling through the papers of lawmakers and aides, looking for the overwhelming evidence they were convinced must exist that would expose the widespread fraud that brought Trump down.

As to their financial troubles:

The financial missteps by defendants in the attempted insurrection ranged from small debts of a few thousand dollars more than a decade ago to unpaid tax bills of $400,000 and homes facing foreclosure in recent years. Some of these people seemed to have regained their financial footing. But many of them once stood close to the edge.

People with professional careers such as respiratory therapist, nurse and lawyer were also accused of joining in.

One of them was William McCall Calhoun, 57, a well-known lawyer in Americus, Ga., 130 miles south of Atlanta, who was hit with a $26,000 federal tax lien in 2019, according to public records. A woman who knows Calhoun, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said he started to show strong support for Trump only in the past year. An attorney for Calhoun declined to comment.

Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police when she tried to leap through a door’s broken window inside the Capitol, had struggled to run a pool-service company outside San Diego and was saddled with a $23,000 judgment from a lender in 2017, according to court records.

Bolding mine, because that is critical in understanding the difference between economic oppression and poor judgment. Running a business that merely breaks even is hard, and debts can pile up. But choosing to not pay your taxes or your lenders is often accompanied by wild schemes to generate enough cash to eventually cover those debts, as opposed to negotiating reasonable payment plans. Neither the IRS nor private lenders want to seek legal judgments, they just want their money coming in.

My point is, people who are prone to fall for conspiracy theories, to the point they would engage in violence to support those theories, are also prone to make extremely bad financial decisions. The latter didn't cause the former, the underlying psychological issue did.



The "economic anxiety" running gag

The idea that supporters are attached to Trump because of "economic anxiety", rather than very obvious racism, religious extremism, and fascist authoritarian tendencies of these voters, has been a trope being pushed since 2016 by some reporters and op-ed writers, particularly at the Washington Post, NY Times and NPR.

It's been a theme repeated so often that it's become a running joke at several political sites and boards I read.

"Oh, a Trump supporter ran over a BLM protestor with their expensive SUV. It must be economic anxiety!" is the type of comment this reporting generates. (Or see another example here.)

A sub-genre of this reporting, where big city reporters to to a rural swing-state cafe to interview Trump supporters about their "economic anxiety" is commonly referred to derisively as a "Cletus safari".

Lol! That's my GMail avatar...

I have contemplated switching from Cletus to some other figure, or even a blank anon thing, since I'm on three different boards and exchange e-mails frequently. But it's just too funny to let go...

And, by the way ...

Huffington Post did their own analysis and found that a number of the insurrectionists had either served prison time or had outstanding warrants or restraining orders for sexual assault or domestic abuse.

This makes more sense to me.

This makes more sense to me. Watching it happen, and then listening to the presentation yesterday, I thought, "I know these guys." Ugh.