Did Karl Rove's 2012 election night moment of truth precipitate GOP rejection of reality?
… Rove’s election-night Waterloo on live TV four years ago. … paved the way for the post-factual reality of the Donald Trump campaign and the dark magical thinking of the ascendant conspiratorial fringe now known as the alt-right.
How did we end up in a bizarro-world electoral cycle where one candidate’s campaign is openly peddling scurrilous rumors … Where straightforward statistics... are ignored or denied or viewed as ideological propaganda? Where emotion has entirely replaced reason?
How did we move from ... essentially the argument that pollsters systematically overcount treasonous big-city liberals while undercounting flag-waving heartland conservatives, to an unfalsifiable unified-field theory holding that the polls are rigged and the election is fixed and the entire political process is a Soviet-style charade? If Rove and other so-called mainstream Republicans helped make this tsunami of epistemological doubt possible, they still didn’t see it coming. Now it has swept them away.
… it was easy to view Rove’s humiliation as a delicious Schadenfreude milkshake. But for millions of Fox’s regular viewers … it can only have been a crushing disappointment. And quite likely something more than that, something closer to a betrayal.
If this was reality, it was simply unacceptable — and it had to be rejected.
Somewhere out there in Television-land, Donald Trump — and, more important, the shadowy army of Internet ghouls and goblins who now bolster his presidential campaign — vowed never to make the same mistake Rove had made. Never surrender to reality. If you don’t like what it offers you, invent a reality of your own: Make America great again!
Karl Rove kicked open a conceptual window with his micro-rebellion of 2012, a window that had been hanging from one rusty hinge. It took others, more courageous than he, to burst through it into the brave new world of post-reality Trumpian politics on the other side. Rove had prospered in electoral politics for many years by proposing counterfactual narratives in an effort to shape perceptions and alter political reality:…
It took an invasion of barbarians from the far-right fringe, like Alex Jones of InfoWars and Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch and Steve Bannon of Breitbart News (now the Trump campaign’s CEO), along with quasi-mainstream fellow travelers like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, to follow Rove’s breakthrough to its logical conclusion. From their point of view, Rove had finally revealed himself as a cowardly sellout, accepting lamestream media “facts” (such as who got more votes in Ohio) as if they were actually “true.” They boldly proclaimed an unskewed reality, in which nothingever was what it was. Facts and data and statistics were liberal lies or distortions, bought and paid for by “Crooked Hillary,”… [emphasis mine]
Yes, the lies and distortions practiced by the Republican Party for a generation or more have made this all possible, but the alt-right earthquake of 2016 is a dangerous situation with no obvious precedent. For the movement’s shock troops, only one outcome is acceptable, and it goes well beyond the fate of Donald Trump. They want to subvert both reality and democracy, and replace them with other things they like better. [emphasis mine]
image source [gradient overlay and caption mine]
Alt-rightists (horrible name that makes the movement seem innocent or trendy, or at worst as innocuous as a computer annoyance) "want to subvert both reality and democracy, and replace them with other things they like better." Some of those alt-right tropes in the original image deserve to be called out:
"Rebelling against my traditionally conservative parents, while feeling superior to my liberal peers."
"The SJWs are the greatest enemy mankind has ever faced."
"Yes I said MAN-kind."
"Mom is such a cuckservative."
"Get a job? I'm too busy editing Ben Garrison comics."
"Straight white men are the most oppressed group in the world."
"Cuck" and "cuckservative" as generalized insults assert Dominator Culture, power and control over others as core values, and "ownership" of women as sexual objects. All that is also tied in to the restrictive "Man Box" Tony Porter spoke of in his TED talk.
Derrick Jensen wrote that the cult of masculinity is "about putting everyone else in a box, the box of other, of less than, of trophies, the box of the violable, the box of targets..." and about rejecting and redefining reality in a way similar to what we're discussing, with a healthy dose of doublethink mixed in:
... of course there is no man box, and there can be no man box, because if there were a man box, that would mean there’s something outside the man box, and there’s nothing outside the man box because ... there must be nothing outside the man box.
Because if there were, well, there isn’t, and can’t be, and mustn’t be.
Because if there were, that would mean members of the cult of masculinity aren’t as omnipotent—as completely potent—as they must be....
That is, everything is violable. And everything must be violated.
... the only rule there is: I exist only insofar as I violate you.
... The problem is that within this patriarchy, identity itself is based on violation.... we come to perceive each new violation as reinforcement not only of our superiority over this other we violated but as simply the way things are.
(I disagree with his implied opinion of expanding technological progress and scientific knowledge as merely drives to "control and violate at a distance"!)
"Identity is based on violation" really captures troll behavior. I hadn't realized that.
Very related discussion: Gamergate trolls spawned Alt-right
Even as far afield as some on the right seem to be determined to go, at some point or other, the cognitive dissonance between what they want to believe and what is obtaining in reality is going to catch at least some of them. I say this because, at least to my experience, acknowledging reality is the only way I know of to affect reality in a specific fashion with any kind of chance of success.
What I find astonishing in all of this is a lack of reaction on the part of the Republican establishment, beyond disavowing Drumpf, or anything that could be construed as trying to reclaim the Republican party. And that makes me wonder: are they so desperate to win that they'd back ANYONE they thought could do the job (of winning, not governing!)?
... are they so desperate to win that they'd back ANYONE they thought could do the job (of winning, not governing!)?
That's my impression, Loren.
... acknowledging reality is the only way I know of to affect reality in a specific fashion with any kind of chance of success.
There's a caveat here, in that public consciousness has been increasingly shifted into the virtual realm, through TV and internet/gaming. The act of voting isn't a physical concrete action, like trying a rope, but of data entry. Feedback from reality doesn't occur instantaneously or on an individual physical level. It's a physicality issue .