of a Snake Oil Political Hustler
It’s hard to make the case that Donald Trump truly believed he was going to win the 2020 presidential election. He had his hopes, but as the above chart of monthly averages of various polls compiled by NBC News indicates that as far back as April, the odds were that Trump would lose by more than 7 million votes. In the best tradition of a cynical salesman who says when needs to be said regardless of its actual truth, Donald Trump harkened back to the election lies he told about the number of votes cast for his defeated opponent, Hilary Clinton. He went back to work on his old job as a master propagandist and re-defined the content of his Big Lie:
A nefarious conspiracy carried out by the Democratic Party robbed him of the second term he had earned and won.
Sarah Longwell is the executive director of Republicans for the Rule of Law, publisher of The Bulwark, and host of the Focus Group podcast. Longwell wrote,
“Some 35 percent of Americans—including 68 percent of Republicans—believe the Big Lie, pushed relentlessly by former President Donald Trump and amplified by conservative media, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. They think that Trump was the true victor and that he should still be in the White House today.
For many of Trump’s voters, the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose. They know something nefarious occurred but can’t easily explain how or why. What’s more, they’re mystified and sometimes angry that other people don’t feel the same.
As a woman from Wisconsin told me, “I can’t really put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right.” A man from Pennsylvania said, “Something about it just didn’t seem right.” A man from Arizona said, “It didn’t smell right.”
The exact details of the story vary—was it Hugo Chávez who stole the election? Or the CIA? Or Italian defense contractors? Outlandish claims like these seem to have made this conspiracy theory more durable, not less. Regardless of plausibility, the more questions that are raised, the more mistrustful Trump voters are of the official results.
Perhaps that’s because the Big Lie has been part of their background noise for years.
Remember that Trump began spreading the notion that America’s elections were “rigged” in 2016—when he thought he would lose. Many Republicans firmly believed that the Democrats would steal an election if given the chance. When the 2020 election came and Trump did lose, his voters were ready to doubt the outcome.“
So what’s a master propagandizing and somewhat shameless shyster to do? How about getting an early start laying a groundwork of doubt regarding the legitimacy of the election that would become a powerful tool for motivating crowds of non-critical thinkers to commit acts they would not normally to.
They would commit acts they would not normally do in public venues. They committed acts of violence and self-motivated themselves with the rhetoric of violence that unquestioning believers could adapt because something they not only trusted, but idolized told they them should and implied that they would get away with it.
How had they become so socially gullible. Perhaps these paragraphs from the late Joe Bageant offer understanding:
“One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?
But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don’t even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.
… The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman’s right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That’s why they are called dumb. – AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM. Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga, By Joe Bageant“
Talking Points Memo (TPM) is an independent news organization that publishes reporting and analysis about American politics, public policy and political culture.
“One of the major headlines from Thursday night’s Congressional Jan. 6 Committee hearing was Vice Chair Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) statement that Trump followed a “sophisticated seven-point plan” to steal the election.
But Cheney didn’t enumerate the plan! Reporters were left scrambling to divide the vice chair’s presentation into seven parts.
Well, now we have the committee’s version, from a source on the panel. Here are the seven parts of Trump’s plan to steal a second term, in the committee’s view:
1. President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him.
2. President Trump corruptly planned to replace the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims.
3. President Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes in violation of the US Constitution and the law.
4. President Trump corruptly pressured state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results.
5. President Trump’s legal team and other Trump associates instructed Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives.
6. President Trump summoned and assembled a violent mob in Washington and directed them to march on the US Capitol.
7. As the violence was underway, President Trump ignored multiple pleas for assistance and failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol.“
How was it possible that so many sincere citizens were caught up in someone else’s magic?
How was it that so many sincere citizens eventually slipped into civic madness and violence because of someone else’s magic lies?
Our secret thoughts are the authors of our own story, our personal mythology from which we navigate our lives. Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox have addressed this subject with excellence and I have paraphrased their writing to discuss myth.
Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story – all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.
“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another. Many will not accept a myth because it is something built from nothing. Others say myth is illusion or a mistaken belief. When myth equates to the opposite of “fact”, how can we trust or use myth?
Myth is assumption. Every definition of life is an assumption. Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.
Defenders of religious creeds use the word “myth” to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying,
“Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”
What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions?
How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?
Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught the world “is” rather than how we’ve discovered the world to “be”?
Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to
“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.
The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”
Even an organized mob will live on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are.
As Keen implies,
” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”