In the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, I did a ‘recreational’ study. Anytime I encountered someone wearing/displaying Trump merchandise, I’d wave or give a thumbs up and say, “Yeah Trump!” Invariably, the vict… er, ‘subject’ would give a big smile with varying degrees of dental requirements and say some version of ‘Trump is the best!’. Then I would say, “Lemme ask you a quick question…”
Every one of them gave some form of assent in anticipation of some narrative-affirming exchange.
I’d ask, “Can you name the three branches of government?”
I did this with at least 50 of them over the past 6 years.
After a brief pause, they would respond.
Guess how many could name all three?
Just one of the branches of the three branches of government, the single most fundamental cornerstone of our democratic system?
There was one exception; I was at a McDonald’s when a young couple walked in who, from their accents, were clearly visiting New York from South Carolina. The young man was wiry and wearing jeans with a Buck knife hanging off his belt. On the TV, the news was showing various people talking about the upcoming election. The young man pointed up to the TV and, in an apparent attempt to impress his gal with his political savvy, said, “That’s the guy who’s running with Trump, the umm…”.
I couldn’t help from chiming in, “Trump’s running mate for vice president?”
“Yeah, that guy!”, the young fella beamed.
“Actually, that’s Newt Gingrich, former senate majority leader. You’re thinking of Mike Pence.”
“Yeah, Pence, he’s the vice president.”, still proud of himself. “Anyone’s better than Hillary.”
I stifled the urge to correct him farther and said, “Personally I don’t like any of them. Can I ask you a quick question?”
“Can you name the three branches of government?”
He looked at the ceiling while he thought about it. “Umm… I know this. Uh, parliament?” Then, after another pause, “I can’t think of the others.”
“Parliament”. That’s the closest any Trumpster ever came to naming even one of the branches of government. That was fairly close to a legislative body, so I gave it to him.
That was it.
The single most fundamental basis of our government, and Trumpsters went 0-50 on it. Just for shits and grins, I’ve done the same thing online: “Without looking it up, can you name the three branches of government?”
A few admitted that they could not (props for honesty), but of all those who did answer, they not only got all three correct, but the answer, which never came in less than the minute it would take to look up, came in some variation of a form like this:
“The Federal Government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the Federal courts, respectively. See. of coarse I wood know that!”
Anyone retaining at least a 9th grade level of education in government and politics and has spent any significant time in discussions with modern conservatives and especially Trumpsters has encountered this sad reality: Conservatives really don’t understand how government works. The closest conservatives tend to get to understanding it is from the perspective of sports fans. They believe politics is about ‘winning’, getting their way, and indulging in the spoils. The idea that politics is about advancing the general welfare of all people in a society is at best alien to them. For many, it is anathema to them. Anyone who’s spent time listening to them talk about politics is aware that conservatives are roundly ignorant of a great many things. One of the problems is trying to tell them that they are ignorant; because instead of employing the intellectual diligence and humility to ask ‘What of?’, they become immediately offended from ‘being insulted’. Yes, they tend to be ‘ignorant’ of the meaning of the word ‘ignorant’.
As we saw during the Obama Administration, conservatives were apoplectic with fear that they would be stripped of their guns and put into camps. That particular fear was based on their ignorance of just what the president of the U.S. was capable of. They tended to see the president as ‘boss of the country’. Anyone paying enough attention may have noticed that Trump apparently thought the same thing. It is evident in his Tweets and tantrums that he believed he could do what he wanted and was frustrated by the actual limitations of the office.
In recent news, it was discovered that Trump took dozens of boxes of highly classified information with him when he left the White House. Aside from the ridiculous claims made about ‘taking his work home with him’ (that he didn’t return), or how the ‘FBI planted those documents at Mar-a-Lago’, one of the defenses being made was ‘The president can declassify anything he wants to’.
Naturally, none of Trump’s civilian supporters know that a president has to go through an official process to declassify classified documents. So when the Lie Machine™ “floods the zone” with excuses, misdirection, and lies, Trump supporters automatically believe that Trump could just blink his eyes and wiggle his nose and **POOF!**, our top secrets are suddenly safe to be stored behind a padlock where only special guests and Enrico the Pool Boy could possibly ever see them.
Enrico: “Uhhh… Mel bought it for me. Yeah, that’s it.”
They just. Don’t. Know. ANYTHING about the necessary hurdles, checks, and precautions that come with running a functioning democracy.
All of this, their ignorance, fear, and tribal mentality, make them highly vulnerable to manipulation. It would take volumes to outline the malefactors who are vested in deceiving such a large swath of the American working class, but I’ll sum it up thusly:
– The Corporations and Movement Conservatives are not happy with regulations that prevent polluting, force adoption of safety measures, and compel employers to pay a ‘minimum wage’… among many other things that raise the price of doing business. They abhor a labor pool made expensive by social safety nets, unemployment benefits/insurance, and labor requirements that create security for regular people. They also despise not being able to regulate themselves, which is to say; ‘they wanna do what they want’.
“But Maaaah… I wanna hunt poor people for sport!”
– A prosperous, educated working class is antithetical to that goal, and therefore must be quashed.
– To that end, major corporations have managed to consolidate our media for the purpose of getting as many Americans as possible united behind a wholly fabricated narrative where their enemies are, conveniently, the very people who want to restrain corporate avarice, promote education, and cultivate a prosperous and secure working class.
– With the help of corporate and ideological think tanks, their news sources have managed to convince millions of self-identifying ‘conservatives’ of a litany of fantastic, delusional, hyperbolic, and outrageous beliefs that bear no reflection in reality, but have effectively convinced them to stand fast against any efforts to improve life for the working class. Anyone with the intellectual rigor to go through the congressional record can see how this has translated into legislative reality.
Given that very reality, it becomes painfully clear that millions of Americans are being played by this elitist cotillion of Gilded Age resurrectionists who are deftly using their fears to commit electoral ledger-demain so that (mostly) conservatives are so afraid of their fantastic boogeymen that they vote against their best interests at every turn. Let’s look at some of those boogeymen:
1) Critical Race Theory
“Critical Race Theory is a graduate-level program that explores the evolution of a legal framework that has historically repressed people of color and especially black people in the US. It is taught to graduate Law Students, as in after four years of college for most people.
The Lie Machine™ rolled out a campaign to tell parents that middle school children or younger were being taught this advanced curriculum that teaches children to hate white people. For millions of racially insecure people (read; ‘racist’), this is terrifying to them because they see the specter of racial retribution for all the centuries of slavery followed by decades of open discrimination that continues to this day. They think it’s going to result in ‘black people taking over’ and suppressing white people the same way they were suppressed. They think that if their children are taught this, they will capitulate their white primacy to future generations of black people.
Naturally, the nature of CRT and the ridiculousness of their claim that it was being taught to children emerged in the info-sphere. After all, it’s like saying that 9 year-olds are being taught ‘brain surgery’ just because they have an anatomy class. Upon seeing the rational truth, the Lie Machine™ adjusted the narrative so that now any talk of race in schools is seen as anti-white even if it’s not ‘technically’ CRT.
This juicy boogeyman was invented when Lie Machine™ contributors discovered that children were being taught about diversity in sex education classes. The simple, rational reality is that age-appropriate sex education classes included mention of families with two moms or two dads, and that some boys like boys and some girls like girls. The abomination the Lie Machine™ twisted this into was that ‘Children are being turned gay and trans and being taught to have gay sex!’. Stop laughing, they really believe this (Yes, that link is to one of the Lie Machine™ ‘think tanks’).
In the fear-addled minds of intellectually unburdened parents, elementary school teachers are now populated with hordes of cross-dressing, lingerie-wearing, gender-bending predators who are out to ‘turn kids gay (or trans)’ so they can add fabulous soldiers to their legions of the glamourous damned. Of course, when challenged to show any examples of this as though their lives depended on it, all they have is ‘Well I heard from my niece’s father’s only sister that one teacher at a school I don’t know the name of…’, or some other such vague nonsense.
Of course it’s ridiculous. In fact, the recent bill in Florida that outlaws any mention of ‘gender identity or sexual orientation’ in schools is seen as very harmful by actual professionals in education and psychology. For most of our history, schools have been very hostile places for LGBTQ+ children who are bullied, abused and discriminated against to the point where a frighteningly high percent of them wind up committing suicide before they can even legally drive a car. What we’ve found is that those suicide rates go down when children are taught at a young age that ‘It’s okay to be different’. When children learn early that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it, they’re not only more likely to see themselves as valuable, but they’re less likely to treat other children badly for being ‘different’. Saying ‘it’s okay to be different’ is actually the opposite of ‘grooming’.
But conservatives are so terrified that little Jimmy might come home and put on mom’s lipstick that they’d rather see little Jimmy eat dad’s gun. Nevermind that no one can be ‘taught’ to be gay anymore than anyone needs to be ‘taught’ to be straight. Instead, conservatives want children to be conditioned, as has historically been the case, to conform to their imposed gender and sexual orientation. On top of that, they want children to be taught American nationalism that emphasizes the benevolence of white European colonists, celebrates the achievements of white people, de-emphasizes slavery and discrimination, and encourages children to be ‘patriots’.
That’s the real grooming. Seems somehow familiar…
Here’s a perennial favorite, old faithful, the go-to scare tactic for decades: “They’re comin’ fer yer gunz!!” Of course this is ridiculous right on its face. My guns haven’t gone anywhere and I’m still a registered Republican (I like voting in the Republican primaries). No one has knocked on my door in any of the years the NRA was screaming that the Democrat in the White House, or Congress, or Governor’s mansion, or Mayor’s residence, or Dog Catcher’s office was “Comin’ fer yer gunz! Any day now! Really… any time. Honest Abe, they’re gonna do it!”. The obvious ploy was to drive gun and ammo sales by using every mass shooting as a ‘motivation’ for Democrats to finally strip everyone of their precious, precious guns. But while the NRA bathes in that bloody cash, nearly everyone seems to have kept their guns. The fact is, it’s not ever going to happen. At least not under a Democratic president because even non-conservatives would stand up against that.
Why haven’t conservatives figured that out?
Again, we come back to that pre-civilization neural architecture that makes conservatives conservative. Their brainwashers know that keeping them in a constant state of simmering fear shuts down any higher reasoning or critical thinking ability they might have. There’s a reason conservatives seem so much more attached to their guns, and it’s exactly that pre-civilization, fear-based neurology that makes conservatives feel ‘safer’ when they have a gun handy. Personally, I like guns. I believe in an absolute right to self-defense. But the whole point of a civilization is to get to a place where no one needs to worry about physical threats. Sure, we’re not there yet, but it’s pretty plain to any objective observer that the number of guns per person in the US seems to be an indication that such threats are highly over-estimated.
Telling them over and over, day after day, week after week, that their guns are going to be ‘taken’ from them keeps them too frightened and angry to ever stop and think about how they were supposed to have had their guns taken away already… about 1000 times by now.
It also keeps them voting for the people who promise:
– To protect their guns (but not their children from guns).
– To protect their children from ‘kinder-groomers’ (but not guns).
– To protect their white primacy from angry black people.
– To protect their income from taxes, despite the fact that the vast majority don’t make enough for Democrats’ tax plans to touch them.
– To protect their jobs from immigrants, despite the fact that they don’t have any of the jobs most immigrants take.
– To protect their lives from ‘Muslim Terrorists’, despite the fact that they’re FAR more likely to be killed by a white person.
– To protect their children from drag queens, despite the fact that kids suffer literally infinitely more harm from sports injuries, priests, and sports coaches in any given year.
– To protect the ‘white race’ from ‘genocide’ despite the fact that literally no one is trying to exterminate any of us for being ‘white’..
– And a whole litany of completely irrational fears.
Notice a theme here?
Coupled with their monumental ignorance which makes them highly susceptible to mis- and dis-information; those forces of avarice mentioned above are finding great success in manipulating them with their Lie Machine™. They have been convinced that they are ‘victims’ of all the above imaginary threats. The truth is; Like all the people who are going to jai or otherwise died for storming the Capitol based on the Big Lie that the election was ‘stolen’, today’s conservatives are the victims of the flurry of lies that feed their worldview daily.
Fox ‘News’ is a great example of just such a propaganda tool posing as a ‘news’ channel. They’re just brilliant at it. One example I love (that no one seems to have brought up) is how they use stagecraft and lighting. Ever notice all the Red and Blue lighting? Ever notice how it pulses, flashes, or otherwise alternates in patterns whenever they’re about to tell their audience about something related to a ‘threat’ like the Democrats or Obama?
They don’t seem to do it as much these days. My guess is because their audience’s brains are fully cooked. But the reason they did that so often was to trigger an association in the brains of their audience; to remind them of police lights. That signaled both that there was an ‘emergency’ (be afraid!) and an ‘authority’ (we’re here, you’re safe now), to set the audience up to not only unquestioningly believe what they were told, but to move them out of the fear stage and into the ‘anger’ stage almost immediately.
Truly brilliant stuff.
Keeping conservatives in fear by using their own neural wiring against them has been a resounding success at keeping them from voting in their own best interests and the interests of everyone in the working class. That’s why it’s so difficult for the Democrats to pass laws that would give working people cheaper day care, lower prescription prices, higher wages, or anything that will help the working class; because the Republicans can safely take campaign money from corporations, vote in their favor, and never have to worry about their constituents voting them out of office. The Lie Machine™ has delivered electoral security for many Republicans in exchange for little more than protecting corporate interests and screwing the working class.
And Souls. Their Dirty, Filthy, Delicious Souls….
But those forces of avarice, the corporations and Movement Conservatives, still have a goal they wish to achieve. That labor pool can still be cheaper, those regulations can still be deregulated, and there’s still so much of the nation to be purchased for pennies on the dollar and privatized for profit.
To that end, they will employ the Lie Machine™ to continue to convince conservatives that they need to keep voting for the people who will screw them and the rest of us because they are under mortal threat from the queers, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, teachers, and everyone and everything that isn’t as white, straight, and Christian as they are, and to such an extent that conservatives are willing to kill their fellow Americans based on those irrational fears.
Huh… where have we seen that before?
HMU on Twitter too! https://twitter.com/TheGarthThe1