Quite a large number of straight white men in America seem to be in perpetual crisis at the moment. Feeling increasingly emasculated by the idea of sharing power with people -- women, gays, people of color, etc. -- they were raised to find inferior, many seem unable to live in peace in the nation as it stands now.
It helps if you try to see the country's recent history from their point of view. First America elected a black president, a historic departure. Their response to this surprising development was to request to see his birth certificate.
That request underlined their mostly unspoken belief that he was an illegitimate choice. Simply by having the wrong pigmentation and the wrong politics, he was unqualified for the job they suggested.
When that ploy failed to find traction they turned to his religious faith. He's not a Christian they claimed. He's a Muslim. This charge suggested that America has room for only one faith tradition apparently, and it better include Jesus.
But President Obama is both American and a Christian. So he's not really the dramatic departure from tradition that conservatives privately feel he is. That ploy failed too.
Now just as their discomfort with a black man as commander in chief reaches its high point, they're faced with a female presidential frontrunner angling to replace him. It's as if all the rules of the last 300 years have been torn up.
Last month the Confederate flags came down and the rainbow flags of LGBT equality went up, thanks to a dramatic change in public views and a historic ruling from the Supreme Court. It didn't happen overnight. It took decades for LGBT rights and centuries for civil rights to find their political power, but finally it happened.
That has left some states where legislators (often married and divorced multiple times themselves) must be sued by the government to perform their civic duties and marry other people.
Getting the memo that they're just another citizen of the U.S., rather than a preferred one, has been very hard on these guys. You have to feel for them. No wonder they want things to back to how they were.
Dylann Roof, the conservative white male who killed nine unarmed black churchgoers at a church in Charlestown, South Carolina in June, wanted things back to the way they were. Wrapping himself up in the Confederate flag and the old racial prejudices of the South, he thought he could still do what other white men in the South have done for centuries: subjugate his inferiors through force of arms.
He wanted to ignite another Civil War, but it was civility that locked him up, not rallied to his cause. He is probably amazed to discover the country no longer works the way it used to.
So can we really claim we have no idea why all this racial and social strife is happening right now? Consider how the conservative news media is constantly broadcasting the message, sometimes coded and sometimes explicit, that white America, its values and status, are under attack.
To fight back, law enforcement officers are under orders to pull guns and pepper spray uppity civil rights marchers from Wall Street to Ferguson. Those confrontations escalate so quickly because that kind of activism is seen as an inchoate threat to the old social order.
To fight back against LGBT advances conservatives are demanding a so-called Religious Freedom Bill be enacted, a charter that would allow them to continue to legally discriminate, keeping gays in their second class place after the supreme court ruling that says it's illegal.
To fight back conservatives are also hoping to elect a presidential candidate who will stem the tide of immigrants of color. They will work from now through 2016 to elect a presidential candidate who will openly call hard working undocumented Latino immigrants rapists and thieves.
By demonizing one community the other one holds on to the reigns of power. This is how power works in America after all. It’s the oldest trick in town.
But despite what they believe, conservative white men have not been emasculated by LGBT advances, nor have the influx of undocumented immigrants impacted their lives in the ways they suspect.
The truth is that working class white men work longer hours and make far less than their parents’ generation did because they have fought to elect candidates that have unraveled every economic and union gain their parents fought for.
The biggest threat to their own economic and social advancement has not been all the bogeymen they fight against. It has always been themselves.