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The New Political Divide: Fiction vs. Reality

Discussion in 'The War Room' started by luckyshot, Nov 12, 2020.

  1. luckyshot The ONLY iPotWR Platinum Member

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    An op-ed by Bruno Maçães make an extremely important point about the Trump phenomenon; it isn't primarily about left vs. right-- it is about a what Maçães calls "hyperfreedom." Americans, as we know, are freedom junkies. And what is the purest, most unadulterated form of freedom possible?

    Freedom from reality.

    Here is the piece:

    President Trump has been endlessly mocked for his reality-show stunts and attacked for his willful disregard for the facts (to choose one example of many, the hundreds of times we were “rounding the bend” on the coronavirus).

    But what most critics have missed is that the disconnect from reality is a feature, not a bug. It is not a flaw to be corrected, because without it, Mr. Trump would never have become president in the first place. And even now, in the dying moments of his presidency, every accusation of voter fraud, no matter how implausible, seems to him preferable to the fact of defeat.

    A former reality TV star, Mr. Trump filled the White House with media personalities (often, like John Bolton, the former national security adviser, someone the president saw on Fox) and ran the administration almost like a TV series, shaped by the beats — conflict, crisis, resolution, as with parts of the North Korean diplomacy — and even common settings (the use of the White House itself as a political campaign prop) of conventional narrative stories.

    Over and over again, Mr. Trump has striven to produce a vision of political events plausible enough to be absorbing, but without the drab and pain of reality. The problems of a typical president were political in nature; for Mr. Trump, though, they seemed like technical problems of storytelling.

    A key was to create deeply immersive story lines without allowing them to crash against the limits of reality. He was often successful, convincing his followers that they were living in a new country — even when very little of substance had actually been accomplished. His executive orders, for example — like one that pledged to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions — were often less acts of government than narrative tricks.

    About a year ago, during a rally in Minneapolis, Mr. Trump addressed his followers with wistful eagerness, recalling the night of his 2016 victory: “That was one of the greatest nights in the history of television.” It was one of the most revealing moments of his years in the White House: His presidency, it seemed, was not an event in the political history of the country, but an event in the history of television.

    What Mr. Trump promised was the power to create imaginary worlds and the freedom to unleash a selfish and extravagant fantasy life, free of the constraints of political correctness or even good manners, the limits imposed by climate change and the international rules tying America to the ground. This extreme form of freedom — call it hyperfreedom — appealed to Greenwich, Conn., financiers no less than to West Virginia coal miners. It was also, as we found out in the election, attractive to some minorities.

    In the traditional way to think about freedom, we want to limit or even eliminate obstacles to individual choice, but ultimately we must deal with reality. Mr. Trump’s example is to take it an extra step: Why not be free from reality as well? Indeed, this may be the ultimate goal of contemporary America: a society that is pure fantasy life, free from reality.

    Covid-19 is perhaps the best lens through which to view Mr. Trump’s hyperfreedom — and its limits. Mr. Trump seemed to take the pandemic’s arrival on American shores as a personal insult. If only he could wish it away, re-election would be assured. He tried: the questions about its seriousness and lethality; the outdoor and indoor rallies and gatherings (sometimes, as with the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, both on the same day); the refusal to model simple public health tactics like masks; the drumbeat of assurances that it would soon pass.

    The illusion started to buckle under the relentless attack of this physical threat. Even then, even when Mr. Trump tested positive, the reality-TV impulses never stopped: the videos from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; the successful return to the White House, pulling away the mask and standing strong; and the heroic return to the campaign trail.

    But the virus had a hard logic of its own and would not disappear. With a winter wave approaching, Mr. Trump was vulnerable.

    What Joe Biden seemed to understand before everyone else was that the fantasy was about to collapse, and voters weren’t ready for an alternative liberal fiction. The main binary in American politics now may not be between left and right, but between fiction and reality. At some point, fictions must be revealed as no more than fictions — and they must be switched off.

    In this view, Mr. Biden is the kill switch. He promised to remove Mr. Trump and switch the channel to something less risky.

    After the election, a verdict is being widely shared: Mr. Trump may leave, but Trumpism is here to stay. This may be true, but it won’t be in the way people think.

    What survived the election was not Trumpism as a policy platform but the fantasy politics
    of the last four years. Those are as powerful and addictive as ever, but they will look very different once the current executive producer has left the job.

    The return to reality is but one stage in developing new fantasies. It is a way to wipe clean the canvas before departing again in search of new adventures. The search could well be resumed on the left, where there are also many powerful instincts to fight against the limits imposed by reality.


    ****

    I think this is so powerful and so correct... especially the closing warning; Trumpism is here to stay... but it might not LOOK or SOUND anything like Trump in the future. Trumpism, at its most simple level, is the willingness to gain political powers by giving people permission to live in an illusion-- to deny the painful and difficult to deal with realities that surround them.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/...l?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
     
  2. bobgeese Gold Belt

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    I’m old enough to remember Russians hiding behind every corner...
     
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  3. luckyshot The ONLY iPotWR Platinum Member

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    Fun fact: most world leaders have called Joe Biden to congratulate him on his victory already. Know who hasn't? Putin and Xi.
     
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  4. Natural Order Naughty by Nurture

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    Doesn’t post-modernist thought come from the left? You should welcome these students of interpretation, as they are gracefully embracing the tenets of it!

    Imagine not seeing the fundamental paradox of espousing post-modernism and then questioning why people don’t believe “your” truth.

    <{Heymansnicker}>
     
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  5. Renard Red Belt

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    What's the return to "reality"? The return to the fact there's no universal healthcare, no access to education, no support for the poor and income inequality continuing to worsen. The return to neolib foreign policy like giving blowjobs to China, starting new wars, virtue signalling pretty, empty promises to the world one has no intention to fullfill e.g. Paris accord, and rejoining WHO because it sounds like the "worldly and serious" thing to do politically. The return to separating everyone by race and ethnicity and judging people by their skin colour. The return to endlessly virtue signalling about social issues like LGBTBQQ because it doesn't require doing anything meaningful economically. There's a reason people said fuck it and voted for a wildcard.

     
  6. wonderbread Stiff Member

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  7. luckyshot The ONLY iPotWR Platinum Member

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    First of all, stop pretending you know what postmodernity is.

    Scondly, this isn't necessarily a left/ right thing.
     
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  8. Natural Order Naughty by Nurture

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    Keep cherry-picking those grand narratives that supposedly don’t exist!!
    LOL, okay Lucky.

    Of course it’s not a left/right thing. The illness can affect anybody.
     
  9. bobgeese Gold Belt

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    Tell us again about Joe’s beautiful history with China...
     
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  10. blaseblah Steel Belt

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    It does seem like he's creating this fictional reality for his followers to live in and they just don't want to wake up. It will take a few years to snap them out of it.
     
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  11. luckyshot The ONLY iPotWR Platinum Member

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    There are degrees.

    Obviously, saying that we need to expand healthcare/ the ACA is a lot closer to recognizing the reality of no universal healthcare than Trump repeatedly promising he has a "Great healthplan that will cover everyone, at a fraction of the price!" while never even making a healthcare proposal.

    Obviously, recognizing climate change as an existential threat and proposing ambitious action to reduce emissions by 2030 is closer to reality than saying "man made climate change is unproven" or even worse "climate change is a Chinese hoax!"

    Obviously, proposing to roll back billionaire taxcuts in order to be able to fund services for people who need them is closer to recognizing the reality of the wealth gap than INCREASING that wealth gap by passing those tax cuts.

    It's like Trump's lies are so blatant that they aren't even seen as lies. Instead, they are, in the immortal phrase of Kellyanne Conway, "alternative facts"... in fact, alternative reality. So people completely let him off the hook because TRUTH isn't what they expect from him... it's not what they WANT from him. What they want is an escape.

    Someone like Joe Biden, on the other hand, will get raked over the coals for making ambitious promises that he may not be able to keep. People will call him a LIAR for that, even though, objectively, his statements are obviously more related to reality than Trumps. He gets caught in the middle; he isn't COMPLETELY honest (to which I would add, "Who is?") and yet he doesn't offer the alternative of completely escaping reality's influence like Trump.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
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  12. PhitePhan Purple Belt

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    Yes, anybody who questions status quo is crazy, lock them up!
     
  13. HOLA Silver Belt

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    Yikes! A Jordan Peterson fan has entered the chat!
     
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  14. Ophydian Red Belt

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    I don't think he's created anything other than acknowledging what they thought was the truth all along. As if someone in Trump's orbit read up on Conservative CT's and tailored his message around it.

    A large portion of his base is uneducated. They are easily swayed by memes and believe people they assume have their best interest at heart. Most will not research on their own (see uneducated) so at this point, all you need to do is feed into their fears.
     
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  15. Jack V Savage Secretary of Keepin' It Real/Nicest Guy on Sherdog

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    "Come from" in that first sentence is tricky. Originated by the right; appropriated by the far left, where it became a fad; and now back to the right. The implications of it are rightist, though.
     
  16. nostradumbass Steel Belt

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    Freedom from reality indeed. Men can be women, women can be men, your speech is violence, my violence is speech, covid spreads at churches but not at riots, segregating by race is anti-racism, forming mobs to attack people and "shut them down" is anti-fascism, being pro-america is un-american, shutting down the economy will revive the economy, defunding the police will bring order, NYT is still a newspaper.
     
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  17. HOLA Silver Belt

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  18. AWilder Brown Belt

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    what does any of this have to do with the article?
     
  19. HOLA Silver Belt

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    "Alternative facts."
     
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  20. Natural Order Naughty by Nurture

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    Good discussion for later, will respond when off work.
     
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