2020-05-30

The End of Political Debate and the Creation of Alternative Reality

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by Neil Godfrey

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein show in It’s Even Worse Than It Looks that since the 1970s dominant forces within the Republican Party have been working to delegitimize their political opponents and erode public confidence in their political institutions. The authors focus in particular on Republican Party threats to bring down economic hardship on Americans if a Democrat President doesn’t yield to their demands — without any compromise. It’s a helpful little book that puts today’s surreal miasmic fog of words, claims, assertions, accusations into context.

I was reminded once again of Charlie Kirk’s The MAGA Doctrine and how his political opponents are portrayed. They are not a Party to be reasoned with. The thought of compromise can never occur. The Party is a collection of people who are literal villains, evil characters who must be removed entirely from any position of influence.

As an outsider, I look in vain for serious political debate between the two major parties in the US. What I see, instead, is one side constructing an Alternative Reality bubble. Their words only have meaning to anyone within that bubble and no-one else.

Obviously democracy can only work where there are tolerance and acceptance of the legitimacy of the other side’s position. Throw that out and we have a kind of intolerance that allows for no rational cooperation or reconciliation. That’s when one enters dangerous territory.

In this post I document one dataset of this delegitimizing process from The MAGA Doctrine by Charlie Kirk. This is a book that Donald Trump highly commends to his supporters. I take it as one fair indication of how the pro-Trump Republicans and associated far right supporters perceive their political opponents, the Democratic Party. Read the excerpts of what Kirk writes about his political opponents and see if you can find any room for serious discussion or debate. All quotes are from the electronic ePub edition, so no page numbers, sorry. By the way, as an Australian I find myself completely flummoxed by the very idea that any politician in the U.S. — Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez — is actually a “socialist”. Kirk’s understanding of “socialism” is simply perverse.

. . .

Democrats ignore facts; are deluded “socialists”.

All thanks to the free market socialists want to destroy. If anything, economic growth rates and progress have slowed in the past few decades as the welfare state, to which the socialists give all the credit for such advances, grew. The new socialists and Democrats steadfastly ignore these facts. And it is this delusion that makes the MAGA Doctrine more important than ever.

. . .

Democrats are immoral and tyrannical.

The Democratic formula arguably once included respect for civil liberties and a welfare state that, however dysfunctional, was rooted in the moderate American understanding that it’s great to ensure everyone’s basic needs are met and that each person can go out and make his or her own way in the world. The new Democratic formula, exaggerating those impulses, appears to be moral relativism and flat-out socialism. Oh, they told us for decades that they weren’t socialists, just “liberals” (a once-honorable term that meant a believer in free markets and limited government back in the nineteenth century), but half of Democratic primary voters picking avowed socialist Bernie Sanders in the party’s 2016 primaries seems to put the lie to that distinction, as do the enthusiastic cries that socialist loudmouths such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the “future of the party.”

. . .

Deluded about regulation.

The Democrats think they are “helping” America the more rules they impose upon us. Their philosophy of “from cradle to grave” has been slowly creeping into the daily psyche. The government will always be there for me and will know what is best, according to many on the left. Yet, that’s not the motivating idea of America nor of our Founding Fathers. The less government exists, the more people are free and able to flourish.

. . .

I find this is how most Democrats, if pressed, think all regulation works: Their plans are so great that all but a few people will comply with them without even having to be threatened with fines or jail time. Of course, that makes me wonder why they still have to decree the fines, taxes, and jail time. Just for emphasis, I guess!

. . .

I don’t think it occurs to the Democrats that every time they make new rules, decent people must now scramble to comply with those rules.

. . .

Tyrannical.

Democrats want to control your healthcare, your air travel, your vehicles, your light bulbs, your food, your straws, and your paycheck. It sometimes seems as if they want to tighten government control over everything in the world except the southern border of the United States (where, as I write this, illegal immigrants are literally creating contests to see who can get around or over the existing border wall the fastest, something that will be much harder to do if Trump is allowed to complete it).

They are eager to regulate and to censor, though they always seem to calculate how the regulating and censoring will affect their electoral prospects before taking action. I don’t think they’ll be too eager to rein in Google so long as that company and other social media giants lean anti-Trump, for instance. But nearly every other aspect of American life is regarded in the Democrats’ eyes as improved by the loving touch of regulation. . . . .

Democrats are no longer optimistic about their country.

. . .

Ignorant of how businesses work.

The Democrats have for decades approached regulatory decision-making—and the imposition of high corporate tax rates—as if businesses can overcome any obstacles government creates for them. They assume that there is no burden business can’t carry, and that none will go looking for opportunities where the burdens are lighter. Then, when companies flee overseas, they whine about the outsourcing and offshoring they helped cause.

. . .

They like to pretend. They are for America’s enemies.

As Trump put it in that same speech to TPUSA, the Democrats like to pretend they understand Europe better than he does, but as usual, they opt to “understand” only the left-leaning, socialistic aspects of what they study. They point to Europe as a beacon of sophistication when its elites are on the same page as our left-liberal elites, wanting to tax more and regulate more. When Europe starts drifting away from that half-century-long pattern of “social democracy” (basically vast welfare states)—when populists win elections in Italy or Hungary or the United Kingdom and make the social-democratic consensus look more fragile—suddenly Europe isn’t seen as so sophisticated by our elites. Suddenly it’s described as too white, too old-fashioned, too unstable, or frighteningly populist.

. . .

They want a Russian soviet state in America.

Though the Democrats have lately abandoned any embarrassment they used to feel about being labeled socialists—and now treat that failed philosophy of central planning as if it is the exciting future of their party—the undeniable historical fact is that the United States became rich enough to entertain such juvenile economic fantasies by being the least socialist large country in the world.

. . .

They are not interested in economic growth.

Democrats in the Obama era didn’t do much to spur economic growth but prided themselves on an endless variety of redistributive mechanisms.

. . .

They don’t have any pride in their country.

Pride in the United States used to be something that both the Republicans and Democrats had in common.

. . .

They have no awareness of America’s best interests.

I would not, in any case, assume the Democrats know what a healthy America looks like when they see it. San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi’s district, has more drug addicts than students enrolled in public high school. Democrats destroy everything they touch, but they’ll always insist they did so for compassionate reasons and that the Republicans are cruel by contrast.

. . .

They are political hypocrites.

Democrats love impeachment now, but needless to say, they didn’t back in Bill Clinton’s day.

. . .

Pretenders.

Don’t let the Democrats get away with pretending to be the party of the impartial administration of justice, much as we’d all like to believe such impartiality prevails.

. . .

No interest in the politics of representation.

Trump is not hateful when he reacts to outrageous incidents like that one. He’s angry. So are the rest of us—aside from the Democrats, who have no real interest in speaking for us.

. . .

Obsession with undoing 2016 motivates all they do.

Can anyone deny that the Democrats after 2016, almost immediately, have instead poured most of their (highly) emotional energy into finding some way to prove that 2016 didn’t happen?

. . .

Projection: what the Republicans have done with Obama and Clinton is what they accuse the Democrats of doing with Trump. It would be a “false equivalence” if there were any equivalence between Trump and Obama. Mann and Ornstein demonstrate the history of Republican efforts to threaten economic hardship on Americans if they don’t get their way from a Democratic President.

From the beginning, the Democrats and some Republicans could not accept the legitimacy of this president. They made it a mission to destroy him and the progress that he has achieved, so long as doing so meant we would get a different person in the Oval Office. Can you imagine rooting against your nation because you dislike the president? Well, in today’s world, some have openly called for the economy to tank and for things to go wrong because it might help prevent the reelection of this exceptional president. While liberals have harbored hate for him for a very long time, today they are quite open about it. This is shameful behavior.

You might disagree with our president, but to root for your nation to fail? To root for a recession? This is entirely new and unchartered territory. To those who don’t believe in Trump Derangement Syndrome, I say it is very much real and in full force. TDS has overtaken entire sectors, from Hollywood to Congress. How many Hollywood elite stars think they are wonderful because during an award ceremony they got up and started swearing about our president? These coastal liberal elites lost, and they are in full denial and a state of rage over what they can do about it. Instead of presenting an alternative vision for America, the left has focused on hatred, impeachment, violence, and vulgar language. Pathetic behavior that will get them nowhere. (I wonder if they’ve even noticed that Hollywood has also thrived during his time in office. It’s hard to see what they have to complain about.)

Democrats can’t accept that he won. Democrats appear to be willing to spend all 1,460 days of his presidency talking about impeachment.

. . .

A delusional ideological divide:

If old Democrat was something like civil liberties/welfare/internationalism and new Democrat is something like censorship/socialism/internationalism, while old Republican was something like theocratic/corporate/warlike, then the new Republican formula is roughly free speech/entrepreneurial/pro-peace.

. . .

Childish perceptions:

The future of the Democrat Party is whiners and killjoys. The future of the Republican Party is winners.

. . .

With such a perception of one’s opponents, I suggest it is simply impossible to listen seriously to anything they say or judge fairly anything they do or propose.

Not that the Democratic Party has been angelic, obviously. But the current breakdown in serious and honest discussion and debate is particularly the fault of one side. That side has created an alternative reality bubble that fails even to admit to a serious and normal humanity occupying the other side.

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Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.


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3 thoughts on “The End of Political Debate and the Creation of Alternative Reality”

  1. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” is racist.

    “The only good Dem is a dead Dem” is terrorism.

    “The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi” is true.

  2. The MAGA Doctrine isn’t a difficult book to understand. It is a political polemic from a populist American conservative perspective. I don’t share that perspective but the book is entirely legitimate and reasoned when understood for what it is. I don’t recognise the book I read in your rerview.

    1. My post is hardly a review of the book per se — I trust the point of the post was made clear. But can you tell me what it is about the book that I have misrepresented or failed to grasp in what I wrote?

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