One of my bloggy heroes is Tengrain, who I often refer to as the 'Patron Saint of Small Bloggers'. He's been a great supporter of not only myself, but of other denizens of this bloggerhood. I have to note a bit of not-at-all acrimonious disagreement with him regarding this post, a disagreement which stems from my disagreement with the Washington Monthly post to which he links... the author posits that Hillary Clinton's campaign failed to point to a villain, but I think that's bunk... the real problem is that a bunch of bigots decided that fellow victims, people much more marginalized than themselves, were the villains. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in, for example, watching a bunch of Mexican immigrants laboring in a field and characterizing them as lazy moochers (a perennial calumny aimed at African-Americans who toiled without pay to enrich their masters since before this country existed), and there's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in believing that a serial-prevaricator and kleptomaniac would do anything to stop the immiseration of the working and middle classes.
Tengrain comments on the post:
One of the great archetypes of literature and film is the little guy triumphing over evil. From David and Goliath to Frodo vs. Mordor, the best heroes are the everyday, average people, who find themselves in an extraordinary situation and somehow or other win.
The problem is that the Trump voters believed that Frodo is the villain, sneaking over the border of Mordor in order to commit terrorist acts against Barad-dûr and to put the Ringwraiths out of work by imposing burdensome regulations against Evil Sorcery. They voted for Sauron, and he’s going to Make Mordor Great Again.
We on the left don’t tell stories, we recite facts. We believe (correctly) that the facts matter, but we don’t know how to give them context. So instead of telling a story, we implore our audience to listen to and study our earnest 200-slide Powerpoint presentation, and learn from their betters… and we end up wondering why we lost?
The problem here is that the stories, based on facts, are out there... We have facts about climate change, but the story is written in blood and wreckage in the 'reddest' region of the Heartland. We have facts about Obamacare, but the story is being written about the loss of benefits that accrued to impoverished Trump voters.
The problem with liberals 'telling stories' is that these stories, rooted in facts, cannot penetrate the bubble of epistemic closure (NY Times link, so ration those clicks). The potential audience for these stories has been pre-conditioned in their churches, their firing ranges, their right-wing media cocoon, to characterize any 'leftist' narratives as lies, facts to the contrary be damned. The typical Donald Trump voter could be hit over the head by a wind-borne Ford F-150 and still believe Dear Leader's lie about Anthropogenic Global Warming being a Chinese hoax.
I don't have any answers to this dilemma... I just don't know what sort of narratives could convince the typical Red State Trump voter. I am an uber-nerd who attends science lectures in a bar, I live in a neighborhood with a very high immigrant population, two of my dearest friends and mentors are Muslim men, I have friends and co-workers from a wide array of backgrounds, creeds, sexual orientations. There is no narrative I can communicate with a Trump loyalist which wouldn't be seen as suspect. I've spoken to these people, and they tend to reveal their true ugliness to me because I look a lot like the guy in my profile picture, and they tend to see me as simpatico.
Again, I wish to stress that I have nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Tengrain, but I just can't see this strategem working. Tragically, the aggrieved white bigots who supported Trump are going to have to hit rock bottom before they reconsider their support for a guy who is going to further immiserate them. Even more tragically, they are going to take the rest of us down with them, and I didn't sign up for a one-way trip down the caldera of Mt Doom.