Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The state of America

It has caused a constant state of confusion, the habitual lying by the current occupant of the White House. People of good character cannot understand how anyone can so brazenly and shamelessly lie about things that are so easily checked, and transparently lies. What such people don’t understand is that they’re not playing the same game. It’s not just that the current regime doesn’t care about truth or facts, it’s that they’re focused on one thing alone: Power.

The video above is the latest in Vox’s “Strikethrough” series of videos. They said of it: “For leaders like Trump and Putin, telling big lies isn't about persuasion – it's about power.” The reality is that the constant lying by the current occupant isn’t accidental, nor is it entirely deliberate, at least, not always. Instead, it’s part of a well-proven path to power employed by tyrants since the fascist dictators of decades ago. And there will be no letting up.

What the current regime’s opponents most need to understand is the conundrum they face: Fact-checking and debunking the regime’s constant lies only serves to reinforce them. It’s not because people reject the truth, though the regime’s supporters actively do. Instead, it’s that most people simply don’t pay close attention. When the current occupant’s lies are constantly repeated—even to debunk them—the lies enter people’s vague awareness, and they recall them as something that’s probably true—the opposite of what opponents want to happen.

So, debunking and fact-checking is actually totally counterproductive: It actually reinforces the lies the current occupant tells, gives them legitimacy for the majority of people who aren’t paying attention, and it helps the regime undermine faith in fact, truth and the evidence of our eyes and ears, which the current occupant himself recently told us all to ignore.

There are well-known reasons why this happens. About a month ago, TIME Magazine published “How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News”, and it talks in some detail about the reasons that fake news—and the current occupant’s constant lies, too—work, even for smart, educated, and aware people.

And that’s the second thing that the current regime’s opponents most need to understand: People who believe the current occupant’s lies, or his regime’s genuinely fake news, aren’t stupid. They aren’t even necessarily supporters of the current regime. The reality is that the current occupant is playing them like a violin.

How do we move beyond that? We must tell an alternative story. First and foremost, we need to talk about the things that real people really care about. This is the strategy used successfully by Democrats all over the country in special election after special election. Voters don’t want to hear what we’re against—they want to hear what we’re FOR.

Second, we need to stop debunking and fact-checking the current occupant every few minutes. Instead, we need to talk about things that are based only on verifiable truth and that are fact-based, but we mustn’t compare them to the lies of the current occupant. We must pretend he’s never said a word.

Ignoring the current occupant is the hardest thing opponents will ever be called on to do, but it’s also the most necessary. We cannot tell an alternative story if we’re obsessed with singing from the current occupant's song sheet.

There’s an added fact about this strategy: The thing that infuriates the current occupant more than anything else is being ignored. Doing so is sure to make him lash out in unhinged anger, and that behaviour is always unattractive and off-putting to mainstream people, reinforcing his well-deserved image of being “just not right” and emotionally unstable. It’s important that we don't react in anger, but do show sadness and pity, to reinforce the obvious truth, namely, that he is unfit to be president.

None of this is about “attacking” the current occupant, but, rather, about letting him be himself. Meanwhile, we keep presenting our alternative story about the things that real people really care about, always based only on verifiable truth and that are fact-based.

We’ve tried it the other way, always reacting and debunking, and the support for the current occupant remains stubbornly high. It’s time to try a different way. And, anyway, shouldn’t we be focused on where we want to go and how we’ll get there? That’s what ordinary voters want. As well they should.

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