But it should be even more concerning that these preposterously transparent forms of disinformation actually work on anyone. The problem is not that such folks are stupid or gullible or any of that. They're not being fooled; they're being affirmed. They are being fed lies they already take as gospel, and they were never interested in being straightened out on the "facts."
This is what generations of being immersed in mental garbage at every turn, whether it's "reality" teevee, talk radio, pro wrestling, "celebrity" ass-sniffing, "true-crime" dramas, endless iterations of cookie-cutter comic-book movies, music that consists of a thump and an auto-tuned warble. I'm not pretending to be better or superior with these sorts of "cultural" artifacts; I've certainly been known to partake (very lightly) in at least some aspects of these things from time to time.
But we're awash in it anymore, and there are a lot of people who seem happy to just float adrift in that polluted river. Over time, theater and spectacle become more critical factors than wanting to -- or even being able to -- sort facts from lies. They don't care who caused the fifty-car pileup anymore, so long as they get to drive slowly and gawp at the explosions and bodies. It's fun! It's exciting! Someone else will clean up the mess!
This is how you slide -- or push, to be more accurate; this motion has always been at the volition of various and sundry players, some of whom make common cause, and some who have their own agenda -- away from the veneer of democratic republicanism, and into the soft, false security of authoritarianism.
Because we've become conditioned to react only to the emotional peaks and empty button-pushes, we worry more about reacting blindly to Trump's outrage du jour. That just reinforces the trope that he's merely an aberration that will disappear in a year or five years, rather than the culmination of concerted efforts by well-funded, influential entities who have always been in the river, just below the waterline, occasionally coming up just long enough to peer at where the fresh meat might be dangling legs off the boat.
So we have multiple, massive problems in play, which are dangerous on their own, but now operate in symbiosis, gathering strength and momentum. Consider:
- Money determines political outcomes. Duh.
- The people least concerned with "facts" or "truth" or "law" or "intellectual consistency" generally overlap with people who are least concerned about creeping authoritarianism. As long as it's their thug doing the pushing, anyway. This fluidity of principles makes them especially subject to cheap marketing and psy-ops tricks, such as microtargeted Fakebook ads.
- Imagine a politician with the ethos and character traits of Trump -- thieving, lying, scamming, unable and unwilling to discuss or tolerate any dissent, completely unyoked to any semblance of a moral compass -- but without the obnoxious, blustery demeanor, and with a functioning brain and the capacity to learn and do new things.
There's really (at least) three groups of people whose words and actions are completely against the ideal of a free society with duly elected representatives: the donor-owner class who will literally burn it all down before allowing their precious billions to be taxed even one more percent; the rubes who buy into every precept that is designed to cut their own throats; the saps who are just too lazy to find sufficient motivation to get off the fucking couch and cast their lot.
That's really what you're up against -- every single day, not just on election day. The people who produce the disinformation, and the people who buy into it because they like it, or they can't be bothered enough to care either way.
But people have to stop buying the ridiculous, debunked notion that Trump is anything but the logical outcome of decades of marketing and agitprop. And they have to stop the equally ludicrous belief that "Americans" are "too good" to endorse the malignant, corrosive antics of this reeking outhouse of an administration. Some people were just looking for a cult to join, and now they got all the kool-aid they could ever want.
For the record, I do believe that much of the performative hand-wringing is yet another artifact of our increasingly useless librul mediocracy. But for those few holdouts whose distress is genuine, stop telling yourself "if only they knew" -- they know, and they fucking love it.