OK, here’s the thing. It’s not gonna work. None of it. It doesn’t matter how many facts we have on our side, how much truth we have, how honest we are … it just doesn’t matter. It’s not gonna work.
We’re not gonna sway one single person to see it our way. In fact, just the opposite — we’re going to harden their positions against us. Make it worse (as if that could happen — trust me, it can).
And here’s why: The conservatives own the emotional end of this. In our dualist, either/or world, emotion trumps reason every time. They do that because only two emotions are given any credence in this world: Fear and it’s flip side, anger. And those two — need I say it? No mere proof can move ’em.
Fear’s an old emotion. An awful lot of action is born from fear. Ack! Storm! Lightning! Rain! Find cave! Ack! Dinosaur! Make pointy stick!
Oh, sorry. That’s the conservative version. We know dinosaurs and mankind did not coexist.
There’s nothing wrong with fear and anger, of course. It’s all in what you do with ’em. In Conservative Bizarro World, if you’re afraid (and you are because you’re leaders have made sure of it), you must have a scapegoat to blame and be angry with. Fortunately, your leaders take care of that for you too.
This makes things much easier. No thinking involved. The poor souls who have been convinced by billionaires that it is progressives who are elitists never have to make a single decision for themselves. They don’t want to do that because their conservative overlords have told them it’s a big, bad, scary and complicated world out there, but the overlords alone have those poor souls’ best interests at heart, because Socialists! Black militants! Gays! Anti-American! Traitors!
And here we sit, palms up holding our paltry “evidence” in hand as if it makes a difference. It doesn’t. They don’t care. No, they don’t. Not one iota. Because we are the enemy. The strange beings who want to destroy them and everything they know and cherish. Why, we probably have horns and tails … oh, wait. That was Jews. Well, the rest of us probably do too!
You know why Scott Walker won in Wisconsin last week? I mean, besides the billions the Koch brothers poured in. It wasn’t because they thought Walker was a great guy. It was because they didn’t think a governor should be removed from office for anything less than criminal behavior. You and I may not like what the jackass did, but it wasn’t criminal, any more than any other regular piece of political bullshit is just that. You did notice that in the exit polls, the majority backed Obama, right?
We talk a lot about the right wing echo chamber, but we fail to understand what it’s actually doing. It’s entire purpose is to reach that primal reptilian part of our brains, to stir the pot of the emotions and send their minions out torch and pitchfork in hand. In short, to create exactly what we have: Mob mentality.
Surely you’ve noticed. There’s no civility. It complete viciousness. There’s not even a pretense of honest political debate, as if there’s ever been any such thing.
And here’s the real kicker — this behavior is not limited to conservatives. I’ve seen it alive and kicking in liberals too, when their deeply held beliefs are threatened. They too turn into vicious pack animals and try to rip apart anyone who stands in their way.
It happened right here in my little liberal city, when some of us learned that our beloved mayor was stealing us blind. We had the proof. The mayor’s supporters wouldn’t even look at it. “I don’t go on facts,” one guy told me. “I go on feelings.” Hey, great, your feelings are gonna cost the city its charter when it goes bankrupt.
Almost happened. Half a million in debt, which is huge for a city with only 800 residents. We got him out of office, but at a terrible price to the peace of the city and to many friendships.
Those of us who worked to save the city were rewarded by having various county and state agencies called to investigate the most middling of things, and some serious and untrue accusations were thrown about. Ugly, very ugly. Just as ugly as what we see now in our national debate, except the lines weren’t drawn between conservative and progressive because that’s not where the real line is.
The real line is between reality and delusion.
Our current crop of conservatives deal in delusion, and they are masters at it. That’s why they name a bill that guts environmental policy the Clean Air Act.
And that’s why our attempts to fight delusion with truth aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans. Delusional people cannot be dissuaded. It’s too emotional, too raw, too primal.
Too unevolved. Really, they might as well just grunt and point, cowering in the back of a dark, dark cave. The stuff they say makes no more sense than that anyway.
Saw a Tweet tonight for a moronic woman who fancies herself a conservative journalist. She’s been hanging out a Netroots Nation tweeting inanities that she thinks make sense. They do, to her fellow delusionals. The best one was her utter incredulousness when one of the speakers mentioned Virginia’s attempt to mandate an ultrasound with a vaginal probe before a woman could have an abortion. “WTF?” she tweeted. Guess she was still under her rock when that all went down.
So what do we do, you may ask. Hell, I don’t know. Do what you think is best. But know this: We’re not gonna create an enlightened society by fighting. A violent revolution does little more than change the names of the assholes in charge. And an election in the toxic atmosphere we have here is only marginally better.
But it is better. It’s better because we can pick a rich fucker who belongs to a cult, a black guy who belongs to a different cult but doesn’t make such a big deal out of it and who probably wishes he stayed in state politics or community organizing even, or any one of a number of other folks who have zero chance of winning and every chance of throwing the election to the rich fucker if we do the wrong thing. Hell, we might get to vote for Roseanne fucking Barr for president — not that I think she’d do any worse job than any of the others, but the rich fucker will definitely finish what George W. Bush started, and I can guarantee you won’t be happy about it.
So think about it, come November. And hey, I’m all for breaking down this tendency toward tribal allegiances humanity seems reluctant to let go of. It is gonna happen. I’d just rather we chose that path rather than forced it to happen. Forcing it puts us all back at square one, and I just don’t think we have that many do-overs left.