a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Probably nothing new
Is it new to American politics? I imagine that it’s not. Frankly, I didn’t start closely watching American political machinations until DJT became president, so I don’t know.
It’s adapted right out of the Orwellian playbook.
Both major parties do it to some degree. However, there is no equivalency between the scale, the motivations, and the way they both enlist and apply the form. Only one party engages this Orwellian propaganda form to intentionally deceive and manipulate as a strategy. As Fareed Zakaria related regarding David Frum’s observations about the time when Reagan came to power,
“As conservatives saw it, they had finally taken charge for the first time since FDR’s reign in the 1930s. Now they could repeal the New Deal and the Great Society. As they quickly realized, however, the public was utterly opposed to doing so. Ever since then, Republicans have gotten comfortable lying to their voters.”
So, while not new, I’d suggest that DJT‘s open flagrant exploitation of these “political technologies” [PT] blew the lid off any previous constraint to use these immoral dirty-tricks methods. Arguably, DJT‘s success empowered and emboldened Republican politicians to take them up with similar disregard for morality. Let’s deconstruct an example.
A look at how a particular PT works
The machinations around The American Rescue Plan legislation provides a plain illustration. First, please watch for yourself this video of what happened on the senate floor the day of the final vote on the relief bill, then we’ll unpack it:
PT has an intentionally built-in problem, it takes lots of words to refute just a few words. One of my senators reduced Cruz’s short message to this before the final vote:
No. No they didn’t.
That deceitful message is the fruit of Cruz inappropriately relitigating an issue from almost a year ago when the Heroes Act was debated (included in House bill but never got a vote in the Senate). Above, Cruz introduces an amendment that solves for a problem that doesn’t exist, but doing so he pushes White xenophobia buttons.
OK, the primary Republican grievance point is “taxpayer money” going to “illegal immigrants” [think ‘homeless veteran’ memes]. The 2020 Cares Act had a provision for LNTBA that included immigrant taxpayers who have an ITIN. It never got a vote as part of the senate bill and wasn’t included in the final legislation [as Durbin said, SSN required, same as last December.].
The bottom line is that Cruz cynically creates the PT on the senate floor, and then (my senator and) Fox, Newsmax, OANN, etc. share it over and over and over to shape Earth II reality.
What makes the Republican expression of PT particularly immoral is its cynical deception for the purpose of manipulating reality. Republicans’ post-DJT plan, so far, seems to consist primarily of creating PT soundbites for Earth II, and it’s a strategy that is too clever by half. PT threatens American democracy.
Perennially, both parties have a heart problem
An old friend recently said: “They both want to take your money, but Republicans want to keep it for themselves and Democrats want to give it to other people.” An acceptable summary. My take is perhaps a bit more provocative.
I feel as though both parties have a heart problem.
You know the old saying about having eyes too big for one’s stomach? Well, analogously, Democrats prove time and again that their heart is too big for their [America’s] pocketbook.
Republicans have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they have no heart.
Caring is crucial. Having ideas/resources that make new kinds of justice practically possible is crucial, too. It is neither caring nor kind to promise justice without the means to concretely accomplish it.
Democrats talk boldly about all-inclusive care with an alligator mouth, but often back it up with a tweedy-bird ass (e.g., no great ideas or resources to actually bring all-inclusive justice). Our southern border painfully shows that a big heart without a plan and pay-for can be as disastrous in terms of harm as the heartlessness of “children in cages.”
Republicans simply don’t care. Plus, now they have full-on PT to gaslight America and keep power.
It’s clear that Republican anti-democratic political technologies are doing damage to American democracy in DJT‘s wake. It’s the heart of our emergent existential crisis. The question is: What are YOU going to do about it?
You could call your legislators. We need a shared sense, a common sense, on one set of facts.
Shared truth requires good will, good faith, and being good neighbors.
Next week: No idea. Come and see.
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I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?