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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Weaponizing Ignorance

The conservative strategy in recent years is to sow chaos, doubt, mistrust, and hatred of any opposing views or opinions. Republicans don’t seem to have any platform except to be in control at any cost. How else could you explain their opposition to any policy to control the Covid outbreak? They have proved willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives simply to show that President Biden is failing. To keep their core intact, the first needed to strip them of anything approaching critical thinking skills and also teach them to have a profound contempt for science.

 Republicans have encouraged their followers to put faith in the most insane conspiracy theories imaginable to steer them away from the truth without showing the slightest concern of how to put the genie back in the bottle. How can America return from this point in which almost half of the population have lost all sense of reason? 

 This story begins with Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address on January 20, 1981, when he uttered what would go on to be his most repeated aphorism: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He was referring to the economic ills the country was suffering at the time which were no worse than when he left office eight years later. He blamed the downturn on an unfair tax system and then promptly lowered taxes for the richest Americans who were already doing quite well, initiating America’s slide into an income inequality that is worse than any developed nation.*  

 His quip about how government was the problem would go on to fuel the American conservative movement for the next forty years which has sown a deep mistrust of not only our government, but of the very election system.

 I would be tempted to say that this contempt for our own democracy culminated in the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, except this isn’t anywhere near being over. It’s ironic that Reagan began his inaugural speech with this bit:

 “To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”

 Trump was completely contemptuous of how “unique” we are by boycotting this orderly transfer of authority and siccing his mob on our elected officials ratifying the election. This time, the ignorant mob was unarmed, but as I said, this process is far from over. A lot happened to conservatives between Reagan’s call for a more privatized America and Trump’s insane and unhinged rejection of the 2020 election results. 

 Most of the Right’s emphasis has been cultivating a ground roots campaign to get their followers to believe any load of manure they shovel on them. A pedophile ring managed from a pizza parlor and led by Hillary Clinton? Why not? Covid vaccines are harmful so perhaps try injecting yourself with bleach? Sound reasonable to most Trump lovers. Make America great again? OK, but when was that, exactly? Trump’s final “fuck you” to America was to scream that the election was rigged. Of course, there was no evidence of this, and election fraud is a topic Republicans have been harping on for years without a shred of evidence.

 Republicans have trained their followers to believe the most outrageous lies imaginable. Anything that they don't agree with the simply brand as "fake news" and give their alternate facts, as they call them. It seems that with each year and each new election cycle, the bullshit Republicans feed their base becomes viler and further from anything remotely resembling the truth. Conservatives have ignored almost all the scientific data we have obtained about combatting Covid, from wearing masks to vaccinations.

 

 *The United States’ Gini coefficient is .484, the highest it’s been in 50 years according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. has the highest Gini coefficient among the G7 nations. The top 1% of earners in the United States earn about 40 times more than the bottom 90% of earners. About 33 million U.S. workers earn less than $10 per hour, placing a family of four below the poverty line.

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