Thursday, July 19, 2018

Deplorable Nation

Damon Linker makes a chilling point and asks a good question: If liberals (or even, let's say moderates) are right about what today's GOP is like morally, does it not bode ill (CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN) for the future? After all, even when Trump goes away, these people will still be there.

We now have an Axios poll that shows that 79% of the GOP back Trump's performance with Putin--a performance that gave everyone else sickening chills.
If the disconnect is that big . . . what do we do as a nation when this is over? It's a good question. Fortunately: The Omnivore has answers.

Firstly, the worst case scenario: When presented with convincing proof of Putin hacking the election for Trump--and Trump colluding--would large factions of the GOP be okay with that? The answer, according to The Fix, is no. The group of Republicans who falls into the center of that venn diagram is thankfully limited.

But we're not facing the worst-case scenario. The scenario we are facing is one where, thanks to the PR of the White House and Fox News--and the Kremlin--and a too-compliant Facebook and Twitter--large factions of the GOP will not believe any evidence presented by, well, anyone (if they don't like what it says).

That is the problem. To address it, we have to know where it came from--and then what to do about it.

The Origins Of Disbelieving the FBI

Anyone old enough to have a bit of white hair (The Omnivore, alas) will remember back when the virulent left held that (a) ALL law enforcement was corrupt and (b) all intelligence agencies (US ones) were capital-E Evil. Today that view has been adopted by the right in the defense of their president.

This abrupt and extremely telling shift ahs come because of rejection of the Mainstream Media. In the 60's and 70's, the left would tell you that the big news papers and TV were in the grasp of leftism. Chomsky would explain how the news-combines hire people with their same world-view almost exclusively so that their story gets told.

Later, when the GOP slid further and further into bad ideas (like maybe defaulting on the National Debt to end Obamacare--yes, yes, we know about Obama's statement on that too)--they needed (and this is well before that showdown--it's just indicative) a compliant media that no mainstream outlet could provide. In the era of Obama no mainstream outlet was going to carry the water the GOP needed carried.

This isn't about the media really liking (and therefore being biased for) Obama--they were, yeah. But the GOP didn't just need clearheaded reporting. They needed the IRS scandal to have a clear smoking gun pointing directly to Obama. They needed Hillary calling for a stand down on Benghazi. They wanted to have scandals that would bring down the administration "correcting the mistake" of 2008.

These were not in evidence--so they needed a media that would tell that story--a story that was, frankly, not true (this included additional rank nonsense like Mitch McConnell being a traitor to the conservative cause because he would not magically block Obamacare). The myth of a compliant utterly spineless GOPe was created to explain Republican's inability to completely block Obama's initiatives--and it stuck.

It stuck so long as you only listened to right wing media.

Now that Trump has been elected, the GOP controls both houses and, to a degree, the Supreme Court, we see the underlying truth: they can't repeal Obamacare because they have no viable alternative. They will pass a massive tax-cut for their corporate donors at the same time as increasing government spending--what Democrats were forever accused of (without the big tax cut).

The GOP's stated positions were always hollow. Now we see that--but the damage that conservative media has done still remains.

The problem is the degree of untruth that Republicans tolerated in their media to keep their alliance together.

What Do We Do?

The first thing we have to do in a hypothetical post-Trump era is crack down on social-media conspiracy theory. Social media is certainly struggling with it (see Zuckerberg defending Holocaust-Denial)--but the direction is right: prevent pointed political lies from targeting our vulnerable (erm, old people and disaffected young men, mostly).

That will help.

The second thing to do is to wait. The idea that "the olds will die off" is overly simplistic (and optimistic) but it is not entirely wrong. The GOP getting everything it asked for in President Trump--and getting it good and hard may have the intended result: disaffection with everything.

If we can survive that crash, we may have a path to the future. This isn't to say the Democrats or Socialism are it--but so long as the false promises ("I will replace the ACA with something you'll like much better" or "I will end the imaginary problems called by illegal immigration with a free wall") are abandoned we will have a step in the right direction.

The other thing we need to prepare for is The Great Layoff. The Great Layoff is the point where because of automation and technological management of supply chains the number of people needed for traditional work drops below an inflection point.

Right now there are few ideas--and virtually none on the right--about how to handle this. In fact, there is no really good way to handle it other than cultural change (accept that not everyone may be able to work in a reasonable job) and some form of government intervention (Universal Basic Income? A jobs program that provides a sense of dignity? Virtual Reality paradise for everyone??).

This is not a century away--it might not be more than two decades away. Hell, it might even be closer. The path "out" of what we are now seeing is partially to adapt to that coming change without the two pillars of defensive racism and oxycontin. The party that provides a vision for this will be able to manage the powerful levers of global economics to alter how we interact with each other.

The solutions are the cleaning of the media environment for toxic conspiracy theory / promotional racism and putting together a plan to help us as a unified society adapt to the extant and coming economic upheaval that is currently being felt but not well responded to.

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